Cover Reveal! How I Independently Publish Picture Books

While I put the finishing touches to the wording of my new ebook, I wanted to share a glimpse at the cover with you. I use a similar image to this for all of my social media for And So We Begin and it felt right to use it to illustrate an insight into my journey so far. I hope you like it! The book will initially be available as a downloadable PDF in my Etsy shop but I’m working towards popping it on Kindle too.

I have a couple of readers giving me feedback and I’m adding a little more text and some more images. I’m still planning to release the book later in October so if you’re intrigued and you’d like to be the first to hear updates, please sign up for my newsletter on the home page of my site. 

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How I Independently Publish My Picture Books - Coming Soon!

I’m excited to say that I’ve finally (finally!) finished the first draft of my ebook about my experience of publishing my first two picture books.  I love reading about how other creatives work so hope you will find my story interesting. While I’ve been working on my book projects for the past six years I’ve felt quite clueless at times (!!) and I’ve really had to work at understanding the process of independently publishing. I was always someone who had lots of ideas but was frustrated that ‘getting published’ was seemingly the only way to share my creations. Then technology started to open things up and the advent of being able to set up my own company and submit my own work to be available for print on demand has been incredibly liberating. This ebook talks you through my journey and I hope it will inspire you to maybe think about publishing your own stories.

My next step will be to edit and I’m then going to take some photographs to include. I’m planning to make the book available in my Etsy shop within the next month or so. If you’re interested in hearing more, please sign up to my newsletter by submitting your details on my home page and I’ll drop you a line when it’s available. I can’t wait to share it with you!

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Letters From A Hopeful Creative

I've been devouring all of the episodes of this excellent podcast from Sara Tasker and Jen Carrington, Letters From A Hopeful Creative. This episode particularly struck me. Knowing our worth and not underselling ourselves as illustrators is important not only to us as individuals but to the industry as a whole. Creativity takes time and energy, just the same as any other job. It's taken me so long to realise that it's not frivolous or a luxury to create, it has its place like everything else and should be financially rewarded in the same way.

"Let's talk about pricing and knowing your worth" from Letters From A Hopeful Creative by Sara Tasker & Jen Carrington on Apple Podcasts

In this week's episode Sara and Jen respond to a letter writer whose business is doing well but they're still struggling to make it work financially because they're not charging enough. They dive into how to price your products and services in a w

Switching from Createspace to KDP

This week I've been moving on to the next stage on my journey of independently publishing picture books and have switched my printing process from Createspace to Kindle Direct Publishing or KDP. Joanna Penn has been talking on her podcast recently about how Createspace is due to close down and recommended moving over to KDP. As my ebooks are already published on Kindle this made sense to me and means that my books are in the same place (with the exception of iBooks).

I looked for advice online to show me how to complete the process and found this very helpful video which describes the steps clearly. It was super easy and took minutes.

Once I'd received the approvals from KDP, I ordered a copy of each book to have a look at the print quality. I chose the gloss cover and matte pages and I'm really pleased to find that the finish is exactly the same as Createspace. I also love the fact my books are still print on demand which ensures I am not being wasteful and saves me from having an apartment full of boxes!

Switching will also hopefully allow me to be seen more easily on Amazon by using their marketing services. I’m excited to see what effect this will have on my sales and will write more about this in a future post once I've experimented a bit!

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A Super Helpful Podcast from The Creative Penn: How To Self-Publish And Market A Children’s Book

As an independent children's publisher, I've had to navigate a lot of the journey myself. I've spent many hours trying to fathom out design and print processes and working out how to get my books listed and seen alongside traditional titles. I'm very passionate about my creative projects so have been interested to understand every step of the process and I feel a great sense of achievement (and relief!) when I work it out bit by bit. It  can, however, be a bit of a lonely world. So it was fantastic to see that The Creative Penn recently released a podcast on the subject, an interview with Karen Inglis who has been publishing her own children's titles for the past seven years.

I was particularly interested to hear how Karen has been using Amazon Marketing Services to boost her sales and to help her titles to be seen alongside traditional publishers. When I started this path, I remember asking a speaker at a self-publishing conference how I could distribute my own books and at the time, it just wasn't possible. It's amazing to see how far things have come in less than 10 years.

How To Self-Publish And Market A Children's Book

Self-publishing books for children can be challenging because of higher printing costs and difficulties in marketing to your target market. In today's show, Karen Inglis explains how she sells thousands of copies of her books for children and tips for how you can do it too.

