The Shoephabet: My 4th Baby

The Shoephabet: My 4th Baby

It has been noticeably quiet around this blog since September (except for one cut-and-paste post in October). And you know what happened in September? I started seriously working on our book. Well, like that October post said, we finished it!

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And my small amount of computer time for blogging has turned into computer time for researching, communicating, marketing, and selling! We set up an Etsy shop, sold through a hundred books in just over a week, got our book registered with the state of Indiana, presented at elementary schools, and attended several craft shows on the weekends.IMG_1301

We did not expect to have inventory problems after the first hundred, so that was a surprising (but wonderful!) problem to have. We purchased 300 more and still have about 150 of those, so…keep telling your friends about us (ha).IMG_1350

Originally, I wanted to print our book to donate it to my Michigan grade school. That was last year. But last year, I was miserable pregnant and couldn’t even get supper on our table, so that didn’t quite work out. But this year, I was determined. The very first copy of The Shoephabet (and its corresponding art print) went to the winner of this auction item…my brother!


I ran into a gal I used to work with at Harrison, and when she stopped by to pick up her books, she asked if she could take our picture to share it on Instagram. It dawned on us that we hadn’t even taken our own first picture with our book, so we snagged a copy of hers.IMG_1367

Here’s a little evolution of our craft show table since our very first one last month.

I started off convinced I wanted a red tablecloth for our Etsy shop, TheRedheads.


But when we were given a larger table, the red felt too dark and overpowering and not at all like a children’s book.IMG_1420

So I traded out the red for white with a little burlap runner to give the layout some grounding.FullSizeRender

With a bigger table, we need a little more to fill it. Problem is we only sell two things. Books and posters. But then I remembered where had first fallen in love with The Shoephabet–the individual prints! So we printed off a few to give a bigger picture of these colored pencil (COLORED PENCIL!) illustrations and give it a fun, artsy feel. That resulted in many requests for us to sell the individual prints. We think we’ll do this in an on-demand format. We really don’t want to keep multiples of 26 shoe letters lying around! My hope is to get it on our Etsy shop in some fashion before Christmas.FullSizeRender-1

Then a Scholastic book fair was kind enough to let us set up in a corner. (Something tells me we weren’t a big threat to them.) 

We sold well for having to compete with monsters chewing on their underwear. And Pete the Cat. And the Pigeon books. And so many, MANY other amazing books that I started to wonder why we would EVER try to enter this market?! One thing that does stand out to me about our book is that the art work is not childish. It’s a very fine art yet still targeted to children. There’s something I love about that.IMG_1466

Over the weekend, we joined Santa at the library (cookies included) and met a couple redheads who we decided needed to be part of our company. It was a good time all around.


But my most favorite part of The Shoephabet so far has been getting to read it to groups of children! Also the most time-consuming, but aside from a couple hours, it’s all been done on James’ days off. Cold selling, trying to get strangers to stop at your booth with clever pickup lines is sometimes fun, sometimes awkward, sometimes invigorating, sometimes exhausting. But reading to kids will just never get old. We’ve got a whole presentation about looking around each room to find letters out of nonletters (clocks and flags are very helpful and are in just about every room, phew!); wondering about what stories your shoes have to tell; and of course, about writing, illustrating, and publishing a book in general.

One time, I brought Corban with me, and he ran my PowerPoint presentation. It was so cute.
Another time, I brought Jaeda with me, and she ran around and jumped off the stage. It was so cute.
Mostly, now, I go by myself. It seems to be better that way.

At one school, I worked closely with the librarian. It was my most successful school, saleswise, and also presented me with the opportunity to speak to older students. How fun to address more sophisticated questions (but totally still fun to answer “How did you make this book?” followed by “How did you make this book?” followed by “How did you make this book?” in first grade;)).IMG_1506

I’ve calculated that we’ve presented The Shoephabet to nearly 1,000 kids. <–You read that comma right!IMG_1507

Lately as I’ve been around town, kids have started to recognize me. They’ll come up and grin, which is a dead giveaway that I should know them. “Why hello there! Wait, did I read The Shoephabet at your school?” Nod. “I thought you looked familiar!” Big breath in. Hehe. Now THAT’S cute.

I include this picture here at the end, because my dear friend Jami and I began our adult writing journey together when our now-five-year-olds were just nursing babes. She published her first book a couple years ago, and it was so exciting to see her dream realized! When we were at our dentist’s office last week, I saw a copy of her book with the reading material. I couldn’t believe it! “I know her!” I exclaimed (to whomever would listen). Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be coming to a dentist’s office near you.IMG_1537

Sometimes I wonder: why now? Why, when we have three kids and life is fuller (and harder) and we’re not sleeping through the night and we’ve started schooling at home and I can barely find time to exercise and read and and and? I wonder if I got a little stir crazy with all these little ones? There’s lots of things we’re not doing right now for our own health and sanity and relationships with God, so for me to do something creative, some problem solving (outside of what detergent combination will get this poop stain out?), something business, it just feels really good, way deep in my insides. I can do it at my own pace. If it becomes too much, I can back off. I tell James when I’m at the craft shows, the absolute worse case scenario is I sell no books and get time out of the house by myself. I’d call that totally worth the booth fee. Don’t get me wrong. I still firmly believe in my calling to be home. And I really do love those little ones that have me there. (See the previous three posts!) But I’m also thankful that God placed The Shoephabet in our lives now and that James and I get to be a team in a new way through this new venture. Here’s to walking forward, sometimes in business, sometimes at home, but always toward Christ!

  • Alisha
    Posted at 10:52h, 07 December Reply

    I love this! I’ve been wanting to talk to you about how it’s all been going, so thanks for filling me in :) You’ve been a very busy lady!!

    I go back and forth about having an etsy shop and editing and wonder whether I have time for it while being a Mama, but I agree… it’s nice to have something ELSE… something grown up… something that brings an income… along with caring for my children :)

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