Illustrating the Truth about Publishing a Children’s Picture Book

I welcome author and writing teacher Pamela S. Wight to the blog today to share her path of publishing a illustrated children’s book, a process that took her favorite story from dream to reality.

Pam is an inspiring teacher and I learned how to boost imagination in storytelling in her creative writing class. Here’s her tale about her book that’s just out April 15, 2017, Birds of Paradise with illustrations by Shelley Steinle. Please help me congratulate them!

Birds of Paradise Front Cover

By Pamela S. Wight

How does a children’s book author find the perfect illustrator and publish her book? By not following the “rules.”

At least, that’s how I found the artist who captured my birds, Bert and Bessie, for the children’s book, Birds of Paradise. I’m so pleased with the result that I will never return to a “normal” way of publishing.

Of course, in the publishing world, what’s “normal” these days?

Like any good writer/author, I read dozens (more like hundreds) of articles and blogs about “how to publish.” A decade ago, the best way (and almost the only way) was to write a book, search for an agent, and wait wait wait for weeks, months, years in hopes that some publishing house would decide it could make enough money from the “project” to make it worthwhile (financially, for the firm).

As I studied the craft of writing and publishing, I attended Creative Writing classes. Then, I began to teach Creative Writing classes. I completed a novel, Twin Desires, and acquired an agent.

By then, I discovered that self-publishing was finally earning more respect.

Self Publishing for Serious Writers

Strong, serious writers began to choose self-publishing when the “wannabes” left (those who didn’t have their work edited and critiqued before putting it out there). The financial and creative rewards of Indie publishing began to add up, and thousands more authors chose to publish their own works, instead of choosing a publisher.

So, I dropped the agent and published both my books of women’s fiction, Twin Desires and The Right Wrong Man, independently.

I grew in confidence, and then I reached in my back dark file drawer and brought out my “baby” – the children’s tale that I wrote many years ago, Birds of Paradise.

Finding the Perfect Children’s Book Illustrator

The way I found my illustrator is a rather long story, the short version is that I knew her vaguely (the wife of an old college friend), and through some serendipity, she read my children’s story Birds of Paradise. She became inspired.

birdstalking

Imagine my surprise when I opened the mail one day and found Bert and Bessie, my two main characters, come to illustrated life on the illustrator’s pen and ink pages!

Our journey was a long and winding road, but from the moment I saw this woman’s loving lines detailing the “tale” of Bert’s damaged tail, I knew she was the only illustrator for my book.

However, publishing companies only want an author’s story.  They select the illustrator (unless the author is also the artist).

So I decided to, again, self-publish.

Illustration Sizes Matter for the Children’s Book

I ran into roadblocks. I could use CreateSpace or my own format to publish a 6 x 9 softback. But my illustrator and I needed a children’s book size format – a 9 x 12 – to show off every tail feather. This format is not available on Create Space or even Lightning Source.

With ruffled feathers, we went back to the drawing board and decided to go “outside the box.”

And of course, that’s when I found a publisher that is a “full-service independent book publisher offering a variety of book production options,” Borgo Publishing

Suddenly, our dream became better than our initial reality.

With the help of Borgo Publishing, my story has hatched. Birds of Paradise (for ages 3 and up) follows two sweet sparrows as they figure out where they belong in their world. Bert is a brash risk-taker while Bessie is fearful of all the dangers that lurk in the trees and on the ground. The two develop a friendship after Bert is bullied for his recklessness (and loses half a tail) while Bessie gains courage when encouraging her new friend.

When and Where to Find the Book:pamphoto2

Publication date: April 15

Available at: Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Pamela Wight is an author of two books of fiction, a children’s picture book, and a popular blog called Roughwighting.

 

Wight teaches Creative Writing classes in Boston and San Francisco.

18 thoughts on “Illustrating the Truth about Publishing a Children’s Picture Book

  1. This is so exciting!! It appears to be the very best kind of collaboration of talented people. Congratulations on your accomplishment and on never letting go of that dream!

    So many life lessons here about things showing up when the time is right. I’m really glad to know about Borgo — wasn’t familiar with them, and am glad to add them to my resource list for self-publishing clients.

    I’ve ordered my copy — ostensibly for my grandchildren, but I might have to keep one and order them another. I love children’s books and often find they contain more important wisdom than adult books. Children’s songs can be the same way.

    Kudos!

    1. Hi Elizabeth – so glad you commented on this post. Yes, Borgo is a step further in the self-publishing process, because the publisher (Easty Lambert-Brown) does a lot of the work. She formats the book, can design and produce a cover page, deals with the printer, creates a tip sheet and can also help with promotion if an author wants (I choose to do my own). Let me know if you want any more details. I can’t wait until you get your copy – please….let me know what you think. xo

  2. Congratulations, Pamela! If the one illustration above is any indication, you found just the right person for this project. I’ve never heard of Borgo, but will be checking them out now. Thanks JJ for sharing Pam’s story here.

    1. Thanks, Karen. Yes, Borgo went above and beyond to help the illustrator show off her drawings as beautifully as possible, and to put the text with the illustrations in just the way we wanted.

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