Author of the Month

Children’s author and illustrator Fred Smith on creating cool animated videos of his book highlighting the unique father and son bond

Calgary-based children’s author, Fred Smith, is originally from Santa Maria, California, where he served in the United States Marine Corps, rising to the rank of sergeant. As his military career was winding down, he met his wife and moved to Canada to start a family. He retrained as a graphic designer and photographer. His adventures in fatherhood inspired him to write and illustrate his first children’s book, My Daddy’s Legs. Fred Smith is using his artistic talents to create animated videos of his book on his YouTube Channel, Uncle Freddie’s Courtyard.

1. What inspired you to write My Daddy’s Legs?

I was inspired by playing games with my son and it reminded me how I used to play with my grandpa and uncles.

2. Did you have a number of ideas for a children’s book? How did you decide on this one? 

I had one book idea before this; however, it was too ambitious for my skill level because it would have required its own app to be produced.

3. What are you most proud of in your book?

I am most proud of the rhymes and the fact that I illustrated the book myself.

4. How did you learn to illustrate and animate videos?

I got a diploma in graphic design in 2015, so I mastered Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects and Premiere Pro. All of those tools talk to each other and allow me the opportunity to do something different.

5. It’s nice to see more books highlighting the unique relationship between father and son, especially with Father’s Day this month. What was your son’s reaction to the book? Does he love reading the story at bedtime?  

My son was excited to see the book but I don’t think he understands that every kid isn’t featured in a book. He knows that he is the lead character of the story and points out what he’s doing on every page.

6. What do you enjoy most about being a dad?

What I enjoy most about being a dad is seeing the world through the kids’ eyes when they experience something new.

7. What have you been doing to market and promote your book?

To market the book, I created a website as well as a YouTube channel called Uncle Freddie’s Courtyard, and I actively post new and original content on Instagram and my Facebook author page.

8. The animated videos you’ve produced on YouTube, along with your read-aloud videos on social media, are really great! How was it creating that content? What was your family’s reaction when they saw it? 

Creating the animated version of the book was very time consuming and I used the help of my son and nephew for voice-overs. The read-aloud video was very easy and it was fun because my son would interject with entertaining comments. My friends and family have been very supportive throughout the whole process and were impressed every step of the way.

9. What do you find is working best in terms of getting the word out and building your author brand?

I find that word of mouth has been my best method of getting the word out about the book and selling copies.

10. What has been the highlight of the publishing experience so far?

The biggest highlight of the publishing experience so far was receiving my first copy of the book: the package coming to the door and me opening it to see the cover of the book smiling back at me.

11. What advice do you have for people with an idea for a children’s book but don’t know what to do next?

My advice to people who want to write a children’s book is to start writing and if you can illustrate, do that too. Do as much as you can to have a complete book before seeking publishing.

12. What are you working on now? What’s next for you?

I am now focusing on the YouTube channel to give free content back to the people who supported me and I have begun writing my next book which will be a series of bedtime stories.

Check out Fred Smith’s website to see more of his illustrations.

Say hi to Fred on Instagram & Facebook and stay up to date with updates.

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