Renee Price has been writing children’s stories and songs since her primary school years. Spending eight years as a teacher in early childhood settings and primary schools, it wasn’t until 2010, following the birth of her fist child, that she rediscovered her love for writing, and decided to take it seriously.
She wanted her work to shine beyond the notepad. Renee completed a short course in writing for children, and continued to pen stories, with some submitted to traditional publishers. After an agonising wait, she was given the friendly ‘thanks, but no thanks’ response, but continued working on her craft, despite the setbacks.
In 2012, she attained the role of Editorial Coordinator at Newcastle’s Child magazine, and within this role, composed reviews for children’s books and music. It was here, that she accessed a wonderful array of books and began studying the world of children’s literature with a different perspective – a critiquing eye. She continued working on her own manuscripts, and had two assessed through the NSW Writers’ Centre.
This gave Renee the clarity she required to look at her work objectively and after much deliberation, decided to put those stories aside and work on something fresh. In 2014, Renee created Digby Fixit – a curious and imaginative young boy, who loved mysteries and ‘fixing’problems. For many weeks, day after day, she worked on Digby’s fist story and when she felt it was at its best, sent it to be assessed through Kids’ Book Review.
The feedback given was much more encouraging, and a professional editor saw promise in Renee’s work, and offered to help refine the sory. Three months on, the manuscript was ready. Fresh. Exciting. Entertaining. It was titled, Digby’s Moon Mission – the tale of a curious boy and his quest to fix the dak, inspired by Renee’s oldest son. Renee knew her story shone. Rather than endure the gruelling process of submitting to publishers and awaiting their approval or rejection, she decided to self-publish. She had spent some time researching the process and what was involved, and although it was daunting, there was much to learn and be rewarded for. As publisher, Renee had 100% creative control, and the sense of accomplishment for the countless hours put into the publishing process.
After contracting a highly sought after illustrator and book designer team (Anil Tortop and Tadaa Book), and researching printing and distribution options, Renee looked at the actual likelihood of funding a self-published title. It was tough. To get from concept to published and printed books, it was going to cost between $6000 and $8000.
Renee knew several creatives who had operated successful crowdfunding campaigns and considered the benefitsof adopting this approach for funding her book. She began thorough research into crowdfunding through Pozible and began working on her own campaign to launch in July 2014. The goal was $6000 in 40 days – her aim was to have 250 pledgers ‘pre-order’ a copy of her book for $20 each. Renee started a Digby Fixit Facebook page a few weeks before her campaign’s launch. She wanted to bring awareness to her book and dream of becoming a published author. She also gained great support from family, friends and booklovers who were willing to back her project.
Within two weeks, she had a few hundred followers. A campaign video was then recorded (including the soundtrack written by Renee and her partner, Aaron Hipwell), rewards were detailed, project goals were expressed and the launch went off with a bang. Renee reached the $6000 target with 19 days remaining on her campaign. At its conclusion, the project was 120% funded.
In December 2014, Renee published Digby’s Moon Mission. Following outstanding reviews on sites such as Kids’ Book Review, Buzz Words, Boomerang Books and Creative Kids Tales, Renee continued to share the Digby love, recorded a theme song, YouTube book reading and began working on the next story in the series (due for release in late 2016). Renee wanted to stand out from the crowd. She wanted a unique approach to marketing her book, and bringing Digby Fixit into the hearts of more and more children and their families.
With a background in music and performance, Renee assessed the possibility of incorporating her two loves – music and literature, and in March 2015, Digby Fixit Live! was born. As a theatrical adaptation of Digby’s Moon Mission, Digby Fixit Live! features storytelling songs and puppetry, perfectly suited to audiences in the three to seven year age group. Digby Fixit Live! debuted in the July school holidays across four local libraries; all sold-out shows.
Feedback was extremely positive, which gave Renee the confidence o take her show on the road, and she now performs for early childhood services and primary schools. Her plan is to adapt each story in the Digby Fixit series, and tour nationally with the range of stories, unique characters and songs featured. She is still pinching herself. “I’m just a gal who had a dream, and decided to give it a shot. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, and I’m proud of myself for sticking with it. I have a good feeling, that there are plenty more wonderful things in store for Digby and I. Watch this space.” For more information on Renee and her work visit – www.createitkids.com.au ■ PHOTOCREDIT: ALEX JACK PHOTOGRAPHY