Can a Book Be Published With Little to No Money – Part Two

This is a continuation of the post written last week. Here’s an excerpt …

” …. so I’m going to get to the bottom line first thing. And those who are interested about the entire story can read further. Lillian’s book was published with absolutely no money paid out to anyone for the creation of the book. That’s it!

Now, there was a bit of money paid for the ISBN bar code graphic (about $20), for envelopes to mail the books once received (about $15), and for two proof copies of the book (about $15 each which included shipping).

I want to reiterate that I am not sharing this to brag or gloat. That is not my nature. I am sharing this to give hope, to share …… “

Go here to read the previous post if you missed it ..

Can a Book Be Published With Little to No Money – Part One

Now, for Thomas’ book, Biggest Little Photographer. His book did cost us a bit of up front money as it is a photography book and these are not the type of book to use Amazon’s createspace for publishing and printing.

Biggest Little Photo Cover only

When Thomas was 8 years old, he began a 365 day photography project. Every day for one year he made a photo of a LEGO mini-figure photographer making a photo. We took that little man with us everywhere!! For one full year he traveled with Thomas and Team TLC. In the beginning, I told Thomas that if he stuck with it, we’d make it into a book. A real, published book that we could sell.

And, he did stick with it. About a month or two after beginning he said he wanted to quit. I explained to him that this was okay with me. I only wanted him to think about how it would feel to quit and then think about how it would feel to continue and finish. After this, he decided to stick with it to the conclusion!

Thomas with Biggest Little Photographer Proof Book 10.4.16

Thomas and I considered our options between using an online self-publishing site and using a local Reno publisher/printer. We made a chart listing the costs and pros and cons. We had a meeting with the local publisher. After the meeting we decided to go with the local company. I would do as much as possible and they would help out minimally.

Once we decided to go with the local publisher, I began sifting through the photos to choose about 180 photographs for the book. We simply could not include all of the photos as the finished book would have had a retail price of $40 or $50. We wanted our friends and family to be able to afford the book.

I already had an ISBN as I purchased a block of ten back in 2006 or 2007 as I knew in my heart they would be needed. We’ve used four now!! I handled contacting the library of congress for the LCCN. I procured the bar code graphic. I created the book trailer and handled the marketing, and arranged book signings.

At the peak his book was being sold in about ten local stores. He was on a local radio show, The Book Hound, and made an appearance on KOLO 8 TV to talk about his book. He had an art exhibit at one of our local parks, Rancho San Rafael Park.

Thomas and Biggest Little Book on Radio 12.19.16 #1Thomas and Camilla on KOLO 8 with Biggest Little Book 4.7.17 #1Ranch San Rafael Biggest Little Photographer Exhibit Book 4.5.17 #5

Next, I grouped the chosen photos into categories. Thomas gave his input along the way and he and I decided to leave focus on the photographs and to not have a written story. I wrote the Author’s Note and Introduction and Thomas chose some of his favorite quotes. I paired the quotes with a matching theme and used the rest for the Closing as he decided that’s how he wanted to end the book.

Biggest p10

I created everything in Google and sent to the local publisher as a PDF to make it into a book format. We had already chosen the size of the book and I uploaded all of the photos into a Google photo album for easy access. Thomas and I decided on how we wanted the cover to look, then relayed that to them as well. They did a great job at making what I gave to them into a beautiful book and also creating the exact cover we wanted!

After applying as many discounts as possible I was sent the bill for their work on the book. It was an incredibly reasonable price for what they had done. At this point, I did not know how I was going to pay for it. Yet, I had a relationship that had already been established with one of the owners years prior to this. We had a level of trust amongst us and I knew if I needed to hold off on paying and placing that first order of books, that it would be okay.

The bill was sent through PayPal. My heart was racing as I clicked to open it further. Once it opened from email into PayPal; my eyes focused on the amount due. Then, a little button caught my attention. It read, “Pay with PayPal Credit – Apply Here”. I thought, “What the heck!”, I’ll give it a try. I have not had or been granted credit since about 2009, as I filed bankruptcy due to a divorce. All of our bills were in my name and I paid on them as long as I could … until I ran out of money. Therefore, the bankruptcy.

Biggest p54

Every time I have applied since then, I always get a denial. So, with high hopes and an intention that it would go through, I applied. And …. it did! Not only that, but much more than I needed to pay the bill. So I was able to pay for the first order of books too! Although I am still paying that bill, plus some, as I used it to purchase the books when we placed orders. And, I am totally okay with that. It was worth it!

And, that’s how Thomas’ book, Biggest Little Photographer, came to be a published book!!

Biggest Little Photographer Books to 2017 Conference 7.10.17Biggest Little Book at Buy Nevada First Shop December 2016 #1Biggest Little Book at South Valleys 12.9.16 #2

I will continue with my book in a third post!! Go here to read Part Three which covers my book …

Can a Book Be Published With Little to No Money – Part Three

You can go here to read about Lillian’s book and what sparked these posts.

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Amazing news! My 16 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” is published. Learn more and order here

Wonderfully exciting news! My 12 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

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Biggest Little Photographer Arrives – We Did It


This book, Biggest Little Photographer, represents the fruition of a desire. Yet, within that is the message that the steps along the journey of ones desire are what comprises life itself.

It’s sure to inspire with great quotes; almost all of which were chosen by Thomas (some by me). I’ve placed it in the photography/gift/inspiration category as these are most fitting. Order HERE (Cost $20).

All the photos were taken by Thomas when he was 8 and 9 years old, so this is not your typical photography book. Yet, I’m heartfuly positive it will not disappoint.

For the past 3 months I have worked on completing one task and fulfilling a promise I made to the T in our Team TLC. I have hardly “worked” on anything else.

