We made mention in our latest newsletter of the release of the 2014 titles for the Jetstar inflight entertainment offering. We talk about this association with a breezy casualness now, yet we remain TICKLED PINK the association with these amazing literacy advocates is so strong and enduring! What started as a stuttering phone call has proven to be one of our amazing tools in convincing our Child Writes authors their books are indeed amazing.
Have you every wondered how the process actually started? It is a case study in persistence, perseverance, openness and willingness to take a risk!
Moment one: Jill Temple, one of our incredible 'patrons' suggested that a wonderful place to read the Child Writes titles would be somewhere there were no distractions and no other competition for the lovely reading time required - yes, an airplane! Like many of Jill's intuitive flashes, I have learnt to listen deeply and to follow up on the idea immediately!
Yes, I googled 'books flying on airplanes' - sad, but true. Suffice it to say the search didn't yield anything significantly useful :) I did persist, rearranging my search description until one day I happened to trip over a news article about a new inflight entertainment system to be used by Jetstar. The author of the article happily mentioned two things that caught my attention - iPads and the supplier, Stellar Entertainment.
We had already worked out that the best means to share the entire Child Writes library would be on an iPad. The A4 format we had chosen fitted perfectly, it had the storage, and we just had to get the books onto them. Well, we are still working towards this, having established we can create a HTML version of the books using FlipBooks and now the Amazon Kindle app. But I digress - this is still a golden goal in the pipeline...
Wandering around the Stellar website and I was super impressed with their call to action for indie musicians. It made sense to me that if they were opened to material produced in garages from around Australia, they would certainly be open to books being produced in regional Australia by children. Tell me you can see how closely those two are aligned! No? Okay, so it was a long shot! I did ring, actually was put through to Simone Ashby, who was managing the account for Jetstar, and she was incredibly open as I bumbled through the Child Writes story and our plans for the future. This was October 2010 and she happily accepted samples, told me they were in discussion with a major publisher, but would be open to further conversation. Could I ring back in February the following year?
What I remember about the conversation was Simone carefully picking through the perceived roadblocks. No, they hadn't thought of working with an indie publisher. No, they weren't considering a paid transaction. No, the timeframe was indeterminable and there was a great deal of work to do before hand. Honestly, I couldn't have been happier!
February and another phone call and agreement that Child Writes could indeed provide the books for the children's section in the iPad inflight entertainment offering. There was a little bit we had to do first.
Agghhhh! Publishing agreements! Whilst we had in-hand approval from parents to create books from the manuscripts and the illustrations submitted by the children, we really had to formalise the process and we picked 20 titles. The parents of these children had been in regular contact with us, were easy to get in touch with, and completely understood the urgency of the process. Urgency? Yes, urgency. After muddling through conversations and then a visit to see a demo product, all of a sudden, we had to have the titles to them IMMEDIATELY. It was the most exhilarating 48 hours as we had the publishing agreements signed and delivered to the office, the books slightly reworked as eBook versions and then them all submitted to a tech team in Scotland!
And then we waited - and waited - and waited. There was delay after delay and the launch date kept getting pushed back another month, and then another. If we ever felt a little disappointed at this end, it was nothing compared to the energy, time and passion the Stellar team had injected into the project!
November 2011 and d-day. The systems were launch, the Child Writes titles were flying. Now it was a matter of working through the other titles and keeping everyone into the loop as to what our plans were for Child Writes. We had 12 months. A new account manager took over from Simone as just as we met Jess Macnaught, we had also received confirmation we were heading to Eidsvold to to our first Child Writes workshops outside of Toowoomba. Jess was equally entranced by what Child Writes achieved and by November 2012, we were thrilled to share another 50 titles and we had another 12 months in the air!
What also helped us to stay 'on board' was the Child Writes text book 'Child Writes: Creating a Children's Picture Book is Child's Play' won a Gold at the Independent Publishers Awards. Yes, a cheeky little side trip to New York for the presentation and we were newsworthy. Jetstar were delighted and promoted this in their inflight magazine.
Fast forward to 2015. Sophie Leahy has taken over from Jess as account manager. We are launching the 2014 titles in June / July this year and Child Writes are still flying! It has been an incredible privilege working with the team from Stellar and I deeply admire how open they are to amazing stories. The creation of these books, from inside classrooms or from the children who won the Child Writes Competition, children from Melbourne in Victoria to Charters Towers in northern Queensland, honestly believe me now when I say their books are amazing.
To think there are complete strangers reading their books, enjoying their illustrations, well, it doesn't get any better than that! Children, writing for children, supporting children...
Thank you Jetstar, thank you!