If You Don’t Believe in Unicorns Than You Need to Read This Book

This book was my first book as an author AND illustrator. So it is extra special to me.
When I was younger, I dreamed of being a writer. But I also wanted to be a unicorn. So when I got older, and the time came for me to choose which one of those things I wanted to do more, it was no contest—I knew I just had to write about unicorns.

So what did this mean for my book? Well, first off: it meant that I wanted to prove to the world that unicorns are real. And second: it meant that it was going to be sparkly. Glitter is my favourite colour!

As you can see from the title of the book – Unicorns Are Real – I knew I wanted this book to be “factual.” I started with some basic questions:
What do unicorns eat?
How do they spend their days?
What are their interests and hobbies?
And so on and so forth.

From there, I just started writing down all kinds of things that popped into my head—and before I knew it, I had an entire book!
I wrote it in an hour and half or less, to be honest. I was inspired by the idea of how magical unicorns are and that we could all use some magic in our lives.
I just couldn’t get enough of magical creatures. When I finished writing the manuscript for Unicorns Are Real – I was so excited about it and realized this book would make a good series. I started making a list of other magical creatures that I would love to write about it. Creatures like dragons, mermaids and fairies. And those creatures went on to star in their own books! And poof – I had a four book series!

This was the first version of the cover!
Before submitting my manuscripts to my agent, I created a book dummy for Unicorns Are Real. A book dummy is a model of your children’s book. It is the entire book laid out with pictures in sketch form with the text. A dummy usually also includes 2-3 finished illustrations. It is made in the size that you want the final printed book to be.
I think that picture books are the most amazing form of storytelling – and the hardest. While they are created using words and images, they’re really a partnership between the two. As word counts drop, the illustrations have to carry more of the story, and things like page turns have to be concise. And since I was writing a board book, there were even less words than a traditional 32-page picture book. So the illustrations were that much more important.
A dummy is the best friend of any children’s book author/illustrator. It also helps anyone else who’s collaborating with you to see how text and illustrations work together on each spread. If you are both an author and illustrator, it is a must to submit a book dummy to publishers before they agree to signing you to a contract.
Once I had my completed dummy, I sent it off to my agent who started shopping it around to publishers. Random House quickly responded with interest!!
I was so excited I could poop!
Soon after, they came back with an offer: they wanted to publish all four of my books! I couldn’t believe it…I was going to be a published author AND illustrator!!!
The sketches that I had submitted for my book dummy actually went untouched. I think there was only one spread that I had to rework.

But… the final illustrations went through rounds and rounds of revisions before it turned into the book you see today. Although revisions can be a very stressful and time consuming thing – a part of me enjoys them.

Have you ever dealt with anxiety? If yes, what tools have helped you?

I’ve been illustrating for about ten years now, and I have to say that one of the most fulfilling parts of my job is working with a creative director who pushes me past my comfort zone. It’s not always easy, but it’s what makes me a better illustrator. And when it comes to illustrating books, I think that’s important.

So, to all those creative directors who put me through the ringer – THANK YOU!!
I had so much fun creating this book – it was like drawing all of my favourite things at once: unicorns, rainbows, stars, nature… and lots and lots of glitter!
I hope you love it as much as I do!

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