Connie Jessop has always wanted to write books. She was just waiting for a “big idea”, an original concept.
That came in the form of a picture book called Alex and the Magic Cloud. It’s a fantasy fiction story centred on a talking cloud. Alex , the main character chants “Rain, rain, go away. Come back another day.” To his surprise the rain stops. He looks up into the sky and sees Jaz, a talking cloud. The story recounts his day with Jaz. The book went through numerous edits before she was happy with the final version.
She diligently sent it off to Irish publishers and also to British publishers and agents. The customary rejection emails flowed in. Unperturbed, she continued her quest. After all, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell was rejected thirty-eight times!
Tired of rejections, she decided to self-publish. She chose Xlibris publishing company as they had a package which included producing illustrations. The illustrations were sent to her in batches of five or six for approval. It was great seeing her creation gradually come to life. A few months after starting her publishing journey, she was holding a copy of her book in her hands. It was a wonderful feeling!
Shortly after publishing, the book was made available by distributors such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. She dreamed of handsome royalties rolling in every quarter but she’s still waiting for any at all! Undeterred, she carried on. It’s more important for her to know her books are being enjoyed by children.
Connie then tried her hand at writing a chapter book for older kids. She wrote Fedina’s first day at Fairy School, a charming tale of Fedina’s escapades at Fairy School. Fedina attends different classes, including baking fairy cakes that fly! For this book and her subsequent picture books, she called on the services of Wordzworth publishing company. As they do not offer the service of producing illustrations, Connie chose her own illustrators from websites www.illustratorsireland.com and www.fiverr.com. There were so many great illustrators to choose from, it was difficult to make a decision. She was nervous about picking an illustrator. If she got it wrong, it could be money down the drain. Luckily, the illustrators she chose were excellent. Nothing was too much trouble for them. They revised illustrations until they were just right. If she publishes another picture book, she is confident that she has the right illustrator.
Another picture books followed, The Cat with Curly Whiskers. The cat illustrations are so good, Connie worries kids will pester their parents for a cat! Connie did actually have a cat called Tia whom she rescued from a derelict house on a stormy night.
Connie’s favourite picture book is The naughty Naughty Chair. When a naughty boy meets a naughty Naughty Chair, chaos ensued.
Connie called on the unique illustration skills of Margaret Anne Suggs (who illustrated the hugely successful Pigin of Howth) to illustrate The naughty Naughty Chair.
Margaret Anne works by hand, with traditional tools, to create her illustrations. She lives in County Dublin, near the sea, with her dashing husband, two amazing sons, and a whiny cat. In her misspent youth, Margaret Anne spent quite a lot of time on the naughty chair!
One stumbling block that Connie came across was the difficulty in getting her books stocked in Dublin book stores. There is a reluctance to stock self-published books. However, she did manage to get her local book store, the Rathfarnham Book Shop to stock The naughty Naughty Chair and Fedina’s first day at Fairy School. Hodges Figgis stocks The naughty Naughty Chair, thanks to Margaret Anne Suggs wonderful illustrations.
Connie has no formal tuition in creative writing. She relies on “how-to” books. The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children, by Nancy Lamb is her Bible. She dips into it all the time, trying to improve her technique. She writes freely and then edits until the story is honed.
Her advice to would-be self-publishers, is to research publishing companies carefully.
Self-publishing is not cheap and you have to sell a hell of a lot of books to break even.
Connie comes from a creative family. An uncle was a creative director in an ad agency. Her sister is an illustrator and graphic design artist. She hopes to collaborate with her on a future project.
Connie hopes the inspiration keeps coming and that many more books will follow.
(c) Connie Jessop
Find out more at www.conniejessop.com
About The naughty Naughty Chair:
One day Robert was very bold and his Mother sent him to the Naughty Chair.
Robert hated the Naughty Chair. He wished that he could get rid of it.
Suddenly, the Naughty Chair lifted from the floor.
Robert was still sitting in it.
Was his wish coming true? How would Robert get off the chair?
Order your copy online here.