When people talk about doing anything you can imagine with your degree they really mean it!
Karisa Lowe graduated from PUC in 2008 with a degree in Public Relations and Journalism. Since graduating, she has founded her own publishing company and published several children’s books.
We asked Karisa to share about her experience at PUC and what life is like as a children’s book author.
What inspired you to start writing children’s books?
I’ve always been interested in writing books, but originally full-length novels. After graduating, I dabbled in newspaper writing and decided I liked creative writing more. But by the time I decided to try creative writing again, I hadn’t done any kind of writing for a while. Writing a children’s book seemed like a much less daunting task than sitting down and cranking out an 80,000 word novel, so I decided to start with that. After I wrote the first book, I started reading it at schools and bookstores just to get some feedback and I ended up really loving the interaction with kids. It was very rewarding and I fell in love with the whole process and everything came together from there.
How did you come up with the idea for your books?
When I decided to start writing children’s books, I really wanted them to have a purpose. I was reading a ton of books to my nieces and nephews and started realizing there a ton of cute books, but more often than not, I would get to the end and think, “is that it?” I felt like a lot of books were missing that lesson, morale, whatever you want to call it. Basically, something teachable for kids to take away from the book. So I came up with one specific scene for a dentist book and decided to make a series of kids books that tackle first encounters (first trip to the dentist, first trip on an airplane, etc) and eventually just important topics close to my heart, like nutrition. I built the entire series off of this purposeful concept.
Describe your typical work day.
On a typical work day you’ll usually find me checking and filling orders, making sure inventory is up to date, at the post office mailing out orders, making and editing marketing materials, brainstorming new marketing and sales opportunities, booking events, etc. Honestly, I could probably write an entire page of things I usually do on a typical day. If I have “nothing” to do, then I’m doing something wrong. When you work for yourself, you never run out of things to do.
How did your major prepare you for this endeavor?
I studied both Public Relations and Journalism at PUC. I always thought I would end up in journalism but I have definitely ended up using my public relations knowledge more. Since I published my books through my own small publishing company, I do everything myself: marketing, sales, vendor relations, etc. Typically, authors just want to write and sell the manuscript, which is much less work than the way I’m doing it but also requires them to share a large chunk of the profit. With my public relations skills I know that I’m capable of doing a lot of the non-writing tasks myself and I’ve made it into a profitable business.
How did your classes and professors at PUC help prepare you to write children’s books?
My Public Relations and Journalism teachers gave me confidence in my writing skills, which gave me the confidence to go out on a limb with this venture. My PR classes have turned out to be an invaluable asset. I never thought I would be writing press releases or marketing plans, but plans change! I’m so glad I paid attention despite thinking I wouldn’t necessarily go into PR. And if I’m a little rusty on something, I know I can still contact professors Lynn Thew, Michelle Rai, or Tammy McGuire and they always come through for me.
What are your plans for 2015?
2015 is an exciting year already! I’m in the process of signing a contract for a distributor for Early Ink Press, which will be key in expanding sales to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other retailers. I’m also working on some non-Arlo children’s books with my illustrator Edmund Boey, which we’re really excited about.
If you could go back in time and tell your freshman self one thing, what would it be?
I would tell myself that it’s okay to not know what you want to do with your life. You’re young and still figuring out what you like and what you’re good at. I ended up switching majors four or five times throughout my freshman year until I settled on Public Relations and Journalism halfway through my sophomore year. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and just enjoy the experience.
Check out Karisa’s books and publishing company at www.earlyinkpress.com.