The Chicken, The Egg, And The Hen House

I’ve decided to follow one of my lifelong passions of becoming a children’s book writer and illustrator – a creator of colorful, imaginative worlds with thought-provoking messages woven into their tapestries. Worlds populated by loveable, curious characters with a drive to evolve their inner landscapes.

The first book in the Donk Le Ponk de Clompity Clomp series is called I Can’t Draw Horses. The series follows the protagonist Donk and his good friend and muse Cobalt Bloo on a journey that illuminates creativity and inspiration and explores how these concepts help us to reflect upon our inner nature. I’ve begun my journey by submitting the first book to the dPICTUS Unpublished Authors Showcase 5. The applications closed on July 13th for the 2024 Showcase. I find out in November if my book has been selected.

Being a new author holds many challenges. When you don’t have a track record, it’s difficult to get your work in front of publishers. So the dPICTUS Showcase is an opportunity to get your work in front of renowned publishers and agents from around the world. That said, these days you do have the option to self-publish and there are several platforms set up to help you sell your wares such as Amazon KDP and Draft-2-Digital.

Regardless of the path you choose to take, there’s no getting away from that nagging Aunt that wants you to put yourself out there, be brave, be entrepreneurial, wear your best dress, and show the world that you’re as brilliant and glowing as your family says you are. Yes – Aunt Marketing. But what do you post about if you’re a newbie? How do you start building a social media presence as a writer and illustrator of children’s books when you’re just starting out, and what the heck do you put on your website?!

Where to start? It feels like the Chicken (me) and Egg (my work) scenario – to make your website look appealing you need content, but when you’re at the starting line, you don’t have content. Can you say you’re a writer and illustrator before you’ve written your first book? What if you’re halfway through? What if you’ve finished your book but it isn’t yet published? At what point do you officially become an author? Is it when you publish your book and at least one unknown-to-you person buys a copy? Is being a newbie author yet another case of fake it ’til you make it?

Then you begin to look at other writers’ and illustrators’ websites and social media pages to get inspired and you begin to feel as if you’re the only person in the world who started at the beginning! Everyone else is sitting in the long-established Hen House, with dozens of eggs and lots to cluck about. And there you are, waiting for your first egg to hatch, not really knowing if it will be a chick that takes on a life of its own or an egg that will be scrambled with a serving of bacon and hash browns at breakfast tomorrow.

It might feel all scrambles and feathers, but really, everyone starts at the beginning! And one place you can start is by writing blog posts – frequently. Yes, frequently. Blog posts always look better with a featured image, so there’s an opportunity to get some content up. Best of all, you can repost it to your social media accounts, along with an original illustration. What do you write about? Well, I’m going to write about my interest in creativity and inspiration, my author journey, and associated thoughts. Every step of the process is a learning opportunity and presents a new challenge. As it happens, challenges tend to conjure up ideas for blog posts! Win-win?

I was wondering how I should approach my blog post illustrations and I realized the trick would be to create something quickly – something original that doesn’t take forever to draw. Bearing in mind that I still have to work on my books! I like the idea of developing a “Quick Style” especially for blog pics so I’m going to experiment with different styles and media and see what happens. The featured image for this post will be my first attempt.

What about the product? What are you supposed to post as your offerings when you haven’t printed your books yet? I’m on the fence about whether I should go ahead and self-publish on Amazon or wait and see what happens with the Showcase. I can do both. You’re still eligible to apply for the Showcase if you have self-published.

Many established authors suggest that you create a portfolio and post that on your website. Use old fairytales and works that are out of copyright if you want to show off your illustrative powers. These are wonderful suggestions. You can also post samples of your work from completed books or works in progress, as I have done. This brings me back to my original pondering re The Chicken or The Egg. We could theorize and say that both exist at once. Therefore, the key to this newbie author thing is to take the hardboiled approach and just get on with it. Make French Toast. Start posting, start writing, start conversations, participate, and most importantly, enjoy the meal.