A New Road Traveled
For the past months this column offered travel suggestions for both near and far. My GPS led me over highways and unknown roads. I covered the Governor’s Art Show, farmer’s markets, King Tut, Front Range wineries, and much more including an Alaskan cruise. Now, I’d like to share how I navigated another road – the road to book publication.
“How The West Was Drawn: Cowboy Charlie’s Art” is the first of my five children’s books to be published. Writers often hear how easy it must be to write children’s books. Not true. Children’s books require fewer, but well-chosen, words. Look how each word of a Dr. Seuss book counts. Did you know he received 28 rejections on his first book before it finally landed an acceptance? Many other first-time authors claim similar stories. My publication came via an unconventional path.
Some authors follow the cliché of “It isn’t what you know, but who you know.” Publisher’s doors open easily to public figures and movie stars. Unfortunately, I knew no editors and have no public name recognition. I did it the hard way.
Over the past 15 years, my articles appeared in art, teacher, children, parent, Senior, travel and religious magazines as well as newspapers, Family Circle, and ten Chicken Soup for the Soul books.
During that time, I continued my quest of acceptance of a children’s book. “How The West Was Drawn: Cowboy Charlie’s Art” guides children to look at the art of Charles M. Russell. As a collector of Russell prints, I studied his pieces off and on for about 30 years. I met Frederic Renner, the foremost authority on Russell at the time. I’ve served as an art docent in four major art museums and two galleries throughout the West and given hundreds of tours, mostly to children, since 1985. A former elementary teacher, the subjects of Russell and art appreciation were a natural for me.
The format followed the formula of my museum tours -questions to encourage looking, a little information about the thirteen pieces and the artist. Text for each picture ran around 200 words.
Every non-fiction book requires a proposal which includes author qualifications, bibliography, marketing suggestions, sample pages, and a list of competition. After a year and a half of researching and writing “Cowboy Charlie’s Art,” I searched Amazon again for children’s books about Russell. My prior hunts found nothing newer than five years – old in publication terms. This time a new release on Russell appeared. Disappointed, I ordered it.
“Charles Russell: Tale-Telling Cowboy Artist” looked exactly as I envisioned my book would look. Even though a writer knows there are no new ideas, just new views on old ones, I shed a few tears because someone “beat me to the punch.” I shared this book with my writers’ group.
They said mine is different and made a suggestion. “Cut the biography part and stick only with the art appreciation. Submit it to the same publisher and suggest this book might serve as a companion to their new release.” The publisher bought it several months later.
On February 15, “How The West Was Drawn: Cowboy Charlie’s Art,” my children’s picture book for ages 7-12, will be released. It is available on several bookstore websites and amazon.com for pre-orders.
Now, my road turns to promotion. My GPS offers no help; I’m on my own. So, I suggest you go to my website, www.LindaOsmundson.com, and find a listing of book signings. I also offer a book launch promotion of free classroom author visits for the remainder of this school year. Contact me if you need a speaker, author visit or book signing for your school or organization.