Writing and getting published a children’s picture book — what I’ve learned so far

Writing and getting published a children’s picture book — what I’ve learned so far

Almost without me noticing, the launch date of my first children’s picture book is nearly upon me. So I figured it was an opportune time for me to post about how I got to this point.

It actually started with my youngest son Noah, when he was in his first year of primary school. He’s now 18 and studying screen media, to give an idea of how long ago that was!  He was, like many children, a fan of Hairy Maclary who, for the uninitiated, is a fictional black fluffy dog from Donaldson’s Dairy. Hairy and his many animal friends, like Slinky Malinki and Schnitzel Von Krumm, are the stars of series of children’s picture books by Lynley Dodd

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Anyway, Noah was such a fan that I wrote for him a story about one of Hairy’s friends, Greywacke Jones, a cat. I wrote it in the same lyrical style as the real books, illustrated it by copy/pasting suitable images from the internet, printed it off at Officeworks and bound it all together for Noah. It was not a professional job by any means, but Noah was thrilled with it, I’m glad to say. He took the book to school where the teacher read it out one day to the other children.

Some 15 years later, I was cleaning Noah’s room and came across the book, still in the same condition. I can’t really explain what happened, when I read it, but it was one of the inspired reactions I get where writing is concerned. I ended up signing up for a children’s picture book writing course, and loved it somewhat to my surprise, as I always thought if I was going to write a book it would be a novel. In any event, with the help of a few people more in the know than I am about the children’s picture book market, I edited and re-edited and re-edited Noah’s book (obviously I had to remove it completely from the Hairy Maclary sphere), and used the story as one story for review at the CYA Conference last year. In the meantime I also wrote about 5 others in the ‘series’ (it’s not actually a series, as each story is stand-alone but much like Hairy I guess, the characters pop up from time to time in other books).

Fast forward a bit, during which time I put the project on the backburner for a while as I was pursuing other writing things, and the much-revised story that I first gave Noah is being published. I don’t have an official launch date for it as yet but it is likely going to be July or August. I’m currently working on the marketing strategy and just this morning considered pricing. I believe the next stage is getting it print-ready. It’s basically taken six months from the time it landed at the publishers to now. I personally had no idea that this was the normal time-frame for these things.  I’m hoping to have the second story out by Christmas.

I’m not sure how much if anything I’m able to reveal about the story and illustrations at this stage. All I will say is that my fluffy grey cat star of the story doesn’t like his collar bell one little bit! Not when old Pol the cocky in the gumtree taunts him with her closeness! He’s determined to get her, and works out a way to rid himself of that bell…who can save old Pol?