Monday, September 4, 2017

Leila "Little Red" Nabih's Publishing Magic and a PRIZE!


I've known Leila Nabih since I was a child. I've never really grown up, so that statement is technically true. Leila is an absolutely wonderful individual who has donated a lot of her time this year as a member of the Smart Dummies Team!

I first had Leila on my blog in 2014. Since then she's self-published a lot of beautiful books. There are a lot of misconceptions that people have about self publishing. I thought it was best to have Leila on so she could share her journey, dispel the myths and share all the wonderful things about self publishing.


Look for a PRIZE at the end of this post!

Leila book "Animaux - Animals"

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Thank you Dani for having me on your blog again. Last time you invited me on board was back in 2014. Since then I have authored and illustrated a few books which I have self published, I have found my illustrative style and my voice, I have found an agent, I joined the SCBWI, started reviewing books online, and if I am not working on another book or another series of illustrations, am patiently waiting to hear from my agent about the submission rounds he is making on my behalf to traditional publishing houses. I have also illustrated books for others.

I have chosen to start my author/illustrator career path into children’s publishing using the self publishing route. Why? Because having spent so much of my time already in the past in various careers, I wanted to be sure that I was invested in it. In other words, for me, this meant, being able to handle the criticism ( constructive or not) from fellow authors/ illustrators, manage my expectations while receiving feedback from parents and children and being able to handle a whole project from start to finish with a quality of similar value (for me at least) as the books already published.

It’s still very difficult to handle all the low points. Like any other author or illustrator out there, I have moments of self doubt. I also get upset when my drafts and sketches aren't up to my standards and i struggle to get the images in my head onto ‘paper.’ or ‘screen’ Or even when i can’t find the right words to use. And i get annoyed when I get a little rough honest AND to the point criticism from my fellow authors/ illustrators or children. But I’ve learned so much through them all. And especially since joining a critique group. In the end, I somehow manage to find my motivation again to make the right decisions for my work. Its like a roller coaster ride, except its emotional rather than gravitational.

Two life changing events have shaped my resolve this year. An unexpected and grabbed opportunity to speak with a picture book editor from HarperCollins Children's Books, and finding an agent to represent me as an illustrator, and as an author/illustrator.

I have also been interviewed twice this year. I was one of the March featured illustrators on the famous kidlit411 website, and the June featured Illustrator on the SCBWI British Isles website. I have self-published a bilingual animal book (available in French/ English, and Romanian/ English) and I am currently adapting a fairytale story into a picture book ( amongst other things).

When i have a story that i want to make into a picture book, i follow very straight forward steps. I usually just start by following my instincts. For me, the ‘fun’ element is key. I must have fun while I’m working on it. If it’s no fun, then i’m not inspired enough to keep at it to the end. In all honesty, there is a lot of back and forth between those steps. Some i do simultaneously and some i do over and over until i am happy with what i have produced but overall this is how it goes:


  • Write and rewrite (and rewrite and re-edit) my story ( there isn't a limited number of revisions).
  • Add illustration notes to my story.
  • Start drawing very rough sketches making sure I know where I will be adding the text so that text and illustrations complement each other.
  • Keep working on the rough sketches until i am happy with pacing and page turns. That usually involves modifying the text of the story ever so lightly, adding/ removing or editing illustrations and making sure no important elements are cut in the middle of the double page spread or in the gutter areas.
  • Get to know my characters. Making a few sketches of the main characters and secondary characters (if any) until i find ones that i like and that fit with the story.
  • Refine the sketches until I am happy with the consistency of the characters and the scenes if any, the emotions depicted, the facial expressions, the body movements, adding details where i can to make it interesting but not overwhelming.
  • Print all those pages and attach these together in the format of a book in order to review the book’s pacing, page turns, designs and layouts.

  • Continue editing until I am happy with the result.
  • Finish the sketches into full drawn illustrations.
  • Redraw those digitally and choose a colour palette.
  • Finish the illustrations, add the text in the allocated areas, decide on cover, front and back end pages.
  • Upload online and order a print of the book.
  • Make last round corrections/modifications to the text and illustrations.
  • Re-upload the pages online and order final copy of the book.
  • Tell the world !


The job doesn't end here obviously. Once you have self published your book, you need to let people know about it. You need to market it. A few things you can easily do is to share the link to where your book is published through social media, facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest, just to name a few. Then maybe also add in a few blog posts about process and intentions, giveaways, interviews and the likes. Be a guest blogger on another author/illustrator website, find industry websites and get in touch. Ask for reviews from those who have purchased it and share images of that book, either pages or of the actual book in the hands of a reader. Just a few marketing ideas here obviously, you’ll find many more out there for you to add to this list.

