I can’t believe that I can finally say that my first children’s book #SpruceAndLucy is available for the public to purchase!
The path to this book being out in the world isn’t an easy one.
You see, all my life I’ve been told I wasn’t good enough. And the things I’ve internalized from that are still daily battles I face.
When I was in college I was asked to write and illustrate a children’s book as part of a class assignment. I was terrified. I had over 200 people in this college class and I didn’t want them to see the lack of skill I believe I possessed. I sat on this assignment for weeks not having any idea what to do.
I’m a doodler. During every class in school, somewhere on my notes, you can find doodles. One day while sitting in a chemistry class, I started doodling and ended up with a tiny tree. For whatever reason the name “Spruce” came to my mind, and a story began to form.
When I completed my story (and terrible illustrations), I then brought it to class. For the next week or so in class we had to share our stories with each other and rate them. At the end of that unit the teacher helped the highest rated story get copy-written….well crazy enough mine won!
So I got Spruce and Lucy copy-written, thinking no one would ever want to see it.
About 5 years later I met my now wife, Liz. At the time her dad ran a paper printing company. Even though I had never done anything with my children’s book, Liz found it, loved it, and begged me to try and release it. After meeting with her dad I got him to print up a handful of copies and for about a month I put them out there online.
Then I took the book down. I was embarrassed. I am a HUGE picture book fan. I felt like my story wasn’t good enough and that my illustrations were even worse. I felt like I didn’t deserve to have a story like this out there. That this wasn’t a path meant for me. So I locked the book away again.
And for the next 6 years it just sat there.
About a year and a half ago my good buddy Brad Gustafson started pressuring me to get the story out there. He loved it and was one of Spruce and Lucy‘s biggest cheerleaders. After much prodding, I decided to try a few publishers. By this point I had written three very successful books, was speaking all over the world, and creating content for people daily! You think I’d be in a total different mindset, right?
Wrong. My insecurity gets the better of me on most days.
After getting turned down by 5 different publishers, I thought, “maybe this is a sign. I’m not meant for this and there isn’t a publisher who believes in the story or characters the way I do”.
Then something hit my square between the eyes. I thought, “It’s 2019 (at the time). If you truly believe in this story and these characters, you can publish it yourself!”
So in a moment where I was feeling brave, I went on Fiverr and hired an illustrator. I wanted my book to look incredibly professional. I found a gentleman out of Indonesia who goes by the name Oketoon. I loved his work and asked him to design my cover, just as a test to see if we would be a fit.
After falling in LOVE with the cover I begged him to illustrate my whole book.
The process was incredible for me to watch my dream come to life. To see how Oketoon envisioned the characters and their surroundings and how accurate it was to what was in my imagination.
But hiring an illustrator isn’t cheap. And again as I was going through the process, even though I was blown away with the illustrations, all I could think about was….
what if no one likes it?
what if I’m laughed at?
what if it doesn’t sell?
what if I never make back everything I’m pouring into this?
what if me, brad, and liz are the only ones who think this story is worth sharing?
and I almost shelved it again.
When Oketoon sent me the final edits, I cried. I was overcome with emotion about a story that had been on my heart for 14 years was finally coming to life. And there was this immensely sense of peace on my heart knowing this story deserved to be out there.
But, I was most proud that I was finally taking a chance on me. That I was trying to practice what I preach about how you don’t have to wait for someone else to believe in you. If you love the work you’re doing, and you’re proud of it, put it out there. And I realized, I didn’t need validation from others that my story was good enough. Why? Because I finally believed it was, and that was all that matters.
I am so stinking proud of this story. I am so ready for the world to meet Spruce and Lucy and follow their journey. My dream with this book, from day one, has been that it would help a child be reminded that they have something great to offer this world.
So in saying all of this, I hope you pick up a copy of Spruce and Lucy and share with me what you think! I’d love to know!