An Absolutely Epic Lesson in Perseverance: with Diane Elgin

Author Diane Elgin

Join Laurie and author Diane Elgin as they talk about the ups and downs that happen when you take on book publishing!

Diane and I started out the SAME.

(kindergarten teachers ROCK!)

Diane Elgin is currently a full time writer and part time homeschool art teacher.

She taught kindergarten for 16 years but recently she felt the need to write for kids. She wrote Daddy, How Does a Sloth Give a Hug about 12 years ago.

Diane believes the story should teach you something so that you can learn from the character’s experiences and then grow from what you have learned. Most of her picture books are for ages two to eight years old. Diane’s second book, Rain, Rain, Come Again, is now available!

It’s important to Diane to represent families just like hers.

And so it was so important that I show through my book, two different cultures coming together and a father’s love for a child.

But just for the little girl to see that and go, ‘That’s my Dad!’ melted my heart.

And I was like, ‘Oh, that was a need’, and that really made her feel great. I think I probably saw one Daddy and Me book, where the Dad is like in all of the pages and very much involved in the child’s life.

Author Diane Elgin

Have a listen to the show and see if you would have kept on going if you were in Diane’s place.

Contact Info

Facebook @authordianeelgin
Instagram dianeelginauthor
Twitter dianeelgin@picturebks

New to publishing and ready to launch your first book?

Are you wondering what to do now that your children’s book is ready to publish?

After all, it’s time to introduce your book to the world and you want to do it WELL.

Or are you already starting to panic about this ‘launching’ everyone keeps talking about?  Read more here…

Joining me for the first time?  Start at the beginning HERE

View episode transcript

A lesson in perseverance!

Diane Elgin

Laurie: [00:00:00] Hello everybody. Welcome back on season three of the writer’s way podcast. I’m here with the fabulous Diane Elgin. Welcome. Thank you for being here with me today. 

[00:00:10] Diane: [00:00:10] Oh, I’m so happy to be here. I can’t wait for you to share your story because I feel like it’s my story. So course I love that.

[00:00:17]Yeah. Let’s start with you just sharing, how you came to be a published author. 

[00:00:23] Okay. so Iit’s kindof weird, because when I was younger, I used to be the girl wear that would write love notes for the boys in my class. And then, and then that went away and, of course I went to school to be a kindergarten teacher and, loved teaching kindergarten.

[00:00:43] It was really hard for me to walk away from that. there was a new phase in my life and things just changed. yeah. 

[00:00:51] Laurie: [00:00:51] And so you had the idea when you were teaching kindergarten or when you were writing love letters. 

[00:00:55] Diane: [00:00:55] Let’s see. I kinda went through, like one of those midlife crisis last year and joined my short spell of midlife crisis.

[00:01:06]I, I had I had some prayer time and I was like, okay, we really need to start thinking about doing something else with ourselves.  we, and, and I, I found this book, it had written 10 years ago and, it was my daughter. She was two years old. And I just remember her asking my husband so many questions and you know how it is at night when you say I love you and you hugged him and then your husband goes in. And then it’s an hour later and you have to say, honey, you need to tell her good night !

[00:01:37] And so I notice story about her asking him a whole lot of questions, and that’s how basically the book came to being. 

[00:01:48] Laurie: [00:01:48] Oh, that is so cute. So did you publish it yourself ?

[00:01:52] Diane: [00:01:52] With his book, I was fortunate. so that was last year, July, and then February, I met up with, Capitol Christian, writers. And I went to, this was my first conference and I went in with the book and, met with a publisher and she was like, Oh, we like that.

[00:02:14] And I was like, what? It’s not ready. She was like, is it ready? I’m like, Oh yes, it’s ready. And so I like give it to her and I walk away and I’m like, no, that’s not gonna happen. But she called me and they said they loved that. And that was that book. That was the question back. Yes. And that was the daddy give a hug.

[00:02:39] Laurie: [00:02:39] Oh, so cute.  congratulations. That sounds like the dream story. 

