Day 127: KidLit People Are The Best!
Having now received concept sketches from my illustrator of all the pages in my little self-publication project (turning an original Christmas song into a children’s picture book-more details at: https://www.thisislifesong.com/post/day-1-turning-a-song-into-a-children-s-book ), I am going through my first hard scrub, looking for thematic consistency, story flow, and of course grammar and spelling.
As I approached this phase of my project, I read many posts in groups like this one recommending aspiring authors ask others to review their work. I was more than a little anxious at the prospect of doing so. I found myself thinking:
- How shall I presume to ask for an hour or more of someone else’s valuable time to help me—a total stranger—in furtherance of my own pet project?
- Will what I’ve created look way too amateurish to be taken seriously?
- Might such a request on my part provoke the same sort of inclination to unkindness that seems to permeate much of the social media landscape in a way that will make me want to just forget the whole thing?
With these thoughts in mind, I posted a short and sweet request, noting I was a first time author and asking if anyone would consider reviewing by draft, then braced for the response, promising myself I’d keep my head up even the feedback was discouraging. In less than 48 hours, I had offers to help from so many wonderfully generous people… folks young and old, some just starting out, others who are established professionals in the craft with impressive experience and publication credits. Not only was everyone who commented—at least 20 or more in a handful of different groups—unfailingly gracious and encouraging, five of them offered, and then delivered, detailed page-by-page comments in subsequent email exchanges. Where I’d made glaring errors, their feedback was direct and informative, but kind. In other areas where my approach was a bit outside the accepted norms but not necessarily “wrong,” or ill-advised, they pointed that out too, but did so in a way that basically said “if you like it—go for it. Your opinion and instinct are completely valid!” (My wonderful sister-in-law, an accomplished adult fiction author, was incredibly generous with her editing skills as well!) I was, and I remain, absolutely blown away.
At first, I was tempted to conclude that my positive experience was simply a function of the genre; after all, you don’t find too many dark, depressing, “glass half empty” children’s books. But on closer inspection, I think there’s more to it than that. I didn’t get one-liner platitudes or “click & move on” emojis in response to my request for help. I got genuine, insightful, well thought out comments that folks obviously spent time preparing. One commenter even reviewed what I sent with her young son to get some “target audience” reaction! Ultimately, I think my experience isn’t merely a function of the genre, but rather it’s a reflection of the type of people who find joy in the creation of optimism, adventure, wonder, and kindness in the mind of a child… people like all of you. The whole world could use more of you, particularly at this moment in time!
I look forward to sharing the finished product later this fall. While I’d love to retire on a yacht named “Little Pink Kitty,” (the book & song title), even if I end up with nothing more than an expensive lesson and a garage full of books I can’t give away, I’ll be grateful to have had this experience.