“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow man.”
We all love a story with a happy ending, but here’s a happy beginning to warm your heart this holiday season and remind you that magic can happen anywhere any time. Our story starts with a Vermont farm and a winsome sheep called Sweet Pea who inspired its owners John and Jennifer Churchman to turn entertaining Facebook updates about their sheep and its animals friends into 4,000 self-published copies of a book called The SheepOver. The visuals were created by John, who’s an artist.
To see if he could spark interest in the book, John visited the Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Vermont (I bought my copy of Anne of Green Gables there!). The store’s owner, Elizabeth Bluemie, was entranced by the inventiveness of The SheepOver. “I’ve been in the business a long time and I had never seen anything quite like it. There’s nothing with this collage photographic style that I’ve seen in the children’s book world. So I think it’s groundbreaking.”
Elizabeth posted an enthusiastic review about the book which was seen by seasoned agent Brenda Bowen. Three weeks later, the Churchmans had a three-book, mid-six figure deal with one of the world’s largest publishers of children’s books, Little Brown Books for Young Readers. The Churchmans’ fairytale story made the CBS Evening News and the books began flying off the Flying Pig’s shelves. As the store noted on its website, “After the CBS Evening News piece, demand has skyrocketed and books are going fast. We’re fulfilling orders first come, first served.”
What an amazing, inspiring story! I love it because it brings together so many wonderful players in the publishing world: creative author-artists, an indie bookseller seasoned enough to spot a story she knew kids would enjoy, a savvy agent who also saw the book’s potential, and a major publisher with the ability to get the book into the hands of kids around the country and around the world.
But most of all this tale encourages me because it proves once again that a truly unique and creative book will rise above all the noise and clutter and catch hold of people’s imagination and hearts. From what I’ve gathered, the Churchmans were novices when it came to publishing — and yet they came up with a fresh idea and are turning it into an appealing series that appears to have an exciting future. Bravo!
How wonderful to know that there are creative pros in the publishing industry on the lookout for engaging stories who are ready and willing to help bring them to the world. What better, more hopeful news can we all have as we all write on?