#3000chairs

It took me a long time to realise the power of creativity to heal and help others. I drew this empty chair as a contribution to the #3000chairs project which is designed to highlight the plight of refugee children when they are refused help. The project is being run by Nicola Davies and Emma O’Donovan (also known on social media as The Book Sniffer). Lots of lovely illustrators, both professional & amateur, are contributing pictures that will be sold off for charity at a fundraising evening in September - see the link below for more information. I am so proud to be a part of it 💕

http://www.foyles.co.uk/Public/Events/Detail.aspx?eventId=3744

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Portfolio Piece

I am between working on events at the moment so am taking a short pause from working on my picture book. However, I find I miss illustrating so squirreled a couple of hours today to draw one of my favourite things to draw, a girl with flowers on her head or a flower head as I like to call them. Drawing for me is an act of mindfulness & this piece represents a couple of hours of clearing and calming my mind. And a new piece for my portfolio : )

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Little Bit Of Pretty Episode One

A little while ago I took myself out for a stroll to seek out my creative spark. A lot of long days at work had left me feeling lethargic so I strolled along the river and let my mind roam freely.

While I walked, I thought about how looking for a little bit of pretty in the everyday has helped me to overcome many difficult moments in my life. It gives me something to focus on, encourages me to walk mindfully, paying attention to my surroundings. And it reminds me of the beauty in the everyday. And so I filmed a little and ended up making the first in a small series of #littlebitofpretty films. I hope you enjoy it!

I’d love to encourage you to look for your own #littlebitofpretty in your day and to use the hashtag on Instagram if you’d like to share it. You’ll see some of my previous finds if you search for the hashtag too : )

This Week’s Picture Book Progress

I had planned such a lot for this week but as I mentioned in my previous post I’ve been feeling lethargic after my latest day job. So I was pleased that I managed to drag myself to my laptop to make a good start on another page of picture book number three. As it’s Father’s Day this week, I felt inspired to draw this chair from my childhood. My Dad used to spin us around in it so fast that we felt like we were on a rollercoaster. I remember laughing so much as the chair span and insisting on him twirling us again and again. It’s lovely to think it’s found a home in my latest book : )

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Recapturing The Spark

Switching from day job to creating again is sometimes hard and this time I seem to have found it more tricky than usual. It’s mainly lethargy that holds me back. I’m tired from working but frustrated that I don’t have non-stop energy to create when I finally have a little time out. At the same time I’m so aware that I need balance and need to give myself a break. So today, rather than work on any one project, I gave myself permission to potter, to let my mind do what it wanted for a change. I wanted to get some air and to be by the water without having to go too far out of the city. So I jumped on a train and headed to the river.  I took my camera and found myself filming with my phone too. It felt good to lose track of time and to create something spontaneously. Video coming soon : )

If you feel a bit lost creatively, even momentarily, be kind to yourself. Give yourself permission to switch off and allow your mind to roam. Take the pressure off. Walk away for a little while. Do something else that feeds your soul, whether that’s spending time with family, going out with your camera or just having a stroll in nature. The muse will return when the time is right.

An Amazing Alphabet of Cake Now Available From Waterstones

I'm really pleased and excited to announce that An Amazing Alphabet of Cake is now available to order from Waterstones. It's been such a learning curve working out how to get the book into shops so this feels like a real milestone. Only a few years ago, there wasn't really a route for independents like me to be seen. And now, thanks to Ingram Spark, I've been able to upload the book to their system and it's now started to become more visible across book stores online. My next step is to approach Waterstones with a copy to see if they will hold stock in their bricks and mortar shops. It's so lovely to see something that was once just a spark in my mind existing out in the wild!

This Week's Picture Book Progress

Progress for my third picture book is slow and steady as I juggle my day job. I find I like to work on it when I know I'll have an hour or two of uninterrupted time and when it's not too late in the day so my mind isn't too tired to concentrate on the screen. So there are often quite bit gaps between drawing sessions. I've learnt to embrace this rather than get frustrated by it as it gives me time to form my ideas. This weekend I found a perfect little window of time and settled down in front of Photoshop.

Firstly I revisited my last drawing, that I posted on here on a couple of weeks ago. I'd been thinking a lot that the character of the little boy didn't look young or cute enough. When I first drew him I knew something was wrong but couldn't quite see what it was. A couple of weeks away let me see the drawing with fresh eyes and I set about making amendments. You can see the two different versions below. On the left my first attempt, on the right my updated one. Giving him bigger eyes is more like my style from An Amazing Alphabet of Cake and is my comfort zone but I feel it works a lot better on him. I also made his hair a bit less styled and changed the shape of his body. I'll revisit him again in a couple of weeks to start drawing him in different poses.

