Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Debut Author Interview: Nessa Morris, Author of Reaching for Rainbows

Reaching for Rainbows, the Ebook way
You may want to grab a hot cup of coffee or tea and get comfortable because you are in for a treat! Nessa Morris is here to talk about her experience publishing her eBook, REACHING FOR RAINBOWS, with uTales.   She's got some valuable information you don't want to miss.

About Nessa Morris: Nessa is the director of a library that serves people with visual impairments. Before becoming a library director, one of Nessa’s favorite jobs was being a children’s librarian. 

Many of you may be familiar with her popular e-newsletter:  Opening a Can of Bookworms Daily.  If you're not, go check it out for interesting articles focused on the world of picture books.

Nessa's first eBook, Reaching for Rainbows, was released in June 2012 with uTales.  You can read more about her at and her worthwhile project at

Welcome, Nessa!

Because you serve people with visual impairment, I understand your need to develop a wonderful concept book that helps toddlers and preschoolers experience colors in a different way.  I think it is a fabulous idea.  What drove you to self-publish?
I'm new to writing and publishing, and what better way to learn about the whole process than doing it yourself. I've gone into self-publishing with a trial-and-error, learn-as-you-go approach. It tends to be my approach to everything in life, and has worked well so

Why did you choose to publish with the online publisher uTales?
I learned uTales was using a new publishing model where authors and illustrators could team up to create a picture e-book. I've always loved new technology and uTales seemed like a worthwhile project so I wanted to take part in it.

I decided that Reaching for Rainbows, which was originally called Amelia's Rainbow, would be a good story for the uTales, because it's a color concept book with a unique perspective. I couldn't see the story being picked up by a traditional publisher, so this seemed like a good option.

uTales only allows submissions of completed picture books.  How did you find your illustrator, Caroline Lee to work with you on this project?
uTales has a collaborators forum on Facebook for authors and illustrators to introduce themselves and pitch projects.  I posted a synopsis of my story and Caroline sent me a few illustrations that she created for another uTales book.  I then sent her the full manuscript. Everything looked good, so we decided to work

What kind of arrangements did you make with your illustrator regarding pay?
uTales is set up so that the profits are equally divided between collaborators. The uTales technology makes that easy.

Did you provide illustration notes or did you give free reign to your illustrator to interpret your book?
Because Reaching for Rainbows is a color concept book, many pages have only one word. I did research to find flowers, foods, and items for specific colors, and made these suggestions on the manuscript. Caroline had free reign to interpret how to use them, and I love how she turned rainbows into tangible objects. As the project progressed,
we gave each other feedback, and made changes as necessary.

What was the publishing process like with uTales?
Caroline and I emailed each other about the project, and she shared a DropBox folder with me so I could see the work as it progressed. I offered her feedback and tweaked the manuscript to better fit the illustrations. Once the book was finished, each page was uploaded individually. After the files are uploaded, it's just a matter of clicking the submit button. If there are no major problems with the book and it meets the uTales guidelines for subject matter, the book will be approved.

Your eBook, Reaching for Rainbows, is now published in book format .  How is that compared to publishing it as an ebook?
 Reaching for Rainbows now on Amazon
In uTales, each page needs to be uploaded individually, but in CreateSpace only two files are uploaded: cover and pages. Caroline had to alter the files to fit the CreateSpace template. Other than that, the submission process is very similar. Once the files were uploaded, we submitted the book. CreateSpace reviews the files to let you know if there are any technical issues. I ordered a proof and reviewed it. Caroline made a few changes based on the proof. Then, we approved the book and it was listed on Amazon.

What advantages did you find with self publishing?
In self-publishing, you have complete artistic freedom and editorial control. The speed of publication is also faster than traditional publishing. I haven't worked with a traditional publisher for a picture book, so I can't really say what other advantages might be.
Any disadvantages?
You are responsible for everything. Unless you pay for professional services, you're pretty much on your own. I'm lucky that I have a great critique group. While there is a wealth of info on self-publishing novels and writing a picture book, there is not a whole lot about self-publishing picture e-books or apps.

Is there anything you'd do differently the next time you self-publish?
I can't really say I'd do anything different because I view the whole project as a learning process. You learn from mistakes. Plus, at this point it's still early enough that I'm not sure what mistakes I've made. Ask me again in ten years, and I'm sure I'll have a different answer.

Wow!  This is great stuff, Nessa.  Thanks for taking the time to answer all my questions.  I think it's important to let readers know that every eBook publisher handles their submission process differently and not all eBook publishers are self-publishing.  So, you must do your research. 

With uTales, even if the creative process is left solely to the writers and illustrators, which is classified as self-publishing, their finished product must still get an approval by the editorial panel of uTales.  This assures that consumers get quality children's books.

For more information on how to create books on uTales, visit their blog:

Here are some interesting tidbits about Nessa's REACHING FOR RAINBOWS:
  • It took 1 week to get the approval from uTales after submitting the completed project
  • It took 4 months of writing and revising before it was submission ready
  • It took 4 months to develop Reaching for Rainbows into an eBook
  • It took about 5 revisions 

For more author interviews: 
Donna Earnhardt, author of BEING FRANK
Amy Dixon, author of MARATHON MOUSE
Karin LeFranc, author of A QUEST FOR GOOD MANNERS



  1. Great interview, Romelle and Nessa! I really like uTales and am very interested in the process, so it's great to hear more about it. Did you have to pay Caroline for her illustrations ahead of time? Or did you just both agree to do your half and then split the proceeds?

    1. Hi, Susanna. Thanks! uTales is automatically set up to split proceeds equally, so we began our collaboration with that payment model in mind.

      For the print book, we agreed to follow a similar model. I published via CreateSpace and will send Caroline the royalty statements and her half of the royalties.

  2. Enjoyed this! I have also worked with Nessa's illustrator, Caroline. It was an amazing process. I'm thrilled with the outcome. :)

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, and that you had a great time working with Caroline. She's a great person to work with.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Thanks for sharing the personal perspective of someone who has completed the process.



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