Author-Illustrator Spotlight: Jenny Maj

© Jenny Maj


January 4, 2018

Today we have the pleasure of featuring author, teacher, and plush toy designer, Jenny Maj in the author spotlight!

Be sure to enter her giveaway for her book, FALAFEL'S GARDEN (U.S. addresses only).






Tell us about your background and how you came to write and illustrate for children.

Growing up, my mom told me on a number of occasions that I would be a children’s book author and illustrator. I even made a hand-bound book of illustrated poems when I was in the third grade, but I honestly never considered writing or illustrating as professions I might pursue.
© Jenny Maj

After graduating from college, I went into teaching. I initially planned to serve as a science teacher for the Peace Corps, but I was deferred for health reasons. I ended up getting a job as a high school art teacher, and I taught in public schools for 4 years. I taught high school for two years and elementary for another two, but I had to leave my job due to chronic illness in 2012. Being unable to hold a traditional job led to me to learn how to sew. Once I started making plush toys, I naturally began coming up with background stories for some of the characters I made, and that eventually led me to create a children’s book. 


© Jenny Maj


Congrats on your book FALAFEL'S GARDEN. Tell us about the story & what inspired you.

FALAFEL’S GARDEN is about a gardening llama, a socially anxious sheep, and a foodie horse. When I started making organic plush toys three years ago, Falafel the Llama, Baxter the Horse, and Griswold the Sheep were the first characters I made. I wrote brief story lines for them and painted ‘pop-up’ scenery for them to live in. I felt they deserved more than a few sentences for their stories, but I had just gotten into sewing and was too preoccupied with creating new stuffed toy designs to focus on writing. A couple of years later, after some encouragement, I finally focused on writing a book for Falafel, Baxter, and Griswold.



You self-published the book through Kickstarter and it was fully funded in four days. What are your top recommendations for a successful Kickstarter campaign?


Take the time to make a good video. It doesn’t have to be professionally done—you can even shoot it with your cell phone—just don’t skip making one. They’re critical to succeeding on Kickstarter.


Check out successful children’s book campaigns (and unsuccessful ones, too) before creating your own campaign. Kickstarter allows you to find projects by “most backed” or “most funded” using their search function, and it’s incredibly helpful to see what has (and hasn’t) worked for other people.


Market your campaign in every way imaginable. If you have a great project photo, you might get a decent amount of hits on the day you launch your campaign. But after that, you’re on your own. You need to have social media posts, blog posts on your website, posts on other blogger’s sites, interviews with news outlets, etc. lined up so you have something driving traffic to your campaign every day it’s live.


© Jenny Maj

What are your top recommendations for someone thinking of self-publishing a children's book?

Have your manuscript critiqued and hire a good editor. If you plan to print your book on your own, request lots of samples from a variety of different printers. Ideally, try to talk with someone who has personally worked with the printers you are considering using. 


© Jenny Maj


Tell us about how you made your book eco-friendly.

FALAFEL’S GARDEN was printed in the US on 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper using vegetable based inks. In order to have the book printed in an eco-friendly manner, I had to take the self-publishing route and find my own printer. The process of finding an eco-friendly printer capable of printing a children’s book was far more difficult than I anticipated. Everything it entailed is a bit long for this post, but I’ve written about it in depth on my blog. (Check out 8 Tips for Printing an Eco-Friendly Book).


© Jenny Maj

What projects are you working on now?

I’m not working on anything writing-related at the moment. Most of my time recently has been focused on creating plush toy sewing patterns and helping with a project for a local non-profit.


© Jenny Maj

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I really want a pet alpaca! Unfortunately, they’re herd animals. I don’t think I can have a herd of alpacas in the suburbs, so I’ll have to settle for my cat for now. 



Where can people find you online?

My website: www.fluffmonger.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/fluffmonger

Instagram: www.instagram.com/fluffmonger

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClGGBWZxQPygXDgaspG1Y7A

Twitter: www.twitter.com/fluffmonger




Jenny Maj is a plush toy designer from Greensboro, NC. 95% of her ideas are inspired by her ridiculous cat.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

25 comments:

  1. Absolutely. Unique and great title.

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  2. Wowsers - these plush guys are so full of personality! I llove llamas llots!

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  3. Adorable - will be adding to my purchase possibilities!

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  4. Delightful characters and illustrations! It's very beautiful!

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  5. I love this type of illustration! What a great idea!

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  6. GAAAH! I critiqued this story and it is impossibly adorable, just like Jenny's plush animals. I love the sweet story and characters, and these cut-paper illustrations just blow me away. Congrats again, Jenny! I hope we see more stories from these characters!

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    1. I critiqued this story too and totally agree with everything you said - I wouldn't edit it a bit :-)

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  7. Thank you for sharing your journey to publishing a book. I admire how you did not give up in the face of obstacles. Love your plush designs!

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  8. This is so adorable! I love the mix of book and plushies. It's such a wonderful idea, and I love that you were determined to make your book eco-friendly.

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  9. These characters you created are so unique and adorable. I'm looking forward to reading their stories.

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  10. I love the idea of puppets as charcters in an illustration! Kudos for originality! :)

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  11. Wonderful post! You're so creative, Jenny!

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  12. I love the mix of your adorable plush animals with the illustrated backgrounds - so fluffen cute!

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  13. I can't wait to read this. It looks amazing! :)

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  14. Oh.My.Goodness! If this project doesn't bring a smile to your face, I don't know what will! "A gardening llama, a socially anxious sheep and a foodie horse"...sound like me and my friends :)

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  15. Congratulations! There is no way to look at your illustrations without smiling. Thank you!

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  16. I'm SUPER intrigued by these illustrations!

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  17. Thank you for sharing your journey-your animals are adorable, and the book looks like a winner. Congrats!

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  18. This is SO cute!! I've always loved sewing small stuffed animals too, I love the idea of combining them with illustrations!

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  19. This is adorable! I'm a sucker for a llama in a shirt.

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