Tsivya Fox is one of those people who “did it”. She dreamed of writing a book and well, wrote one and published it. While so many people dream of publishing a book, Tsivya took the plunge and went through all the steps of publishing. Her book Dirty Tzitzit, Shiny Neshama is really attractive with colorful illustrations which are upbeat and quite detailed. I can attest to the fact that kids love the book! I asked Tsivya to share some of her experience here. What do you think? For those who have published, how is her experience similar or different to yours? For those dreaming of publishing, does Tsivya’s journey make you want to take the next step?
What is the story behind this book and why did you write it?
My friend and I were chatting after he had a long day doing some messy volunteer work for someone. During our conversation he said, “WOW, I have dirty tzitzit and a grimy kippa.” I immediately said, “That’s a great name for a children’s book!” and, thus, the book was born.
What surprised you about the whole process?
The whole process took about a year of loving labor. The basic story was written relatively quickly. When I am inspired, the words flow. However, once the story was on paper, I spent a lot of time perfecting the word usage and story line. I would wake up in the middle of the night thinking, “This word is better than that word, etc.” Then, I sent the story to several friends who provided additional helpful input.
I hired a freelance illustrator who did an amazing job with the illustrations. They are very beautiful, loving and happy. However, making sure that each picture reflected accurately the story as well as wanting the book to be universally accepted by all groups of people was also very time consuming – though totally enjoyable for me.
How did you price the book?
I researched the current prices of Jewish kid’s books so that my book would be in the “ball park” price wise.
What would you do differently now that you are a veteran of writing and publishing your own book?
For financial reasons, I did the first printing of the book as a paperback. Several book stores and some parents said that they would only take a hard cover.
What were the most effective ways of promoting your book? What worked? What didn’t?
Jewish themed children’s books do not sell themselves. When I participate in artisan sales, Pre-Chanukah and Pre-Pesach sales, the book sells well. I found that random advertising doesn’t do too well. However, the personal presentation shows people how great this book is. Once people read the story, see the colorful pictures, and get the happy reaction from children, they come back to buy more books for friends and family.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Everybody seems to love this book. People stop me on the street to tell me that their children, grandchildren, or students keep asking to hear the story again and again. I am very grateful to have provided a book which sends a message of kindness, judging favorably, and warmth between parent and child to home and school libraries.
How can someone get the book?