Redefining Wonder Woman Series 10 – A Business Approach To Writing a Book

This month’s RWW Series features Katherine Mann, co-developer of a children’s books series based on the adventures of two Cambridge cats, Fitz and Will.

Katherine

RWW: Tell us a bit about yourself,  Laura Robson Brown and Jia Han. 
KM: Laura writes the stories, I oversee the business and marketing aspect and Jia is the illustrator. Fitz and Will, was co-developed by us in 2014. Laura’s writing and Jia’s beautiful illustrations, magically brings these adorable characters to life in  our three books, The May Ball, The Graduation and the Christmas Adventure.

 

RWW: How did you three of you meet?

Laura

KM: It’s funny. Laura and I met years ago in Fulham, London and then we found out that both our husbands attended the same university. By coincidence we moved to Cambridge in same month and have now lived on the same road for about six or seven years.

Jia

Jia was a post-graduate student at Anglia Ruskin University studying a MA in Book Illustration. Once we had the idea for a book, we approached the University and amongst a selection of samples submitted  by some very talented artists, Jia’s work stood out for us.

 

RWW: What led to the idea of writing a book for children?
KM: Laura used to work for a children’s books publisher in London and was keen to get back to work but couldn’t do it full time at the time because she had young children. One day, we found ourselves discussing the prospect of writing a book and it simply took off from there. 

RWW: You have taken a different approach to publishing your books.
KM: Having  a business idea and then weaving the creative around the concept was something we thought would work. We decided to set it in Cambridge and selected three Cambridge University Colleges to focus on – Trinity, St. John’s and King’s College. Our target market is Cambridge residents, alumni and tourists. 

Fitz & Will at Fitzwilliam Museum

RWW: Sounds like you had made up your mind to self publish from the start.
KM: Since it had a local hook, we were convinced it would work. We took the plunge and risked the funds to self publish. We set up Little Cam Books as a partnership and took it from there. Interestingly enough, we have had lots of people contacting us for illustration work as well as writers who would like us to publish their books. 

RWW: Would you say this approach has worked?
KM: Our first print run was a 1,500 copies and we set ourselves a realistic target of a couple of years to sell. We printed in May 2014 and had sold them all by August of the same year. We did another print run of 2,000 and have sold 1,500 so far. The second book, The Graduation Adventure was launched in April 2015 and we sold 500 in the first two weeks. So I would say it’s working for us. 

Fitz & Will (Illustration by Jia Han)

RWW: What’s the next for Little Cam Books?
KM: Our next phase is to sell nationally. The third book, A Christmas Adventure, was launched in October this year and will be featured at King’s College Carol service this year. 

RWW: Why cats and not dogs? 🙂 
KM: The initial story was actually based on mice that lived at the Round Church. However, when we started to look into illustrating the story, mice were quite small to draw and from an illustration point of view didn’t project quite as well. Also there was no affinity with mice so we then considered cats or dogs and went with the former. Maybe the fact that we both have cats contributed to that.

RWW: My daughter can narrate the whole story without looking at the book. You seem to have created memorable characters. Are Fitz & Will based on any of you? 
KM: No! They are based on our cats. (she laughs out loud)

Prince William reading The Graduation Adventure at St John’s College

RWW: How did you go from idea to print?
KM: Took a while. We had the idea a year before the first book was written. Then we procrastinated a bit but talked about it to a few people who we thought would be the target audience. Once we made up our mind, it took six months from choosing an illustrator to writing right through to print. 

RWW: What would be your advice to anyone thinking of writing a children’s book?
KM: Hmmm …..

  • Firstly, consider whether you are trying to fill a gap in the market or if your aim is to create the best children’s book
  • Read other children’s books
  • Dredge up old contacts who might be able to help
  • Do your research
  • Make sure your book is the right length for a bedtime read
  • Have enough quirky details for a younger audience but not too basic for a broader age range
  • Get the main protagonist lovable and create an affinity. Very important
  • Be determined but give yourself the right amount of time and set realistic targets
  • Be kind to yourself

RWW: How would you sum up your experience so far?
KM: Quite a good laugh. It has strengthened our friendship and we’ve learnt to appreciate our respective skills in ways we couldn’t have done before we started writing together. I love the idea of creating a legacy – something to treasure forever. It is super that people read the books and say they have it and love it. Receiving the appreciation is quite heart warming. And it’s a nice feeling to know that this Christmas, some children will be unwrapping our books as gifts. That’s special!

