by Ashley Lucus
This past spring I had an amazing opportunity to get one of my picture books potentially published by one of ‘the big five’. I was over the moon with excitement! FINALLY - after almost fifteen years of hard work and sacrifice, I was getting my work into the hands of amazing editors and decision makers. I was planning on a deal by Christmas and dreaming about seeing my book in stores.
I have had several books published in the past by some lovely indie and trade publishers, but they have been exclusively available online and in small retail shops. I felt like this time, I was surely going to see my work in New York City’s Union Square Barnes & Noble; or better yet - Books of Wonder on 18th Street!
Long story short, the opportunity fell through. I was left with an overwhelming feeling of disappointment and despair. How many MORE times will things not work out? How many more rejections will enter my life? How can I keep doing this to myself, not to mention all my family members that have had to suffer through my emotions too! Authors and illustrators reading this - I’m just being honest and I know you can relate.
After a few weeks of muddling through true depression, I realized all the hard work I had done for months developing ideas and artwork should not disappear in vain. I reworked the story and characters and posted a simple question to my social media audience asking if they’d be interested in my idea, and I got a resounding answer - YES!
I decided, as I have done a few times in the past, to self publish my story. I started to post questions on Facebook and Instagram, gaining key insights from my audience on what art styles and characters they liked most. I felt a great momentum building, and it was enough to push me into a 40 hour a week work cycle to complete the story. I created a dummy book, character sketches, photographed hundreds of miniature props and worked in Photoshop until my fingers were numb. When I received the first proof from CreateSpace, I was disappointed to see half the book just didn’t look right, so I dedicated two more weeks to finishing and redoing all the handwritten text again.
I believe a picture book isn’t just the book you see. It’s the hundreds of hours behind it. The joy, the tears and the reality that sometimes your passion might never truly pay off. It is pure dedication.
In August, I officially released Iggie’s Gingerbread on Amazon and am thrilled with the final product. I love how it looks, and am glad I pushed as hard as I did to make it. My goal is to sell 5,000 copies via a marketing plan that includes tons of social engagement and some short and sweet stop motion videos.
The lesson I learned from all of this, is that following your passion is imperative to being happy as a creative individual. The right people will come along and support and guide you, if you are true to yourself. Don’t hold back! If there is a will, there certainly is a way.
I would love to discuss any aspect of my journey with you, so please feel free to comment or reach me directly at www.ladylucas.com I truly love connecting with other SCBWI writers and illustrators! You can also find me on social media @LadyLucasArt and my new book can be found on Amazon via this link.
Love & Lemonade,
Ashley Lucas (also known as her artist name Lady Lucas) was born and raised in rural Lancaster, PA. She is a graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and has been self employed with her own arts business since 2011. Ashley has authored and illustrated a number of whimsical hand drawn story and coloring books including Boo, Bat & Pumpkin Throw a Party and The Magical Garden Coloring Book. Her most recent picture book, Iggie's Gingerbread, is based on her adventures living abroad in Salzburg with her Austrian husband. Ashley is an avid lover of animals and nature and a proud vegetarian. She can be found online anytime via her website www.ladylucas.com.