We’re treating this project as an experiment to challenge convention.

The Left Shoe is still early in its journey, and we’ve already broken many of the golden rules of (traditional) publishing:

  • Don’t submit manuscripts with illustrations… why not? We believe the chemistry Ember & I have developed in this creation process, with each providing inspiration for the other at those places we are stuck, give our series a level of authenticity that can’t be matched when author & illustrator have never met. Here is an example of what we believe distinguishes our series, which couldn’t happen without a deep artistic author-illustrator bond:
Two scenes from Book #1
Two scenes from Book #1 of The Left Shoe

Zoom into the highlighted boxes and you can see that the shoe is reading Harold & The Purple Crayon (also the author’s favorite book), and then a few scenes later trying to draw his right shoe into existence just like Harold would. Ember did this completely on her own, and these details would be missing without that authentic artistic connection.

The Left Shoe drawing his right shoe like Harold and the Purple Crayon

  • The book has to be 32 (or 24, or 40) pages… why? A book should be as long (or as short) as the content requires. How is it possible that every single children’s book requires the exact same number of pages? Is that for user experience or just publisher convenience? There has to be countless books where either great content is cut or filler content is added for publisher convenience. It’s the same as saying that every Zoom call requires 30 minutes, no matter the topic, simply because our digital calendars are set up in 30 minute increments.
  • Publishers will only take submissions through agents… why? To help weed out garbage? In the digital age, if we are able to build a community around the great story we are building, that is proof enough of the quality of our work and its viability.

Every industry gets disrupted at some point, and I believe The Left Shoe has an opportunity to inject fresh life into the publishing industry. To do this, we need help and are seeking great guidance, but we’re interested in working with editors and publishers who are open to challenging convention, trying something bold and daring rather than squeezing our story into a well-worn out box.

By building a community as we continue to work through the illustrations and editing the manuscript, we can set ourselves up for success in spreading our story whether we publish & scale through a traditional publisher or independently. At the moment we are open to any possibility, so please do reach out at [email protected] if you’re interested in helping us get there. We believe The Left Shoe can be a staple of every kid’s bookshelf around the world–a timeless symbol for self-discovery and personal growth passed down through generations–and if your vision is as big as ours, we’d love to work with you.

Thanks so much for your attention.

-Steven (June 2022)