By Elizabeth Coady
If early sales are any indication, illustrator Liz Lynch seems to have mastered the ABC’s of self-publishing a children’s book.
In between caring for four-year-old Ellis and 18-month-old Everett, the Chestnut Hill mom has been working diligently for two years to publish her first children’s board book, “Pandas Love Pickles.” That effort culminated with the delivery of a 1,000-pound pallet to her home on Dec. 8.
With book in hand, the former marketing executive and her husband John spent the next three days fulfilling orders in a makeshift assembly line around the family’s Christmas tree. Every family member had a task, with Ellis and Everett affixing stickers to the sealed packages.
Before the week was out, the 35-year-old had already shipped 400 copies of the ABC book that encourages finicky wee ones to “try” different foods, forcing the new children’s publisher to contemplate another print run from China.
“It’s been such a blast,” said Lynch during a telephone conversation. “It just came out Friday, and the reception’s been so great. So it’s really exciting. I’m almost through half of my inventory already. Production to delivery takes about two months, so it’s probably the right time to reorder now.”
The book has already been featured as a giveaway on the Instagram account of popular blogger Amy Palanjian, who publishes “fun meal ideas” at YummyToddlerFood.com.
“This new board book from @pandaslovepickles combines the alphabet with animals trying new foods and is 100% adorable!” Palanjian cooed. In just 24 hours, the post netted 265 “likes,” social media’s all-important metric.
“The contrast of the black and white animals and the colorful foods also makes the book engaging, and it very effortlessly opens up a dialogue about what foods we like to eat,” Palanjian commented in an email. “Many little kids spend a lot of time with books, and I love how this one hits so many different elements without seeming dense. There’s the alphabet to practice, letter recognition, animals to identify and new foods to discuss. Plus, it has just the right level of silliness to keep it from feeling too earnest!”
Along Germantown Avenue, the 6 x 6 chunky cardboard board book is being sold at Robertson’s Flowers, VillavilleKula and Oxford Circle Toys. The book retails for $14.99 and can be ordered at pandaslovepickles.com, where posters and personalized items are also available.
“The whole book was borne out of me trying to find creative ways to get my little one to eat new foods,” Lynch explained. And it worked. “My four-year-old will try anything, and because of the book, she tried tofu.
“And because of the book she tried sushi. I think with the exception of upside down cake, she’s now tried every food in the book.” And that’s only because Lynch hasn’t made the cake yet.
The point is to make exploring new foods fun for new-food-adverse toddlers. In Lynch’s whimsical illustrated world, beavers “try” burritos, flamingos “try” figs, and narwhals “try” noodles. But the panda ”loves” pickles, which is why one dons the cover and claims the title.
“My daughter loves loves loves pandas,” Lynch said. “And it has a ring to it. There’s something a little something special about that one.”
The panda is her daughter’s favorite illustration while son Everett is partial to the zebra and x-ray fish. The realistic animals are depicted in black-and-white while the apples and donuts and meatballs pop with color. “The point to me was making the food look fun and the animals real,” Liz said.
Lynch grew up in upstate New York, just outside of Rochester. “We were looking to move from Hoboken, NJ, for job reasons, and fell in love with this area while visiting my husband’s family and have lived here for six years.”
The new author has a degree in studio art from Lafayette College and says illustration has always been her passion, and publishing a children’s book has always been her goal. She went the self-publishing route because it potentially offers the most money. But it’s also labor-intensive. “I worked really hard at it from start to finish,” Lynch said. “I worked so hard, and I was so close to it for so long.”
And she’s just getting started. She’s already planning to publish more books with a companion counting book likely the next offering. But she also has ideas for a travel series for toddlers and plans to open a store on Amazon marketplace.
“My brain’s burning,” she said, “but I’m focusing on this [book] for now.”