If you’ve been following our blog, you likely already know that Crystal and I are very big advocates of Indie authors. We are very passionate about supporting the “little guy”, those authors who are just starting out or have been doing this awhile and just don’t have that big publishing house behind them. Indie authors have gotten a bad rap because with the invention of self-publishing, anybody can publish anything. And, to be blunt, there is a lot of crap out there. People who don’t care about their work, their craft.
Jason Bessler is not one of them.
A while back, we shared with you a Kickstarter campaign for a refreshingly new children’s book, The Witch’s Mess, written by an author/illustrator who was trying to raise money to independently publish his book and we are thrilled to announce that the campaign was a success and hardcover copies are available for pre-order now!
We will be talking about this adorable book, available in PDF format on his website now, Wednesday but today, we are talking with Jason Bessler himself!
Jason, thank you so much for joining us and welcome!
Q1 – After doing the story and illustration for your book, is there a part of the process you enjoy more than the other?
Both the writing and illustration come with their own challenges and rewards. I went to school for illustration, so the writing of a children’s book was a new endeavor. Not that I haven’t written before, but writing a complete children’s book was a new and fun challenge. I learned the difficulties of writing in rhyme and fought the temptation to rhyme for the sake of rhyming. I learned the importance of editing and the necessary step of trimming lines that I worked really hard on, but ultimately didn’t guide the story forward. I enjoyed working on the flow of the lines by reading aloud, thinking of the messages behind the words, and learning from my editor. And I was especially thrilled because the writing turned out better than I imagined it could.
Q2 – Are you an introvert or extrovert? (I am 100% introvert, lol)
I am a self-diagnosed extroverted introvert. Let me explain. If you would meet me, on most occasions, you would peg me as an extrovert. I am a friendly chap, I’ll look anyone in the eye, smile, and say hello. Some describe me as “always happy” or upbeat. But inside is a different story. I am often anxious and unsure of myself which has limited my comfort zone quite a bit. I like being with and around people, but it is often difficult to force myself into social situations . . . they can be emotionally draining no matter how well I do.
Q3 – Do you have any specific inspiration for this book or did you just sit down and let it come as it would?
There is no specific inspiration behind the story or characters, however, there was one thing that I wanted my story to have. I wanted a unique character relationship between two main characters. I sat down and thought, what two characters would make an interesting and exciting dynamic? Then it came to me . . . a witch and her broom would be such an interesting duo! And what fun it was creating this magical pair!
Q4 – Do you write or draw first?
The writing came first. The idea actually originated from a class assignment senior year in college. A book dummy. We didn’t have to write our own story, and very well could have illustrated an existing one. I didn’t want to use someone else’s story, so I wrote my own. A while after graduation, I revisited my manuscript and saw its potential. From then on I worked on editing the writing and creating illustrations simultaneously throughout the rest of the process.
Q5 – Hand-drawn or digital?
The Witch’s Mess is entirely digital, drawn in Photoshop with my Wacom tablet. Some of the early concepts and character designs were sketched out on paper, but any material used from my sketchbook was re-drawn in the computer.
Q6 – What is your biggest piece of advice for those looking to self-publish?
Go for it! But keep in mind, it is a lot of work. I am still in the process of self-publishing The Witch’s Mess, so I can’t give you the same advice a more experienced publisher would. I have learned a lot and have grown from my experience so far. This is where I am at in the self-publishing process. The order for my first run of books has just been placed and is not due to arrive until early January. The book is currently available for pre-sale as well as PDF (ebook) form at https://jasonbessler.com. Once the books arrive, I have a lot of work ahead of me. I hope to get them into bookstores, list them on different online retailers such as Amazon, set up book readings at libraries and bookstores, and anything else I can do to get them in front of more people to enjoy!
Q7 – What, in your opinion, is the hardest part of self-publishing?
I have done everything on my own for this book besides editing. I wrote it, illustrated it, and laid out all of the text and graphic design. I applied for the copyright, ISBN #s, and a Library of Congress Control #. I set up my entire Kickstarter campaign by creating the content, adding up my expenses, figuring out logistics, finding a printer, and creating all of the content that I used to market the campaign on my Facebook page. I did have some assistance with a few more technical things such as formatting the ebook (PDF). There was also a lot of proofreading from my mom, and of course my editor, but my point is, it is a lot of work. Sure, most people, even self-publishers, will be delegating some of these tasks to other people, but there is still a lot to think about. Oh, right . . . the question. I would say the hardest part is ahead of me . . . marketing! I still need to get it in front of people and sell it!
Q8 – Why children’s lit?
Several things come to mind. First, while at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, my art developed a certain vibe. It was often whimsical, vibrant, up-beat, stylized but not overly cartoony, and had an innocence about it. I started to see influences from animated movies from production companies such as Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks that were having an effect on my work. I have always loved animations, and find that they are often so beautiful, touching, witty, adventurous, and so much more! Part of me thinks it would be amazing to work on a Pixar-esque movie, but I thought, “What is the next best thing that I can do here and now?” The answer . . . a children’s book! I’ve also had four nieces and nephews born in the past four years, so I had already been re-familiarizing myself with children’s books. What better time to create my own? Andrew, my oldest nephew (4 years old this month), has told me all by himself on multiple occasions that he loves my book! Bias? Maybe. Worth it? Definitely.
Q9 – If you could meet one of your characters IRL, who would it be?
I would love to meet Broom if I had the chance. Broom is, well, a broom . . . but he is a magic broom who can think, talk, fly, and is the best friend and sidekick to the good witch, Brindal. He is such a cool character, fun and original. Sure, he has a rough go of things in the book, but his big heart and a lovable personality shine through when he is not stuck in a “messy” situation. Plus, how cool would it be to be friends with a magic broom!
Jason, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us and I look forward to sharing our review of The Witch’s Mess Wednesday 🙂
Until then 🙂