Tellwell children’s author Rachel Greening’s book If My Oak Tree Could Speak tied for second place for Best Picture Book (5 and under), and received an honourable mention in the poetry category for the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards!
Tellwell illustrator and cover design consultant Jamie Jamandre spends her days illustrating beautiful images for Tellwell’s children’s authors and consulting with authors about their cover design. Get to know Jamie, learn what illustration styles she’s most drawn to, and what she believes makes for a really good illustration.
I think the key to a good working relationship is communication and understanding.
Jamie Jamandre, Tellwell Publishing Illustrator
What inspired you to become an illustrator?
Like many illustrators, I’m largely inspired by cartoons, comic books, animated films and Japanese anime. Sci-fi and fantasy genres inspire me the most.
What do you love about illustrating children’s books?
I like being able to peer into the lives of the authors, and hear their stories. Stories from people of all walks of life, their families, their values, or the places they are from – I like getting a glimpse into their world through the power of their words.
What design/illustration styles are you most drawn to?
Although I appreciate all sorts of design styles, I find myself most drawn to soft watercolors and painterly styles, as well as pen and ink drawings. I like playing around with gradients and textures and experimenting when I can with my artwork.
What do you think makes for a really good book illustration?
Kathleen Boucher’s Nine Ways to Empower Tweens #Lifeskills does it again! She is a finalist in the Young Adult Non-Fiction Category of the 2021 International Book Awards sponsored by the American Book Fest!
Tellwell project manager Gezel Zorobrado has been working at Tellwell for about three years. In her role, she helps navigate authors throughout the various stages of their book project, from manuscript to distribution. She is a ray of sunshine, with big smiles and lots of laughs to share. Gezel is about to welcome her first child this fall:)
Never be afraid to share your stories with the world. You may inspire others to do the same.
What do you enjoy most about working with authors?
It is very fulfilling to play a small role in helping authors achieve their dreams and complete their goals. It brings me much joy! I like forming friendly and strong relationships with authors so they know they can rely on me to be their ally.
How would you describe your personality? What motivates you?
I am an introvert. I prefer having a quiet environment to think, reflect, and focus. I’m motivated to achieve my full potential and continue growing individually and professionally. I appreciate it when people recognize my efforts.
What is the most common misconception when it comes to the self-publishing industry?
Authors, at times, confuse the self-publishing model with the traditional publishing model. There is a common misconception that once the author submits their manuscript, we will do all the legwork to bring their book to market.
While Tellwell certainly takes many of the pain points away during this process by creating the cover, laying out the interior, editing and distribution (depending on the author’s package), it still requires the author to submit input, approve changes and be involved in the process.
The authors who are most engaged during the production process tend to carry the same enthusiasm in marketing their book, which is crucial to success.
We are celebrating and recognizing the tremendous history, heritage and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. We also acknowledge the inequalities and injustices Indigenous people face every day.
Our hearts ache for the thousands of lives lost and stolen across the country.
We encourage our family, friends, staff, and fellow Canadians to educate ourselves about the land we live on, the history of the Indigenous Peoples who cared for it, and the issues facing Indigenous Peoples in our communities. Let’s become a country worth celebrating.
Here is a selection of moving stories by Indigenous indie authors.
Indigenous Peoples have always carried the knowledge necessary to heal. When our people heal, our families heal, our communities heal and our land will heal. You cannot have one without the other.
These stories are teachings, prophecy, and protocols shared throughout the years by elders, language speakers, medicine people, and helpers. They have been the foundation to individual healing and learning self-love. They teach us how to make good decisions for ourselves and for all other aspects in our lives.
When our people were young, they were sent on the land to gather as much experience and knowledge as they could, and when they returned, they would contribute what they learned.
I am Syilx and Secwepemc and although many of my teachings come from this place, they also intertwine with indigenous knowledge shared through ceremony from many other nations.
