As many of you already know, i have ventured into the realm of children's books. It's a brave new world for me as i knew very little going into it about the best practices. Publishing my first book in 2014, was a lonely experience that i loved, but thankfully i don's have to do this book alone. I am taking along my dear friend and talented artist, Amy Mossman. But with everything, no amount of artistic ingenuity and tailored reading can create the perfect children's book. Plans are essential. Strategy is your best friend. In the next 3 points, i am going to break down what I have found essential in children's book writing.
1. Deadlines. But meetings shouldn't be all business.
It is really healthy to set yourself deadlines, especially on the projects you really care about. When i first approached my friend about coming on board to this project, we both new that deadlines were what was going to keep us afloat. I am a non profit employee and advocate by day and an author in the little time outside of that that is left. Amy is a mother of 2 grown up, busy kids and is she herself is in school perusing a degree in the medical field. Yet the ideas we had put together impassioned us so much, that we set deadlines in place to help create these. But when we've met, we do life first. We engage in each others ups and downs, and share in our growing friendship. Then we integrate our business project into the conversation. Productivity flairs as we are both invested not only in the finished project, but each others livelihoods.
2. Contracts are a necessary evil.
One of the hardest conversations i have ever had, was with my illustrator Amy as we talked through the necessity of a contract. Neither of us had taken on a project like this before. As it turned out, all was well in the end. Here is what we learned from the conversations:
a. We valued each other as artists. No one wants to feel like what they are contributing is undervalued. A contract is a legal way in which to ensure that both participants feel valued in their work.
b. Having the conversation about contracts first before actually presenting the contract is classy. Our friendship was protected by us taking the time to talk through this option. As legalistic as i can sometimes be, when i hear the word contract my mind goes to how impersonal that can be.
3. You are the child's voice. The author and illustrator are a team.
Again, having never done this before, i had a lot to learn. Once such lesson i had to learn in private, was that even though i wrote the story line, the illustrations were the emotions of the character. Thankfully, Amy and I really never disagreed on illustrations or story line. We had such a healthy respect for each others creativity. But sometimes when i was writing alone, i caught myself thinking of the story as "mine" rather than "ours". When you can correct this thinking during a collaboration, the character becomes that much better and the story line becomes that much realer.
So there you have it. The anatomy of a children's book collaboration. Our journey has so genuine because we abided by the above ideas. We not only invested in bringing to life this character, but we shared in each others lives. What a journey!
"Love is Patient. Love is Kind."