From author Lauren Orbison:
Tortellini was originally intended to be just a couple of blog posts. Writers are told over and over again to blog. Because blogs sell books. The more you post, the more people you reach. But a lot of writers write about writing. And I didn’t want to give the same advice that everyone else was giving.
So what else could I write about?
Dragons, of course!
The intent behind the story was a dragon anthology of flash fiction and dragon names going from A-Z. We called these “drabbles” if they were 100 words or less in the fanfiction world. I thought Dragon Drabbles was an adorable name for a blog.
. . . .
My writing mentor Holly Lisle held a contest to showcase student work with her anthology How to Think Sideways class. The theme of the contest was “creation.” The word count had to be 2500 words or under. Tortellini expanded right at the maximum word count allowed. The competition was intense. There were a lot of entries. And there was only room for 33 stories. I didn’t win in the top 3 for the cash prizes, but I got a spot.
. . . .
My mother loved the story. Now normally, as an independent author, that’s not a good thing to mention, because parents usually love everything their children write. “Good job, sweetie, I’m so proud of you!” is a typical reaction.
My mother isn’t like that. She is a National Board Certified 4th grade teacher.
. . . .
She loved Tortellini in short story form so much she begged for it in picture book format so she could read it aloud to her class. She talked about it at conferences she went to and got other teachers interested.
And kept asking. And asking. For years.
I agreed with her that it would make a great picture book. It only took one line of editing to make it suitable for children rather than adults. But, I thought the only way to get my book published in picture book format was to keep querying agents and publishers.
. . . .
I queried even more. But querying felt an awful lot like I was a hamster spinning my wheels. Who knew how long this process could take? I needed to be writing. These weren’t easy letters. It was a drain on my health, too. Sometimes crafting one letter took an entire day or more, depending on the agent I had in mind. And then after that, it took a little bit to recover from the intensity of the pressure involved.
I had always wanted to be published by the folks in New York, but then I got to thinking about the fact that once I gave the manuscript over to them, I would have no control what happened to it afterwards. Now, that doesn’t bother me so much with regular print material.
But for picture books? After the edit requests, I didn’t like the idea as much.
I would have no input in choosing the illustrator. I would not get to approve the illustrations. And I would be expected to market it anyway even if I hated how it turned out.
Not to mention the sheer amount of time involved.
I didn’t have the patience to wait another two years to put out my first book. Who knew what my health could be like by then? I couldn’t afford to wait another two years.
I went back to Holly Lisle for advice. Holly encouraged me to go independent.
. . . .
There was an awesome illustrator I wanted to hire, Theo Nicole Lorenz. I am a huge fan of her coloring books Unicorns Are Jerks and Fat Ladies in Space. . . . Her rates were too expensive for me to afford on our meager budget and she was swamped with other work until September.
She did give me a tip on how she found her first client, though. She told me someone had emailed her art professor and asked if students needed summer work and suggested that I explain my budget situation and that that’s what I should do.
So that’s what I did.
. . . .
We submitted our manuscript to CreateSpace on Amazon.com. It took about a week or less for us to get our proof copy. We made a scant few changes, most in the Author’s Note section and then re-submitted.
It was online live in 24 hours.
Link to the rest at Lauren Orbison
Here’s a link to Tortellini