I am absolutely thrilled to bring you an exclusive interview today with Australian children’s author and illustrator Chrissy Byers. This is a must read for anyone hoping to follow in Chrissy’s footsteps and publish a book for kids, so grab yourself a cuppa (or hide in the loo!) and enjoy…
“Written, illustrated and self-published by Chrissy Byers, ‘The Magic in Boxes’ is a 52 page children’s book, manufactured using recycled materials, and inspires children to engage in creative play using the humble cardboard box. Written in rhyming couplets, with some repetitive text, this book is bound to become a favourite with your child. Suitable for children 0-7 years. Sample pages of the book can be viewed on the official website. Free international postage available through The book depository.”
Tell us a little about yourself, and what inspired you to the write / illustrate the book
I was born in the small country town of St George in South-West Queensland, Australia where I was fortunate to spend my childhood living on my parents’ cotton farm. As a child I loved stories and would often write and illustrate little books. It has been my life-long dream to be an author and illustrator. As a teenager I was discouraged to pursue this as a career due to the competitive nature of the book industry.
Thoroughly enjoying the idea of working with young children and delighting at the chance to discover first hand from classroom experience, what works well in children’s literature, I embarked on a teaching career spanning a decade and a half. The majority of which was teaching in a North London School in the UK. As a dedicated teacher I did not have time to focus on any writing or illustrating, anything spare went on travelling Europe!
I took a break from teaching after having my boys, and once they started school I was finally presented with the opportunity to write and illustrate my first book ‘The Magic In Boxes’.
How long did it take you from conception of idea to holding the book in your hands for the first time?
The concept of the book and the photos taken for the illustrations occurred three years before publication, but most of the work was done in the last eighteen months. It was all too much of a juggle while the boys were so young.
Why did you decide to go down the self-publishing road?
After submitting mock-up booklets to several Australian publishing houses, and getting rejections, I felt I couldn’t let all my hard work sit on the shelf. I was fortunate to have some talented friends who could help me with the language edits and graphic designer details required to get the book to a professional standard.
It was important to me to keep my 52 pages and use recycled materials in the books entirety – which would never have come to fruition if a publishing house had taken me on. Being self-published provides the opportunity to make decisions based on integrity rather than the dollar sign.
The up-side of self publishing is that you get things done your way; the down-side is that you got things done your way!
Tell us one thing that you would do the same again next time, and one thing that you would change
I’m really proud of the paper choices. I hope to have achieved a book which the reader is pleasantly surprised to discover is self-published.
I am sticking to the standard 32 page plan for the follow-up book, ‘The Magic in Dress-Ups’. Printing costs for this book were crippling, and the extra weight bumps up postage when sending it out.
What would your top tip for aspiring writers / illustrators be?
Surround yourself with positive and supportive friends! There will be enough knock backs and disappointments along the way, but if this is something that you really, really want then the only thing holding you back is you! If this is your dream, then you will make it happen if you want it desperately enough.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us Chrissy, I can relate to a lot of what you’ve said here. From the juggle of small children, to making decisions based on integrity and surrounding yourself with wonderful friends…
We love your awesome book in my house and cannot recommend it highly enough. To learn more about this wonderful lady, visit her website Books by Chrissy Byers. You can buy the book directly, or through The Book Depository with free international postage.