[00:02:44] Diane: [00:02:44] And then, for my second book ring, come again. I decided to do it on my own and that’s when the disaster happened. The disaster you tell it’s still a disaster, but it’s gonna get written. Okay. first public, I was reading, like you read all these books and you’re like inspired, and then you’re like, Oh, this is so I went on fiber and which is a really great site and met up with the first illustrator, wrote the book, my sister in law.

[00:03:15]And then, So he’s finished and he sent me all of the thing. I paid around $700. And then my husband says, all of the characters have only three stands either they’re stupid or they’re jumping up with arms out. And I thought, what do you mean? It’s a cute book. And I went through the book. And he was right.

[00:03:42] All of the characters were either sitting or standing. And that was my first disaster. 

[00:03:49] Laurie: [00:03:49] Oh. So was that like clip art?

[00:03:52]Diane: [00:03:52] It was like clip art. like she was supposed to be in a tub. And, she’s splashing in the water. But when I went through the first page, it was her inside of the tub with bubbles around her hands was up, her hands was either up or two.

[00:04:11]And yeah. So you were devastated. That was yeah. Cried because then I realized that, that was all he could do. Yeah. And that was the first of many illustrators of many. Yeah. 

[00:04:31] Laurie: [00:04:31] What happened next? 

[00:04:33] Diane: [00:04:33] And so then the second one, sent in his. And that was clip art. And then the third one, and then I just took a break.

[00:04:43] Yeah, I did. Cause you needed it. Yes, I did. I needed a huge break. And then, so then what I did was I started taking a creative writing class, which is, it was supposed to do before I got it before. And then I realized that my story had a lot of holes in it and I really needed to restructure my story.

[00:05:07] And so I met with a really good developmental, editor. And she read through it. She said, wow, this story is really good, but wouldn’t it be great if you wrote it in rhymes? And I thought, wow. Oh, that word,

[00:05:24] just like everybody else, I was like, I want to try something new. And so I did, I, I wrote. If I thought that it was great. And,

[00:05:36] until, the English teacher, she was teaching, she’s been a teacher for about 20 years. that’s what she does. And I gave her my lovely rhymes and she read it and she said, Is this your first rhymes? And I was like, and she was like, then she started telling me all these English words that I was, had no clue.

[00:05:56] And I was like, yeah. And so she’s okay, go get your favorite books on. And I want you to go and do your homework. And so that’s when I was like, okay. this is not that great. I need to start over again. 

[00:06:14] Laurie: [00:06:14] It’s hard. Yeah. It’s not just words this out on the same at the end of the lines. Yeah.

[00:06:18]Diane: [00:06:18] that’s what it was. Yeah. Sorry. I don’t know that I could do. I think it’s wow. I don’t know for some people that comes so natural. Yeah. I thought I knew how to do it. yeah. I did it in high school. Yeah. Yeah. What do I know?

[00:06:35]Laurie: [00:06:35] Okay. So what happened next? 

[00:06:37] Diane: [00:06:37] So then she, so I read the, I read different books.

[00:06:41]lincston Hughes. He was awesome. Langston Hughes. he wrote poetry for young people. so he’s an African American writer. and then I got, Robert Louis Stevenson and it was so incredible to me that I knew most of his poems. the, one of the poems is my shadow goes everywhere with me.

[00:07:03]it’s a cute little poem. And then I read shell students, Stan devil’s Stein. I think it is Silverstein. Yes. I read his book and I’m blown away. I was just like, okay. I have no clue what I was doing. I started over and, I rewrote the rights and I handed it to her.

[00:07:26]She loved it. Oh, yay. So impressed with you. So many people would have given up after the first illustrator or the second illustrator or, like you have perseverance, so yeah.  yeah. And so then, so I had the story. With no pictures. And, it was stuck, and I prayed about it.

[00:07:49] My friends were helping me out, encouraging me. I have this awesome friend choose just you can do it. Don’t give up. And of course, as a writer or you get in that when you get in that hole. So when it was hard to get out, because you’re like, okay, you’re no good. What are you doing?

