For authors going through the development of writing their first book, the process is often described as daunting, rewarding and exhausting.
Crook County High School alumnus Court Abell just completed and published his first children's book, written with beginning readers in mind. The colorfully illustrated book, entitled, "Winslow the Wondering Walrus," is illustrated by Daniel Wlodarski.
Abell, who graduated in 2006 from CCHS, lives in Liberty, Washington. He had just started a new company at the beginnings of the COVID pandemic. Things were slower, and in the evenings, he decided to try and work on a children's book—which was inspired by his young sons. He wanted to include animals into the book and incorporated some of his son's favorite toy animals.
"I dedicated the book to them, and it was something they can look back on and look at it and say, 'My dad wrote that book,' or take it to show and tell someday. I would never have thought to write a children's book if not having kids, but after reading a bunch of children's books to them, I felt like I could do that," Abell said of some of the reasons for writing the book.
He indicated that he may write another book someday and wants to see how this book does first.
"If anything else comes to mind, at least I know the process now and what goes into it. I definitely learned a lot from it. It was fun, and it was a much harder process than I ever would have thought," Abell added.
In the beginnings of putting his book together, he had a couple of ideas in mind and began jotting them down. An author friend, Kristi Stalder, had just successfully published her own children's book and provided valuable feedback and advice to Abell for his evolving publication. Initially, he provided rough sketches and ideas for his book. Stalder is also a marketing consultant and was later hired as a professional consultant to market Abell's book.
"She called me and said, 'You have to do this book, this will be awesome.' She gave me some information on a Facebook page for authors and illustrators for kid's books."
He joined the Facebook group and was able to see different illustrators and their techniques. He especially liked an illustrator from Poland, Daniel Wlodarski.
"He agreed to do the drawings for me, and I really liked his portfolio and how he did his pictures," said Abell of his illustrator.
The time zones in Washington and Poland were challenging, as he and Wlodarski had to connect remotely early mornings and late evenings, as they worked page by page, picture by picture. He noted that the drawings were the most time-consuming part of the process in putting the book together.
"It took a long time to get to the final drawings. I had all the pictures done, and all the written content, but I was kind of stuck because I didn't really know where to go from there to get it published and how to get it out."
He reached back out to Stalder to guide him on the final formatting and getting the book ready for print. Up to that point, he had paid for the illustrator and only had the online copies of pictures and print.
"I didn't know where to go from there. I almost gave up and just didn't want to get it out because I didn't know where to go," Abell said of this point of the publication process.
Stadler was hired to do his marketing, and the process of marketing on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and Target.com proved successful. Initially, he did not share that he was working on a book with his family and friends, because he had never written a book and wanted to be sure he could finish the book and be successful.
The published book involves a Walrus character who goes through the alphabet with wonderings on colorfully illustrated animals. On the back cover, it reads, "Have you ever wondered if bluebirds blow big bubbles? Or if rad reindeer ride river rapids?"
"It has been a fun, long process," Abell concluded. "Once we sell more, at some point it would be fun for me to donate a bunch to the grade schools in Prineville."
Court Abell's book, entitled "Winslow the Wondering Walrus, ABC's," can be found on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, or Target.com.
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