My first book with a major publisher came out a good number of years ago.
I submitted that particular book to over 50 publishers, some big some small and was rejected by them all but one.
Finally, it was acquired by Harper Collins Publishers in New York.
The initial version of the book I had sent them was illustrated in black and white because I wanted it to have the feel of ‘The Giving Tree,’ by Shel Silverstein.
Harper Collins had different ideas. My editor wanted it in full color.
I was excited, but petrified because I was at the beginning of my illustration career and was afraid that I was going to make a mistake when painting the color pictures for the book.
After freaking out for five minutes, I tensed up and painted the illustrations as perfectly as I could.
The publisher wasn't happy with my efforts. They were rather blunt about not liking what I sent them back.
I was devastated because I was so sure they were going to love what I did, but they didn’t.
I tried it again. This time I worked even harder to do the perfect watercolor illustrations.
They still didn't like what I had done.
I felt quite depressed, to tell the truth. My big break was feeling rather broken.
After some calls and discussions, the publisher decided to get, what they called, a colorist to do a sample illustration using my line drawings.
They sent me a sample page of the guy’s work and asked if I minded if that person did the coloring of my book.
I was very disappointed, to say the least. I felt like a bit of a failure actually. My big bright moment had a dark gray cloud hovering over it.
I wallowed in self-pity for about five minutes and then accepted the inevitable.
Truth be told, which I wasn’t going to admit in public, I kind of liked the sample painting the colorist had actually done.
Then I had a revelation. “ $#@*, I bet I could do that." I thought to myself.
While speaking to my mother on the phone later that day, I subconsciously doodled with my paints and duplicated the style the colorist had produced without even realizing what I had done.
My bruised ego suddenly peeked out from behind the dark cloud. I marveled at my own creation. “Hmmmm.” I thought. “It looks really good.”
I did a few more samples, and before any self-doubting could creep back in, I quickly sent the new samples off to the publisher.
They loved it.
And I illustrated the book in the style seen in this picture.
I’m really proud of the way it turned out.
The book came out the next year and was translated into many languages. It even had the honor of being acquired by Yoko Ono for the Japanese market. (Also seen in the picture is Yoko’s photograph (not mine) which appeared on the inside dust-jacket cover in the Japanese edition. I also heard a while back that Yoko Ono is considering turning the book into an animated short film. No news yet but I’m hoping that will come to fruition.)
The lesson I learned from the entire experience is that I was trying too hard to create the perfect pictures instead of enjoying the process, having fun, and painting the way I normally paint.
I was creating what I thought people wanted to see instead of doing what I love doing.
The stress, angst, and pursuit of unattainable perfection almost cost me the opportunity of doing my own illustrations for my first major book with one of the biggest publishers in the world.
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Go Read is the inside story of a book written by the book itself. It is an autobiography in which the book explains to readers that they don’t need batteries or a charging cord to read this book. And that if you sit on the book it won’t crack, but you will magically grow taller.
The centerpiece is the introduction of the book’s twenty-six roommates, also known as, The Alphabet. The roommates are presented in a humorous way with funny illustrations and silly situations to showcase each member of the alphabet in a memorable way.
In the end, the book reminds readers that books sometimes get lonely sitting unopened in a pile, or on a shelf, and to remember if you want to make yourself, or a book, very happy then, Go Read.
Go Read is designed to help kids learn the alphabet in a fun-filled way and to inspire them to read. Research shows that kids who are avid readers tend to get better grades and have a better chance of being happier, healthier and more confident.
Written and illustrated by best-selling, award-winning, children’s book author and motivational speaker, Trevor Romain, Go Read is designed to be read to kids in the kindergarten age range.
For the last thirty years, award-winning children’s book author Trevor Romain has been working with children from all walks of life. In the last decade alone, he has presented to over a million children across the globe. Connecting With Kids in a Disconnected World is the culmination of Trevor’s life-long work and his mission to help kids become happier, healthier and more confident.
The book is filled with practical, proven strategies, effective tools, and inspiring stories designed to help adults shape and improve connections with kids.
Based on his personal experience while working with terminally ill children, former child soldiers, children in orphanages, military children, foster children and at-risk children, Trevor shares ideas, case histories and successful techniques to help adults connect with kids, even under the most stressful and trying conditions. Download Trevor's FREE guide on 3 Great Ways to Connect with Kids!
A few weeks ago, after an all-day power outage and a severe thunderstorm, on the rural road outside the orphanage where we had been visiting for three weeks, there was a horrific, fatal accident.
Marion Cloete and her family who run the Botshabelo orphanage (in the Magaliesburg, in South Africa) responded immediately and I joined them being some of the first people on the scene as we ran through the rain and pitch-black, mud-soaked, fields to reach the accident.
I won’t go into detail but I was shocked to the core.
Not long after, many of the older kids in the orphanage arrived to help. I was touched beyond words by their compassion, composure, and kindness. In a truly touching gesture, as there were no blankets around, one of the kids respectfully donated his jacket to cover the body.
Because of the power outage, there was no cell phone service due to the storm and other factors. It took the emergency services over an hour and a half to arrive.
They directed traffic, managed the scene, collected belongings that were strewn along the road, said prayers for the man who lost his life and comforted the people who had come from the village and orphanage to help.
Words cannot describe this amazing community and how they came together as one during this gut-wrenching, terrible tragedy.
In honor of all at the orphanage, I would like to share this little documentary video I made of a day in the life of my Botshabelo family.
Thank you all for the amazing, love-filled visit. I’ve just been back in the US for half a day, but I miss you all already.
This is Botshabelo.
"The place where I grow ideas and create stories using words, illustrations and photographs." - Trevor Romain