Part 2 >>

An Author/Illustrator’s Journey From Self to Trade Publishing

Featuring Just Dance Picture Book

If you’ve ever wondered how difficult it would be to trade publish a book as a new author without personal connections in the business, this series if for you. I will share with you my entire, unvarnished journey towards trade publishing my new picture book.

The Goal/Challenge

To find an amazing trade publishing team that will take my picture book, Just Dance, to the New York Time’s Bestseller List.

The Book

Just Dance is a story about Ellen who solves every problem by dancing, until she may never dance again. It is really about how life can derail our dreams (note: the unexpected appearance of COVID-19 in 2020), but that does not mean we have to stop dreaming. Dreams can change and move in other directions.

Just Dance Concept Illustration Color Test

The Challenger: Mili Fay

I am a classically trained animator turned author/illustrator by painful personal circumstances that prevented me from committing to a studio life. I am also not a complete rookie in Publishing.

Publishing world is all about “show don’t tell”; therefore, to learn as much as possible about the process, while showing what I could do, I self-published my first picture book, Animals In My Hair (2013). What I did not expect was to fall in love with self-publishing. In the past decade, I have mostly worked on my own books as a Canadian Indie Publisher, though I did freelance as an artist for other organizations, including National Geographic (2012). I painted portraits, sang in a choir, wrote a 600-page fantasy novel, travelled, and took care of my family. I am a member of SCBWI and have attended Book Expo twice. I just finished a workshop with The Manuscript Academy, and I am attending the SCBWI Summer Conference 2020 in 9 days.

The Good

I’m starting my journey with several years’ worth of research and proof that I have what it takes. After all, Animals In My Hair maintains a five-star rating on Amazon, I have a small but fiercely loyal Social Media following, and my work keeps showing up on piracy sites around the world. There are people willing to commit crimes to own my work!

The Bad

I do not know who should publish my book. My connections in the business are very thin. Will the label “self-published” be an obstacle?

The Ugly

I was raised to be modest and proud. It makes me physically ill to push my own work and ask people I do not know well for help.

With the preliminaries out of the way — LET THE CHALLENGE BEGIN!