ILLUSTRATION + INSPIRATION
ILLUSTRATION + INSPIRATION
At the beginning of my literary journey, I was given a handful of advice from an exception author, Jackie Lea Sommers. Jackie wrote one of my favorite YA novels, Truest, and is full of helpful information. She encouraged me to query a literary agent and was even able to provide me a guideline on how to do so.
This sounds like a simple task, but it is far from it! One method of finding an agent is to research who your favorite authors are represented by. So, I walked into my son's bedroom and grabbed a stack of my most-loved children's books. Inside of this pile was "You Are My Heart" by Marianne Richmond. Her writing style gives mothers across the country #allthefeels. It didn't take me long to realize that Marianne was originally a very successful self published author. She built her brand from the ground up - before the world of self-publishing was right at our fingertips. I felt so compelled to reach out to her. So I did. I wrote her an email asking for a consultation.... and before I knew it, we were FaceTiming in my sunroom.
Have you ever met someone and immediately realized that you were professional soulmates? Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with Marianne for over 2 hours! With more than 50 children's books written and 6 million copies sold, (can you say baller status?) this author/illustrator is a true light in the industry. More than that, she is all about connecting with other people and loving her tribe fiercely. She is now officially my mentor and friend.
Here are the top 5 things that I learned about during our time together:
Today I am going to focus on the publishing process.
Traditional Publishing vs Self Publishing: Which Route is Best for Me?
Successful traditional publishing in a tiny nutshell looks sort of like this:
This process is long and can take 1-3 years from start to finish. There are rules and protocols. Some people thrive in that environment. I typically do not. But the nice part about traditional publishing is having a team in your corner to help you create content and market your work. They have all the "ins" and connections to get your book out into the world. So maybe it is worth the wait after all.
The majority of authors are not really interested in the publicity side of things. They want to create the work and turn the reigns over to someone else to sell it - and I completely respect that. But it's no secrete that I am an entrepreneur at heart. I become obsessed with projects that speak to my soul and I can sometime forget about everything else around me.
A perfect example of this was when I chaired the Inaugural Bow Ties & Arrows Gala for the INDY Foundation this March. With the support of my fellow board members, I basically built this event from the ground up. I hustled. I hustled really hard and it was a tremendous success. Meanwhile my house was a mess, I missed preschool registration deadlines and I'm not really sure what occurred anywhere in the world from January-March.
I guess my point is that I thoroughly enjoy problem solving and am not afraid to work hard to make a dream turn into a reality. I have become okay with not trying to "do it all" or have the "perfect" life. I am a wonderfully broken, splendidly impatient and goal-driven child of God. My background in branding and marketing and my business-owner mentality actually make me an ideal candidate for becoming a self published author/illustrator. But what does that process look like?
There has never been an easier time to become self published. Companies like IngramSpark or Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) have changed the indie author culture. They not only print your books on demand, they also work directly with book stores and libraries to get new titles onto the market. Don't get me wrong, this is much more of a DIY process that traditional publishing, but if you are willing to put in the work and put yourself out there, anything is possible. Your potential earnings are typically higher in self publishing as well - especially if you are an author/illustrator combo. There are simply less people who get a piece of the pie.
At this point in my literary journey I plan to continue to research literary agents and publishers that are a good fit for my writing style. My picture book, Angel Army (working title), is faith-based, so that really narrows down my search for the perfect fit. Ultimately I am putting it in God's hands as to which publishing route I take. I'll just keep working hard and see where this adventure takes me!
Stay tuned for other amazing insider information and notes on what Marianne Richmond and I discussed during our consultation. She is a wealth of fabulous information! If you are an aspiring author who is looking to connect with an authentic, knowledgeable and creative soul, I strongly suggest reaching out to her. You will not be disappointed.
Up next: Establishing a Target Market
I, Kate Fischer, dream big. Like really big. I cannot think inside of the box, because I usually don't even recognize that there is a box at all. It is perhaps my greatest gift and probably my greatest struggle. Growing up, it lead me into a series of "bad decisions" - each of which I have I paid for tenfold. I simply could not function in the strict routine and schedule of high school. It felt unnecessary to follow so many rules and I loved to find ways to break them, usually flipping the middle finger to authority in the process.
