The entire process from manuscript to published book ran over 3 years! I hope for those looking to write their own picture book will get even a small idea of what was involved in writing and publishing The Perfect Puppy.
When Logan was about 2 years old it was clear his floppy ear was never going to stand up. I loved it though, it made him unique, and along with his cheeky personality (and my desire to be a writer) I had the idea to write a children's book about him.
The story had to specifically reflect a German shepherd puppy with a floppy ear. And so began the drafting process.
I did a lot of research into writing a picture book (HINT: Mem Fox's website was a big help!).
I learnt that a picture book should be a maximum of 500 words (preferably less); I needed to be able to engage both the parent and child, and to ensure that the words will compliment the illustrations; it needed a clear beginning, middle and end, and along with other important must-haves in a picture book.
I wrote so many different versions of the story and I was constantly doubting myself and the story, but in those moments I would look at Logan who was peacefully sleeping beside my bed and I would remember that no one else is going to write this story for me, and one day I'd wake up regretting that I never tried.
It took over 2 years of research, drafting, reading and re-reading, story boarding, making mock books, and getting the opinions of family and friends, and even school children I didn't know. Every bit of feedback whether negative or positive was helpful.
Pictured above are the drawings from a Grade 4 class at Sunshine North Primary School who had my manuscript read to them by their teacher. It was literally just the story printed on A4 paper! They engaged with my story even better than I expected, and I received such positive feedback that I was confident I could start sending my manuscript to publishers.
It took almost a year before I was finally accepted by a publisher! I had sent my manuscript to many publishers both in Australia and overseas and I wasn't hearing back from any. I was getting worried my dream wasn't going to come true, but I never gave up, I had come too far.
Little Steps Publishing was formed by New Frontier - who I had actually sent my manuscript to. They didn't accept it, but gave it to Little Steps who then contacted me to join them, and I accepted.
Little Steps is a partner-publishing print house - head to their website to find out more about what that means!
Little did I anticipate that finding an illustrator would be almost as difficult as finding the publisher! It took almost 3 months before I found Katrina Fisher (www.katrinafisherillustration.com). Her traditional illustrating style was exactly what I had been looking for (and not easy to find). The Perfect Puppy was going to be her first time illustrating a published book so we were both a fish out of water.
The entire process went over 4 months and involved rough sketches, black and white drafts, final rough drafts, and final colour illustrations.
From signing with Little Steps to getting the published book in my hands took over a year.
It was exactly how I had always imagined it would be and I am so happy that I never gave up on my idea - the idea I had one cold winter's night at home when I looked at Logan and felt inspired. And now I'm a published children's author.