We had the good fortune of connecting with Anne Marie Brown and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anne Marie, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I wanted the flexibility to be around more for my children. I feel like I just jumped off this treadmill I’d been running on my whole life – college, jobs, graduate school, other challenging jobs. Taking the leap to start my own business and then finally pursue my lifelong dream of publishing my three children’s books felt like a breath of fresh air.
When my daughter was a baby, I had a hard time finding early learning books that I really loved reading to her. All the books for ages 0-4 were either in terrible rhyme and meter, or just didn’t seem to have any point to them. Reading is such a special opportunity, even when they are that little, that I wanted to write books to pass on messages I wished I had learned early in life: that failure is part of learning, that change is a natural part of life, and that we can all have an impact on this world.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Because I have two little ones of my own, ages 2.5 and 7 months, I am pretty plugged in to what millennial parents are experiencing right now. Like past generations, we want what is best for our kids, but I feel like we are more willing to discuss hard topics early – whether it’s feminism, privilege, systemic racism, equal rights, consent, body image…. etc. I have open and honest discussions with my 2.5 year old about all of these. And I think we are starting to see a push towards the literature available for our children in that direction.
I wrote “Foxy Moxy,” “Hazel’s First Winter,” and “Goodnight Little Owlet” on my phone during middle-of-the-night feedings with my daughter, when I was so worried about the world she was born into.
I wanted to write these books as a gift to her, and now, also my son, Jack.
Foxy Moxy is about resilience, teaching us that failure is part of the learning process. “Hazel’s First Winter” is an allegory for dealing with change outside our control, featuring a bear experiencing her first change of seasons. “Goodnight Little Owlet” is a bedtime ritual book that tells us to be the change we want to see in the world.
I’m tremendously excited about the Social Emotional Learning space for children’s books – there are lots of good options popping up out there – but not very many in solid rhyme and meter. So I think of my work like Shel Silverstein for the millennial parent.
The literary world is one that is so very outdated in how it operates. The moats for creatives are so high, it’s a wonder anything gets published at all. Because my husband and I also run a travel-tech startup called Itinerate, I just didn’t have time to dedicate sending out hundreds of query letters to agents into what’s known as the “slush” pile. Finding an agent, and then shopping your book to publishers can take years. So I was thankful to discover the concept of a hybrid publisher, who works directly with authors as both editor and publisher. The marketing and retail rests on my shoulders, but I have MBA specializing in marketing, so I’m putting that to use.
I think that my books resonate with parents of young children who want story time to start a conversation with their kids. We have them at home for such a short time, especially for working parents, that any moment we can spend with them is so very precious, and I’m sure I’m not the only parent who got tired of flipping through books with no point to them.
I would say the lessons I’ve learned are that writing a children’s book is hard, but marketing them is harder. To be a writer, you have to practice the audacity of hope. Each step can seem daunting, but we are so lucky to live in a world where there are now options like hybrid publishing, Indie publishing, self publishing etc if you don’t want to go the traditional agent-publisher route.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My career is in the luxury travel space, so itinerary planning is my jam! I’d start with a hike at Red Rocks or the Flatirons in Boulder. Do the Tuk-Tuk brewery crawl with e-tuk tours through RiNo. If it’s not the pandemic, take in a show at Red Rocks. Oysters and rosé at Blue Island Oyster Co for happy hour. Dinner at Beckon.
Colorado is so vast and so different, with a week, I’d definitely take a friend up to Vail during the summer for some incredible hiking.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My parents and husband have always supported my writing. Every time I write a new piece, they hear it first, and still express joy and surprise no matter how many poems I throw their way. My parents encouraged me to transfer to Colorado College and major in Creative Writing, because they knew how much I loved writing poetry. I also had some amazing teachers along the way – Jane Hilberry at Colorado College, Tom Graeser at Kent Denver.