UWTSD Illustration graduate Kayley Williams has an exciting new year to look forward to – she’s just published and illustrated her first book and is about to embark on a sequel.
Kayley, says the University played a lead role in her success story and achieving her goal of becoming a published author. And she now wants to share her entrepreneurial journey with current students.
“Like many illustrators, I had seen my fair share of children’s books at university. But upon leaving I was still obsessed with the feeling that you get, when you discover a new book that captivates you, makes you want to retrain your skills and inspires you to tap into your creative self.
“In 2017, I was wandering around a bookshop, completing my routine mind game of telling myself how great it must feel for these illustrators to have their work on a shelf, and how that should be me, but it’s not, because I’m not “lucky” enough. When I suddenly stopped and had a “real” thought. Starring down at the illustrator’s name on the book, I realised that I was convincing myself that success was down to a lucky hit, but actually, this artwork I was aware, wasn’t drawn by luck, it would have taken skill and months to complete!
“In University I would’ve had enough to say if someone had told me I had done well due to just “luck”. I would have confronted them with the hours of sketches, doodles and cuttings out from Google that fuelled the grade I deserved!
“And so, I put the book back, took a photograph of the bookshelf and labelled it ‘GOALS’.
Kaley said sitting down to create her first children’s book was ‘scary’ and ‘a leap into the unknown’. But she added: “I knew that my skills needed to be showcased, my goals needed to be reached and I had nothing to lose.”
After eight months of dedication to the project, her book was complete. She said:
“During this time, I pulled skills that I had learnt from my course in university and the fundamentals of placement of objects on a page to create images that flowed and captivated. I knew that agents and publishing houses only needed a few rough pages of text, and up to ten sketches to review a book for publishing. But I was so involved and excited with where my book was going, not finishing it fully, just wasn’t an option. And so, I wrote, illustrated and printed all 57 pages and had them bound neatly to make a physical book.”
Kayley said that whilst sending out her scripts, she was fully aware that many talented, and even famous, illustrators are rejected or worse, enter the ‘Sludge’ pile.
“This is where your book lies in limbo, not accepted or rejected, so you wait for an eternity for a response, if you get one at all,” she said.
“I wanted my career to kick start now! I was empowered and I was done with waiting.
After sending out only eight manuscripts, I heard back within two months from my now publisher with those magical words, “We believe that your children’s book deserves a chance to reach the general readership and this can be achieved with the marketing capabilities we can provide.” – They want to sign my book!”
After reviewing the contract, looking at royalties and connecting with other authors under the Olympia banner, (most of these through social media), Kayley signed her name on the dotted line.
“The publication process of getting to know me as an author and the legal copy right and book ‘stuff’ took less than a year to complete before my book was released,” she said. “Within one month of my book being released, ‘The Night of the Space Spud’ is now available on all good book sites including Waterstones, Amazon, Book Depository and Barnes and Noble USA. I did it!”
Kayley said the journey of working towards her goal, had taught her that the future IS what you make it. She added:
“It took me nearly a decade to wake up and remember what my tutors taught me, “that I have the skills”. When I started penning my book, two of the first people that I told were actually my tutors from UWTSD. They had always believed in and encouraged me. And I couldn’t wait to tell them that their teaching had stayed with me.
“2019 was a great year, and the journey has just begun. In 2020 I will be working on a sequel to ‘The night of the Space Spud’ and collaborating with another author to illustrate his children’s book too. I have also had the pleasure of working on creative designs with ‘Save the Children’ on their ‘Tell us a Story’ competition.
“So, to anyone thinking of becoming a successful illustrator, it’s definitely not about ‘luck’. It’s about dedication and an unshakable self-belief. We live in a world where everyone is going that extra mile, so go that extra mile AND a half! I can guarantee you it’ll be a lot less crowded there.”
UWTSD’s Kathryn Penaluna, Associate Professor in Enterprise Education said:
“Kayley epitomises the kind of thinking that we celebrate at UWTSD, where imagining a future, then going for it, it is all part of being enterprising. As Kayley says, being a wonderful creative artist isn’t quite enough, you have to be creative in finding your own future roles and how to achieve them too. Our lecturers here know this, which is why it is so wonderful to read how their contributions helped to lead to her success.”