[00:08:06] Just stop writing. And, and so it’s kinda, it’s like you have to find that inner strength and say, Hey, I started this journey. my kids are watching me and I really need to, just go look and find someone and they did, this awesome girl on, twine. I haven’t seen the website. It’s 

[00:08:28] T W I N E

[00:08:30]it’s out of,  Europe. Oh, okay. European version. And, her name is Elmira and I won’t say her last name because it’s a really nice name, but I don’t know how to say it. Okay. So Elmira, and, first of all, her prices are really good. That’s nice. And, I, what I did first was first I had her do an illustration for me.

[00:08:54]illustration and no, my background is art, so I should’ve known better. Yeah.  so what I had her do is I had her do an illustration and, and then put polar in it. And as soon as she did it, I knew. I knew. I was like, Oh, this is a gem. 

[00:09:14] Laurie: [00:09:14] Oh, I’m so glad. Yeah. So when is that book coming out soon? 

[00:09:18]Diane: [00:09:18] I’m actually it’s out. Oh, ebook form. Because I don’t know. I’m still having trouble finding the, for matter, I’m just for the picture backyard. yeah, I know someone, so remind me of the gun. anyway, the, okay, so then she did the first. I have role illustration. And then when she did the cover, I cried, Oh, let me show you.

[00:09:48]This is my, Oh, love it. That’s cute. Really cool. He really did a really awesome job with a whole book. she is, does, yeah. Okay. It’s all laid out there. So what do you mean you’re having formatting troubles? My husband, who is my publicist says it’s not perfect. Don’t put that in there. Delete, edit.

[00:10:13]Laurie: [00:10:13] But it’s all together. I don’t understand. Great. 

[00:10:16] Diane: [00:10:16] And it’s all altogether. I’m so thankful, but, I still, there’s a couple of things that just keep shifting. we found a number five. Floating somewhere. I don’t know what happened there. Oh. so I need a really good, format. And then I realized also as an author, you start being a perfectionist.

[00:10:37] And so I had to toned down on that a little bit. No, cause it was getting in the way of actually. Producing something beautiful. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I remember when I first started, I had a friend who I considered a real writer and so I wrote to him and I was like, how do you know when you’re done? And he said, you’re never done.

[00:10:54] You could write ever. So you have to just say it’s good enough. Yes. That’s really hard. And it’s hard even not to go, especially because published, you can change anything. So it’s really hard not to go back. Like you get a bad review. Oh, I’ll just fix the oldest big fat. But. No, that’s not productive. So yeah.

[00:11:15] Laurie: [00:11:15] Okay, so I’ll give you the name of, I know a few that are really good. So when we’re done. Yeah. Okay. have a couple of questions for you for the rain book. Why did you decide to do it yourself and not go through that same publisher? 

[00:11:27] Diane: [00:11:27] Okay. I love, I work with like publishers they’re like their publishing company is very small and, my main goal at the beginning was to be a self published and I just thought it was an added bonus.

[00:11:44]Like I said, I really didn’t think that she was going to say guys, it was one of those things where you’re like, Oh, this is going to be an awesome experience. I’m going to learn from them and then try to mimic what they did with my book. And so that’s what I’ve been doing. So you just really wanted to do it yourself and have all the pixel with all the ups and downs.

[00:12:07] Do you regret that after such expense? No. Like my mom said, all those little warts makes you better.  so it’s just like things that I went through, it just makes me feel really bad about what is at the end of the line, which is this fabulous book. And it’s a rhyming book and it’s so cute. I love it.

[00:12:31] Laurie: [00:12:31] I’m going to grab it well when it’s out of paper.

[00:12:33]Yeah. Okay, cool. Okay. so what are my other questions? So let’s talk marketing, because you had mentioned you were going to try something out, so share with everybody. 

[00:12:45] Diane: [00:12:45] Okay. so Facebook was really great. at one of the big things that really helped push my book. my first traditional book, was a video.

[00:12:55]The book first came out, I went on Facebook and I was like, and it was so funny because I had just spoke and, I don’t think it hit me until I was online telling everybody about how great this book almost was like starting to cry and everything. It was like real. And I think everybody felt that realness.

