Fables & Fauna Changes for 2019
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Happy New Year!! It’s that lovely time of year for business owners and entrepreneurs to take a look back and try to fix everything that wasn’t working the year before! Kinda like a New Year’s resolution, I suppose, but for your business. :)

And after I got sick for 2 weeks straight and then immediately got swept away by the busy holiday season, I was able to take a BIG step back and do a LOT of reflection on Fables & Fauna. Apparently it was for the best, because I made some major realizations…

So here are the 3 BIG changes I have planned for 2019-

Change 1: I need to explore other methods of storytelling than just books.

Why?

Each children’s book launch needs: 1. Huge investment/crowdfunding and 2. Lots of time (minimum of 1-2 years since it’s just me here and not a whole publishing team, thank you very much!)

Because of this, I’m stuck in a situation where I can’t make enough money selling one book, and I can’t make more books without money. …It’s an unfortunate truth.

Fact: Bookstores are dying out. Indie bookstores are hanging in there thankfully, but I have to wonder if it’s because of the customers feeling obligated to support small businesses and their craving for community. I don’t know if these are strong enough motivators to actually last years down the road, and I’m not willing to risk Fables & Fauna’s future on it.

Fact: Publishing companies make an overall profit of 2% while the standard business makes a profit of 5%. (It’s actually a big difference.)

Fact: Typically, children’s book authors and illustrators need to travel and do various presentations to make extra money just to make it through the year. It’s rare for them to survive off of freelance work alone.

But I’m looking at this situation like an optimist! Because I think it’s the perfect opportunity to experiment with different ways to “reinvent” different ways to visually tell stories….

What do you mean, ‘other storytelling methods’ anyways?

Interactive e-books, videos, comic strips… Things like that. (Further examples of this given in “Change 3” below.)

I’ll use my Tortoise and Hare characters to experiment until I’ve found something that clicks!


What about your other children’s book projects?! You’re not giving up on those, are you??

PSH! Of course not! But I AM being realistic- it’ll take time and money to complete each step of my book making journey.

 

Change 2: I’m going to start doing freelance children’s book illustration work, first starting off by teaming up with BookLogix.

Why?

Simple: It’s not smart to base my business’s income ENTIRELY on selling my ONE kids book, Amelia the Flying Cat.

Even if it was flying off of the shelves (like the pun?) like a NY TImes Bestseller! And as established earlier, making more books to sell isn’t going to happen overnight either.

I’ll be honest, starting freelance work scares me the most simply because it’s the biggest change. Which is why I’m happy that BookLogix will be accepting me as one of their illustrators and helping me adapt to the realm of freelance!

Cool! I want to work with you!

D’aww, shucks! :) If you’re interested in hiring me to illustrate your children’s book, please feel free to email me at nikki AT fablesandfauna DOT com for now. I’ll post a service package and a full portfolio on this website, so stay tuned to learn more!

DO keep in mind that hiring a children’s book illustrator is an expensive endeavor, and is NOT worth doing for someone’s baby shower gift or making a book about your dog or something menial like that. I can only do 3 projects per year, so imagine making a living off of $_____ x 3. If you’re still interested, NOW you can email me. ;)

 

Change 3: And to make my Fauna Friend’s Stories enjoyable for all ages, not just kids.

But how? You’re a children’s book illustrator!

Yup! And I don’t ever want that to change. :)

But imagine if my Tortoise and Hare pair could stand out on YouTube like Simon’s Cat.

Or bring joy through cute little gifs like Pusheen on Instagram or Tumblr.

Or make you laugh like in these comics Brutus and Pixie or Fowl Language Comics.

…I want to explore the possibilities this year! And maybe the recognition could help me make more books faster, eh?

 

Needless to say, I’m nervous about 2019 because that’s a LOT of change. But I’ve thought about it a lot, and I think it’s just what Fables & Fauna needs!

How about YOU? What’s changing for you in 2019?

And what types of Tortoise and Hares stories would you enjoy most: Interactive E-Books, Comic strips, or Animated YouTube videos? Let me know!


