An old family tale is digitally preserved for all
The recently released “Jimmy Catfish Gets Lost” is not only a delightful children’s book available through Amazon.com’s digital store: It’s also a piece of a Cleveland, Mississippi’s family tradition—and a first time foray into the world of publishing for two authors which could possibly turn into a new business and new side careers.
The husband and wife team of Lynn and Ginger Dalton were not only looking at preserving a story that had been told in Ginger’s family for many years; they were interested in possibly starting a new line of work, as well. The story is now for sell on the world’s largest e-commerce site, Amazon.com, as an e-book which be downloaded for a fee and then enjoyed.
“My grandfather, Pete Fulton, had told the story of ‘Jimmy Catfish Gets Lost’ for as long as I can remember,” Ginger recalled, “and Lynn had the idea of turning it into an e-book. Jimmy is a young catfish who wants to go play with his friends. His mom tells him not swim to far from home. He disobeys and go swimming with friends anyway and suddenly realizes his friends went home, it is getting dark, and he is list. With the help of Mr. Owl and a promise not to disobey his mother, Mr. Owl helps him find his way home. Jimmy keeps his promise and never swims too far from home again. It’s kind of a mind-your-parents sort of story!” Ginger laughed.
Lynn said the book actually materialized out of his desire to make a side income from the Internet. “We had come across the phenomenal of e-books that are doing so well now,” Lynn said, “and then Ginger had the specific idea of turning her family story into a something we could create and market online. It’s too early to tell if this can qualify as a ‘second career,’ but we may very well look at other projects like this in the future.”
The e-book was written for print by Lynn after being reviewed by Ginger’s mother, Terry Grantham, to make sure the story stayed true to the family original. “We went through a few revisions together, ensuring that the copy flowed well with the illustrations we were having done and that we kept it as close to the way Gnger’s grandfather told the story. Seeking an artist in and of itself was an interesting and challenging process, too,” Lynn said. “The two of us actually put out online queries in order to find the artist we thought would do the best job of illustration. I paid for a service that allowed us to receive suggestions and samples from various illustrators around the country.” The Daltons finally settled on Karen Disaw, an illustrator based in the Northeast, to do the project.
“It took about two months of going back and forth and getting the images right for the sentences in the story,” Lynn said. “That was probably the biggest challenge—an enjoyable one, though.”
Without giving the story away, “Jimmy Catfish Gets Lost” is the type of children’s tale that will delight the younger reader—or the adult doing the reading. A sweet and innocent work of fiction, the book’s theme and message harkens back to a simpler time but is one that will still resonate with young people everywhere. Having been released only a few months ago, Lynn and Ginger are now in the process of marketing the e-book, looking at as many possible ways to promote their family story.
“We opted for the e-book route because it seemed to really be a blossoming market right now,” Lynn said. “That doesn’t mean, though, that we might not opt to also print hard copies of the book in the future and then do a series of signings for it. We’re looking at many opportunities right now,” he said. “We’re new at this,” he continued, laughing, “and learning a lot of things as new authors as we go along. It’s fun, rewarding and interesting all at the same time.”
“Jimmy Catfish Gets Lost” has its own Facebook page and the couple expects that, as word gets out about the e-book through similar social media outlets, that “Jimmy” could become a popular family story for others, as well.
“That’s the hope with this book,” Lynn said. “Of course you’d love to have a bestseller on your hands as authors; but we’d also love to see the story become a part of other people’s families and have it mean something special to them like it does to us.”
Who says the Mississippi Delta’s new writing couple can’t have both?
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