Michelle Nott started her career as a French teacher (pre-K to university levels) in the U.S. , but also worked for a French company in Paris and an art gallery in NYC. She has edited and written articles for numerous on-line and print magazines in the American and European markets.
Before moving to Texas, where Michelle currently resides with her husband and two daughters, she lived over a decade in Belgium. During which time she began her blog Good Night, Sleep Tight On this blog, readers can find her earliest stories (where Freddy, Hoppie and the Eyeglasses originally appeared) as well as her reflections on raising Third Culture Kids.
Freddy, Hoppie and the Eyeglasses is Michelle's first book for children. Her future children's books are represented by Essie White at Storm Literary Agency. She is a member of SCBWI, Children's Book Insider and Houston Writer's Guild.
Tell us about your book! What is it about and what inspired you to write it?
Freddy, Hoppie and the Eyeglasses is about a young boy who is having trouble with everyday tasks like being on time for the school bus, reading aloud, completing his math homework. Luckily, his imaginary frog, Hoppie, helps him feel better. But at the end of the day, Hoppie is very tired and has headaches. Finally, Freddy tells his mom that Hoppie's not well. She drives them both to the doctor's office to see what is the matter.
What inspired Freddy, Hoppie and the Eyeglasses was my daughter's experience with having to wear glasses at a very young age. Freddy's story is completely different from her story. But going to the ophthalmologist for the first time and experiencing the difference eyeglasses can make seemed like a great premise for a children's book.
At the same time, the book is not just about a child getting glasses. More importantly, I wanted to write a story that could show a child how to tell a trusted adult about a problem he or she may not fully understand.
Tell us about your publishing process. What was it like? Did you go indie or the traditional way?
I went for traditional publishing as I do not think I have the know-how nor the time to invest in the self-publishing route.
For this particular book, the publishing process went quite easily. One of my critique partners, who had already read a couple revisions of the manuscript, suggested I submit it to Guardian Angel Publishing. After sending a query and revising to the editor's remarks regarding POV and general tightening, I resubmitted and was offered a contract.
I recently signed with Essie White at Storm Literary Agency for my future picture books and am quite happy with that decision. It's a relief to know she is taking care of submitting my manuscripts to the best editors for each manuscript. Her connections in the publishing world are extremely valuable and would take me a lifetime to achieve on my own.
How did you choose the title for your book? Did it come to you right away, before you started writing the story, or did it come later?
The initial title for the the book, My Frog and the Eyeglasses, came as I was writing the story once I saw how the plot was developing. But since the editor requested 3rd person (versus 1st person) POV for early readers, I had to change the title to what it is now.
Tell us about the cover design process. Did you have a basic idea of what your book cover would be like?
I had no real say in what the cover design would look like. However, since my editor did ask my opinion as to which style of illustrator on her list I preferred, I knew it would be all right. I had seen the portfolio of Robert Lee Beers and was confident that he would do a good job on the cover and with all the illustrations.
Who is your cover designer and how did you find him/her?
My editor arranged for Robert Lee Beers to do the artwork.
How was your experience working with the illustrator?
Great. Whenever I need an illustration for promotional materials or for author visits, he is always very accommodating.
What has been the readers’ response to your cover?
Many people have commented on how attractive and colorful the cover is.
In my experience, the publisher arranges for the artwork. So I have no tips otherwise.
Anything else you’d like to say about your book?
About a year and a half after signing my contract, I looked into the “new illustrator” working with Guardian Angel Publishing. This was, of course, Robert Lee Beers. I liked his work so much that I asked my editor, Lynda Burch, if she would consider assigning him to my book. She very kindly agreed. But understandably, he already had a list of other books to do first.
Although this elongated the publication of my book, I feel it was worth the wait. The cover is a reader's first impression and it's essential to get it right. In the end, I am thrilled with the cover and illustrations throughout my book.