You might be familiar with Sally Huss for her Happy Musings panels in newspapers or her work with American Greeting cards, but today we're going to talk about her kids' books.
Your background is in fine art and you even have your own galleries. What made you decide to branch out to illustrate and write kids picture books?
We had 26 Sally Huss Galleries across the country. When 9/11 hit, they all closed down. I had many little stories written, stashed away in a box. So with no gallery to paint for, I pulled the box out and started illustrating some of the stories and writing more.
Which came first -- writing and illustrating for greeting cards or your kids’ books?
The greeting cards were part of the list of licensed products I designed for -- clothing, baby bibs, wallpaper, purses, stationery, etc. I've always written books before illustrating them. Seems only natural.
For your kids’ books, who helped you polish your stories?
They tended to get polished as I illustrated them. They were kind of like little movies, one scene at a time.
As I’m not an artist, tell me how you make the change from writing with a paintbrush to using a keyboard? How do you blend colors on a computer like you would with watercolors or acrylics?
I am not versed in all of the Adobe programs. I just jumped in with Photoshop first, then added Illustrator. I was never trained to use these programs unfortunately.
My illustrations are very simple, probably would be more elaborate if I knew the programs. However, making simple, readable images seems to work for me and I can work very quickly. I do not bother blending colors, etc. Simple, strong colors make the points for my stories.
You previously published with traditional publishers. What made you do indie?
I published with a couple of traditional companies. However, when I started doing e-books traditional publishers were not interested. Besides, I had many stories I wanted to do, and a publisher only wanted to focus on one.
What has frustrated or surprised you the most in putting your books together?
I'm easy to please, so simple templates have worked for me. It's the story and the illustrations that I focused on, rather than fancy illustrating and formatting, etc. Perhaps if I knew or was schooled in all the tools available for a graphic artist, I'd use them. Simple works for me.
What advice would you give someone who wants to publish their own books?
First, don't give up your day job. Next, jump in and you'll learn by doing... like everything else.
What’s the next book coming out (or new art line) you’d like to share with my readers?
I just finished a charming book to go with POSITIVE PETE. This one is for girls, but not exclusively, called SELF-CONFIDENT SANDY.
Here's another point you might find interesting -- it's important to say exactly what the book is about in the title. There's no guess-work in these 2 titles. I have many books that just languish because no one knows what's in them. Their titles are appropriate for the book, but perhaps not for a customer. Some books I've gone back and re-titled.
That’s all for today’s interview. If you’d like to learn more about Sally’s books and other items she does, here are some links to get you started.