RWW: What has been your highlight to date?
KM: Opening the box of our first print. 

RWW: What comes The May Ball Adventure?
KM: So we launched the Graduation Adventure at the Cambridge Literary Festival this summer and will formally launch the Christmas Adventure at the King’s College Christmas Carol Service as the book is set at King’s. The bookshop is keen to stock copies for the service as well so hopefully we will have some other merchandising ready for Christmas as well.

RWW: I presume you all have full time jobs. How have you been able to juggle family life, work and the book?
KM: I don’t know!  My husband does think I might have taken on too much but I do enjoy a challenge.

RWW: My daughter had a question. Why were the lions grey and then at the end in colour?
KM: The come to life. 🙂

Love the funky boots & fashion sense by the way. Thanks Katherine.

The books are available in Cambridge at Waterstones, Jeffers, The Fitz William Museum and several independent shops in Cambridge. For a full list of stockist, visit http://www.litlecambooks.com

You can also get copies online at Little Cam Books 

 

 

 

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One Fine Day

One day, they will learn to clean after themselves

One day, things will be placed where they belong

One day, they will stop asking me why two million times a day

One day, they’ll be able to take themselves to places on their own

One day, I will be able to watch my own T.V instead of Transformers et al

One day, there will be no more after school clubs

One day, I won’t have any homework to check

One day, they’ll be cooking for us

One day, “I don’t know” will cease to be the response of the day

One day, they will remember to do all I’ve asked them to (NOT! 😂😂😂😂😂😂)

One day, One fine day, I will get my life back

Until then, we keep keeping on

I love them really 😉

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What is a Vision Board?

Ever since I decided to run a Vision Board Workshop, I’ve been asked the question, “what is a vision board” several times.

Simply put, it’s a mood board for your life  or a pictorial representation of your goals.

The reason most people don’t like New Year’s resolutions is because they end the year not achieving what they set out to do and that brings them down. One of the reason why we don’t achieve what we set out to do, is simply that life happens and we forget how important the goals are in the first place. In the face of competing priorities, the most urgent thing always wins.

A Vision Board, placed where you can see it daily, serves as that daily reminder to spur you on in spite of the competing priorities.

Don’t wait until 2016 to start thinking about what you’d like to accomplish with the year. Come along to this workshop and you’ll have the space to crystallise your dream and gain clarity on your aspirations, whatever they may be.

Early Bird offer extended till the 27th of November 2015.
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Eventbrite - Vision Board & Goal Setting Workshop

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Teachers Rock!

I am almost always overwhelmed whenever my kids have a play or presentation at school. 

I admire teachers particularly those who go the extra mile in engaging kids. My son’s class had a presentation on the rainforest today. By the time they were done I wanted to stop using paper, eating red meat and recycling every single recyclable product. I was like sign me up.

It’s one thing to teach but it’s another thing entirely to pass on knowledge that inspires children to speak passionately. 

To every teacher out there working their butt off, thank you!

  

A Promise is a Promise is a Promise is a ……

All weekend my daughter had been begging me to take her to the park. No one else was interested in an outdoorsy weekend but she kept asking. Not being of sound mind at the time, I promised to take her. I’m not sure what I was thinking either because any wise parent knows you never never NEVER promise a child anything. Not EVER!  

With her license to kill me with incessant “mummy when are we going to the park?”, I finally gave in at 4.30 today when most people were leaving the park and it was getting dark.

  

 She took rollerblading lessons a couple of years ago and she’s determined to pick it up again. So once we got back from church about noon, she voluntarily packed her bag and shin pads and bounded down the stairs expectantly. Little did she know it would almost four hours later before we did anything. 

As we left my husband looked at the time and gave me that looked that said at this time? I said, “I promised”. So off to the park we went. 

   

 

Thanks to her, I got to see lovely autumnal scenes at  Jesus Green as well as privilege of being able to make my little Wonder Woman happy.