The Making Off “Pilot Ray”

Have you ever wondered how long it takes for a self-published book from idea to publication? Here’s a simplistic timeline about the creation of my picture book Pilot Ray – The Tale Of A Snail.

Briefly, Jana wrote it in June 2019, started illustrations with Svitlana in November 2019, and it was then published in Summer 2020—basically one year after writing the first draft. One year sounds long, but as you can see in the infographics, it’s a very exciting and multifaceted journey.

The people who were deeply involved with this book are: Jana’s family (Initial Approval and Constant Provider of Feedback and Support), Kym D. Wimbis (Fellow Author & Writing Buddy), Svitlana Liuta (Illustrator), Tamara Rittershaus (Editor), and many beta-readers (e.g.: Gabi & Anna, Sarah & Amelia, Zoe & Bailey, Nico & Sophie, Alana & Seb). A huge thank you to everyone that supported Ray & Jana on this exciting journey!

It was a sunny day in June last year, when Jana told her friend, Gabriella, about a book idea that had been floating around in her head for a while. It was about a snail that dreamed of flying, a snail that nobody believed in, a snail that would eventually prove everyone wrong. Gabi was so excited, she interrupted her early on in the story with one of Gabi’s famous, dark-humored comments. She thereby triggered a major plot twist: the crow was born. That evening Jana wrote down the whole story in one go, while constantly (evilly) chuckling about how much she let her poor, tiny hero suffer. When Jana’s partner came home after a night out with his colleagues, she told him that she had received an amazing manuscript for editing that he just HAD to hear (Jana wanted him to be unbiased by thinking that this story wasn’t hers). To be fair, she hadn’t written real stories in rhyme before. Both laughed so hard, when she read the manuscript to him and eventually Jana revealed that it was her having written it. She still remembers today, how he said: “Wow! You’ve just found your voice!” It made her so proud. That day Jana stopped working on her various manuscripts written in prose, and she can’t imagine to ever write NOT in rhyme again.

Dr. Jana Broecker is the author of Pilot Ray – The Tale Of A Snail. She is a geeky scientist by day (with a PhD in and a love for biophysics) and an independent author of picture books at night. Jana loves everything about her publishing business and despite the short nights, writing and publishing books makes her happier than she has ever been. She’s also a sushi addict and a mum.

Jana is originally from Germany, but has been living in four countries and two continents (Germany, Spain, Canada, UK) so far. Jana and her partner currently live in Sawston, UK with two marvellous boys and a huge collection of children’s books.

Svitlana Liuta is the extremely talented illustrator behind the book Pilot Ray – The Tale Of A Snail. She lives in Ukraine, in the heart of Europe, and had been dreaming of becoming a professional illustrator since she was little. Like Ray, Svitlana believed in herself and practiced her skills every day. Eventually she graduated from college with a degree in Graphic Design and from the National University with a degree in Interior Design.

Svitlana read Jana’s story the first time on November 8th in 2019, and this is what she replied: “Oh, this story is beautiful!!! I really like it! 🤩”.
And in turn, Svitlana’s first sketches blew Jana away, and she wrote back to her: “They are absolutely amazing and made my day!!!” Sounds like Jana and Svitlana are a perfect match.

JANA: “This book is dedicated to my two boys, Pepe and Mika. As a mum, I wish that my boys will always dream big, just like Ray does. I also hope that, as they grow up, they will learn something that Ray also discovers, something that even we as adults often struggle with: To appreciate what we have, while we have it—be it a sometimes annoying family OR life itself. If my boys and your children take away these two subtle messages from the book, then I’ll have done my job as author (and mum) well.”

Jana loves giving back to the community. By the end of this year, she will have donated about 90 Pilot Ray – The Tale Of A Snail books to local schools, preschools, after school care providers, nurseries, libraries, literacy programs, doctors and hospitals.

This is what some members of Jana’s VIP supporters had to say about Pilot Ray – The Tale Of A Snail, when they read it for the very first time.