Posted on Feb 25, 2016
My first children's book – A Reedsy Success Story
Today, we're hosting a great story by Praveen Krishnan, a debut author who just published his first children's book to teach kids about science. Here's what motivated him to start writing it, and how he went about the publishing process.
Barely a month or two after my first son was born, as any dutiful parent, I was immersed in the world of children’s books. Every day I was reading books out loud to a curious, sometimes annoyed 8-week old. Most people who encounter children’s books for the first time as an adult come away thinking how easy it must be to write a children’s book. After all, most books have 10 pages, with a 5-word sentence in each page and some goofy graphics. I was in that “how hard can this be” camp.
As my son grew into a toddler and preschooler, his books got more ‘sophisticated’. He also started getting humor and absorbing body language from characters in books. The ‘Elephant and Piggie’ books by Mo Willems were huge hits. My son was constantly peppering us with questions, how does this work, why does that do this and so on. I found it fun and interesting to be able to explain real-world concepts and scientific ideas to him. Sometimes I’d be stumped. How do I explain how the internet works to a 3-year old using only terms he understands?
I decided that I should try to write a book for preschoolers - one that teaches Science. So, drawing inspiration from a number of popular children’s books, I put together a simple storyline. It would be a story of two friends, one curious and one brainy, learning about atoms and molecules. A friend of mine happened to be a good cartoonist and offered to do the artwork. Story in hand, art talent lined up, I was ready to go.
I came across Reedsy on a tech blog and decided to give it a shot. While I was making this book for fun, I wanted to find professionals to guide me through the process. I found a copy editor, Amy Betz, who quickly reviewed the script and artwork, and provided several helpful suggestions. For example, we didn’t notice that the pictures on each page did not have much variety. She suggested that the characters move around a lot from page to page. Kids love movement!
The next part was the hardest - getting everything into a design and layout that would be acceptable for printing on demand. My illustrator and I have no experience with books so we found the learning curve for getting the design laid out to be very time consuming and frustrating. The online resources and tutorials are not very helpful to us. We turned to Reedsy again and found, Annie Beth Ericsson. She was fantastic. She worked closely with us and created a layout in days. She advised on the book sizes, artwork style, font and pretty much everything technical except the story and characters.
The book is finally done and live on Amazon and we are happy with the result. Best of all, the book critics (my kids and their friends at preschool) had mostly positive reviews!
You can purchase Bobo Sees Atoms on Amazon here. And follow Reedsy on Twitter for tips on how to self-publish a children's book and more success stories.
Have you ever thought of writing a children's book? Don't hesitate to ask us (or Praveen) any questions in the comments below!
mom rockstar says:
17/03/2016 – 17:06
Hi Praveen, I have written some kiddie books for my kids too and would like to see them published. I wanted to know how you went about choosing the illustrator and editor. What are the things to keep in mind? Did you do a complete story boarding of your book before you published it?
↪️ Praveen K replied:
18/03/2016 – 04:36
Congratulations on writing your books! I found my editor here on Reedsy. I looked for someone with experience with children's books, looked at a few samples and modest price. I found Amy Betz. She is great. Check her out. For illustrator, I looked up a few people here in Reedsy but they were all out of my budget. I recruited my friend to do the drawings. He loves to doodle on whiteboards so I figured he can give it a shot. The artwork will get revised a few times so pick someone who will be easy to work with as you figure out what you want. Also, the art does not need to be perfect for kiddie books. Yes, I storyboarded the whole thing with Google Slides. My illustrator inserted the images there and we collaborated that way. When we were close to ready, I had a designer do the final PDF for submission. If you are good with InDesign you can do this yourself but I didn't have the patience to learn it. Lastly, I'd say you should test out your books, in draft form (print from google slides), on your intended audience. Those little ones are not shy with criticism :). Good Luck!
↪️ mom rockstar replied:
19/03/2016 – 11:11
Thanks for your reply Praveen. Does editing comprise of manuscript editing or looking at the whole book (with illustrations) ? Looks like Amy offers a lot of services (Content Editing Copy Editing Editorial Assessment Proofreading), which one did you go for and what is the difference. I am sorry about asking naive questions but publishing is a completely new area that I am trying to learn about.
↪️ Praveen K replied:
19/03/2016 – 15:54
The whole book, including illustrations. She was able to point out some flaws in the sorry flow based on the illustrations e.g. Not enough movement and character variation from page to page.