Four years ago (as of December 3rd), I published my first children’s book, Fernando Learns About Asking.
When you are making a children’s book, you don’t know what you don’t know.
I spent years watching how-to videos, reading books, and browsing articles about the subject. I believe I read and watched over a 1000 pieces of content on the subject of children’s books writing and publishing, and I still wasn’t prepared.
All I knew was I was tired of thinking about writing a children’s book, so I did what I knew I could do immediately: I wrote.
When the book was written, I knew I wanted to write more books, but I needed someone to illustrate them if I was going to actually publish them. I wanted to spend my time on the writing – not drawing.
So, I did what I knew I could do: talked about writing children’s books and needing an illustrator. It worked! (Read my post about Duncan here.)
I didn’t know how to format the book with the new images, so I read an article – just one this time – and did what the article said as I was reading it, and boom. Formatted.
Of all the things I did in the nine months it took to make this first book, the hardest part was hitting publish.
I wanted to hit published. I needed to hit publish to keep a promise to my five-year-old self who answered writer each time someone asked what she wanted to be when she grew up.
Hitting publish turned my childhood dream into a reality. It wasn’t the great American novel. I wasn’t becoming the next Camus, Whitman or Steinbeck like I imagined. I wasn’t becoming the Barbara Cooney of a generation either, but it didn’t matter. I was keeping my promise to myself. I was starting. When I hit that button, I became an author of a book.
So, I hit publish – spoiler – and had a minor panic attack like you do when you jump off a metaphoric cliff.
A lot in my life has changed since publishing that book. While I still write some children’s books, I don’t publish them at the moment. I’ve been teaching writing classes and writing books for grown ups. I’ve started a small press which boasts eight books at the time of this post, and I am launching a writing camp soon.
The coolest thing that happened, though, was a kindergartener cosplayed as Fernando on Book Day at his school, and a friend of mine was there to see it! She snapped a picture for me, and it is the best day of my author life to date.
If you are interested in reading Fernando Learns about Asking or any of the other children’s books that followed, please click here.