Allie’s Big Dream: MA Project turned Children’s Book
In February, Klara Armstrong was asked whether she would consider writing the book that would become Santhini Koshy’s MA Publishing Project. After learning that Klara frequently makes up stories for her younger brother at bedtime, Santhini knew that Klara was the writer for her. Klara notes that “in the middle of lockdown I managed to write four picture books, and Santhani fell in love with this one.”
Writing the Book
Allie’s Big Dream is a children’s book aimed at those aged between four and seven. The book follows Allie as she dreams about being a footballer, encountering some friendship bumps along the way. The story “combines [Allie’s] love of football with writing” and is one of hope, family relationships and kindness. Both Klara and Santhini hope this book will encourage both little girls and boys to dream.
The plot itself is one that draws on similarities from Klara’s own childhood. “When I was around Allie’s age, I was consumed by singing and football. I felt pretty strongly about utilising those family connections in relation to the story, sort of our own way of honouring our own family relationships which we talked about a lot over the course of writing and publishing this book. I’ve got a young brother, who’s only nine years old, so his face was always in the back of my mind as I wrote this book. He was the first person to read the first draft of the story before the illustrations came along and he’s been telling all his school friends about it – so that really helped motivate me with writing this book back in the midst of the lockdown chaos!”
Publishing the Book
We spoke to Santhini about the publishing process of Allie’s Big Dream. “Picture books are a challenge in itself as they require very specific skills when you edit. You need to be able to visualise the story and say it in as few words as possible. You need to make the text catchy and fun for the child while also introducing words which may be new to the reader. You need to bring in exciting page-turns so that the curiosity of the child is piqued. And you need to do all of this in less than 1000 words.”
When asked about the marketing and publicity side of things, Santhini explained that, “due to lockdown, I had to focus all my energy into harnessing the power of digital media. I used Twitter, Facebook, YouTube (for the trailer and launch party) and micro-influencer campaigns to get word out about the book. Klara also has her own website with a blog page for the book. They are all powerful platforms and if you can coordinate your efforts across these platforms, you can gain a good amount of attention."
“As it was a university project, I did not spend much money on ads, but neither Klara nor I wanted to limit this to digital media. Half the fun in publishing is getting the book out there in person. So, we did make sure we have a few author visits and book readings lined up. We are also still trying to contact bookstores to do trial stock runs.”
Publishing a children’s book means you need to target more than one gro. “As the book was for such a young age group, we had to define our target audience. In this case, it was the parents, teachers, librarians etc. We had to first identify relevant groups, blogs, reviewers who were already in the field and look at what they were doing right.”
“I felt that focussing on the positive themes in the book was a good way to grab the audience's attention while also pushing the illustrations, for that is what will be most attractive to a child. After all, they are the end readers. I used the book's highlights in targeting the audience, but I understand that it is also important to build the credibility of the author to build an even bigger audience base.”
“Our friendship got us through the late-night calls and WhatsApp messages. We are both late sleepers and so didn’t bother looking at the time before sending a question on a sentence or publicity technique.” Klara also emphasised that [she] wants to give due credit to Santhini for the success of the book. “She has done a fantastic job and was a brilliant commissioning editor, but an even more brilliant friend.”
You can purchase Allie’s Big Dream here!
Or follow its success on Twitter here!