Before we dive into our story, we wanted to quickly share the main pre-order page and the direct pre-order form where you can reserve your signed copy of Vicki and Kristie's book or the gift bundle. We'll be delivering these orders just in time for Easter baskets. More info on the pre-order page, but if you have any questions, don't hesitate to email us - firstname.lastname@example.org
Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the tale of how this all came together!
From Family Lullaby to Children's Board Book:
How "Oh Mother How Funny" Came to Life
When Vicki Toups Sheaffer found out she was going to be a grandma, she had an immediate lightbulb moment. Her idea: There's a lullaby in her family that's been passed down for four generations. She wanted to turn this lullaby into a children's board book. (terminology - An example of a board book would be "Goodnight Moon")
Why do this project? Because the lullaby would reach a fifth generation and be preserved in a really meaningful way. Because how awesome would that moment be reading a children's book - that you created - to your first grandson. It's almost silly clarifying a Why. It's like asking, "Why do you like pizza?" or "Why do you love your family?" The answer is simply: "I just do."
"Why" comes natural to all of us. But then comes the pesky "How." How blows the whistle like a hyper referee, rushing in to break up all the excitement.
"Okay, Vicki, just how are you going to do this? How do you make a children's board book? How are you going to get illustrations done? How do you get it printed? How do you do all this during a Pandemic? How? How? How?"
With every great Why, there's a dragon of a How that needs to be slain. So when Vicki reached out to us with her idea, we packed our bags. It was time for a Lord of the Rings style quest.
Finding an Artist
Vicki already had the lullaby. No editing was necessary. And the format fit perfectly for a children's board book.
Vicki shared what she was picturing for the cover and gave a few ideas for illustrations. Long Overdue Books Co-Founder, Chris O'Brien, is about as far away from an artist as it gets. And this isn't false humility like Vincent Van Gogh saying, "I'm no good at this." Nope. Here's what Chris scribbled down during the call:
Yeah... we had a long way to go...
Lucky for us, Vicki just so happens to be friends with the perfect artist for the job, illustrator and retired art teacher, Kristie Kaiser Frudden. Our team was now two women just outside of Minneapolis/St. Paul and the Long Overdue team here in Chicago.
So we got a Google doc going. Vicki shared illustration ideas for each page. Kristie started to work on a storyboard.
Her sketches looked a little bit different than Chris's one above...
As talented as Kristie is, as good as the pencil sketches were, and as good as her portfolio is on her website, there was nothing that could prepare us for the moment when we saw her final drafts. You can't really explain why an illustration works. The answer is like the "Why" question above: It just does. The only thing you can say is, "This is it. This is what we pictured without even knowing it."
As we celebrated virtually, that pesky "How" wasn't amused. The list of questions went on and on.
"How are you going to scan those images, hmmm? How will you keep things high quality? How do you know the printing company will do a good job?"
How may be a bummer, but he does bring up some good points. We still had a long way to go.
Finding a Printer and Designing the Book
Long Overdue has helped with more than 10 books in the last two years, but we've never done a children's board book. Our experience has mostly been through Amazon's publishing system, so all of this was uncharted territory.
We did our research and found a company called Pint Size Productions. They're based out of New York state and do their printing right here in the United States. Loved their website. Everything looked really straightforward. And you didn't have to order 100 copies of your book, it could be as few as one copy.
Finding the board book printer was actually pretty easy. But there were still the questions of book design and layout. There's an art to picking the best font, having the right colors, having the background just right so you can easily read the text. Like having a professional artist, you need a designer who knows what they're doing.
This was the first time when "How" had us cornered. Here we were with this great story, great illustrations, but we didn't have a book designer on the team. And book design isn't an area where you can "wing it." It's like a mustard stain on a shirt, one small drop, that's what gets all the attention. We needed to find some reinforcements.
For as many setbacks as there were in the year 2020, Zoom was one of the bright spots. It was incredible to hop on with two designers, thousands of miles away, who talked us through the book design process. It was a Master's Course over Zoom.
It was during these Zoom calls when a vision for Long Overdue Books became more and more clear. Our site should function as a social network for creating books. If you've written a book but you don't know any editors, artists, or book designers, that's not the end of your story. Not at all! And you don't have to wait for agents or traditional publishers to give you the green light. We were experiencing the power of creative people coming together firsthand with this book. Recreating this teamwork, building those connections, that's what Long Overdue Books is all about.
Right around this time, three students at Hope College (Annie Cerovich, Rachel Elder, and Bailey Chorney) joined our team. Rachel has design experience and put together our "Conquer the Slush Pile" e-book. Then, out of the blue, we received a contact form through our website from an artist and book designer here in Chicago named Annie Leue. All of those "How" questions that were so intimidating to us were familiar obstacles that Annie has faced many times before.
How's that saying go, "It takes a neighborhood to raise a child?" Well, it takes a virtual neighborhood - including three states and three countries - to raise a children's book.
I don't mean to go too Simon Sinek or Tony Robbins here, but the power to defeat all the "How" questions comes from your "Why." Once you have a great Why, so many of the other things naturally fall into place. And whether you want to call it luck, coincidence, fate, whatever it is, it's amazing how all the right people came together to make, "Oh Mother How Funny."
The dragon was slain. We had our children's board book ready to go. Now it was time to deliver it to the very first reader: Vicki's grandson, Jack.
The "Grand" Reveal
Snuggled deep in Jack’s new stocking was the freshly printed little gift that surprised the whole family. Christmas became a nostalgia fest for all!
So what Happens Now?
When creating the book, we were all pretty singularly focused on the goal of printing a few copies for family. But in the back of our minds we all had - I don't know if I'd call it a goal or a question - but we wondered, "What would it look like publishing this book and making it available to a larger audience?"
And right as the "How" prepared his next round of process questions, we decided as a team, "Hey, let's go for it." We reached out to Pint Size Productions again, this time with a much bigger order.
The creativity continued. Kristie reached out to a company who makes custom "plushies." She had one made based on the final page's illustration.
We're going to sell two different options. One will be a signed copy of the book. The other will be a gift bundle with a signed copy of the book + a smaller version (8'') of the plushie shown above.
In both scenarios, this will be shipped out in a Long Overdue "Author Box" with other notes included from Vicki and Kristie.
Behind every book is a great story of how it all came together. This is why books should be a personal experience with a close connection between the creators and their readers. So whether you're here to support Vicki and/or Kristie, support local Minnesota authors, support a printer who does their printing right here in America, or support the work of Long Overdue Books, whatever the case may be, we're excited to bring this book to your family.
Who knows, you might write the next one ;)
To learn more about "Oh Mother How Funny" and read Vicki and Kristie's bios, visit the main book page here. To pre-order the book, fill out this form, and we'll be in touch with next steps on different payment options + a projected delivery date for the book.
Thank you for supporting this new children's board book and the continued work of Long Overdue Books!
Keeping up with Long Overdue
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Our next newsletter will be Tuesday, February 9th. As always, we'd love to hear from you in between.
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