People from all backgrounds have embraced concepts from other parts of the world that promote self-love, healing, and well-being through practices of discipline and meditation.
Very little has been shared about indigenous systems and how it promotes self-love and approach to healing.
A really great book cover is one that captures the book inside it in some fundamental and, perhaps, unforeseen way.
Von Langoyan, Tellwell book cover designer
What do you enjoy most about designing book covers?
I enjoy the creative process of capturing and evoking the essence of a story through visuals. The cover needs to both intrigue a reader and give them a sense of the book’s genre and content. I enjoy staying up to date on design trends and using them in my process so our covers look fresh and contemporary.
Our authors sometimes have a vision for how they would like their covers to look, and I work with their input to create something they would love, and that is also captivating and current.
Where do you get your design inspiration?
Social media and the Internet, in general, are great for inspiration. I follow artists and designers who I admire to see what they are working on.
What have been some of your favourite covers that you’ve created for Tellwell? Tell us why.
I’ve had the pleasure of working on several book covers for the talented fiction author Monique Gliozzi, who lives in Australia. Monique’s books Foresight, Vestige and Diversity are paranormal thriller/mysteries and we wanted the covers to evoke a sense of supernatural spookiness.
Monique had a clear idea of what type of cover she wanted and provided us with really great, detailed instructions. I used a number of design elements to create a sense of haunting and mystique, such as the illusion of depth, partially hidden titles and objects, and surrealism.
For May’s Mental Health Awareness month, we are acknowledging some of our Tellwell authors whose books include themes of anxiety, depression, insecurities, and emotional expression. These books aim to give the reader a better understanding around mental health and how to recognize and communicate various feelings.
I Don’t Want to Go To School is a book that is intended to help children and families deal with separation anxiety, especially when it’s their first time at school. For some children, every day is like the first day because they are afraid their families will not return to pick them up. I wrote this book to reassure children who are still working on a secure attachment, that school is fun and families always come back because they are loved. Most books that address these issues use animal characters, but I chose real-life illustrations that the children can relate to. Lastly, this book will help teachers present classroom transitions to little children more effectively.
A story about a young girl who has a worry bully that keeps visiting and making her tummy and her head hurt. Whether it’s when she’s trying to join a game with friends, speak in front of her class or go for a check-up, he keeps showing up. He seems to be EVERYWHERE! But with help from some people who care and a big dose of bravery, she begins to learn just how to send her worry bully away.
We aim to take the piece of art they have shed blood and tears for and polish it into its most beautiful form, and we do this by being the author’s greatest champion.
Simon Ogden, Tellwell Publishing’s lead editor
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a recent Toronto transplant after a two-year residence on Prince Edward Island (Canada’s cuddliest province), but I was born and cultivated throughout British Columbia, mostly Vancouver and Victoria, the latter being where I joined forces with Tellwell in 2017. In Vancouver, I spent many years wearing the various hats one does in pursuit of a theatre career, mostly as a playwright and director, and I ran various hospitality establishments, from ridiculous night clubs to nerdy classicist-cocktail lounges, finally accepting my birthright and inevitable career as a book editor (I’m the youngest son of a pedantic linguist, who passed on to me his deep love of the English language and its best literature).
You’ve been an editor with Tellwell for several years now. Tell us about your role.
I began with Tellwell as a contract editor and soon assumed the post of head editor, or assistant to our beloved managing editor, Alison Strumberger. I have recently moved into the position of in-house editor, which delightfully allows me to interact more with my colleagues populating the other departments in our little publishing mothership, and it lets me keep a more structured schedule than is typical for freelance editing, which I refer to amongst the team as “the craft that never sleeps.”
The bulk of my duties still entail working with our authors to strengthen their manuscripts before we put them to print, but I’m also a handy resource for the rest of the team to make sure processes are on track, and the often esoteric world of the editing department is approachable and clear when needed.
What approach do you take when editing a manuscript?
