I could not do it all by myself. That was clear from the beginning, after all I could not draw and there is no picture book without pictures. But yet, I tried (and thought generative AI would help), and thank goodness that failed. I obviously needed an illustrator! A human illustrator. I thought that once I had illustrations done, my book would be ready to publish. But I learned that there is more to the process than that. So, I would like to thank the following people for helping to make my book a reality.

Temi & Tomiwa – when you wait 14 years to publish a story you wrote for your kids, they get to grow old enough to become more vocal critics. In retrospect, I was only expecting positive feedback when I asked them for feedback but those two turned out to be a tough crowd. And I had to learn to take the feedback, which did result in a better story than the original. I’m also glad that I caved in to their insistence on a shorter, simpler title. I wanted, “There is no such thing as a Putaway Monster” – I even gathered a list of books with longer titles to make my case, but they were not swayed.

Amina Yaqoob – I had no clue how to work with an illustrator, or even how to pick the right illustrator. So, late one night as I was checking out illustrator profiles and portfolios, and pondering how to proceed, I decided spend a little money upfront to test the waters. I sent a snippet of the story to multiple illustrators and requested a one page illustration. Amina, from my snippet, sent back a detailed, fully illustrated page. She visualized the scene with great precision without requiring extensive descriptions and promptings from me. I was beyond ecstatic to have found my illustrator and I could not have been happier with the work she did for the The Putaway Monster.

Alison Woods – I was introduced to Alison through a mutual acquaintance, and I now think of her as my book advisor. First time we spoke, I thought I was all set. I had my story, I had my illustrator, all that was left was to compile the pages into whatever software I needed to use (I had read about inDesign, and there was also the Kindle Creator app) and upload it to either KDP or Ingramspark. I was yet to decide which. I thought perhaps she’d give me some pointers on those. Instead she took me way back. I mean, back to the beginning. “Did you file a copyright for your story?”, she asked . I did have the symbol at the bottom of my text file. But I had a lot to learn. “Did you have professional editing?” Oh no, it’s just a little story. I thought it was over-edited already as it was. I had read it to friends and family. I had succumbed to pressure/feedback from my kids. My sister had read it to her little kids and gave me the A-ok. I was feeling pretty confident that there was nothing left to be ‘edited’. But I said to myself, if someone who knows what they are talking about is doling out free advice, you take it. Alison gave me tons of great advice throughout the process and I got to meet her for the very first time when she came to support me at my very first book event.

With Alison at my first book event

Vickie Spencer – I sought a copy editor but expected the feedback would be nothing more than punctuation mark edits. And I expected I would feel totally gratified in my belief that I did not need a copy editor. So, my expectations were dashed and I was humbled when Vickie pointed out a logical flaw. I had referred to pieces of puzzles and box of puzzles without context as to what type of puzzle because in my home, the jigsaw puzzle is ubiquitous and we no longer name it. Yikes, I thought, I really did need a copy editor! She did something else though. She pointed out technical features of the story that work, and that gave me a needed confidence boost on this journey.

Bryony van der Merwe – A cover illustration had already been done and I figured the book designer would simply arrange all the pages, perhaps adjust the font sizes, and give me the ready-to-publish files. And this would simply save me the hassle of purchasing and learning to use inDesign. So I was blown away by the output of her work and came to learn that book design (interior and cover) and book illustrations are separate and distinct art forms.

I’m grateful to everyone who contributed their professionalism to the production of The Putaway Monster. And thanks also to all the friends and family, and my husband Toye, who encouraged me along the way.


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