My picture book, My Cat Isis, is due for release in March 2011, but my clever publisher, Kids Can Press, already has it listed on the web. Check out their forthcoming Spring 2011 list. I’m there as official Kids Can Press author. The book exists on Amazon, Chapters, Barnes and Noble – go ahead, look it up – although it’s not even bound yet. Cool, huh? I now have two books to my name.
I love reading and writing picture books, but I love, LOVE, LOVE the process of having one published. Not for the pride and glory (although it does make me glow to think, “That’s my book!”) What is most thrilling for me is the process of handing off a few hundred words to a gifted editor who matches it with the talents of an incredible artist and works through every detail with a dedicated publishing team and, presto, they turn it into something gorgeous and rich and absolutely wonderful.
When I first recevied the colour pages of My Cat Isis, I could not stop looking at them. I made my husband and kids read them repeatedly. I spread them out whenever someone came to visit. I carried the cover page in my purse, in case I bumped into anyone I knew in the mall. (A casual, “Have you I shown you my book yet?” is never out of place.) I thought of making an iron-on transfer for a T-shirt, surrounded by arrows and capitals reading, “MY NEW BOOK!” (I might do that yet.)
Friends who like picture books read the pages and comment and exclaim along with me. Others – and that’s most people – glance at a page or two and say, “Cute.”
“No, no, no,” I want to tell them. “You don’t understand.” I should dig out my original manuscript and present it in one hand. “It used to be this,” I’d say, waving three boring pages in their faces. “And now it’s this!” I’d shout, hugging the awesome glossy collages to my heart.
Some people just don’t get it. Everyone understands the thrill of having a novel published, but not everyone understands the thrill of having a picture book published. Especially for a writer who is not an artist. I can hear those non-comprehenders thinking, “It’s 500 words. What’s the big deal?”
The big deal is that the whole thing began with my 500 words. And look at it now – it’s a work of art. From slush pile to art – that’s a very big deal. I am one lucky writer. Not for the pride of a publication credit, but for the joy of being part of a magical process of transformation. That may sound over the top (I’ll leave that bit off the T-shirt) but it has been a magical process for me.
Next time I’ll write about some of my favourite cat-related picture books to peruse while waiting for the release of My Cat Isis.