Many people told me it wasn’t possible to successfully publish a children’s book if I wanted to do it on my own. I was told that it was too hard, that no reputable illustrator would work with me without an agent, that the quality of an independently published book is below standard and that no library would ever be interested in carrying it. Boy, did I prove them wrong! I never thought that it was going to be easy, but I definitely knew it would be worth it. I took a large chunk of my personal savings to not only publish my first children’s book, but I also started my own publishing company. I did a great deal of research and put in the time and effort to live out my dream. Since releasing Summer in the City in March 2013, I have sold almost 2,000 copies as of October 31, 2014. I am in various branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia, I am in classrooms all over the tri-state area, I have had the wonderful opportunity to sell my book across the country, and I have sold books internationally as well.
Prior to publishing, I had over 200 kids read and fall in love with Summer in the City before adding the illustrations. Each year, as a teacher, I would share my story with my students to see what their reaction would be. I knew before going through the publishing process that this book was going to be loved by anyone who picked it up. The challenge was finding an illustrator that could bring my book to life. Nancy Devard did just that! Her illustrations are bright and eye-catching. The images pop off the page making you feel like you are back in your childhood. It took me over a year to get in contact with Nancy, and about four months to convince her to work with me! But, once she came on board as a contracted illustrator, I knew Summer in the City would be a reality and no longer a dream!
I find my inspiration to write children’s books that capture the hearts and minds of children through my work as a teacher. I want my students to want to love to read. I want them to connect to the characters and their environments. Most importantly, I want them to be able to make personal connections to the text while they read. This is why my books take place in Philadelphia. Although I write stories that any child can relate to, my stories capture the beauty and history found in Philadelphia told from an urban child’s point of view. If I can turn one disengaged reader into a lover of books, then I have done what I set out to do!
Finally, I would like to share that Summer in the City has helped my students in the classroom immensely. I am a dedicated teacher in the School District of Philadelphia and over the last few years there has been a horrible budget crisis. We lost many staff members including counselors and nurses, several schools closed, and to say supplies were limited would be an understatement. With the profits from Summer in the City and my second book Ziggie Tales: Ziggie’s Big Adventure, I was able to fully stock my classroom with everything my students would need. I bought an air conditioner, over 100 books to add to my library, student materials and resources, office supplies and the list goes on! I was also able to donate to other teachers and organizations.
Willa’s Tree Studios, LLC was officially founded in February 2013. My goal for starting a publishing company was not only to publish my own high-quality children’s books, but to also publish teacher created resources, free quality content focusing on teaching tips and strategies via my blog, and to help support other independent writers, illustrators, and teachers publish their work. If you would like to know more about the resources and services that I offer, view the list pf services below. If you are interested in working with me as an independent author (all genres are reviewed), an illustrator, or teacher of teacher created resources, please complete the contact form by clicking here.
Services offered by Willa’s Tree Studios, LLC
Publishing Consultant- Willa’s Tree Services, LLC is available to publish your book. If you are looking to work with us, use the contact form by clicking here. Publishing services include: taking your book from a manuscript to print, a media kit, a reader’s guide/ teacher’s companion if applicable, and pre-launch support. Additional services are available based on your individual needs. Submit your inquiry by clicking here.
Reading Guides- Willa’s Tree Studios. LLC specializes in creating discussion and activity guides aligned to the Common Core State Standards for English Language arts. If you are a published author interested in having Willa’s Tree Studios, LLC create a high-quality teacher’s/reader’s guide to support your children’s book, please send your inquiry via our contact form by clicking here.
Teacher Created Resources (TeachersPayTeachers)- Visit my online store where you can find a large variety of teacher created resources geared for grades 2-4. If you are looking for a specific resource and/or would like a custom designed resource, please submit your request via the contact form.