Vivienne: Let's write a book.
During her gap year, Eugenia came to visit Vivienne at school. We camped out at Panera to write the backbone of This Is Not My Home. We only bought one cookie.
During this time we got married. In other words, we were on Zoom and Google Slides with one another for four hours every day.
We reached out to friends, family, and community members for feedback. Along with frequenting bookstores for inspiration, we began compiling a list of agents and publishers that might be interested in the story.
After sending out so many query letters, we signed with our wonderful and fantastic agent, Ellen Goff at HG Literary! We couldn’t believe we got an agent!!
After making a couple of revisions, Ellen submitted our story and we got into an auction! Vivienne watched Eugenia cry on the phone. After a few hours of nonstop calls, we had a publishing deal with Alvina Ling at Little Brown Young Readers, Hachette.
We received extremely exciting and unexpected news this month. We received runner-up for the Clairvoyant Competition held by Polish children’s book publisher Dwie Siostry! It was amazing to get to meet legends like Jutta Bauer and Joanna Olech via Zoom!
Eugenia goes to Taiwan, Vivienne is very jealous. During this time Eugenia was able to take reference photos of everyday life. Feeling stuck with the art, being able to immerse herself in the environment was very informative.
We were finally in the same place! After 1 year of being apart, it felt nice to stop Zoom-ing and start working together in real life! Eugenia continued coloring furiously and making final art in between classes.
Vivienne goes to London to study abroad, Eugenia is very jealous.
We spend a lot of time learning about marketing. There was certainly a lot to think about from building an online presence to compiling a list of publicity networks we could reach out to.
January 24, 2023
Our book is coming out January 24th! We hardly wait!
We didn't really know where to start so we just sectioned off Google Slides into colorful boxes and combined our experiences visiting Taiwan. We wanted to display Taiwan in its entirety (squat toilets and all), and not just the good parts.
This was a comedic page where Lily gets stung by a swarm of mosquitoes as her mango shaved ice slowly melts on the table. Unfortunately, because of the page count, we had to cut this one out in the end. We still like it very much though.
Once we had some of the words down, we started putting the drawings into Google Slides. Google slides was the perfect host for this project because it allowed us to work collaboratively online. Also, toggling between the slides helped us understand pacing for the page turns. We then turned this as a PDF book dummy to submit to agents.
Once the final art was approved by the publishers, colors were added in. This part was a bit mindless and tedious, but fun nevertheless.
We reviewed the entire book with the final art in Google Slides. The thumbnail on the left gave us a perfect view of the book's entirety.
One of the last steps was the create a few cover sketches for the publishers to review. While we knew from the beginning that we wanted Lily's unsmiling face zoomed in for the front cover, it was still worth exploring other options too.
This is the final cover for our book! Attentive readers might notice how the back cover is Lily's head. All the words and complaints Lily says throughout the book are therefore in the back of her head. The words she says out loud rests in her mouth on the front cover.
This is another small detail that most people might miss, but every picture book has something called an endpaper. An endpaper attaches the cover to the content inside, and often includes a pattern, marbled paper, or special spot illustrations. For this book, we decided to have the front endpaper depict Lily's home in America (with visual inspiration from a Californian neighborhood) and the back endpaper depicts a Taiwanese night scene. This shows that Lily's home shifts from one place to another within the course of the book.