Quote of the Month
No one can say you're doing it wrong."
- Charles Schulz
Dad, Our Candy Man
Note: Before diving into the "origin story," this link is where you can pre-order Harry Trumfio (author) and Dena Ackerman's (illustrator) new book, as well as the button below. We are targeting February 28th as the official release date.
On the order form, you'll notice softcover and hardcover options. The hardcover version is fairly expensive ($25) compared to other children's books. The reason for this is a popular, established title like Goodnight Moon or Chicka Chicka Boom Boom prints thousands and thousands of copies all at once, so the costs per book are pretty low. This allows the publisher to lower the sale price. Since Dad, Our Candy Man is a "small batch," first edition, the price to print is higher. We hope to bring this price down over time!
From Rough Draft & No Illustrations to Finished Children's Book
We got pretty lucky with our first children's board book.
The author, Vicki Toups Sheaffer, just so happened to be good friends with Kristie Kaiser Frudden, an incredible artist/retired art teacher. Someone who could casually do children's book illustrations like this:
Creating and publishing Oh Mother How Funny was an incredible experience (still is), but we wondered afterwards:
What if someone doesn't know any illustrators? Could their idea still become a book? And could Long Overdue fill the gaps so that all someone has to do is bring their children's book idea to the table and then we can start making connections to bring the book to life.
We wouldn't have to wonder very long. Our new children's book is the story of an author in the Chicago suburbs connecting with a professional illustrator way over in Israel. The two have never met before and yet they've just completed a children's book, 6,000 miles apart.
Quick background - The underrated "connector" for Long Overdue is Bev Ottaviano. Bev is the President of the Barrington Writers Workshop (BWW). Barrington is a suburb about 40 miles northwest of Chicago (coincidentally: this is also where my wife is from!). Bev introduced us to Melody Smith, Kim Jockl, Jim Borchers, aka the siblings/authors behind Safe Landing.(releasing later this spring). Bev also setup a Zoom between Long Overdue and all of the BWW members.
After the meeting, we got an email from a member named Harry Trumfio.
I was in your workshop last Saturday. I wonder if you might think of the idea of turning a poem I wrote about my childhood experience with my dad making candy into an illustrated children's book. Please see attachment.
Gave it a read. Loved the story. Our immediate response: Yes!
Our next behind-the-scenes response: Okay. We need to find an artist...
Shortly after Harry's email, it might have even been the same week, I saw an illustration show up in my LinkedIn newsfeed.
The artist's name is Dena Ackerman (portfolio website: https://www.denaackerman.com/). Never met before. It's one of those 2nd or 3rd degree, we're-both-connected-to-Kevin-Bacon type of things. I sent a connection request, asked if she'd be interested in a children's book project.
Dena looked over the story, decided it was a good fit. She gave her pricing quote to Harry, Harry agreed and, just like that, the project was under way.
I think back in May of 2021, we opened our email to find Dena's first sketches for the book:
Dena storyboarded the entire book! Felt like we were in an early brainstorming meeting at Disney Pixar.
While Dena completed her final versions of the illustrations, we worked with Harry editing the story. Any pages that were text heavy, we re-examined. Decided which parts to re-work, cut, or keep.
If receiving the thumbnail sketches was a 9 on the excitement scale, receiving the final illustrations took things up to a solid 15.5
We were on the last leg!
Time to move the illustrations and story into a book design. Our Creative Director, Annie Leue, started the process and also made notes and suggestions for potential story edits. Annie Cerovich jumped in an editor too. She read through the book, made notes, and a few grammar tweaks. Then Annie L., Annie C., Harry, and I hopped on a Zoom call to go over the story one last time. We also brainstormed ideas for two more illustrations to communicate an overnight transition that takes place in the story.
Emailed Dena about these new illustrations. Crossed our fingers, hoped she was available to take this on in January. Week or so later, Dena sends us back two of her best sketches yet!
These were so good, we forgot they were only the rough sketches! We were ready to put these in the book and call it good.
But then we saw Dena's final versions...
Yep. These were even better!
So, here we are. Story's ready. Illustrations are ready. Annie Leue is putting the finishing touches on the front and back covers. Then it's off to the printer.
We had so much fun embarking on this creative journey with Harry and Dena. In so many ways, this is exactly the type of project we envision for Long Overdue Books. We want authors/first-time authors to feel confident coming with their ideas, their rough drafts, and letting us worry about all the next steps. Even if we have to search 6,000 miles to find the right artist for the job, we'll do it!
And for anyone who has a baby shower coming up, no offense to Goodnight Moon or Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, but might we humbly suggest ordering a copy of Dad, Our Candy Man instead. We think you'll love this small batch, independent option! And it'll be signed by the author.
For any one out there who's kicking around the idea of writing a children's book, whether that's just for fun, inspired by the birth of a new baby, grandbaby, whatever the scenario, we'd love to hear from you.
"Maybe you contact one of the artists to do like a life-sized portrait of me? Just a thought. You don't have to decide right now, but let me know and I'll contact my groomer."
- Crash, Team Dog
Keeping Up With Long Overdue
Best place to keep up with all things Long Overdue is a tie between our monthly newsletter and our Instagram page (shoutout to Annie Cerovich!). If you enjoy this newsletter and know someone who might enjoy it as well, let us know, we'll make sure to add them to our subscriber list.
And check out our website - Long Overdue Books. Long Overdue Books is a community for creating books. It's a place for authors, readers, editors, artists, and designers to come together and move their stories from ideas to finished books.
Next newsletter - Aiming for Feb. 22/23 range. In the meantime if you have any questions, ideas, stories to tell, you can reach Cal the Librarian at - firstname.lastname@example.org