Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Children's Author and Illustrator, Ginger Nielson

Today, my guest is author/illustrator Ginger Nielson, talking about her recent children's release, Gunther the Underwater Elephant.

AUTHOR:  Ginger Nielson             
BOOK TITLE:  Gunther the Underwater Elephant
PUBLISHER:   4RV Publishing LLC
BUY LINK:     From the publisher at:
              From any and all bookstores when you give the ISBN: 978-0-9832740-2-5
Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.

As many children do, I was always ‘making up’ stories during play times.  Later I began writing them down.. I think my interest was sparked by winning a several contests in grade school. My desire to write has always been paired with my desire to illustrate.

Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?

I am a full time children’s book writer and illustrator.  My studio is in our home. I have illustrating assignments that must be completed, but in general I will write notes, concepts, ideas and longer pieces each day.  I have one notebook just for possible picture book titles.

When I am working on a specific story I seem to write “inside out.”  Sometimes the pictures I have drawn lead to a story or change the direction a story is going.  Often the story is nearly complete before I begin to sketch out the illustrations.
What influences your writing?
      Sometimes it is as simple as a walk in the woods. Other times it is a painting that I have
      done or a sketch that seems to need a story. It could be something I see going on between
      children or animals or those who care for them. It could even be a particular color.   And I do 
      read a lot of books of all kinds. Picture books and books for children fascinate me.

      Is this your first published work?  What other types of writing have you done?

This is my first book as both author and illustrator.  I have illustrated over 20 books so far and written articles for magazines, newspapers, and newsletters.  It is not, however the only children’s picture book I have written.  There are a number of them in ‘dummy’ form that are in the process of being sent to publishers or have already been acquired for publication in the future.

Why did you choose to write a children's story?

As an elementary school teacher I was involved with young children, books, and reading for many years.  I wrote a story at the end of each school year that featured each child in the class and illustrated the story.  I sent home a copy with each child when they left for summer vacation.  It was fulfilling but I really wanted to write and illustrate stories that would end up on children’s bookshelves in many areas, not just my own town. I suppose that since I wanted to paint pictures of children and animals it naturally followed that I would want to write books to go with them. Picture Books seemed to be the best fit.

What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?

The process for “Gunther the Underwater Elephant” began with the name, Gunther.
I began with a story that was almost long enough to be a novella, and over the years as I painted scenes it changed directions it became a picture book. As a picture book it needed to be far shorter. I worked on the manuscript and took the first draft and some of the paintings into NYC to see several editors. Although the paintings got a good response the story was still too long for a picture book. Over the next 20 years or so I took on other illustrating assignments, but kept working on the Gunther book. It was acquired by 4RV Publishing LLC this year and is now a book that I am truly proud of.
   What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?

Although I do illustrate for serious self publishers with great stories and a clear plan for marketing, I would not self publish.  I know that there are many who will. If one does decide to self publish they need to be ready for the cost of printing, hiring an illustrator if they need one, marketing their work, and perhaps storing a thousand books in their basement if they don’t sell.

What is your marketing strategy?

As an author/illustrator for children’s books, I send out quarterly postcards and/or flyers which feature my art and possibly a list of books I have written or illustrated or both.

My blog, Twitter, Facebook and the reviews for a book I have written or illustrated are included in my plan. I contact schools, and libraries to schedule book reading visits. I also visit local bookstores with a free signed copy of the book for the owner and the ISBN with a request to order some copies of the book.  If there is an opportunity I will do a book signing at a bookstore, open air market, or library.

What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?

I believe that writers need an agent more than an illustrators do. Although, the illustrator who also writes would do well to have one. With that being said, finding a good agent willing to take on new clients is worth the effort. Not all agents are good ones, and one needs to be careful when making the decision.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

My website and blog feature thoughts, tips, tricks of the trade, articles that are useful and a collection of my paintings as well as a list of books I have illustrated, and/or written, and illustrated, and a partial client list.

Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?
      Write every day.  Make notes. Carry a notebook. Don’t let time spent waiting anywhere
      go to waste.  I used to write and draw in the car while I waited for my children to get out  
      of school, when I waited for my husband's bus to come in to town, when I sat in the Dr.’s
      office.  You would be surprised what characters you can dream up while watching the
      others waiting in the Dr.’s office.

Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.

       “Gunther the Underwater Elephant” is about a young elephant with a caring family.
        Because he is very small, he is not allowed to swim in the river alone.
        He needs to be held by trunk and by tail as his cousins swish him in the cool river.
        Things do not go along swimmingly as Gunther’s cousins let go and the little
        elephant floats out to sea with his trunk held above the water like a snorkel. His     
        disappearance causes a major problem at home in the jungle.  Using his head and
        thinking creatively he manages to save the day in a surprisingly BIG way.

        The book is available on, at the 4RV Publishing LLC website, and at any   
        and all bookstores. It can be ordered from any local bookstore using the


  1. Enjoyed the interview. Sounds like such a cute children's book. Beautiful cover!

  2. Thanks for a wonderful post. I really loved doing this book and hope that more will follow.