Continuing with our celebration of children’s authors this week we have Harmony Marquardt. Harmony is a children’s book author, who published her first book, The Adventures of Axel and Tullia the Lost Filly, in October 2021. Last year, she published FIVE MORE BOOKS, which is super impressive, and she’s working on even more for 2023. She focuses on children’s and middle grade books.
Harmony was willing to take some time with us this week, and we’re so grateful for her insight. Here we go!
How did you find an illustrator, and what was the process like for you?
This depends on which book we’re talking about – for the Adventures of Axel and Tullia series, I found my illustrator through a children’s book author/ illustrator Facebook group. I made a post saying I was looking for an illustrator was bombarded with messages and links and samples both in the comments and as private messages. I responded to a few people who’s art resonated with me and felt like a good fit for the series, and had a couple sample illustrations made. Along with the sample illustrations I asked for a breakdown of the pricing. It was a difficult decision, but I’m SO glad I went with the illustrator I did. Viviana Moyano is absolutely wonderful to work with professionally, and she’s become a friend as well.
For all my other books that are currently out I’ve put the illustrations together myself. And I have 3 series in the works that I’m illustrating one of (Yes! I’ve now picked up illustrating as a side quest), my 21yo artist child is illustrating one of, and I have Vivs illustrating one of.
How did you choose to publish? If you self-published, what route did you take for printing and distribution?
I did a ton of research into the process for self-publishing vs. traditional publishing before I even started looking for an illustrator. I ultimately decided I wanted to self-publish so that I could control the whole process – and get my books out into the world quickly. Traditional publishing has its merits, but one of them is not speed…and I’m a little impatient!
What was your biggest challenge in publishing your book?
The actual process of publishing hasn’t been incredibly challenging. The hardest part has been advertising! I don’t have an advertising or business background so I forever feel like I am trying to figure out what I’m doing with marketing and advertisement.
Let’s talk about in-person events. Did you do any library or bookstore visits? Classroom readings? How did those go for you?
I haven’t done in-person events, although i do plan to start that this year! When I first started this journey in mid-2021 it was the height of covid, the lockdown was still a thing, and on top of that, I’m an ER nurse–so I’m constantly exposed to everything. It just wasn’t safe to do. Fast forward a year and a half and now I’m still working full-time as a nurse, and finally ready to do in-person events! I plan to start doing school visits this year.
What surprised you the most on this journey?
How difficult it is for me to wrap my mind around marketing. It’s just a whole different world with layers of nuances, and it’s constantly changing. I am getting better at it, but it was definitely surprising to me how hard it is to do!
What would you do differently next time?
Oh man. I’ve got 7 books out now and I feel like I’ve changed my strategy with each new release. I plan to attempt a Kickstarter again with a couple of them. I tried one with my very first series and didn’t get completely funded (see also – I had no idea how to market it all!). I’m hopeful that next time I’ll be more successful!
Where did you find support/resources?
So many places! The Moms Who Write group is a place of wonderful support. There are other groups on Facebook that are also great with support as well as fantastic resources. Loads of research, talking to other children’s book writers…just so many places!