I was recently approached by Henry Herz, one of three authors of the children’s book Nimpentoad. I was happy to help promote the book for Henry and his co-authors. I am embarassed to say that before Nimpentoad, we did not have ANY books in the fantasy genre in our family library. I think it’s important for BOTH boys and girls to read fantasy. This book has unique characters that take you on an adventure into a fantasy world. Readers are left with a VERY positive message as the story comes to an end.
Below is an interview about the author’s journey in writing and publishing the book. Enter to win an autographed copy at the end of this post!
The book Nimpentoad is written by you and your two sons. Tell us about the journey from idea to being published.
I wanted to share my love of fantasy with my (at the time), five- and seven-year old sons. They were too young for watching most of the fantasy and sci-fi movie classics, and there are only so many good fantasy books available for that age range. Struck by inspiration one day, I came up with a way to share the joy of entering the magical realms of fantasy. I would write a fantasy book for them.
What I did not anticipate was that my boys would give me feedback on the story. They devised some of the character (Nimpentoad) and creature (Neebel) names, and made plot line suggestions. And who better to help make the story appealing to kids than other kids? So, my goal of interesting my sons in fantasy transformed into also encouraging them to write.
Originally, I only shared the story of Nimpentoad with family, for their own enjoyment. I had no thoughts of having the book published. But one day, my sister-in-law suggested that I consider publication because she felt the story was much better than a good deal of the books she was seeing for her similarly-aged kids. I thought about it for a while, and decided to give it a try.
The first step was to find an artist who a) had the skill and style suitable for our book, and b) was willing to work at a very reasonable (translation: negligible) price. This turned out to be the most time-consuming part of our journey.
Once again, my sons were involved, this time in providing art direction. We would explain in words what each illustration should contain. Collaborating remotely via email and DropBox, our artist would give us a rough sketch, and we would provide feedback on details and color palette. Nimpentoad came to life, while my boys added another dimension to their experience.
Given the amount of time that had passed, as well as the anticipated challenges with finding an agent or publisher willing to take a chance on an unproven entity, we decided to self-publish. CreateSpace has a fabulous web-based print-on-demand service, backed up by superb customer service support. We were in business!
Well, sort of. We had a good book, but we lacked readers. So, we then embarked upon the most arduous part of our journey “ promoting Nimpentoad. Luckily, my boys (dare I say it) are charismatic and precocious, and are comfortable conducting public readings and doing book signings.
I have booked my sons as much as their school schedules would allow. We’ve done readings and signings at San Diego libraries, elementary schools, La Jolla YMCA, the New Children’s Museum, Mysterious Galaxy Books, Readers Books, Warwick’s Books, and Barnes & Noble. We have books for sale in Mysterious Galaxy, Readers, and Barnes & Noble, as well as online at www.nimpentoad.com.
Nimpentoad has gotten a very favorable reception. We have 32 five-star ratings on Amazon (33 now because Maria wrote a review for us), and positive reviews from several well-known authors. All these appearances have further enriched the journey for my sons. They now understand some of the aspects of running a business, like revenue, costs, and profit.
What’s next for the three of you? What would you like to do with this book?
We’ve been doing all the promoting and sales ourselves. We would love to be represented by a literary agent to take Nimpentoad to the next level, broadening our reach beyond Southern California. We think the story themes (discouraging bullying, and promoting teamwork, creativity and perseverance), and the meta-story of two boys helping to write and promote a book, send positive messages to elementary school aged kids.
Advice to parents and teachers reading this in regards to self-esteem and bullying?
Always look for opportunities to pat your kids on the back for doing something well. Tell them you think highly of them – as Dale Carnegie recommended, give them a good reputation to live up to. Cultivate an open and honest dialog with your kids, so if someone is bullying them, they will tell you about it, and you can decide together how to respond.
Picture: Book signing at Warwick’s Books in La Jolla, CA