We had the good fortune of connecting with Katie Morgan Lester, children’s book author & illustrator, and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katie, what do you attribute your success to?
Determination has been a key ingredient to my success! I had been working full-time in marketing while writing & illustrating my first children’s book only as a hobby. Long workdays & spending time with my husband, son, family & friends, left little time for my love of illustrating. Therefore, it was a very slow process with my book. Once I no longer worked full-time, I made it my goal to finish writing, illustrating & ultimately have my book published. Within that year, I did just that…& my first book, Picky Pig Pete launched August of 2018. Approximately a year later, with working a part-time job, I wrote & illustrated my second book, Raymond the Rooster, in only a few months. It was very freeing to have the opportunity to be creative & work on what I was most passionate about & still prioritizing time to devote to my family & friends.
I decided to create a business name, Morgan Farm Books that connected with my family’s farm & the setting of my books. For marketing & selling, I reached out to my network of contacts to help. I contacted local & national magazines & television shows. After much persistence, I was able to be featured in 6 magazines & interviewed on 4 TV shows. Through my continued communication to schools, church preschools & daycares, I received the opportunity to share my books & the details of my story with so many children. Also, I have enjoyed being a vendor with my books at many artist & holiday markets throughout GA & SC. I am currently working on a third book featuring a new animal main character with their own message/lesson. I continue to use as many resources & contacts to get the word out about my books & hope you will see me one day on the TODAY SHOW!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I always loved art as a child & even took private art lessons. My favorite mediums being drawing & painting. I was naturally talented in drawing illustrations, such as cartoons & painting with acrylics & watercolor. After college, I worked full-time in marketing, so I only did my artwork as a hobby. I often painted children related furniture, name plaques & murals as a side job. Doing the artwork came easy, but it was not consistent enough to earn a full income. My challenge was to find enough paid art projects, but also pricing it correctly to receive the best value for the work I had done. I learned that my time & effort is important & to never sell myself short.
All of my learnings throughout school, marketing job, adulthood & parenting helped lead me to the author & illustrator path. It has been a memorable experience in creating & executing my two children’s books, as well as marketing & selling them. I take great pride in the positive messages that each of my books provide. I love that I have been able to honor my parents & our farm as the setting for my books. My illustrations incorporate the true red barn, my dad’s antique car & tractor. I also include photos of the real animals in the back of each book. I have been able to share my life experiences through my love of illustrating & writing.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would definitely want to take my friend to an Atlanta Braves game. The Battery area there is so much fun, with restaurants, bars & activities for all ages! Usually there is a band that will play in the Battery area before the games. I would take her to the Towncenter in Peachtree Corners to one of the great restaurants & hopefully there would be a concert on the greenspace. Then another great activity is using Chattahoochee River Tubing for us to take a trip floating down the Chattahoochee! And to ease into the night…not far from our area is a fun dance place with great DJ music called the 57th Fighter Club.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am so grateful to my husband, son, family & friends that have supported me throughout my journey. I would not have been able to do it without their love & encouragement. The true inspiration for my first book, Picky Pig Pete is my son, Brandon who is a picky eater! He says he is still waiting to receive profits from my book sales. Also, I am thankful for having the experience of growing up on a farm with lots of animals, which provides the characters & setting of my books.
Researching the process of having a book published was a daunting task, but with the help of my friend Gretchen Simeone, she put me in contact with her friend, Julie Ferris who is the author of the book, Masters A to Z. Julie was so kind to take the time to provide suggestions & details of the experience with her own book. Thanks to Julie, it led me to my publisher. Also, Gretchen has been invaluable in helping me talk through ideas, edits & overall support throughout the years with both of my books.