Number 5 and Stonewall Honor!

Another rejected comic from the New Yorker which I wrote about here.

I woke up very early this morning because our picture book STRONG won a Stonewall Honor from the American Library Association!

After the announcement, I was in a stupor partly from tiredness and also from the knowledge that in a time when LGBTQ+ books are being banned across the country, this acknowledgment means so much. Teachers and librarians are the backbone of the book world, they’re on the front lines facing unbelievable opposition. I’m so proud of our book and librarians work diligently to keep our stories visible and accessible to all. There’s so much to fight for right now I often feel crushed by exhaustion.

But today I will celebrate.

 

 

New year, new art

Happy new year!

The Epcot Festival of Arts begins on January 13th and ends February 20th. I will be there to sign my new artwork at the end of the festival but my art will be there starting January 13th.

These are my four new pieces.

Ticket to believe
You’re never without me
I give my hope to you
Good is a thing you do

January is off to a stormy start in the bay area, but I hope it clears away for many rainbows this year!

Books, calendars and commissions

This is my last post of the year.

Before Thanksgiving I finished inking my next middle grade graphic novel, Super Boba Cafe. Between that and Shark Party, I inked roughly 300 pages of comics this year. In addition to writing and revising upcoming books, I’m ready for a long break.

My happy face as I finished page 215 of Super Boba Cafe
Tracking progress, comic making is slow and steady

When working on long projects like a 200+ book, I need focus. So it took awhile to prep and print my yearly calendar. But it’s finally here! A new spin on my usual calendar with ink and watercolor art. I hope you like it!

Also for the first time in years, I have a small number of commissions available. My schedule is packed with books until 2025 so I’m unsure when this will happen again, but I’m happy to take a few now!

My final note is a new addition for each newsletter, which is to share my favorite reads. I am a lifelong book lover and tend to read 30-50 titles a year. I will link to bookshop.org, which is a great alternative to amaz*n that supports indie bookstores. If you can’t shop in person at a local independent bookstore, I recommend bookshop. I also maintain some graphic novel lists there as well.

My top 3!

Swim Team – a wonderful middle grade sports graphic novel that follows the journey of a girl on a swim team and delves into Black history and identity

Garlic and the Vampire – An adorable story of a little garlic who must leave her comfortable garden to confront the town vampire. This book is sweet and feels like a warm (garlicky) hug

All My Rage – This is the book I’ve recommended the most this year. Powerful. If I had this when I was growing up, I would’ve clutched it to my chest to feel less alone. It’s a story about two teenagers who experience more than their share of bad luck and how they journey from hurt to hope. It’s beautifully written, captivating and honest.

Thanks for reading this far – I hope you have a wonderful rest of the year with your loved ones.

See you in 2023,

Nidhi

Birthday Sale

It’s my birthday – enjoy 25% off my shop* today only with the code BDAYTREAT

I hope you have a happy day!

*excludes sale items and other limited categories

100,000 books

When an author sells to a publisher they’re paid an advance, which is an amount of money before sales. That money (ideally) is to make the book because the publisher purchases an idea or a rough draft. Often it’s not enough money to live on (which is why authors seek paid author visits and try to sell multiple books a year). The advance amount depends on many factors (the subject of the book, an author’s reach, whether other publishers are interested, etc). The book releases and the sales of the book pay back the advance. After that, the author will earn royalties on that book. That’s profit minus the publishers cost to print, ship, distribute copies. In a recent legal hearing with Penguin Random House, they stated most books only sell 2,000 copies. For most publishing deals, an author would need to sell 10x that, or 20,000 books to earn royalties.

Twice a year I receive a royalty statement from my publisher. Inside are the numbers of sales and my earnings (if any, remember most books only sell 2,000 copies). I received my statement for Pashmina, which earned out (which is publishing speak for “paid back the advance”) in its first print run in 2017, almost 5 years ago. I was stunned to see that in that it crossed 100,000 copies sold!

When I pitched Pashmina in 2013, I was pregnant. I lost that pregnancy. Everything felt tenuous and difficult. In between dozens of exchanges with my editor, refining and revising the story I felt so unsure. I never made a comic longer than 5 pages prior to Pashmina!

Sample from my original pitch

We had our rainbow baby in 2015. I signed the contract for Pashmina and my first 200 page deadline descended. As I worked, Leela crawled through the studio. I was full of worry and doubt – about my book, life, everything! I held high hopes and dreams for Pashmina but I was unaware of the challenges within the publishing world.