[00:13:15]So it was a video. Are you talking about your book? Not a yeah. Or anything. And I think it came from my heart too. And people felt that, and that was the biggest I had like over 900 views and about 640 something. It’s still coming back from it. So more people who look at the video and I was like, Oh, okay.

[00:13:37] So when my roommate, the book comes out, people want to see. You talking, they don’t want to read your post. It’s true that when you come up and you’re like, and then they’ll talk to you and tell you stuff about that has nothing to do with the book. So you aware you’re a public figure now. Yeah. You get off whatever that is, internet famous, which is yeah.

[00:14:02] Quite the thing. I love that though, because I think that hits such a key aspect of marketing because we can either underdo it or overdo it, but that raw emotion where you just share, and a lot of people keep it off their personal timelines because they don’t want to bug people or. Yeah, but that’s your friends and family.

[00:14:22]They want to support you and they want to hear about the journey and they want to see that emotion. And then like you said, they feel it. And so they want to support you. I was surprised when I started five years ago, people from high school that I hadn’t talked to, and however long, just a few years, wanted to support me because they were on the journey with me because they felt, yeah.

[00:14:42] And so I think it’s really a useful marketing tool in the beginning. not that we want to say, we’re using our friends and family to market, but it’s getting the word right. And we need that. We need help to spread the word in the beginning. I, so I w I volunteer at my church and a lot of, I volunteered into toddler classroom, and a lot of the, my parents.

[00:15:05] We’re like waiting for this book to come out and then codec happened until it I was like, Oh, like, how do I get in touch with them? But it just so happened that a couple of them, I had already asked her my Facebook. And just to see their, their, praise or just Hey, I saw you and so happy for you on your journey.

[00:15:26]Yeah. And of course, if you have a husband who think he’s a publicist and he tells people that buy five instead of one. So that’s so a little nitpicky, but like that support, he really, I told him that, you, he doesn’t need a degree to be an agent. You could just say you’re a naked semi, and he’s doing that job at his job.

[00:15:49]That’s  really sending me. I don’t know what to do with all these pictures, even sending me pictures of them, reading the book and, just really the key roles you have to post it. I do have some on my Facebook page and on my, I feel weird because I’m a mom and I don’t want my kids photo everywhere.

[00:16:10] But we’ve already asked permission for those that are up. Yeah, that’s good. You could always do a sticker or a little blur or whatever, but if they give you their permission,  I think that carries a lot of weight. It’s like word of mouth, virtual word of mouth. Yeah. So that part of it, like his part of the job, it’s been like crazy.

[00:16:30] I’m good. How, Everybody was invested in this it’s like he was telling them it was me because my book came out and I was like, Hey, what have you been doing? And he was like, I was like, did you tell anyone? He was like,  no. It, I was like, Oh, you need to support me. And the next day I sold five books.

[00:16:53]That’s okay. My husband’s like anti Facebook and tie everything. And then I found out a year ago he has a Facebook account, but it’s like for one group, he wants to be in like, we’re not friends. Yeah, he’s very, it’s funny. Okay. You were going to try publisher rocket. So tell us about that. Oh, my word. That was like best idea or, Oh, my word.

[00:17:18] I saw your interview and how was it? I.

[00:17:21]I didn’t know about this. So I just started, first I found out like how much money I was. Yeah. And another Oh, okay. I gotta try it harder. But, it’s really helped me a lot. see like where I need to place my book, where they need to do the keywords. that’s something that’s in the working style, like how it pans out, but I was really excited about all the different aspects of how I can get my book out to, people who want to share it.

[00:17:51]my, any of my books, Yeah, it’s a really useful tool if you know how to use it. When I first got it, maybe it’s changed now when I first got it, the tutorials weren’t as obvious, And then I actually took Mark Dawson’s course and then Dave Chesson within the course with a tutorial and I was like, why isn’t that?

