Just before Christmas, my 11-year old daughter Harper published her first children’s book, titled Unicat Goes to Space. It’s adorable and you should buy three copies. One for your family. One for your children’s school library. And one for your guest bathroom. Go ahead….I’ll wait. Harper is waiting too. She watches the royalty report like a hawk.
I distinctly remember sitting in a local restaurant 2 years ago when she first started brainstorming the story for a book she wanted to write. With youthful enthusiasm, she ran back home that evening and started furiously writing and sketching….. and then she got frustrated. Distracted. Saddened by a perception that her own illustrations were so ugly (who knew a cat’s uni-horn could be so difficult to keep in perspective when subject to the calamities of space!?!). At times I am sure she was a bit bored.
But over the next few months, on and off she’d progress her plot line. We provided minimal guidance and recommendations, brainstorming with her then 10-year old brain on how any given event might play into the broader story or moral. Sometimes the answer was simply ‘I want Unicat to have ninja skills’ and that would be that. (I know, now you’re REALLY interested. We’ll wait.)
We didn’t pressure her, because we wanted her to embrace and enjoy the process. When the spirit moved, she’d pull out the pages and start again, sometimes scrapping entire pages. While it’s just a children’s book, it takes time. So with stack of sketches and text in hand, what did we do next? Full disclosure, this wasn’t the cheapest path, but it came together beautifully. Totally worth it. This was never about trying to make money, it was about cultivating Harper’s creativity and sense of accomplishment. But oddly do you know what cultivates that? You buying the book.
We contracted with an illustrator we knew named Adrienne Lobl. Adrienne had done work for my companies in the past. She’s fast and immensely talented. We started with and tuned a couple of ‘sample’ pages to ensure alignment on the look and feel, and then agreed to a per page price to bang out the entire book. Over the course of a few months we went back and forth to finalize all the pages. The work speaks for itself. I’m not even gonna show you an inside page….cuz it’s that good.
With Adrienne’s high quality illustrations and text layout in hand, I want about searching for the right partner or even a simple guide to help us self-publish. That’s not entirely true. I kind of sat on it for a while and then Harper would bug me. So I got serious and read various blog posts and I’m just going to cut to the chase and give you the answer you need if you don’t want to figure all this out on your own.
I chose Luminare Press. The team was exceptionally responsive, personal and direct, clear and easy to work with. Now we likely had a pretty solid book asset in place already thanks to Adrienne, but the Luminare team assembled the final asset to spec for print-on-demand, helped with proof-reading and final edits, designed and added pages we didn’t know we needed, did all the registration work, ordered proof copies (more than once to confirm some printing issues) and generally got it done faster than their promise. From contract to live book on Amazon it was around 50 days, and that included my own laziness. For a children’s book, their pricing is as transparent as it gets, since it’s a single fee. Again, I’m not saying this was the cheapest path, but it made all the headaches go away.
Harper will soon have her own page on http://www.brooks-authors.com/, the horribly-designed website my father maintains for his novel and the one we co-wrote. Life achievement unlocked. I hope she writes another one. She’s already on pace to outsell her father and grandfather. Don’t be afraid to help that along. She deserves it.