A little background, as a native of Las Vegas and the daughter of a teacher who taught reading and English for 30 years. My summers filled with the answer read a book to my complaint of I am bored. During the summer of 2020, I was on a call with my mom complaining I don’t know what to do (after being laid off from a job that I had for five years); her response was to write a book. I mean, of course, that is what a retired teacher and a mom would say. I don’t think any of us would expect anything less.
The original concept was to write a book about shelter dogs because I have been a volunteer at Austin Pets Alive! for six years and, I must have 10,000 photos of APA! dogs on my phone. My mom suggested telling a story about them, and it was a good suggestion, but shelter life is hard. It was not the bright and sunny vibe I wanted to go out into the world during a pandemic. I thought about this for a couple of days and settled on two things. I will use my rescue dogs because they are cute, two they will go to all my favorite places! It will be a series!
Ok, great, that was settled, but now I have to figure out how to write a book; I do not draw, not even stick figures, I have no idea about publishing, printing, or how to sell a book; so I just started doing research.
I found Upwork online and posted a job for an illustrator. I had people submit from around the world because we were all at HOME! I received a submission from Neethi Joseph, a recent A&M Graduate who received her Masters in Architecture; but was also out of work due to the pandemic, and no one was hiring. She had done some book illustrations as a hobby; I told her I had NO IDEA what I was doing, but I hired her! I submitted photos of concepts and ideas, and she came back with adorable illustrations.
Every time a deadline was due, I was so excited to open it. The pride of developing each page was something that I have never felt before! I loved every minute of the process; we created, revised, and figured it out. It was all done virtually via email, not even ZOOM! We spoke on the phone once.
While Neethi was illustrating, I learned about ISBN, barcodes, that the binding needed to be wide enough to have the title and author name on it for bookstores.
After the book was complete, I reached out to a local printer here in Austin and learned about paper weight, size, and printing press. I ordered 300 copies!
It has been a wild ride. It was something that I never saw myself doing, and it is what I find truly exciting. This suggestion from my mom turned into something I could not have imagined, and moms are always right!