We’re celebrating children’s authors all week here at Moms Who Write! Every day this week we’ll be highlighting a different mom author and asking for insights, resources, and wisdom. Everyone’s journey is a bit different, and there’s no one way to make a great book.
Katie L. Carroll is a Connecticut-based author who is married with three boys, and writes children’s, middle-grade, and YA books. She’s published both independently and traditionally, and you can find all of her books on her website and Amazon.
We emailed Katie and asked her to answer some questions and share what she’s learned!
How did you find an illustrator, and what was the process like for you?
To find an illustrator for my picture book Mommy’s Night Before Christmas, I started looking up illustrators online. I already follow a bunch of illustrators on Instagram, but I also began looking at Behance and Reedsy. I was on the hunt for a style that had a nostalgic feel but also a modern sensibility. I knew my budget and that I needed an illustrator willing to work on a work-for-hire basis. Then I started putting out a few inquiries at a time and ended up finding the perfect match in Phoebe Cho. I worked directly with her instead of through a service like Reedsy, so I hired a lawyer to work up a contract that I could customize for this and future projects.
How did you choose to publish? If you self-published, what route did you take for printing and distribution?
I’ve been both traditionally published and self-published, so I have experience in both avenues. Mommy’s Night Before Christmas is unique in that it’s a picture book that’s as much for adults as it is for kids. Going the self-publishing route felt like the right path for this nontraditional book.
What was your biggest challenge publishing your book?
The design and formatting process was the most challenging part of this book. Creating picture book files, particularly for ebooks, is a complicated process. I learned a lot in the process, including that it was the right choice to outsource creating the ebook file for Mommy’s Night Before Christmas.
Let’s talk about in-person events. Did you do any library or bookstore visits? Classroom readings? How did those go for you?
I love doing in-person events, and have done many library and school visits. It’s always an amazing experience to get to connect directly with young readers. I usually share the actual book, a little about my experience as a writer, and do a writing exercise with the kids. I always come away so inspired by them!
What surprised you the most on this journey?
My biggest surprise on the journey of publishing Mommy’s Night Before Christmas was how excited my kids have been about it. They are my biggest fans and cheerleaders! When I went to read to my son’s third-grade class, I gave him the choice of having me read any book, and he picked Mommy’s Night Before Christmas as one of them.
What would you do differently next time?
Each of my book’s journey to publication has been different, and I learn something new every time. I hired a marketing firm to help with this seasonal release, but I don’t think I’d do that again.
Where did you find support/resources?
I have really great support from my fellow writers. I wouldn’t be the writer (and publisher) I am today without my critique partners and author friends. For children’s writers interested in self-publishing, the Facebook group Wide for the Win Kids is a great resource and sounding board.