I mostly use pencil, pen and paper, my smart phone and my laptop. I can take pictures with my smart phone of the different pages and then send them to my email so I can upload them to PowerPoint or Keynote. I then save the presentations into pdfs and if needed, print them. Cut and glue the pages together to make an actual dummy book for me to work further from. I find the process quite fun. I like making and crafting things. I have several dummy books in my drawers, and i also love keeping the ones i did previously and look at them occasionally to see the progress i have made over time.

If I am making a dummy to submit to publishing houses, then it would be with the rendered digital images and not with the photographs of my sketches, but roughly the same process.

There are a lot of self publishing platforms out there for you to try. You need to find one you are comfortable with. For me, the physical quality of the book is very important. So i chose one which finished product was close enough to my standards and I am happy with it so far. And they have recently created a direct link to upload your finished products to amazon.com . I’ll be still making my picture books on their platform and publishing on amazon from there. Exciting times ahead.

I’m still eager to try the traditional publishing route and hope that one day i can call myself traditionally published. That is partially why I have an agent. I would REALLY love to be on both paths. Like I said in that previous interview on here, I would LOVE that my hard work pays off in the end, and that my books become as memorable as those of Beatrix Potter one day. That’s my ultimate goal anyway.

Follow Leila:

Website: https://leilanabih.com

Book Reviews: https://readingtobaby.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LeilaNabihIllustrations/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LN_Illustration

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leilanabihillustrations/

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PRIZE!

One lucky winner will win a copy of Leila Nabih's adaptation of "The Little Red Riding Hood"

In order to win this prize be sure to comment on this post!

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Smart Tip: Make sure you have your character sketches done today!

31 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading your detailed post, Leila. You provide many useful tips. Self-publishing - you are brave!

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  2. I also struggle with self doubts when my progress is slow or my artwork isn't up to the standards in my head. You are so right, a good critique partner/group is essential in helping us stretch our creative asperations. Thanks for also sharing your working techniques and insites for working in the self-publishing market.

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    1. You welcome. I hope you found these useful!

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  3. Thank you for sharing your process and your story. I love your illustrations! And I'm inspired to keep going.

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    1. I'm delighted.
      Motivation and persistence is key , I'm sure of it. And thank you for the compliment.

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  4. I adore your art, Leila! Thanks for sharing this very relatable post.

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  5. What a great post Leila! Good luck with your traditional publishing goals 😊 Which self-publishing platform do you use then that allows you to post on Amazon? You didn't actually mention it...

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    1. I use blurb.com . I know there are other platforms available that are much cheaper but I'm used to this one and it works for me alright.
      Delighted you enjoyed it Danette!

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  6. Thanks so much for showing your process! It's very helpful for a "newbie" like me. Having a close-to-book-size dummy sounds like it will be much easier to see where you need revisions.

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    1. I find that it is.
      I see most mistakes and errors in a solid paper book than just on a screen. Works wonders for me.
      Hope this was useful for you .

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  7. Love your version of Red Riding hood!

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    1. Thanks Annely. The illustrations of that book are meant to contrast with the dark version of the story ...

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  8. Thank you for the helpful tips Leila! I love your art style. Good luck with your current projects. :)

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    1. Thanks Heidi! And you welcome. Good luck with your projects as well!

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  9. Yeah Leila! I'm SO happy to see your work featured here. And GREAT insight into your process. Thanks for sharing. =)

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    1. Hey Jena! You welcome. Happy to see you on here as well :-)

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  10. Fantastic. Thank you for sharing your process.

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  11. Leila's art is adorable...I enjoy it on both her blog and IG. What a terrific post about the process of her work!

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    1. You are such a sweetheart Teresa! Thank you! And I must add I've been loving your Asian inspired works very very much!

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  12. Thank you so much for sharing your process Leila! Very interesting and inspiring! Just what I need to hear today!

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    1. You welcome Cortney. Ups and downs happen regularly. Just hang in there, go for a walk and start anew !

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  13. Glad to know that self publishing a children's book is doable!

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    1. Yes it is! There are so many ways to make one. The hard part is to market it in my opinion . Still figuring this part out !

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  14. Really interesting process post, very enlightening.

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  15. This is very helpful, Leila. Thank you! Love the simplicity of your illustrations - beautiful!

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  16. Wonderful advice! You do work hard, and that can only make you better at what you do. I admire your dedication to your craft and your dreams. I will take a look at your website, your illustrations are adorably friendly and draw me in!

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