I also drew another image of the little girl in the book, also ready for bed and holding her teddy bear. Her hair needs work as it once again feels a little too styled but I'm quite fond of the colours and her bunny slippers!

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This Week's Video - Sunday Drawing Episode 3

This week's video shows me drawing some little mindful faces using my favourite Faber Castell watercolour pencils. I wanted to show a simple glimpse of how they work when you add water to the pencil marks. I am very much a beginner at the moment and pretty much just slosh it on! I love the messy imperfect effect and the texture that the pencils create.

Once again, I'm learning a lot about editing with each video I make. This week I learnt about adding an adjustment layer to brighten footage, when I realised that everything I had filmed made it look like it was twilight! Premiere Pro is so brilliant, I know I am only scratching the surface at the moment and can't wait to learn so much more.

As an aside, I chose a soft house track from Epidemic Sound to accompany my drawing. I'm not sure it works... But it does reflect how uplifting I find drawing : )

Practice - Brush Lettering (& Video Editing)

I've been really enjoying making my Sunday drawing videos but when I found myself wide awake at 6am the other morning, I thought I'd make a little something different. I love the flow of ink on the page when I'm brush lettering and a short video can capture this so nicely. My editing is very imperfect still but it's so nice learning, choosing music and creating something small to share.

If you want to learn more about brush lettering, have a little look at my brush lettering website.

This Week's Video - Sunday Drawing Episode 2

I've lived in London for many years and had never visited Holland Park so I left the house early when half the city was still asleep and had a lovely wander round. I started by spending some time sharing my breakfast with the squirrels in the Japanese garden and then strolled by the peacocks to get a coffee and to admire the wisteria which was in full bloom. The park looked amazing in the sunshine and I found myself totally absorbed in drawing. Filming footage on my iPhone SE was easy and mini projects like this are really helping me to learn more about editing with Premiere Pro. I hope you enjoy this little glimpse of London in the sun.

This Week's Video - Sunday Drawing

Hello lovelies! So, I really enjoyed making my Drawing Mr Handsome video last week. It made me feel nostalgic for my teenage years when I used to play around filming my sister on a massive old VHS camera as she pretended to be a presenter. I then went on to study media at university mainly so I could run around with a camcorder. I loved it.

I've also been feeling curious about Premiere Pro as two friends of mine who are editors have recommended it. So I downloaded a trial from Adobe and while I was out for the day visiting some friends I filmed some footage on my iPhone. I also signed up for a trial of Skillshare so that I could watch some Premiere tutorials to get started. It took me a bit of trial and error but below is the result of my first attempt. I loved making it and it's really inspired me to think about more video ideas. I'm not sure where this fits into my plan for my illustration / publishing business but it's sparked my curiosity so let's see! I hope you enjoy watching it. Please comment on the video on YouTube if you like it.

Picture Book Progress

I finally found a little time to work on my picture book today. I've sketched all of the drawings out in pencil so I'm slowly transferring them into layered Photoshop illustrations. I'm also trying out smaller eyes and a little more definition to see what feels right for my characters. I know that the style isn't quite right yet but I enjoyed spending a couple of hours drawing this little poppet in pjs. 

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Drawing Mr Handsome - My First Illustration Video

After watching wonderful illustrators such as Holly Exley and Frannerd on YouTube, I love the idea of making videos of drawing. I find illustration videos really relaxing and interesting to watch. I also love the ones where drawing is shown in real time rather than shown in timelapse as I think it allows you to really see the technique used by the creator. So here's my first attempt. I find myself drawing a character I like to call Mr Handsome over and over again so he seemed to be a logical first subject. I used an iPhone SE to film and iMovie to do a little editing. I really am very much a beginner and never underestimate just how much work vloggers do to make their videos so beautiful! I hope you enjoy it : )

Drawing Frida Kahlo

Since I started drawing, I've noticed that so many illustrators are inspired by Frida Kahlo and her iconic appearance. When Mexican Pink was announced as the #colour_collective colour recently, her image was the first thing to come to mind. A lot of people draw Frida with flowers in her hair but for some reason, pink made me think of pompoms so I adapted her headdress a little. The end result was quite different from my usual style but this is what I love about these illustration challenges, they push me out of my comfort zone and make me create new things.

If you like my version of Frida, I've popped it in my Society 6 shop as a print.

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