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My First Picture Book

Cover illustration copyright Virginie Egger

My picture book, My Cat Isis, is due for release in March 2011, but my clever publisher, Kids Can Press, already has it listed on the web. Check out their forthcoming Spring 2011 list. I’m there as official Kids Can Press author. The book exists on Amazon, Chapters, Barnes and Noble – go ahead, look it up – although it’s not even bound yet.  Cool, huh? I now have two books to my name.

I love reading and writing picture books, but I love, LOVE, LOVE the process of having one published. Not for the pride and glory (although it does make me glow to think, “That’s my book!”) What is most thrilling for me is the process of handing off a few hundred words to a gifted editor who matches it with the talents of an incredible artist and works through every detail with a dedicated publishing team and, presto, they turn it into something gorgeous and rich and absolutely wonderful.

When I first recevied the colour pages of My Cat Isis, I could not stop looking at them. I made my husband and kids read them repeatedly. I spread them out whenever someone came to visit. I carried the cover page in my purse, in case I bumped into anyone I knew in the mall. (A casual, “Have you I shown you my book yet?” is never out of place.) I thought of making an iron-on transfer for a T-shirt, surrounded by arrows and capitals reading, “MY NEW BOOK!” (I might do that yet.)

Friends who like picture books read the pages and comment and exclaim along with me. Others – and that’s most people – glance at a page or two and say, “Cute.”

“No, no, no,” I want to tell them. “You don’t understand.” I should dig out my original manuscript and present it in one hand. “It used to be this,” I’d say, waving three boring pages in their faces. “And now it’s this!” I’d shout, hugging the awesome glossy collages to my heart.

Some people just don’t get it. Everyone understands the thrill of having a novel published, but not everyone understands the thrill of having a picture book published. Especially for a writer who is not an artist. I can hear those non-comprehenders thinking, “It’s 500 words. What’s the big deal?”

The big deal is that the whole thing began with my 500 words. And look at it now – it’s a work of art. From slush pile to art – that’s a very big deal. I am one lucky writer. Not for the pride of a publication credit, but for the joy of being part of a magical process of transformation. That may sound over the top (I’ll leave that bit off the T-shirt) but it has been a magical process for me. 

Next time I’ll write about some of my favourite cat-related picture books to peruse while waiting for the release of My Cat Isis.

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4 comments on “My First Picture Book

  1. Congratulations! I understand where you’re coming from. I haven’t published pictures books, but I have published middle grade short fiction for magazines which was illustrated (and in one case made into a mini-book). And, yes, seeing the artwork tie everything together was “magical.” Best to you~

  2. I totally get the thrill of having a picture book published. I’ve been tweaking my own, wrangling look-overs from other PB authors (Carol Brendler, Tim Wynne-Jones, Andrea Wayne von Konigslow – thank goodness they’ve all had at least one nice thing to say) and I’m uber-excited to start querying it.

    • That’s great, Yahong. I wish you the best with your submissions. It’s a long road for some of us but I’m sure that you’ll feel the thrill of seeing your picture book published one day. And it will be magical. (And yes, authors are often happy to look at aspiring writers’ work – you only have to ask.)

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