My inking assistant

 

Despite the challenges, five years later I’ve released 10 books with 6 more signed up. It feels wild to write that! Life still feels tenuous but knowing that my first book reached so many people makes it a little less terrifying. I celebrated yesterday with a small cake from the grocery store. Because even though the days and deadlines overwhelm, it’s important to celebrate the good things.

And 100,000 books is very good.

San Francisco and Santa Clara

I will be at the Cartoon Art Museum with Corey Peterschmidt (Amelia Erroway: Castaway Commander, Scholastic Books), Dana Simpson (Phoebe and Her Unicorn, Andrews McMeel Publishing), and Judd Winick (Hilo, Penguin Random House) for the YAY Comics! Artist Reception! Real Live Cartoonists! this Saturday, October 8, 2022 from 5-7pm. We will draw live, take Q&A and draw in folks books. I hope you can join us! Advance registration is recommended.

These days I am hyper focused on finishing Super Boba Cafe. Sparkles is always in the studio making sure I’m keeping on task.

Meanwhile I am enjoying the dip in temperatures as we slowly ease into fall and took a moment away from comics to draw with ink.

Later this month, on October 22nd, I will be at the Santa Clara Library Comicon. My panel and signing will begin at 12:30pm and I will lead folks in a drawing demo.

I hope to see you at an event in the near future!

Milkwood

Two weeks ago I ventured to upstate New York to a retreat run by Sophie Blackall called Milkwood.

Each detail in the space, from the rooms to the halls felt as though it was from a kidlit fairytale. I spent the weekend with wonderful authors, Ruth Chan, Cátia Chien, Mike Curato, Sophie Diao, Xelena Gonzalez, Irena Freitas, Sharee Miller, Qing Zhuang and K-Fai Steele.

We didn’t have an agenda. We walked, talked about the book industry, shared our work and made new work while being graciously cared for by Sophie, Ed and their lovely crew. I felt completely away from the world, surrounded by abundant land and beautiful skies.

It’s rare to gather together in a space where we aren’t asked to do or be anything but our creative selves. To share with one another and have a gorgeous space to pause and rest.

The reality of working on books can be rough. Like any job it’s rife with stress, disappointments and fear. During the pandemic it magnified. My books may falter, my work may not make any lists or garner awards, the sales may dampen or fizzle… the excitement of tv/film deals will come and go, but the relationships I forge and the connections I make will sustain.

On the last evening together, Sophie brought out wish lanterns. We paired up and released them into the autumn sky. I was magical.

My time at Milkwood was a balm to the pressure and sadness that lurks in the corners of this work. It reminded me of the beauty in the world. The beauty in community and creation. Sophie and her crew made delicious food and thought through every detail. The space felt full circle. Making books for kids requires the ability to put ourselves in a child’s shoes, to share magic and joy and maybe some wisdom. My childhood was less than ideal. But in the few days that I spent at Milkwood, I felt like a child. Cared for, nurtured and given the space to breathe.

I am forever grateful.

Shark Princess Bay Area Events

I hope to see you soon at one of my events! It’s so exciting to be able to meet readers again! I will read, draw and celebrate the release of SHARK PRINCESS! It’ll be fintastic!

Shark Party!

Do you know what it’s like to draw hundreds of sharks?! I do! It’s painful but also fin-tastic! I’m excited to share the cover of the second book in my new early reader graphic novel series SHARK PARTY!

And it’s only 6 weeks from the release of the first book SHARK PRINCESS! A slew of bay area events are planned (more on that soon) but you can pre-order your copy now from your favorite local bookstore!

The Rages

When I feel powerless, I draw. Sometimes I take a nap, too. Both are necessary. I admit that these past years have been fraught with terror and exhaustion. So I took necessary breaks and reduced the pressure on myself to constantly produce.

Last week I found the energy to channel my rage. I am full of rage. I cannot begin to speak about the hurtful decisions from our supreme court, gun violence and racism without seething rage. So I shut out the news and painted. The Rages emerged.

 

When I draw for good, I do not feel powerless. When I connect with my rage in this way, it feels good. It feels positive. Thank you for supporting it through the years.

Today at 11am PST each of these originals will be available to purchase here. There are only 8 available. I may add to them depending on time and energy. The proceeds from the sale will be donated to abortion and health advocate groups Afiya Center and Indigenous Women Rising.