Nikki Floreno
Crowdfunded Children’s book Donation Helps the Adoption Community at “Changing Children’s Lives” Event
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See this lovely lady on the left, standing next to me and my hubby Steve at the “Changing Children’s Lives” Fundraising Gala? This is Bethany Adoption Services's financial coordinator, Andi Swan. Because of her, my Kickstarter backers, Bethany, my Book Club, and more, I was able to do something for the greater good this past weekend…

Last April, when I had finally finished writing and illustrating my first children’s book Amelia the Flying Cat, I envisioned launching a crowdfunding campaign to bring it to life. But I had an extra goal in mind too.

I knew adopting families could benefit from this book. And I wanted to help those families.

 

Surprisingly, it wasn’t that easy to find a place to donate my new children’s books to. Who knew that the usual adoption facilities were picky about donations? I called adoption agency after adoption agency. I heard “No” again and again and again. They just wanted money, not books!

EVEN IF those books portrayed a heart-warming story about a cat who was adopted by birds.

...A story that showed a family loving and supporting each other, no matter how different.

...A story that is now being used as a tool in post-adoption therapy sessions to help children, some of who have been through unspeakable traumas, adjust and accept their new loving family as well as themselves. (More on that here.)

That is, until I called Bethany Adoption Services (now Bethany Christian Services), and Andi Swan picked up the phone.

Page 1 & 2 of  Amelia the Flying Cat  children’s book

Page 1 & 2 of Amelia the Flying Cat children’s book

It was clear that Bethany was different. They cared about the well-being of their kids- before, during AND after their adoption journey. In fact, they help with the toughest cases of adoption because no one else will. (More on that here.)

 

Fast-forward, after launching a successful Kickstarter (I’ll write about that story later), where EIGHTY of my backers had chosen to donate an Amelia the Flying Cat children’s book to Bethany! Wow, just… WOW. My dreams were finally coming true. And I could actually help the world as I accomplish them!

So I finally walked into Bethany’s National Adoption Month “Changing Children’s Lives” Fundraising Gala this past weekend.


...Carting boxes of 80 Amelia the Flying Cat children’s books to the event.

Hastily wrapping up two original works of art from the book itself, adding in their certificates of authenticity, ready to raise money during this evening’s auction.

Dressed up all fancy, with a silly yet luxurious purple fur coat to keep me warm, I pinned my Bethany Gala event pin to it, and then held my husband’s hand…

2 Original artwork pages from  Amelia the Flying Cat  children’s book that I donated to Bethany’s auction

2 Original artwork pages from Amelia the Flying Cat children’s book that I donated to Bethany’s auction

It was nerve-wracking, because I knew what was about to happen. Andi got up in front of the ritzy ballroom, made her way through her presentation slides of people to thank, until she got to one with Amelia the Flying Cat on it.

The room “aww’d” at her summary of my children’s book story. Then she told them about my donations. Then gestured to me-

I was scared and embarrassed, but I stood up-

And all 350+ people clapped for me.

…My shy inner introvert soul shriveled up and died on the spot. Why does promoting my books have to mean personal attention?! (Thank goodness it wasn’t ME on that stage!)

There was an inspiring video of an adopted boy from Korea. Then a speaker. An amazing choir. The Keynote speaker. Then-

My heart sunk. They started the auction bidding. …With my original artwork from the book. EEK.

“What if no one bids for it?” I thought to myself nervously.

And yikes- they DIDN’T! The auctioneer called out more and more numbers. Nothing.

My heart sunk even more.

Apparently, starting off an auction is rough. Even for a fundraising event.

Thankfully, the auctioneer got things rolling- Bid card, bid card, bid, bid, bid… SOLD! Both were sold to a crowd of people who, an hour ago, had no idea what Amelia the Flying Cat evenwas!

It’s a strange feeling to walk around and hear random people tell you “Thank you,” as they walk on past. But that’s what happened for the rest of the evening, as the event drew to a close.

But there’s more people to thank than just me. So I’m going to pass those “thank you’s” on to those who didn’t hear it, but deserve to:

Thank you, Kickstarter Backers for making this happen in the first place, and for those who donated a book.

Thank you, Andi Swan and Bethany for letting me try to help the world, in my own way, when no one else would.

