Writing a children’s books sounds easy. After all, the text is minimal, the length is manageable, and the illustrations do the heavy lifting. Simple enough, right? Well, not really. Successful children’s books have a good story, great pacing, terrific illustrations, and an original concept – and none of that comes easy.
We asked Blurb authors, Wade Alger and Jim Wegerbaur (known as “Wegs”), how they went about creating their beautiful children’s book, “Sarah No Doubt.” Both authors and their illustrator, who goes by the name “Bayo”, work at advertising firms so they know a thing or two about storytelling and marketing. Wade represented the bunch in our interview. Read on for insights and answers on self-publishing, children’s books, and book promotion in the brave new world of publishing.
Blurb: We loved your book – great story, beautiful illustrations. Have you ever written children’s books before? What inspired this book?
Wade: We have not. Honestly I was inspired to write this book around nine years ago when my wife was pregnant with twins. People gave us books as gifts and I quickly discovered there are some really bad ones out there (and some classics). So I sat down one night and penned “Sarah No Doubt”. I showed it to Wegs about a year later and he said we have to do something with this.
Blurb: What resources did you turn to help create your book? Did you get any help with the writing and sequencing?
Wade: Both Wegs and I pored over children’s books. And apps. And sites. We researched what seemed to work best and what formulas there are. We didn’t have any help with the writing or sequencing, we just had our research, so in a sense, we were inspired by other writers. Are there mistakes in “Sarah No Doubt”? We’re sure of it. But it seems to flow pretty well. Second one will be better. And the third will be the charmed one. Or so the saying goes.
Blurb: What were the advantages for you in self-publishing this book rather than going the traditional publishing route?
Wade: Complete creative control. Wegs, Bayo, and I work in advertising where creative control is a rarity, so to have that freedom really worked to our advantage.
Blurb: What are you doing to promote and market this book? What has been the most successful thing you’ve done to market the book?
Wade: We really haven’t started yet. For us, Blurb was originally a way to create prototypes and receive some feedback. But the feedback has been so overwhelming that we are reevaluating our entire plan. The possibilities are endless.
Blurb: So what sort of possibilities are you thinking about for “Sarah No Doubt”?
Wade: We’re open to all the possibilities out there, but we strongly desire to maintain both our artistic vision and brand equity. We see this book as the beginning of a franchise and feel comfortable that our experience in marketing may well add a fresh approach to how books are brought into people’s lives.
And we see partnerships with other brands and philanthropies as one avenue to disrupt the current dominant system. All of these things are possible without the aid of the traditional publishing system.
Blurb: Can you offer any tips to people self-publishing children’s books? Any good online resources to turn to?
Wade: Do your research. The classics are out there. And they’re classics for a reason. I’m not saying we are one of them or will ever be but they sure do give you a great blueprint. Not too mention that they set a very high bar.
Blurb: How did you find your illustrator? Any tips for children’s books authors looking for illustrators?
Wade: After an exhausting two-year search for an illustrator to collaborate with, we were set on a very talented artist who had worked on another book we both admired. But then one day at work, I happened to walk by something extraordinary on a co-worker’s computer. That co-worker was Bayo. Someone so quiet, I wasn’t quite sure what he did at the agency. Little did I know that the amazing artwork on his computer was just a small taste of his extensive portfolio. I called Wade and said, “I think we have a new illustrator.” He saw Bayo’s work and agreed wholeheartedly. From there, we spent over four months discussing and defining the look and feel of the book before Bayo dove into the project.
Blurb: Is there anything we didn’t ask you that you think would be good for an aspiring self-published children’s book author to know?
Wade: Be patient. Understand you will make mistakes. And never let any review, good or bad, go to your head or cause you to second-guess what you did.
Many thanks to Wade, Wegs, and Bayo. “Sarah No Doubt” was featured in a recent post on IndieReader.com and we look forward to spreading the word about any future books by these guys in what’s sure to be a great children’s book series.