As writers, we salivate over the idea of publishing our words. We fantasize about finding someone to endorse our artistry with a publication name. I’m here to tell you that it’s possible, but that you can’t—or perhaps shouldn’t—do it alone.
One morning in 2016, I was sitting in front of my vanity mirror, getting my face ready to face the day. As I stared back at my reflection, I began to question the heavy-handedness with which I was applying my eyeliner. That’s when an idea grabbed me: be big.
I realized I wanted to harness the idea of bigness as empowerment, of taking up space as self-confidence. And, beyond my own experience, I wanted this idea to saturate into the mini bodily fibers of the loves of my life: my five-year-old twin nieces. So, I began to write. The words I was writing, it turned out, made the sounds that come from a children’s book. I later learned that what I was writing fell under the term of art picture book. One I would call Be Big!
I was backing my way into becoming what I am now—a children’s picture book author.
On March 5, 2016, I took the words I had written so far and attended the Storystudio Chicago Picture Book Writing Bootcamp. My snippets of Be Big! didn’t yet form a full story, but I was eager to learn everything I could about this world I was about to enter. That class ignited me into action and encouraged me to continue using the resources around me to finish Be Big! and get it published.
Later in 2016, I also attended a free Storystudio Write-In. I remember borrowing the SSC front desk stapler to adhere the mini pages of notebook paper together, creating the first mock-up of Be Big! After that write-in, I worked with master writing coach (and Storystudio instructor) Sara Connell. Together, we poured over my manuscript until it felt absolutely perfect.
By January 2017, I started submitting my Be Big! manuscript to potential agents and publishers. And on March 25, 2017, after sending out 101 submissions, I got a book deal.
Writing a book is a lot of work. Work that you, the author, must unavoidably do. But you don’t have to do it alone, nor should you. Despite how solitary the act of writing can be, you can still build a community around you to support and encourage you to complete that manuscript and get it into the hands of agents and publishers. I did it, but not without the immense help from my village.
Katie Kizer is a writer and lover of fuzzy creatures. She strives for authenticity in all things, but especially in her words. She humbly writes both fiction and nonfiction. She lives in Chicago. Visit her online at @katie_kizer_writer and thebebigbook.com