Now that my self-published songbook “Sing a Song of Canada” is being distributed through Leslie Music Supply, I am reflecting back on the self-publishing process. I am certainly no expert, but, maybe my experiences will be helpful to others going the same route.
“Sing a Song of Canada” began as 5 original songs, no activities, just songs that teach facts about Canada. About 10 years ago, I began to send these songs to different publishers of educational music. The most common reply was that they “liked” the songs but didn’t have a place for them in their publishing catalogue at that time.
I just kept using the songs in my music classroom and developed the lesson plans and activities to go along with each song. Then, I just kept writing more and more songs until I had enough for a whole songbook. Through this whole time, I kept sending the songs to more publishers. Still no one wanted to take the songs into their publishing catalogue. It seems as if the editors couldn’t see the same vision that I had for the book with the inter-curricular activities.
That’s when I decided to make a “mock up” of the book as I envisioned it. Creating the leadsheets for each song and writing up all of the activities took at least a full year. After all, I had (and still have) a full time teaching job that pays the bills and I had school aged children at that time.
The “mock up” created the most interest in my project. Several publishers really liked the book but were unwilling to take the financial risk of publishing it. Several suggested that I “self-publish”. At this point, I was a little unfamiliar with what that would mean. It seemed like an overwhelming undertaking for me. So, as several more years passed and still no publishing contract, I decided to stop sending the book away and just use the songs and activities with my own students. After all, I was a music teacher first not a composer. And, my students were enjoying the songs. I hadn’t really “given up” on my dream of publishing. The dream had just changed focus. Well, this is what I told myself. Deep down, I was disappointed that I might not be able to share my songs with a wider audience.
Stay tuned to hear how a music publisher actually accepted the book for publication.