Writing, illustrating, printing, and marketing a children’s book is no small task. We’ve learned a lot along the way. We’ve learned a lot the hard way. There is a story behind this story, and we thought it would be interesting for our fans and aspiring self-publishers if we shared that story and our lessons-learned.

Lesson: Don’t be afraid to share your dreams with others. You never know if your friends and family can help you create something awesome.

If you haven’t noticed, there are quite a few people responsible for making What the Sleepy Animals Do at the Audubon Zoo. There are four names on the cover of our children’s book, and that is something you don’t see everyday.

On the other hand, we are the only people who worked on the book (save for our friends and family who were extremely helpful in the editing process). If you compare this to the number of people working at big publishing house, this is a very lean operation, and we have all had to wear a lot of hats.

None of us came into this with any publishing experience or even a strong desire to get into publishing. We were just a couple friends with some creative ambitions who chanced to come together from across this great, big world of our’s.

The Zoo Krewe, as we call ourselves, formed in New Orleans. Ryan and Grace had dated for years and chose to come to New Orleans after Ryan finished law school in Boston. Likewise, John and Aly had dated for years and chose to come to New Orleans after starting their graphic design agency, Hop & Jaunt, while sailing across the Caribbean. As new residents trying to make friends and connections, we all attended Net2NO meetups for technology and social entrepreneurship. Ryan and Grace were introduced to Aly and John at their first meeting, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Our relationship didn’t start with any intention of working together. We were just drawn together as friends by our shared travel experiences and love for our new home. There were many drinks, gatherings, and barbecues in Audubon Park before doing something like this book ever crossed our minds.

As a preschool teacher, Grace read many children’s book and had a sneaking suspicion that her years writing poetry would serve her well in writing children’s books. Ryan had experience in journalism and sketch comedy, and he became interested in writing books after reading about the opportunities created by digital publishing. Grace and Ryan decided to write a children’s book. They didn’t have any ideas, yet, but they were going to take a crack at it.

During one of those many gatherings, Grace and Ryan casually mentioned their plan to John and Aly. John was honing his skills as an illustrator and cartoonist, and he told them that it had been a lifelong goal to illustrate a children’s book. Heck, he was practically born to illustrate this book. Aly, a talented designer in her own right, was also an experienced marketer and felt confident that we could build substantial support for a book. They’ve also been wanting to work on a storytelling project and this just felt right.

We agreed to sit down and talk about making a children’s book. That’s all it took. The Zoo Krewe was assembled.

We were pretty lucky to know each other, but we’re sure you have some pretty talented people in your life, too.