So you want to find out how Peter The Pirate Cat came to be?
We'll have to go way back to May 2009.
On the 5th of May that year, Maureen Johnson (a great writer that you all should follow) tweeted a response to someone who asked what they should write about during one of her Q&A sessions. Her response? "CAT PIRATES!"
The moment I saw that, I thought to myself "that would be a great challenge for writing a blog post" and so I set myself the challenge to write a short story in 15 minutes, inspired by 'cat pirates'.
It turned out to be a fun little writing project, and so I posted it on my blog.
If you want to read it, I made it available for you to download for free, so go and grab your copy of this amazing creation!
Afterwards, the blog post kept lingering in my mind, and I decided that I wanted to explore the world of the Pirate Cats some more.
Obviously I couldn't just rework the short story, since Patitzio was kind of an unrelatable harsh character.
Also, I felt like I wanted to go in a children's book direction.
And thus I started writing and after a while I had a draft.
I wrote it in English, with the thought that if I had written it in English I would be able to translate it in Dutch easily without losing too much of the wordplay.
I sent out the draft to some of my friends around the world, and let them edit my draft. Not being a native English speaker, I knew my written English could use a touch up.
And with a little help of my friends, the first version was completed and in need of some illustrations.
It was supposed to be a children's book after all.
And so I asked my friend Moony for help.
I knew she could draw beautifully, and she agreed to help me out.
She sent me multiple versions of what was going to become Peter, and in the end... we picked our little hero Peter and she started working on Nicky.
I gave her tons of freedom, and she knocked it out of the park.
With the illustrations and the writing done, I looked into self publishing. Since I never intended it to be a career of any kind, I figured that would be the way to go.
I just wanted to create a book, because "why not".
And so I did. I first self published it using the services of Lulu.com and started selling my books in paperback form.
I still thought about releasing it in Dutch too though.
But then life happened and translating the book took a backseat.
But after a while I finally got around to translating it in Dutch, and fueled by the excitement of once again releasing the book to a new audience this time, I decided to step it up a notch.
A deeper dive in the world of self publishing brought me to Blurb.com and after reformatting both the Dutch and the English version to suit their print options, I released the second version of the English book, along with the Dutch version.
And I did it not only in paperback this time, but added hardback and ebook versions too. Because "why not".
With the excitement of the new release, I decided to write some local book stores to find out if they were interested in carrying my self published novel. I quickly found out that that isn't all that easy as just putting a book on a shelf, since local book stores already have no margins whatsoever, and since self publishing a book has a higher production price than the mass produced book of big publishers I had little margin to give. Which made my books not that interesting for them.
Fun fact: I've always sold my books for the average cost + average shipping cost. So I've never made money of them. Again, it was never my goal to make a bestseller. I just wanted to create. Because "why not".
In the end, I had a great connection with a woman from a local book store, and she gave me the opportunity to sell my book at her store. Which was once again great proof of "if you never ask, you'll never get a yes". And I got a Yes.
Sadly, despite me making online noise about it and trying to send as much people as I could to her store, local book stores are struggling in the age of the internet.
And not much later she sadly had to close down her store.
So support your local book store!
Talk with the people working there!
They love what they do, and will always guide you!
And so here we are.
The story of Peter the Pirate Cat.
Out in English and Dutch.