I know that I have dedicated this blog thus far to memoirs, particularly, the one I have been working on; but I thought a shout out was in order for my husband. He just published a children’s book, “Pancakes? No Thanks!” which is the third in his series of Hecky and Shmecky, based on the stories he told our children when they were growing up.
Although there are some differences between writing memoirs and children’s books, there are also many similarities. I thought you would enjoy hearing about his process. He started, as I said, with the basic stories he had told so many times. The first thing he realized was how difficult it was to reduce them to writing. All the hand gestures he made, the facial expressions he used and the vocalizations were no longer available to him. How to convey the enthusiasm and excitement of the storyline without those tools? Certainly, having illustrations helped but he learned to refine the writing to get those across. How many revisions did it take? you might ask, just as many as in any memoir writing.
Then he sent out several copies to friends to read and provide critique before a final draft. As you might guess, there were so many suggestions, some which conflicted with one another, that he was terribly confused. Eventually, he learned that the best critics are children – in his case, our grandchildren. They know that they like and what they don’t and they are brutally honest.
When it came time for publication, the problem he encountered was that most publishers of children’s books prefer to use their own illustrators. Our extremely talented son-in-law who illustrated the first two books (too busy for “Pancakes? No Thanks!”) did a marvelous job. Everyone seemed to agree on that point, leaving my husband to have to go the self-publishing route. For “Pancakes? No Thanks!” he worked with a fine artist and the finished product is great. Unless you plan to use illustrations in your memoir, that should not be a problem.
Self-publishing was a whole other new experience, for the first book. Now, he has mastered the process. He hired a graphic artist to design the text and illustrations and ready it for printing. Voila. A book is born.
If you would like to see the book, it is available on Amazon.com: “Pancakes? No Thanks!” by Herman Huber, Illustrated by Kat Block.