[00:18:09] It’s all over your site because now I get it. But it is so useful. Yeah. It’s only a hundred. only you it’s a hundred dollars, but you use it over and over and over again, the best investment. Oh, yeah, I think so. Yeah. I think he’s brilliant. He’s such a nice guy, which is nice too. what’s been the best part.

[00:18:25] Would you say of the whole process? You’ve had a lot of ups and downs, Oh yeah.  A little child, like the little girl she read, she read daddy, how does the Sloth give a hug? And she was like, it’s me and my dad. And, I’m from a multicultural family and my husband is Caucasian.  my family is. I don’t know, we’re still figuring it out.

[00:18:50]I saw my uncle for the first time and I was like, who are you? It was weird. That’s how blended and melted my family is. And so it was so important that I show through my book. two different cultures coming together and a father’s love for a child, but just for the little girl to see that and go, that’s my Dad melted, my heart.

[00:19:13] And I was like, Oh, that was a need,  And, that really made her feel great. And the other thing was, I really haven’t seen, I think I probably saw one Daddy and me book. and maybe it’s because I’m not looking, but, where the Dad is like in all of the pages and very much involved in the child’s life.

[00:19:35]and I really wanted to portray that. No, you’re probably not missing any, I bet that’s not a common. Yeah. Yeah. So with your second book, did you do the same sort of multicultural? I wanted to show she’s got red hair and freckles. I’m like Archie. And so for me, I see the person first and that person could be different colors and I don’t want to be known as the person that has a certain color.

[00:20:08] I just want to, I just want to are people. And I think people are beautiful and Hey, showcase people. Yeah. Oh, I love that. That’s lovely. Thank you. Okay. So as we wrap up, what would you say is your best advice for us kindie teachers, for everybody who has a book idea and wants to get it out there?  I, for me, do your research.

[00:20:32] I think I like. Didn’t do that really didn’t do that. Do your research can be books that you want to put out. and I think that really helped me a lot. don’t put yourself,  and when you. When you put yourself in a box and you limit yourself to so much, and I heard this really incredible thing, to your inner five-year-old self.

[00:20:59] And if you do that, It’s probably one little child is going to be the same. You are. when you were younger, I’m doing the same things. I it’s a circle. I sat down with a seven year old and a six year old and I was asking them questions. I’m like, what do you think I should write about next?

[00:21:18] And they were telling me about stuff that they went through, that I went through when I was five and six. And I was like, Oh, it really doesn’t change. So definitely. the core of it friendship, it’s still the same. It’s, I’m and I told them, I said, yeah, when you get older

[00:21:35]for better, for worse. Hey. Yeah. Oh, I love that. Okay. Where can people find you? Where can they find your book? Okay. So WW dot the Elgin books.com. And I think it’s Diane Elgin, book on Twitter. Okay. Show notes. Cause you shared that. And then on Amazon, of course. Yes. And you can find my books on Amazon.

[00:21:58]I’m like, you can just find me on Amazon

[00:22:01]when you Google me. You’ll see all kinds of other stuff. So cool. The Elgin. Okay. Background is art. So I have art too. If I cut you did watercolor. Am I remembering that? like I said, I don’t want to put myself in a box, so I do all, I do watercolors and, oils and, I’m on a siesta right now, so I haven’t done that.

[00:22:22]In yours. but, it’s still online. You could still get up print, but you didn’t want to illustrate your books. Is it different? stay in your lane. That kind of thing. Yeah. I do great landscape and floral art, abstract art, but bigger. Yeah. Not so much. They’re hard.

[00:22:43]Sorry.

[00:22:44]Okay. thank you so much for coming out and we’ll say goodbye and I hope people go and find this book. You look fantastic. Okay. Bye Diane. Bye. 

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Laurie Wright

Laurie Wright

Teacher turned author, turned children's mental health advocate. Laurie has given a TEDx talk, gives workshops for parents, teachers, and children, and has published five books in the Mindful Mantras series, all to help combat the crisis kids are currently facing. Teachers can't stop the urge to teach! A course for creatives who want to write for kids is coming soon!
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