A Decade in the Making: How a 250 word children’s book took 10 years to create

This month I celebrate my 10 year wedding anniversary. I also release my first children’s book. Both events are big milestones for me and both are related. You see, my husband loves to travel. He has an insatiable wanderlust that has taken us around the world and back, literally. Our honeymoon was a yearlong trip around the world (actually twice around to make sure we always stayed in warm weather). We visited 33 countries on all seven continents, including Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands which inspired Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin. (I’m also now wondering if chasing the sun for a year also had something to do with this book — warm-weather penguin — but I digress.)

On our extended honeymoon, we had lots of time to think and dream. We asked each other lots of ‘what if’ questions: “What if you could live anywhere in the world?” “What if you could be anything you wanted to be?” “What if we can’t find a hotel when we get off of the train in Zagreb tonight?”

What amazed me about these conversations was that we had so many similar ideas (a good sign for a newlywed couple). We both would choose to live in Paris, for example. But also, it surprised me that even with years of marketing experience behind me (and many more years ahead of me), I knew that someday I wanted to write. And I knew I wanted to write with the goal of educating children. Looking back, I probably should have taken plans with my high school best friend more seriously. We wanted to split the responsibility of teaching kindergarten, her the morning session, me afternoon (definitely, afternoon). As it turns out, she ended up being a highly respected teacher who is a favorite with her students.

So did it really take 10 years to get a short, children’s board book on the market? Well yes and no. I wrote while we traveled and immediately afterwards when I was inspired to share of my experiences with everyone (or rather anyone that would sit through 10,000 photos). It took a couple of years (while back in the full-time, corporate world) to go through all of that writing and decide which story to finish and then actually finish it. I originally decided to pitch publishers so another year went by of finding appropriate contacts, polishing query letters and learning the process. I realized quickly that the traditional publishing process would take a very long time…4-6 months of exclusive review time for each agent meant 2 – 3 pitches per year at best. So, I decided to go the independent route. I hired an illustrator, had my manuscript copyedited, researched self-publishing platforms, built a social media platform, created a website, learned to format an ebook, etc. It all takes time. Throw in a new job in Paris, a relocation back to Seattle, a baby and a move to Sydney and there goes 10 years!

But now, thanks to my wonderful husband of 10 years who not only showed me the (sunny) world but gave me the opportunity to follow a nagging dream, I’m excited to finally embark on a writing path and introduce my books to children in the hopes I can teach them something new about the world around them.