HELENVILLE – As a child, Kristen Emily Behl loved creative writing, but as she approached adulthood she felt she needed to choose a âhands-onâ career path.
She found her chosen career as a physiotherapist to be both stable and rewarding, but she lacked that creative spark.
It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that Behl realized what was missing.
“I always had this idea that one day I would write a book, but put it on the back burner, to the point where my husband didn’t even know it was a dream of mine,” said the resident of Helenville.
Thanks to the brakes the pandemic put on ‘the daily grind’, Behl actually found herself with time to write – and beyond that, she discovered a passion not just for producing her own books. , but also to help others create their own.
The result is a new book edition, “Goose Water Press”, through which Behl has published four of his own books and one by another author, with additional books from other authors in the region in the works.
Behl’s first book came from a series of letters she wrote to a friend who was expecting a baby. Behl pledged to write one letter per month to give her friend an idea of ââwhat to expect, share her own experiences, and offer Christian encouragement, funny stories and advice.
This project just took off, and over the months the letters got longer and longer.
Encouraged by her friend, Behl had the idea of ââturning the letters into a book.
Then the pandemic struck. At the time, Behl worked at the Watertown Regional Medical Center juvenile outpatient clinic, but as medical facilities shut down “non-emergency” care to focus on COVID-19, three clinic workers were temporarily laid off, including Behl.
She enjoyed the time at home with her children, ages 2 and 3 1/2, but found that more than ever she really needed a creative outlet.
She found herself writing children’s stories in her head and then started to explore all the different possibilities for publication.
She has studied a variety of approaches, from traditional publishing to all different types of self-publishing, devoting herself to research for a full year.
âSelf-publishing is very stigmatized, but in fact a lot of authors are doing it now because mainstream publishing houses are accepting fewer and fewer manuscripts,â Behl said. âThey only want to come and get you if you are an established author.
âThe process is long – most authors have to wait years to see their book printed – and then the publisher takes most of the profit,â she added.
And the traditional means of self-publishing greatly benefit the publisher over the author.
âEven if you sell a ton of books, you only earn 7 to 10 percent of the profit on them,â Behl said.
Eventually, she decided not only to self-publish, but also to start her own publishing company, using print-on-demand technology.
âI spent a lot of time researching the process, figuring out how to get in touch with great illustrators, how to develop a contract, etc. âBehl said.
Overseeing his own publishing process gave him 100% control over his own product, which he felt was important given that the only reason for his publication was to produce books with healthy Christian content that families could have. confidence.
âI want to use my books to start families,â Behl said.
She knew she had to go into the process with an entrepreneurial spirit, taking charge of production and marketing.
In 2021, she created Goose Water Press as her own business.
Quickly, she pulled out her pregnancy advice book, Letters to the Future Mom, and three children’s books, all of which meet mass market and library standards.
Her bestseller is her first book, âI Love You More Than Mountains,â which uses the stunning landscapes of American national parks to show how great the love is between parents and their children.
This book was born from the real trips of the Behl family and their enjoyment in the great outdoors.
âMy oldest child had loved 20 national parks before the age of 4,â Behl said.
The illustrator, originally from Ukraine, used the stunning landscape family’s own photos as the basis of her art, closely following the dimensions of the photos but giving the whole a watercolor look.
Behl’s second children’s book, âUpendi, A Story of Hope in Africa,â ends up in many classrooms.
This story is also from personal experience.
âMy brother-in-law is South African,â Behl said. âHe has since moved here, but he ran a safari company that introduced tourists to the wildlife where he lived in Tanzania. “
Behl said she was fortunate enough to see this African wildlife in person during her visit to the Dark Continent in 2016 and was very impressed.
âIt was like watching the Discovery Channel right in front of you,â Behl said. âI was also lucky enough to get to know some of the local people on this trip. It was very revealing and humiliating.
When the pandemic began, tourism stopped, leaving local villagers with no means of making money and forcing some to turn to poaching of endangered animals in order to make ends meet, she declared.
âHe said the unions were offering $ 300, the equivalent of a month’s salary, for these endangered animals,â Behl said.
In this book, she launches an appeal to preserve this unique fauna and the way of life of the inhabitants.
She has also written a humorous children’s picture book “The Messiest Eater on the Block”.
âI didn’t start with the intention of posting other people,â Behl said.
It’s not what she had in mind, she noted, but God apparently had other plans, putting her in the path of another aspiring writer, Linda Teed of Fort Atkinson.
Soon other opportunities presented themselves and Behl connected with other aspiring authors whose works she agreed to print, offering editing assistance, connecting writers with professional illustrators and accompanying them throughout the process so that their books come out the way they want.
As a hybrid publisher, Behl takes an upfront fee and then splits the product 50-50 once the author recovers that upfront investment. Authors run their own contracts with illustrators, although Behl is happy to connect people with illustrators she knows and trusts.
Although the continuing pandemic has put a damper on some of the traditional marketing opportunities, Behl has had a few opportunities to step out into the local community to promote his books, appearing at Watertown’s Literatus and Co and Friends at the Johnson Creek Public Library. holiday lounge.
She is also very active online, on Facebook and Instagram as well as on her own business website.
Its buyers include many home-schooled families and educators who seek quality, family-friendly reading material that matches their religious values.
Upcoming projects include two more books in Behl’s New Moms series: “Letters to a New Mum” and “Letters to a Toddler Mum,” and the “Traveling with Toddlers” advice book. As well as works by three other authors, including a home-school mom from Illinois and an 18-year-old from Waukesha who is writing a book aimed at empowering children with disabilities.
âThe whole process was fun for me,â Behl said.
Seeing your own ideas, from creative sparks to a published book, was a bit like giving birth to a child. Today, as an editor, she is essentially a âstory midwife,â seeing others through this creative process to make their dreams come true.
Over the past several months, Behl has returned to her “day job” in physiotherapy, but is determined to continue writing and publishing.
âWhat I take away the most from this whole experience is that I don’t have to do a single thing,â she said. âI can be a healthcare professional and a mother, a writer and an editor.
âThis business has really opened doors for me,â she said. “It was uplifting, a breath of fresh air – and it also helped me achieve a work-life balance that really keeps me on the ground.”