With input from Thomas I filtered through the 300+ photographs to choose about 150 photographs for the book. Then I grouped the photos into categories with theme names. Additionally, I needed to organize all of this so that LaRue could easily layout the book with no confusion.

Next, I wrote the “Author’s Note” and the introduction to the book. Thomas chose some favorite quotes to pair with the categories and with which to end the book. I also chose some favorite quotes as we were a bit short of quotes.

Lastly, there were lots and lots of reviews for editing purposes. Then during the week of October 10th, we sent back and forth the final review and printing began!

During that time, I’ve helped Thomas get ready to show 2 of his photographs at the Young Blood exhibit. And I’ve helped both Thomas and Lillian be prepared for the First Annual Kids Business Fair in the beginning of October.

thomas-young-blood-show-9-30-16-1 thomas-young-blood-show-9-30-16-4thomas-young-blood-show-9-30-16-3 thomas-young-blood-show-9-30-16-5thomas-young-blood-show-9-30-16-2

After we got home and unloaded the car on October 8th following the Kids Business Fair, I was so tired all I could do was run a hot, epsom salt bath, and slide my tired body into it. And, it was amazing. I cried tears of gratitude, joy, and knowing.

kids-business-fair-10-8-16-1 kids-business-fair-10-8-16-2 kids-business-fair-10-8-16-3 kids-business-fair-wake-up-interview-10-8-16-1 kids-business-fair-wake-up-interview-10-8-16-2 kids-business-fair-wake-up-interview-10-8-16-3

I had no idea how I would make this happen when I made the promise to an 8 year old Thomas (10 years old now). Yet, I knew in my heart it was what I was supposed to say to him.

When the time came to fulfill that promise, I still had no idea how I would do it. What I did know from my past experience is to just start doing it and keep doing it and it will happen.

What I also knew is that this came from my heart and nothing from one’s heart is ever the wrong thing to do. And, it ends up being not about the end result, it’s about all the “doing it” leading up to the end result.


I simply started taking steps to create a book with Thomas’ 365 day photography project. Many times not even knowing where and how my foot would land. Not knowing how to put it all together or who we would have help with final steps of making it into a book.

I checked out a couple of books from the library to use as inspiration, looked at some books online, and just started. I did back up once and start all over, deciding to go about it differently and am so glad I did. We overflow with gratitude to LRP Press in Reno, Nevada for working with us, designing the cover, and printing this beautiful book!

Want one (go here … $20)? Want to host a book signing? Want to sell it in your shop? Would you be interested in helping us spread the word? We’ll have an official launch sometime in the next few weeks. Comment here or message me if you’d like to help the launch. It will be super easy …. Like an email blast or blog post. My email address is Camilla Downs @ gmail . com …


We overflow with oceans of gratitude for everyone who has touched, supported, and sent good juju to this project.

We aren’t completely done yet, as we’ll be having book signings around town and are available to speak as a Mom and Son duo. I will take a brief break to catch up on my own writings …. and to fix the driver’s side mirror that has been held on with duck tape since July!

Then, it’s on to fulfill a promise to the L in our Team TLC …… For now, I know what I know, what I know, what I know …. xoxoxo

Time to mail the pre-orders and the amazing new orders coming in now …..


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Photo a Day for 365 Days – Thomas’ One Year Anniversary

He was 8 years old when he began and 9 years old when he completed the project. This was all his idea. Says he was inspired by reading an article that one of my friends forwarded to us.

For ONE entire year of his life, Thomas took and posted one photo a day on instagram of LEGO® photographer man taking a photo. In the first few months there were times he wanted to quit. I gave him that option and described for him how it would feel to accomplish this … He chose to keep going.

On March 6, 2015 he posted the last photo! Congratulations Thomas! You GO!! xoxo LEGO man is so happy he’s kicking up a leg!

From Thomas’ last post on instagram … “LEGO MANS FACE!!!!! I can’t believe I’ve made it to this point. Last year I ordered some LEGO pieces including a camera. Then @CamillaDowns showed me an article about somebody who did a photo a day for a year. I said “Can I do that?” That was a year ago, and I’ve took photos EVERY SINGLE DAY! There was a lot of times I wanted to quit, but my intuition said not to! Thanks for all of you who have followed me from there to here! I will still post often, so don’t worry!! P.S. I purposely never showed is face to make it somewhat a mystery.”

And the big reveal of LEGO man’s face. Here are the last 4 days and the one of a happy LEGO man.

To view all of the photos visit Thomas’ instagram account. There are only a few in the feed that aren’t part of the project.

Now for the next phase. We make this into a book. Not just a memento for him, but an authentic book that others can buy too. I committed to Thomas that if he stuck with it for the entire year, we would make it into a book. Time for me to fulfill that commitment!

The final book will possibly include LEGO history, descriptions for some or all of the photographs, bloopers along the way, and some interesting tidbits that occurred.

Here’s a sample: Thomas is missing 3 or 4 photos so in reality he only has about 361 photos. He did take 365. However, when he attended residential summer break camp in 2014, electronic devices were not allowed. We bought a disposable digital camera and he used that for the pictures. Not too long after camp we moved and somehow in the mess of packing and unpacking the camera got lost!

We will begin the process of getting permission from the businesses and other entities that appear in some of the photographs. In the meantime, we’ll put together a sample book for Thomas and for all of you.

Would you be interested in helping the book become reality? The goal is to have it professionally edited and set in the most aesthetic way.

We welcome your suggestions or assistance in your area of expertise. You can also donate here to support this project. Donate any amount your heart desires. Donations of $50 or more will receive a signed book and an 8 X 10 print of your favorite photo from the collection. Donations processed through PayPal.


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Did you know I wrote a book? It’s titled “D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance” and you can read more about it here.

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