When I first became pregnant with my now almost 20 month old, people would ask me whether I would be teaching her the Armenian language. For me the question seemed ridiculous, because I’m fluent and simply, ‘why wouldn’t I’? Then during my pregnancy — and even now — it was a futile search to find Armenian books that compared to English kids’ books when it came to style, tone, illustration, and appropriateness for age.
So I decided to write an Armenian kids’ book myself.
Between raising an active toddler, starting my own marketing consultancy, and supporting my husband’s new business (shameless plugs for laveh.com and littlemscrate.com), I’ve been working on making my first Armenian board book a reality.
Last November I started researching how I could produce, publish, and distribute a book in general. I wanted my daughter, who has always loved to flip through pages and pages of English-text board books, to be able to do the same with books written using the Armenian alphabet.
Then in early January 2016 I turned to the Facebook group Mamayin Hokin, a growing online group of Armenian mothers, and asked them to weigh in on my idea and provide their preferences in price, dialect, and more. After dozens of moms left positive feedback, I knew I would move forward with the project.
Here’s my progress since then:
MY FIRST ARMENIAN STORY FOR KIDS
There were lots of brainstorming sessions about the subject and characters of the first story. I got great feedback from the survey about the tone and the age range I should focus on, so hopefully a majority of the people who responded will like this first Armenian book. It’s about The Happy Piggy who likes to play in mud even though it makes him dirty and smelly.
I wrote seven drafts before I thought the story was good enough to show to anyone. After a few reads it was ready for the eyes of someone who could also address spelling and grammar, so of course I called my Armenian schoolteacher from years ago (Thanks Digin Arpi!), and that's how the final draft of my story came around.
Illustration is everything
When I first had the inspiration to start this Armenian book I knew I had to find an illustrator because, very honestly, I can’t draw to save my life. We own several Armenian paperback books for kids and I knew I wanted the illustrations to be more bright, modern, and kid-friendly. After posting my book project details to a few job sites and getting some recommendations from people in the community, I found an illustrator who has years of experience drawing for children’s books. I’ve already given her The Happy Piggy story and here’s a sneak peek at the cover she's sketched…
The characters are fun and bright and I know kids will love them!
Earlier on I wanted to focus only on getting to this point -- story written and illustration under way -- but now the reality of printing and publishing is very present. As you can imagine there are minimums that printers require, and in my case that minimum print run will cost $1,500, plus shipping. I’ll personally be paying for half the cost myself, and to cover the rest I’ve decided to launch a Kickstarter this summer. Kickstarter is an online platform where people can contribute financially to a project in exchange for a “reward”, which in my case will include copies of the book and a few other options. I want to also mention that I won’t be profiting from sales of the book – the price will barely cover the cost of illustration and production. Any profits will go directly to producing a second book.
So what can you do to help?
Getting the word out and having some buzz around this project and the Kickstarter are what we need the most. Here’s what you can do today:
Lastly, if you have any ideas or even words of encouragement feel free to comment below, or contact me directly.