Lauren Isabelle Pierre is a children’s writer, digital illustrator, and animation enthusiast residing in South Florida. She is the author of two books, and is expecting to release two more in the coming months.
What are the challenges of writing a picture book that people may not be aware of?
It’s harder than it looks! A lot of people have the awful misconception that writing for children is easier and even “less sophisticated” than writing for adults, especially in the case of picture books. That’s a boldface lie. Children need positive, upstanding literature to guide them through the journey that is growing up, and the writers who try to make that journey a little smoother (myself included) really are taking on a difficult, but rewarding task. Squeezing a meaningful message into 800-1000 words, in a way that is accessible by children is NOT as easy as it may sound.
How do you decide how much money to spend on marketing and prioritize what to spend it on?
Before publishing, I put aside a specific amount of money to cover copyright and printing costs. Whatever is left over is what I end up using for my basic marketing, which is typically self-served advertising on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Depending on what is needed to market my book at the time (paid book reviews, giveaways, etc.) is typically how much I’ll spend (though I personally haven’t tried much beyond self-serve). If you’re going to be an indie author, be prepared to spend as you go. A monthly marketing budget would be a smart move.
What message do you hope to impart on kids after they read your book?
My books put emphasis on positive traits such as compassion and self-worth. It is my hope that children can look at themselves and be comfortable in their own skin, have the courage to be themselves, and have enough love in their heart to accept and understand others for who they are.
What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced as an illustrator?
DEADLINES. Even though I’ve mainly worked for myself, goal-setting is something I’ve struggled with. The “trick” I’ve found helpful is to plan ahead; draw thumbnails so you know how the illustrations are going to look. Capitalize on your most productive moments during the day, and pace yourself; avoid getting burned-out and remember to rest!
What is the hardest part about being an indie author?
Getting noticed, most definitely. I mean, if you have an established presence online or in your community, I would think it’s a little easier getting your work into readers’ hands than it is when you’re new and relatively unknown. There’s a lot of stigma towards self-published books/indie authors, which is why I think it’s important to set your highest standards in content quality and presentation if you’re going to attempt to break into the indie world. It might seem easier than finding a publishing house, but without that “credibility”, it’s going to be a lot harder getting your work out there.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring authors and illustrators, what would it be?
WRITERS: Write what you’re passionate about, and not what you think is going to be popular. Don’t sell-out just to become famous or “get rich quick”. Writing is a labor of love and should come from your heart. Fame is secondary and doesn’t happen overnight. ILLUSTRATORS: If you want to get into picture books, planning is key. Develop a strong work-ethic; practice by thumbnailing scenes from your favorite stories and then illustrate a few. Keep a sketchbook and/or iPad close and draw as often as you can. If you’re looking for projects to help you develop your skills, read this article by illustrator Dani Jones: http://danidraws.com/blog/2007/02/21/101-projects-for-artists-and-illustrators/