Children's Book Author Interview with Colleen Canning of Bellies to the Sky – A Bedtime Breathwork Book
When did you become an author?
“Officially” June 2021
Do you have a writing background?
No. But I have written and created Strategy plans, marketing plans, advertising campaigns, etc.
How did you come up with the story?
I was at a yoga retreat in the Bahamas in December 2013 when inspiration for Bellies to the Sky struck. There were various speakers that presented different topics during this retreat. One of them was an American Indian Chief who talked about the value of our connection with Animal Spirits. I had a desire to blend the teaching of breathwork with animal spirits and relaxation – and somehow create a bedtime story for children.
How did you come up with the character?
I chose four animal guides/spirits that resonate with me.
Did you hire an illustrator or do the illustrations yourself?
I hired an illustrator. I found Allie Daigle on Instagram. The entire process from start to finish was very rewarding. We collaborated very well on this project.
Are you self-published or published through a publishing company?
I published through a local publisher – Beavers Pond Press. I met with other authors who had used them, and they had many good things to say about their services. Since this was my first children’s book, I wanted to learn and experience what it was like using a publishing house vs. self-publishing.
From the day you came up with the idea for the story until you were holding your published book in your hand, how long did it take to complete this book?
Great question. The text for this book “sat” on my computer hard drive for 7 years. Life happened, we moved to Asia for work, etc. Then the Pandemic rocked our world and I said to myself, “Now is the time. Kids and parents alike need a book that will help them relax, help them find stillness.”
What made you want to publish a children’s book?
I had a desire to turn my vision into reality. And I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could create something that would be of value to those that read it. The Book Publishing world is completely out of my “wheelhouse”. My background is in Sales, Marketing, and New Product Development – primarily in the corporate world.
What is one thing you wish you knew before beginning your book publishing journey?
The amount of energy it would take to “make it happen”. Totally worth it, but time-consuming.
Any tips for future children’s book authors?
I have so many tips. First off, figure out a budget. What are you willing to spend of your own money to make this happen? Research the various platforms that can help you attain your goal and provide financial relief – like Kickstarter. Next, create a slide deck for the type of images you believe “fit” your story. Research various platforms to find illustrators. Find examples of different author/illustrator contracts that work for you. Find local authors and see if they’re willing to sit down with you, a zoom call, etc. to talk about their journey. This industry is so wonderful – everyone wants to see you succeed. Accordingly, they’re willing to spend time helping you get there. Spend time laying out your text, scene by scene. Describe the setting/scene per page. This will really help your illustrator grasp what it is you’re trying to portray. Happy to share my outline with any interested author.
What is the best reaction from a reader, so far?
Reviews are so appreciated for any author, but especially a new indie author. This one really captured the essence of the book.
What is something you’d like people to take away from your book?
Our breath is probably one of the most undervalued and underutilized tools we have at our disposal – 24/7. Once kids and adults realize how easy it is to use their breath to “stop” feeling stressed, anxious, worried, etc. they quickly smile and say, “I feel so good, that was easy”. I created a curriculum for Grade K – 2 – promoting fun, easy breathing techniques. In-person or virtually via Zoom, you can see and feel the tension release after we do these exercises. Katie at The Calm Classroom (you can find her company on Instagram) promotes fun, engaging breathing exercises for kids.
Where do you get ideas for your stories?
Watching children play. Memories from my childhood and remembering what activities I enjoyed the most.
What’s your writing process like?
I write the story first. Then, I break it into “bite-size” pieces, like an outline, to create a vision for the illustrations.
What does literary success look like to you?
Another very good question. And one I didn’t, originally, spend enough time thinking about. ST goal – breakeven. LT goal – Bellies to the Sky is available in over 50% of local bookstores, accessible in local libraries, and promoted as a wellness tool for Grade K-2.
Do you read all the book reviews you receive?
You bet. And if possible, I always send a thank you note to the reviewer.
What is the hardest thing about getting your book published?
Making the commitment to see it through. Once you find a publisher or decide to self-publish – deadlines loom. You can’t have one foot in and one foot out… you need to be 100% committed. And have LOTS of time to see it through.