Getting Published During a Pandemic
In February 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic started to gather pace, I received an offer of representation from Olympia Publishers saying that they wanted to publish my first children’s book, Stinkabell and the Bogsnufflers.
The first challenge was to find an illustrator who shared my vision for the characters and would take a leap of faith by working for free and taking a cut of the royalties when the book was eventually published. I wanted to find someone who would feel excited about the opportunity to have their work published and would relish the chance to create dynamic characters that would enhance and bring the story to life.
I used my networks of friends and colleagues to see whether there was any connection with illustrators who might be interested. I found David, a Design Manager at Dyson who works in new product innovation via a family connection. Although he uses his drawing and design skills as part of his day job, he wanted to hone his skills as an illustrator and had already self-published his own children’s book. I loved his bold and colourful style and felt he would be perfect for the job (fortunately the publishers agreed and approved him based on some initial examples).
Without any opportunities to meet in person, I sent David the manuscript and he started working on creating the characters.
The next few months were spent in and out of lockdown, liaising over phone calls and emails. I WhatsApped him my scribbles setting out how I imagined the drawings, which David interpreted into fully worked up drawings.
This was only the first of many challenges that I hadn’t foreseen when I embarked on the publishing journey, the most challenging of which I’m facing currently: promoting a book without bookshops and libraries to sell it to. I certainly didn’t envisage myself doing online readings and Q&As for schools or not getting the chance to see my book on the shelves. But, while there are undoubtedly limitations as a result of the pandemic, our collaboration has proven that it’s very possible to adapt and adjust to working in a whole new way.