Working with an editor is a very trusting and intimate relationship, so my first and abiding goal is to get in sync with the author’s style, intent, and rhythm. One of the glorious aspects of the job of the professional editor is the opportunity to work with many unique and personal voices, and it’s our main job to support them. All authors need support in unique ways, so we begin by identifying each manuscript’s overarching strengths and weaknesses, and then decide where best to apply our resources.
For example, a manuscript may present a truly original and fascinating approach to its plot, but its sentence-level syntax isn’t making the plotting as clear as it could be—that becomes the area we would prioritize toward bringing all the elements into alignment. Or the author’s sentence styling might be nuanced and gorgeous but various plot points are in conflict—we would then be looking to smooth them out a bit while maintaining the sentences’ natural euphony … each book has its own needs, and a great editor has to be able to tweak all the dials as necessary.
What is the end goal when you are editing a manuscript?
It’s always the same: to help the author produce absolutely the best final version of their book, one that they can for the rest of their lives be proud to offer to the world in exchange for the cover price. We aim to take the piece of art they have shed blood and tears for and polish it into its most beautiful form, and we do this by being the author’s greatest champion.
Some authors worry an editor may change their words too much, and the book may no longer feel like it’s theirs. What would you say to those authors?
One of Tellwell’s best-selling books in 2020 by author Gavin Boutet
Be persistent. Be patient.
Gavin Boutet, author of Poo with a View
Gavin Boutet’s coffee table book, or perhaps more appropriately bathroom book, Poo with a View: High Alpine Shitters of the Canadian Rockies, showcases some of the most remarkable views in the Rocky Mountains….from outhouses. The unique concept was inspired by Gavin’s time working for the Alpine Club of Canada servicing these remote locations. He began photographing the, rather, unique and stunning places to go to the loo.
The quirky humor book has been featured on three national news outlets – the CBC, Global News and CTV news. The book has sold thousands of copies, and was Tellwell’s best-selling book in 2020! As our Tellwell April author of the month, we asked Gavin to share the secrets of his success and his all-time favourite poos with a view:)
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Collingwood, Ontario and moved to the Bow Valley in 1999 in pursuit of skiing champagne powder. I have been playing drums for over 30 years and have developed an addiction to fly fishing in the last five.
What inspired you to write Poo with a View?
It was strictly a collection of photographs to start, but as the project took shape, I wrote a small amount for each “chapter” or location. It’s a simple toilet humour book, meant for the bathroom or coffee table, so there’s not a huge focus on the writing.
Tell us about the process and adventures in finding these outhouses. How did you find them?
It was an opportunity working with the Alpine Club of Canada that led me to some of these locations. I was employed as a hut services worker when I came up with the concept. We were responsible for the helicopter long-lining work that went into servicing these remote locations, including flying out the full outhouse barrels, or “honey buckets” as we liked to call them.
Did you visit all of them or were some recommendations from friends?
All of the photographs in the book are taken by me, so I have seen all (and used most too).
I had no idea that a funny little project like this book would actually make me money.
At the end of the day, book marketing is really all about connecting with people and enjoying the process.
Colleen Hay, Tellwell Book Marketing Consultant
What does a typical week look like for you as a marketing consultant?
A typical work week as a book marketing consultant is never very typical! What I love most about the role is how varied it is day-to-day. Some days, I’m busy consulting with authors on various marketing activities they can do to help promote their books, and other days I’m designing websites, promotional materials, and social media campaigns to help get them started on their marketing journey.
What do you enjoy most about working with authors?
I am inspired daily by each author I work with. I’m amazed by their bravery in making that first move to get their words and thoughts down on paper. It’s such a pleasure to be able to meet authors of all ages, every walk of life, and from so many different countries! I love to hear why they wrote their book and to watch their level of enthusiasm surge once they’ve received some guidance on when and where to start marketing their book.
What do you tell authors who aren’t interested in marketing their book?