How I Got A Book Deal pt. 3

Now I had an editor, an agent, an idea… and absolutely no knowledge or training on how to write a children’s book (ah!). I just had my drive, eagerness to learn, a ton of sources and compiled data I had used for my infographics, and a totally unfounded belief that I could write a real book.

 

I got to work.

 

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With the guidance of my agent, Minju Chang of BookStop Literary Agency, I dove headfirst into how to make a children’s book. I spent hours at bookstores and in libraries. I studied my childhood favorites, rewriting all the lines on paper and rearranging them. I listened to experts — sitting back and watching what people had to say about writing books. I figured out how I wanted to tell the story: expository nonfiction with a silent visual narrator. I painted with paints and drafted with pencils. I did test pages for the book and preliminary designs for Simone, the main character in If Sharks Disappeared.

 

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Nonfiction at its core needs to be factually accurate. So on top of writing a book and figuring out the nuances of children’s literature, I also went back and forth with marine biologist David McGuire of San Francisco nonprofit Shark Stewards and  Dr. John McCosker from California Academy of Sciences.

 

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From 2013 to 2015 I wrote and sketched out many versions of If Sharks Disappeared — some of which are on binder paper, others on printer paper and some saved as text files on my computer. During this time, I also made a short film called, FINconceivable, which was pre-planned to If Sharks Disappeared, covering similar information in a different way. The FINconceivable film was my senior thesis project at California College of the Arts, where I graduated in 2014. I moved to Los Angeles to work full time in feature film animation as a character/costume designer at Sony Pictures Animation for almost two years, all while still working on If Sharks Disappeared.

 

I did all of this, without an official book deal or contract.

 

Then in 2015, one of those manuscripts stuck with my editor, Emily, and Macmillan officially offered me a book deal.

 

From 2015 to 2016, I edited and finessed the final text with Emily and illustrated If Sharks Disappeared. There are some things that never made it to the final book…

 

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And some that did!

 

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Then on May 23rd, 2017, If Sharks Disappeared hit bookshelves.

 

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To answer many people’s frequently asked question, “how did you get a book deal?” I don’t think I have the answer you are looking for. What I do know is this, I love drawing and storytelling, I enjoy being passionate about many things, and I love asking questions. Those things, combined with some fate and magic outside of my control, got me a book deal. And somewhere along the way, my passion project became one of the highlights of my career at a young age.

 

If I had any advice on how you can get a book deal, it would be this: follow your heart and what inspires you, speak up for what you believe in, and just say “yes” to leaps of faith whenever possible.

 

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If Sharks Disappeared can be found on physical and internet bookshelves everywhere and was a 2017 Kirkus Reviews best book, as well as, a 2018 Orbis Pictus recommended book. Keep a lookout for If Polar Bears Disappeared (coming August 28th, 2018) and If Elephants Disappeared (2019).

 

Lily

Read: Part 1, Part 2

 


 

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