I’m thrilled to welcome the author of Dinosaur Pie, Jen Wallace, into The Reading Realm to talk about her journey to publication and how this fabulously funny story came to be!

But first – what’s Dinosaur Pie, illustrated by Alan O’Rourke, about?

It wasn’t really Rory’s mum’s fault. She just bought Dinosaur Pie for a change and gave it to Rory for his dinner. The next morning he was a dinosaur. Not dressed up as a dinosaur – actually a dinosaur. His friend Daria suggests: ‘Like, you could totally pretend to be cosplaying a dinosaur. Like, that’s funny, a dinosaur playing a human cosplaying a dinosaur.’ It’s not all that funny really. Rory can’t talk. (That’s because he’s a dinosaur.) And he can’t bear the thought of eating an apple. All he wants to eat is sausages. It doesn’t wear off. The supermarket that sold the pie doesn’t want to know. The doctor isn’t all that helpful. What are they going to do?

Buy here!

Hello, I’m Jen Wallace, author of Dinosaur Pie, my debut children’s book. I thought I knew a bit about how books get made but really, I had no idea of the amount of work that is put into bringing a book from manuscript to publication.

We are fortunate in Ireland that some publishers take submissions directly from authors and that was my way in. I went from signing with Little Island last May to having the book come out this April, which I hear is quite speedy for an illustrated book in this industry. Many debut authors have an agent to help them navigate this whole new industry but I’m without an agent so far. So, I’m just muddling along and grateful for the very organised and supportive team at Little Island.

In the time between finishing edits to the text and the next phases of illustration, copy editing and marketing, I had happily moved on to a few new projects and was writing away thinking that those publishing people were looking after my book. They were, of course, but my input would soon be required.

Then the book business proper began, which is very different from the writing business. There were so many emails, and so many decisions. It was great and overwhelming all at once. I spend most of my days as a carer, writing when I can. Suddenly I was scheduling in zoom meetings, making time for reviewing and writing emails before making breakfast for everyone and starting our day.

There were weeks of back and forth with the art editor about the illustrations. Alan, the illustrator, did so much wonderful work. There were cover designs that we all voted on here at home. There were copy editing changes to review. It was a whirlwind.

This heart-warming and hilarious story is illustrated by Alan O’Rourke!

I had a lot of debut author stuff to do too, like setting up my author pages on the big platforms, building a website, planning author events and workshops and figuring out so much social media stuff (this is not my natural home).

The marketing and publicity people were so enthusiastic and passionate. Soon I was writing blog posts and articles, answering interview questions and taking calls from reporters. Ah, the nerves. But it was good for me, pushing the edges of my comfort and encouraging me to distil my thoughts into some sort of cohesion.

When my book went out for review, that was a whole new level of vulnerability I wasn’t prepared for. What if they all hated it? That ole imposter syndrome growled away in the background all the time. Thankfully, the children’s book industry is a lovely place and the reviews so far have been very positive. I have been given great advice and support from experienced authors both privately, on social media and at Children’s Books Ireland events and I am feeling a real sense of community with the rest of the lovely folk who write for children.

Then my box of author copies arrived in the post (yippee) and there were stickers and bookmarks and posters and I have had to accept that this is actually happening.

I’m writing this piece in the countdown to the launch date, just as the pre-orders are going out. I am busy with publicity stuff and wondering how authors ever get the time to write books. I think I need to up my organisation game quite a bit and figure out the ebb and flow of the book world.

There is still so much to learn but I am enjoying it all immensely.

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