Continuing my Children's writing hustle ...
I was at the Chiropractor's office yesterday discussing life and my dreams with the massage therapist on duty, when she told me about a published Children's author she knew of in La Jolla, CA. She raved about the book; its illustrations, the story and more. SO...being the person I am, I considered the situation as "not a coincidence" and drove down to the beach to find this author.
When I first arrived to Ocean Girl surf shop, Terry Kraszewski, co-author of Surf Angel was on the phone. I immediately saw the book on display and thumbed through the story, admiring the wonderful illustrations and rhyming story, which felt similar to my writing style. About half way through my read, Terry ended her call and welcomed me. I introduced myself to her as an aspiring Children's author and asked her if it would be alright to ask a few questions. She, of course, said yes.
As I read in the copyright info in the book, Terry self-published her book, so I asked her if she was happy with her decision. She said yes, but however it was not her first choice. Terry had a deal with a publisher and after a year, they retracted the offer based on the economy. Luckily, Terry had the capital to self-publish, which she estimates was around $20,000 for her first printing. She did her own marketing, which is challenging, but managed to get into Barnes and Noble, and now Apple has made her book available in an interactive iPad app. Bonus points!!!
Terry also chose a brilliant illustrator, Bonnie Bright, who now works for Disney's Pixar. This is the first image that Bonnie finished for the book:
Terry knew immediately upon viewing this image that Bonnie Bright was the perfect illustrator for Surf Angel . When I asked if she paid Bonnie to do the illustrations, she answered, "Oh my, yes!" which helped me to understand the importance of finding a great illustrator and negotiating a fair compensation for the project. Terry suggested that I scout out art departments at local schools for talented and motivated illustrators. She even threw out the idea of a Craigslist.com posting. I do believe these ideas will be my next step, as she is not the first person to suggest such a thing.
Terry also shared author Jeffrey Garcia's success in finding illustrator, Jamie Meckel, who was an art student at the time he was working on Santa Claus and the Molokai Mules.
His book won the San Diego Book Awards Association's best Picture Book award in 2010, which gives me great hope!
As we wrapped up, Terry signed two copies of Surf Angel for me and flipped through its pages pointing out all of the hidden sentiments it contains. Many of the illustrations are based on her real life: her house, dog, daughter, and of course, a number of "surf angels" who have been lost along the way. Some of their names appear in the clouds, others' initials are inscribed on flip flops, and even children appearing throughout the book are actual people Terry wished to pay homage to. Her book is more to her than just a magical bedtime story. It contains pieces from her life, that she can always look back on with great joy.
I also discovered that much of her success came from knowing the right people. Terry is friends with the original Gidget, who read Terry's book and passed it along to her (now retired) Literary Agent husband, and that's how Terry got her first deal. This information made me consider approaching a few of my friends who do animation work in LA. You never know who will be the perfect match, but one thing is for sure - when it is right, you will feel it. And to find it, you must seek it first.
That's what I am looking forward to now! One lead from the Chiropractor's office brought me so much inspiration and drive. This is the kind of thing I want to continue in 2012 - staying on top of my dreams and jumping on opportunities that arise from hustling my writing!!!
Thanks for being a part of my journey! :)