We just released a fabulous three-book, early-chapter series called Victor the Friendly Vampire by first-time author, Jeff Kessler. This project took about a year to produce from start to finish with some interesting twists and turns along the way.
When Jeff submitted the project, he imagined a beautifully-illustrated picture book. After finding the perfect illustrator for the project, Ukrainian artist Ann Azarova, production was underway. Author and publisher agreed the word count was too high for a picture book so we started the process of cutting the length to get under 2,000 words. During that process, two things became apparent: Jeff’s writing was excellent. As a result, the story ought to be expanded, not cut, so we pivoted on the fly. We challenged the author to turn his script into an early-chapter book. Jeff responded beautifully and the story’s full potential was realized.
Now what to do with the full-color illustrations that had already been commissioned? We used one for the dust jacket and the other illustrations were de-colorized and placed at key points in the story. The early-chapter book format worked so well, Jeff penned another two installments of the series: Victor and the Bullies and Victor Finds His Family. A proper series was born with all three titles being released this month just before Halloween.
Another seemingly subtle change was made. The setting—the author’s hometown in Northern Michigan—was given a greater emphasis in the story. If you read my last blog post, you know the various benefits of regional titles. Not only did change give the series a more personal feel, it’s created a buzz in the author’s community and has local bookstores clamoring to stock the series.
Projects can take you in a direction that you hadn’t imagined. Writing is, in fact, a process. As Jeff Kessler learned with his Victor the Friendly Vampire early-chapter book series, there’s no telling where the process will take you as long as you’re open to the possibilities.
You can purchase the Victor the Friendly Vampire series here.