Let’s make a book!

Have you ever thought about writing a book? Is it on your bucket list? Are you not sure how to start, but intend to find out one day? If you answered “Yes” to all of these, then I know how you feel! Since starting Elijah and Crumpet I have been thinking about doing a book, but there was just never enough time and it kept getting put back on the shelf for another day.

When I first started the YouTube channel, I didn’t have a clue about YouTubing, but the advice I learned from watching my first ‘So you want to be a YouTuber’ video was to JUST GET STARTED! I chanced upon a group of video creators with the hashtag #nosmallcreator which had been started by Cody Wanner in the U.S.A. and so I started to network. One of the group was Andy Marshall from South Australia, who was vlogging about a career change. He wanted to become an illustrator and was showing how he created the artwork for his own children’s book project.

I liked the cartoon style and, since collaborations are an important part of growing a channel, I reached out in April and asked if Andy wanted to draw Crumpet. Andy was up for the challenge and I was blown away by what he produced! Here it is:

Now, I have read thousands of kids books over the years and my favourite are the rhyming ones. Dr Seuss are the classics but I like the more modern ones (The Gruffalo, Stickman) even more. Elijah loves to finish off the sentences and so rhyming sentences have been great for developing his memory recall skills. I also like to write songs and I find rhyming quite easy, so I began to get some poems onto paper.

Later on I did an Instagram live chat (as Crumpet) with Andy, for his Creator Chat project. When you engage with someone in this way, you get to know them, or at least you feel like you do. If they are genuine and tell their story, over time the trust builds. One day I was listening to Andy talking about having to mow lawns to get some money coming in. It was the end of August and we were about to appear on national T.V. for the second time. It came to me that we could work as a team on a series of books. I could provide Andy with paid work as an illustrator and he could help us get the book done. I sent an Instagram DM (Direct Message) to Andy and he thought the idea was great. He was in.

Neither of us had any experience in doing this, but we both had the motivation to make it work. We both knew from learning to do YouTube videos and other things that problems are not barriers, just hurdles you have to navigate (jump or, as I used to, push over), so we looked up contracts, figured out some pricing, came up with a plan which also allowed Andy to continue documenting his journey … and we had a deal. Contracts signed.

Finally, I found podcasts. I know, I’m a bit behind in many regards! Take Instagram, for example – I didn’t know how to use it a year ago, but I am very willing to learn and now we have over 4,000 followers and try to post daily! So listening to podcasts on my hour drive to work and back, I learned about self-publishing and then about crowdfunding. More research online followed and I decided that the best way to reach more people would be to run a Kickstarter campaign.

If we had backers, we would not have to settle for the cheaper paperback and we could also engage with these backers, adding in fun bonus perks like stickers, drawings, videos and special offers, like the chance to appear in our books! If we were funded, we could really advocate for disability and inclusion by getting our message out there, with free books to influencers, plus reaching out to schools, libraries and the media. More about self-publishing and crowdfunding in later blogs and emails (please sign up).

And here we are, with our first book underway. Andy has completed Stage 1, which is the style guide. We needed to be happy with the representation of Elijah (Crumpet was easy as it was already done). The brief was to ensure that Elijah was recognisable, but still in cartoon style rather than a true-to-life image. As you can see below from Andy’s Instagram account @andycmarshall, over time it came together.

The text has been completed, so the next stage is to finish off the storyboard, which we have already outlined. Then the final page illustrations will begin. In the meantime, the text for book 2 is also done, but we’ll keep that one under wraps for now!

Thanks for visiting. Please click FOLLOW to receive notifications about the next Blog. I will try to write two a week, but timings may vary. It would be good if you could sign up for email updates (see link at top) – then we can email updates to the Kickstarter campaign directly to your inbox (if you really want to get behind the project, you could then resend to all of your own contacts!)

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