Thank you, Fables & Fauna Book Club for cheering me on throughout my book-making journey.

Thank you, to Amelia the Flying Cat’s editors, Emmy Scott and Douglas Humphries.

Because of ALL of us, there will now be 80 children’s books gifted to newly adopted children from Bethany Christian Services! And extra money from fundraising too, after auctioning off two Amelia the Flying Cat original artworks.

Now all that’s left is to continue sharing Amelia the Flying Cat with all those families who need it! And… make many more children’s books, of course. ;)


Nikki Floreno
When Children's books cross with comic books...

If you’re a children’s book enthusiast, you’ve probably heard of Mo Willem’s books. The page layout and format is really easy and fun to read with your kids. They are CRAZY popular right now. (These pages are from Elephant and Piggie’s Biggie.)

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This new storytelling style that he has introduced to the Kid Lit community is very simple and conversational, with speech balloons dialog instead of storybook text.

...I don’t know about you, but the first time I saw his books, I thought, “Oh, so it’s like a comic book for kids!”

And then I realized, “Psh, I could make that! Actually, I bet I can make a book even BETTER.”

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Quite a bold statement, I know. But I’m a children’s book author & illustrator with way too much comic drawing experience:

I drew comics to earn my BFA in Sequential Art (aka, basically the art of making comics) at SCAD, I went off-campus to Tokyo and studied comics with a famous cartoonist, and I drew a comic strip about my life every week for about 3 years straight. I even took the ultimate comic challenge, 24-Hour Comic Day, and I successfully wrote, drew, then inked a 24 paged 11x17 inch comic book all in 24 hours.

 

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So, rather than being inspired by Mo, you could say I feel challenged.

Challenged to make my own version of this children’s book + comic book hybrid!

(And kudos to Mo for making it popular in the first place.)

And my first children’s book using this method will feature Abel the Tortoise and Ana the Hare.

It’ll be an animated ebook series, and if I can figure out the logistics, I’ll offer it in paperback as well.

Plus, I think that once I get going, I can easily and quickly build up a series! So watch out, the tale of the Tortoise and the Hare is getting a major revamp. ;)

Stay updated on the Tortoise & Hare Children’s Book here.


Nikki Floreno
Fables & Fauna's 3rd Marietta Art Walk

BRRRR! I don’t know about you, but here in Georgia the weather just switched from “hot summer” straight to “WINTER COLD.” That’s right, we skipped Fall completely. (Hence why we look so bundled up, haha.)

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Best moment of the event:

Two couples with a baby were strolling on by- nearly passing by the Fables & Fauna booth completely- but they all simultaneously looked over, their faces lit up instantly when they saw my “Amelia the Flying Cat” children’s book, and they all gasped in unison.

…Turns out, the little baby girl in their stroller was named Amelia! I don’t think I’ve ever seen four people have the same light-bulb moment at the same time before, haha.

Head’s up!:

There’ll be one more Marietta Art Walk this year, on Dec 7th, and there’ll be a Santa in the middle of the Square! I’m waiting to hear back to see if I’m accepted to go again, I’ll let you know. And we’ll bring a heater this time! (Lesson LEARNED.)

Next up:

This Friday is the Bethany Adoption Services “Changing Children’s Lives” fundraising gala, since it’s officially National Adoption Month! Will I see you there?

Nikki Floreno
Welcome to the NEW Fables & Fauna website!

The last thing I want Fables & Fauna to be is another ecommerce shop that shouts “BUY ALL MY THINGS” as soon as you visit. That’s why I felt like a website rebuild was critical.

I want Fables & Fauna to…

…inspire happiness every time you visit the website!

…make you feel like you can explore the world of Fables & Fauna!

…showcase my Fauna Friends, so they can become your friends too!

…make it easy to browse children’s books when you’re ready, and…

…be a place for PLAY and FUN!

I must admit, there’s SO MUCH more I wanted to implement at the new fablesandfauna.com right away. But you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time, so I’ve decided to slowly build and improve as I go instead.

So get ready, more Fables & Fauna fun is on it’s way!

-Nikki

Nikki Floreno