Wednesday, April 26, 2017

My First Children's Books: a note on writing to audience and illustrations

Illustration by Samantha Vogelsang
You can learn more about Samantha: Here
I am new to writing children's books.

That said, I have found them to be very rewarding, in the sense that I feel good about doing it.

I have two grown children (both 20 or older as of this writing) and four small children (all under age 10 as of this writing) and I have always enjoyed telling stories to them.

As the children have grown and started reading on their own, story telling has made way for reading.

I find that I love to hear my children read!

There is such an excitement in their voices as they work out words they haven't read before or don't know well.

After several years, I resumed my efforts as a writer. One of my youngest children asked me to write a story for her.

So I did.

She wanted pictures for it too, and so I asked her, "Do you want daddy to write a book for you?"

Will a smile and a squeal, she told me she liked the idea and I was off to start writing in a new genre.

I've stumbled and made mistakes, misjudged ranges for target audiences, forgot that childhood is a far different experience today than my own childhood in the 70's, and generally have had to fight through learning how to write for children.

I will admit, that I am far from done in learning.

So I'm writing this blog for two reasons:

The first, is to chronicle my own experiences and hopefully create a resource for new authors so they don't have to muddle through as I am.

The second is, admittedly, to raise awareness and draw traffic to my own publications.

So on to the topic of this entry, my first children's books.

The writing came easily at first.

Then I would look back and edit, then let my kids read the draft or I would read it to them.

It quickly became apparent that they were losing interest after a few pages.

I took this as a bad sign.

Then I realized that the problem I had was that I wasn't engaging interest in the story early on.

Having realized that, I started rewriting my story so that attention getting material, story hooks, interesting scenes or actions, were occurring earlier in the story line.

So far, this has made a huge difference if how my children react when they read a story of mine.

Art and Illustration:

I am not a visual artist. I work in words.

I am blessed to know several very talented artists.

To have my books illustrated, I have reached a very simple set of agreements with my artists.

Quite simply, we split the royalties of the publications 50/50.  I believe that for children's books the artists are terrifically important to the enjoyment of the book, so an even split of royalties is fair in my opinion and it is agreeable to my artists.

It is advantageous for me, in that I don't have immediate out of pocket expenses, and it is advantageous for the artists as they see more money if the books are doing well.

For those of you who are like me, in that you don't do your own art, I have this advise:
Treat your artist well.
Don't try to get your art for the lowest dollar you can.  Be reasonable and genuine in your dealings.
If your artist is a friend, treat them like a friend, not like an employee.

Most artists will want a fixed fee up front.  That is normal.

If, again like me, you don't happen to have an extra thousand dollars laying around for art, consider drawing your own art, or reaching an agreement such as I have. You may find it does for you, what it has done for me... reduce the stress over the production budget.

Finally, I would like to suggest that you make time to promote your artists as well.  What is good for them is good for you too.  Since you will be promoting your book anyway, add a plug for the artist, put links in to their online galleries, take a moment and be genuine with your appreciation for their talents.

After all, you are already writing 😁

For this entry I have highlighted the work of the very talented Samantha Vogelsang.
My dear friend Samantha, is brilliantly talented, as is evidenced in the sketch above that she did for one page of the book she is illustrating for me.

That book, dedicated to the infant child of a coworker, which will be published through Amazon/Kindle Direct/CreateSpace this summer (2017).

I write under the pen name W.S. Quinton.  I hope you will enjoy my work as it comes out.

I hope you will join me next time, for more on my work in children's books.
Please do share this blog with people who may be interested, please.

Comments and questions are welcome.

Thank you for joining me today.