Now, I'm not excusing my shabby adolescent attitude, but as an adult, I can actually pinpoint most of why that attitude existed. First and foremost, high functioning anxiety. I didn't even realize I was battling mental illness until I was 31 years old! I just assumed everyone felt like they were about to walk into a job interview 24/7. Turns out, that's actually not a thing for most people. But it has been a struggle of mine for most of my life. Trying to camouflage this vulnerability with an "F-it" attitude created, what I call, a really twisted "people pleasing hybrid". I was stuck between wanting to impress others and wanting to hurt them before they could hurt me. This truth carried through friendships, family and in the classroom. I mean, let's be honest here. It was way more fun to want to please the type of friend that would sneak out at lunch to smoke cigarettes in the parking lot, than it was to please the front office lady who was already skeptical of my pretty sketchy attendance record (sorry Miss Penny).
My anxiety followed me to art school where I continued to struggle to find myself. I again questioned "Why do I have to be here?" during lectures on Post-Modernism or 3-hour long Painting II classes. Truthfully, I had met my future husband when I was 21 years old. He was not an art student. Or a student at all. He was a first-year kindergarten physical education teacher. An athlete. A farm boy. And all I really wanted to do was spend every hour of every day with him. Was this a responsible behavior? No. Did I care? Nope. Did I graduate? Yep.
Do I have any regrets about how I spent my college years? Kinda. But I am still head over heels in love with that farm-boy teacher and we are happily married with 3 ridiculous children: Charlie (6), Loretta (almost 4) and Elizabeth "Betty" Ann (1.5). These tiny humans have challenged me in nearly every way possible. They have filled my soul with so much love that there is hardly any room in there for insecurities anymore. They have set up shop in my heart and provide me with a healthy dose of patience and humility on the daily. Do not misunderstand. I screw up. A Lot. We all do. That's the nature of human beings. But instead of covering up that shame with a "screw-it" attitude, I now do my best to pray about it - pretty much all day long. This change did not occur overnight and it was not painless. It took years and years of hurt and loss for me to let go and realize that I do not have to do all of this by myself. And even though seeking the approval of cute boys with questionable character may have seemed like a good life choice in the early 2000's... I have finally figured out that God's approval is all that really matters. #sorrynotsorry
Right now you are probably thinking, "So... you thought you were a pretty BAMF teenager, graduated college, married a teacher and are trying to raise 3 rascals in a house full of love and God's grace. Cool. But, what does this have to do with dreaming big and creating a children's book?" You know what, that is such a legit question. I can't even be mad at you for asking.
So here is my answer.
This new life I live has become full of some of the most inspiring, compassionate and brave people in the history of the world. They love me unconditionally and I can feel that in the warmth of their hugs and the emojis of their messages. ;) So when I told my entourage that I was going to become an author/illustrator, they said "Of course you are!" and provided me with enough encouragement to last a lifetime. Many of these people have been the motivation behind the words of this book. Their courage during hard times, their endless prayers and their childlike trust in God's plan. I'm talking about individuals like Erin Remme, a young mama of three that has stage 4 breast cancer. My dear aunt Sheri Reiter who lost her husband 2 years ago and is the fiercest prayer warrior of all time. Kayla Strand, a beautiful young woman who founded a nonprofit in honor of her late husband. Melissa DeYaeger, an amazing wife and mother who is now up in heaven alongside her infant son. My best friend, Kayla Axsom, who lost her mama and watched her struggle with health issues for most of her life. These people, along with countless others, have been through tremendous heartache. I am not naive enough to think that my sweet little book can solve the world's problems or cover the intense pain these families face every day. But I can offer a piece of art that will provide warmth, love, and support. Sometimes, as a friend, that is all we can do.
I am writing this post as a personal invitation to follow me on my journey to bring this book to life. I strongly believe that what we do with our time, talent and treasure matters. So I'm taking all of my anxiety and laying it at God's feet. I'm trusting in His plan for me and am putting this gentle and redeeming story into a picture book that will hopefully resonate with little listeners and adults alike. It is my genuine intention that my artwork inspires someone and fills them with hope. Even if just one mother reads it and thinks, "Yep, I can do this. I can face another day." Well then, I consider all of my efforts a huge success.
Grace + Peace,
Delivering creative work with integrity since 2009.
Little Fisch specializes in collaborating with fellow small businesses. Through logo design, packaging, websites and marketing material, the goal is to create brand identities that capture the attention of audiences on all platforms.