I never thought I would see the day when my name was on the cover of a children's book, but here we are! Not only is the children's book OUT NOW, but it is a part of the fantasy world I've already fallen in love with. So here are 5 things I wish I knew before writing a kid's book, compared to writing my full-length novels.
1. Artwork takes the focus.
SOPHOS was the art process very different from the full length novels. With a full novel, the story is the main focus. That's what you have to get down and finish first. Then you get to move onto the fun additions of the art, fine-tuning, cover, etc. With a children's book though? It was the opposite. Sure, we had to know how many pages the book would be the general concept... But the artwork took up 90% of the process. We had to storyboard, do character design, figure out the style, etc. We spent months figuring out exactly what this world/style/characters were going to look like before even starting the sketches!
(young Caligo's character turnaround by Viyanca)
2. Size does matter.
We spent a lot of time discussing the size of the kid's book in the beginning. Would it be big? Small? Horizontal? Vertical? The list went on and on. That was never something I really have to take into account for the novels. Yes, Mercy's Light and Mercy's Reign both contain illustrations. (Sketches from Caligo's book) but the format of the book was already laid out. All we had to do was scale the artwork to the size of the book and move on.
3. Patience is key.
This is the first book in the Keepers Series where a bulk of the work was being done by someone who wasn't me and man that made me antsy. I knew Viyanca could get it done! She never let me down before. But knowing hitting those deadlines relied on someone else (even though they had all my trust) gave me serious anxiety. Anxiety that wouldn't go away. I eventually had to sit back and remind myself that I needed to just take a breath and be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day and the art for Caligo's Crow wasn't done in a week.
(rough sketch of a page from the kid's book by Viyanca.)
4. Let the images tell the story.
Trying to conform my writing style to a script that would be easy for children to understand but also learn from was a new challenge. I was used to using big words, long sentences, and being descriptive. With a children's book though, the illustrations tell the story and the words guide you along on the journey. That meant I didn't need to overcomplicate it. All I had to do was accompany the image with a few short sentences. The goal wasn't to fill the page with words, it was to fill it with art. I was so lucky to have a co-author on this project who spends most of her days reading children's books.
5. Trust the process and my team.
I think I struggled with that the most on this project. Though this book was taking place in my world and I was going to have my name on the cover, I had to put a majority of my faith in my illustrator and my co-author. With this novel being funded by my co-author, she had the final say in everything. That was a strange feeling for me. Since I self publish, I have done final approvals on ALL projects related to the series. So taking a step back and letting Viyanca and Jessy take the lead was different. I had to come to terms with really just being there to poke them with deadlines and being on call when the next steps were needed.
(image from within the book without the text. Done by Viyana.)
At the end of the day, I am excited to see this book finally come to life and be going out to the hands of my readers. I think this story will resonate with a younger audience and get them excited for a series they'll get to experience once they get a little older. It'll be a great way for my readers to share their love of the Keepers Series with their kids as well as give them a little background on everyone's favorite King of Novus Aitus and his kick-ass crow Nex. It is a perfect and beautiful addition to this series that will help bring the character of Caligo to life even more within the eyes of my readers and their children.