The Journey To Publishing "Bar Mitzvah Chicken"
Ever since I was a kid I always loved to be creative and write; I even wrote my own books. To this day I still claim Nickelodeon stole my idea for the show “CatDog”, as I also wrote a story with that same name and idea years before the show came into existence, of course my version was clearly better as my CatDog could fly and shoot fireballs out of their mouths. That being said, as I got older I stopped writing and became more involved in academics and work. The creativity spark never left me but I did stop writing and I was never sure I would again, but then something magical happened in my life, I met and married the most perfect person in the world, my wife Sarah. To be honest with everyone, before I met Sarah I was just existing and not living my full potential, but she changed everything. Sarah is the hardest worker I ever met, at any given time she has 10 things going at once, and when you are with a person like that you cannot help but also strive to be better.
I always had ideas about books and stories to tell, but they never got past the idea stage; with Sarah by my side though, those ideas went to the next level; “Bar Mitzvah Chicken” being a clear example of that. This whole process began with the birth of our son Ethan on December 23, 2016. With Ethan around, Sarah and I quickly began reading to him as many Children’s Books as we could find, and made sure to do it every day; we wanted him to grow up loving to read. As we went through more and more books, we also started to come up with our own ideas for what a great Children’s Book could be. On one such day in early 2017, I told Sarah about one of my funny ideas for a children’s book about a Jewish Chicken and she thought it sounded funny and had great potential. For a month or two we talked about that funny idea but did not do much with it. Once we told a few people about the same idea and saw the response it received we knew we had to write it. I cannot say it enough, but being married to someone who is on your same wavelength makes writing a book so much easier. We did not always agree on what should happen in the book, but we both believed in it, and that made the journey more enjoyable.
Going from the initial idea to a full-fledged story was never easy, many drafts were started and stopped until we finally knew we were heading down the right path. It was defeating having to start over, but we always knew we had the right idea and that at some point we would know we were writing the best version of it. During certain parts of the process the story had a human character, and in another version we had Jacob learning lessons from a wise old horse who lived on the farm, but in the end neither idea ended up feeling right. It did take a while, but we finally found the perfect way to approach the story that made sense, and we went to work on getting it done; that version of the book is the final one you see now. Even though we loved the story we were writing, like most writers we still wanted to know if others would also enjoy our story, so we read our work in progress to my brothers Edmund and Gary Entin who can both be brutally honest if needed; luckily for us they not only liked what they heard, but they were supportive from there on out in our efforts bring our book to life, and we thank them for that.
Now as we all know a children’s book is more than words, it’s also the illustrations that help bring the story to life. Once our story was finally written it was time to find our illustrator; this part I will confess is something I had very little to do with. Sarah took charge of the whole process and combed through over 100 artists to see who would be the perfect fit for our story and imagination; it was not only until she narrowed down the artists to a select few that I even took part in any of it. Over the next week or so, both Sarah and I looked at our finalists and after multiple discussions decided on who would be the perfect person to illustrate our book and that person was Marina Kokhanova. Working with Marina was a lot of fun as she sent us her work as she progressed and we had the opportunity to watch our story come to life. Marina ended up being the perfect partner for us as she always knew what we were asking for, and sometime she would add a little something unexpected of her own to the pictures that were a wonderful addition.
Once the book was completely finished Sarah and I went to work finding an agent, but alas the book didn’t seem to be a perfect fit for anyone we contacted. Even though it seemed like no one out there wanted to help us publish this book, we never stopped believing in it. We know “Bar Mitzvah Chicken” is more then just a fun story, it has heart and more than one important message. We decided to take matters into our own hands and self-publish. For us, self-publishing on Amazon and using Createspace was the best avenue. Throughout this journey Sarah and I were given support from our parents and that meant the world to us. I cannot sit here and say getting this book made was an easy process because it was not. We had to sacrifice a lot of the minimal free time we had when Ethan was asleep to get this book made, but we didn’t care. We want our son to know as he gets older that if you have a dream and you work hard, you can achieve it. We decided to practice what we preach and hope to be a good example to him. Sarah and I want so badly for Ethan to grow up in a world where he believes that anything is possible. This book, our first published book, means the world to us for that reason alone. At the end of the day we don’t care how many copies are actually sold, as long as one person finds as much joy in reading our book as we did in writing it, then it’s worth it.