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  • Writer's picturePicture Book Snob

How picture books inspired a career change

When I was younger, one of my favourite stories was Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. If you're not already familiar with this book, it's about a boy who decides to go for a walk in the moonlight. There's nothing in the sky and nowhere to go, so Harold draws a moon and makes his own path, using his purple crayon. While furloughed from a cinema-related role due to Covid-19, I realised it was time for me to forge my own path too. During my time off work, I obtained formal qualifications in copywriting, editing and proofreading. One of my copywriting course assignments was to start a blog and write a couple of posts for it. I had never blogged before, nor had I previously any interest in doing so, and I had absolutely no idea what to blog about either.

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.

It made sense to write about something I loved, so I settled on picture books, not intending to keep the blog going once the assignment had been marked. When I shared my first post, I was unaware that there were already millions of picture book blogs on the internet. I'm glad I didn't know this or I might have started something entirely different (that probably would have been abandoned soon afterwards).

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I had worked in bookshops and publishing from 2001 - 2011 but hadn't been in the industry since then. In January 2012, I joined a cinema advertising company as a marketing assistant and became the film specialist in 2015. My responsibilities included writing press releases, composing copy for sales materials, newsletters and web pages, profiling audiences and creating and delivering presentations on upcoming movies. After a long absence from the book trade, I returned in July 2020 as a relative unknown. Despite this, the online community of children's book authors, illustrators, publishers, bloggers and fellow enthusiasts was enormously supportive and welcoming. Picture Book Snob quickly became an essential part of life, and I grew increasingly aware that the world of books and writing was where I belonged.

Illustrations from Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.

When I had the opportunity to return to my old job after being laid off for 15 months, I decided to try working for myself instead. I've spent the last three months interning with Paper Lanterns Literary Journal while also going through a variety of steps to set up my own freelance copywriting, editing & PR business. Although officially unemployed for most of 2020 and 2021, it was an extremely busy time!

While furloughed, I worked voluntarily with aspiring writers, independent authors, smaller publishers and local businesses to gain even more experience in editing, copywriting and PR. I've also taken further courses in copywriting and editing, and written about children's books for my local paper. When trying to think of a business name, Crockett Johnson's classic book came to mind and 'Purple Crayon' seemed the perfect fit.

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.
"But, luckily, he kept his wits and his purple crayon."

If you need a professional copywriter, editor or publicist to help make your book or business a success, get in touch to discuss how we might collaborate. You can find my website at and I'm on Instagram and Facebook as @purplecrayoncreative, and @crayontweeting on Twitter. Drop me a line on — I'd love to hear how we might work together or how picture books have inspired you!

Harold and the Purple Crayon was originally published by Scholastic in 1955. Learn more about this book, its impact on children's literature and its intriguing author-illustrator:


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