Abi Cushman's Newsletter and Cover Reveal

Today, I'm sharing (with permission) an example of what Arree and I think is a fantastic newsletter. As a business owner, building your email list is an essential part of connecting with the people who will read and buy your books, and in order to build your list, you have to offer something of value. Abi Cushman's newsletter is a great example of offering value. I couldn't get all of the design elements exactly the same in my blog post as they were in Abi's newsletter, but this is pretty darn close.

Hi (Reader),

I am very excited to share a few things with you. First is this picture my daughter drew of me the other day. She explained, “You have that heavy ball attached to you because you’re a monster.”

The second thing I wanted to share is that this monster has a 🌟new book🌟 coming out next summer from Viking Children's Books!

It’s a picture book with die-cuts called Animals Go Vroom!, and it challenges the reader to guess what goes roar, hiss or honk. (You may think it’s a goose making the honking sound, but turn the page and the honks are actually coming from the taxi the goose is driving.)

Here’s the cover:

The cover has a die-cut that is perfectly lined up to peek through to the illustration on the title page!*


Making ANIMALS GO VROOM!


If you’re wondering how I went about making this book with holes in it, the answer is that I made a lot of little book dummies where I cut out a bunch of holes and then realized they were in the wrong spot a bunch of times.

Here is one early dummy I made of the book:

Here you can see I cut out a little rectangle to show the tiger face on the next spread.

Then turn the page, and it reveals there’s a tiger in a truck that’s going ROAR!, and the “roar” gets incorporated into the dust cloud in the art.

Now take a look at the final art and die-cuts for the tiger sequence in action:

You may have noticed I varied the shapes of the die-cuts so they weren’t just rectangles. And my art director, Jim Hoover, helpfully suggested that we avoid shapes with pointy edges. No fingers at risk of being stabbed by the pages here!*

If you’re interested in seeing even more of my process, head over to Betsy Bird’s blog and read my official cover reveal interview!

Pre-Order ANIMALS GO VROOM!

Animals Go Vroom! comes out July 13, 2021 and is already available to pre-order!

I will be doing personalized signed copies through Bank Square Books in Mystic, CT. Write the name(s) you'd like the book personalized to in the comments field during checkout.

Bank Square offers free shipping anywhere in the U.S., and each pre-order will come with some cute Animals Go Vroom! stickers!

You can also pre-order a copy from:
Amazon | Your Local Bookstore | BAM! | Barnes & Noble | Target | Walmart

Free Activities!

To tide you over for the next 7 months before Animals Go Vroom! comes out, I started to make an activity guide, and I wanted to share a few activity sheets with you now.

P.S. If there are any activities you’d like to see in the full activity guide, let me know!

Thank You!

Finally, as 2020 comes to a close, I just wanted to thank all of you for coming along on this journey with me! Your support means so much to me.

Here I am with my reading buddy in Bank Square Books’s new pop-up shop in New London, CT right next to the Garde Arts Theater.
* I hope.

Thanks for reading! See you next time!

Okay, this is Myrna again. Wasn't Abi's newsletter fun to read? Thanks, Abi, for letting us use it as an example!

Animals Go Vroom! Giveaway

I'm pre-ordering a signed copy of Animals Go Vroom! (with cute animal stickers) for one random commenter. To enter, tell me something you noticed about Abi's newsletter that you could use to make your own more valuable to your email subscribers. (If you don't have an email list yet, hypothetical answers are just fine.) For extra entries, share the post on social media and let me know in a reply to your original comment. You can also have an extra entry if you subscribe to Abi's newsletter. This giveaway will end on June 15 at midnight (PST).

Blog Contributors

Instructor Photo: Myrna Foster

Myrna Foster writes and edits content for Storyteller Academy and the WriteRiders Newsletter for SCBWI Nevada. She has spent a lot of time teaching and coaching children, including five years as a preschool teacher. She's also worked as a journalist, and Highlights High Five has published six of her poems. 

Arree Chung is an author/illustrator and the founder of Storyteller Academy. Arree’s Ninja! series has received starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal. Kirkus also gave a starred review to Mixed, which recently won the FCGB award. 

Today Arree lives a creative life, making stories for children. Arree spends most of his time making picture books, writing middle grade novels, and sharing his love for art, design, and storytelling with kids and dreamers everywhere.

Follow Storyteller Academy on Social Media

60 thoughts on “Abi Cushman’s Newsletter and Cover Reveal”

  1. I do not have a newsletter yet, but I realize that this format is not much different from what I already do on my Facebook art page. I hadn’t started a newsletter or blog because I feared I wouldn’t have enough time to keep it updated frequently. Abi’s format is friendly, light, interesting (love the personal photos and process photos/videos), and her format looks manageable for writers like me with very busy lives who still want to beef up their following. Thanks for sharing!

    1. The free activity page downloads were a great touch, as well as the offer for signed book plates
      Just subscribed!

  2. My 2 year old nephew is very much into vehicles and onomatopoeia. I definitely can picture him going through this book with his parents and learning how to read with it.

  3. I noticed several tabs in bright colors that break from straight print
    Free Downloads
    Forward to friends

    I don’t have a writer’s blog yet but this one is a good model

  4. Love the idea of a video/gif! And it has plenty of action steps for the subscriber (pre-order & forward to a friend!)

  5. Sneak peek into process is always fun for a subscriber to read. We want to know how it’s done 🙂 And also little giveaways like Abi’s activity sheets say “thank you” to your subscribers for being supportive of your journey. It makes subscribers feel valued and want to continue subscribing. 🙂

  6. I love that Abi gave us a sneak peek into her dummy-making process, including a short video of a page turn to show the final result. It’s a good teaser to show readers what the book will be like, so we’re tempted to buy, but she’s not pushy at all.

  7. I get Abi’s newsletter and so I enjoyed this when she sent it out. She’s pretty savvy and a great writer. 🙂 Including the before and afters of her initial artwork really got my attention. I think this alone draws greater interest and insight into what goes into creating such a fun book.

  8. This is great! I look forward to Abi’s new book. We have some grand babies arriving in late spring so this will go great as a gift. I love Abi’s friendly natural voice and the addition of activities is a great way to keep the book in mind.

    Could we get her to do a mini-class on making activity sheets?

    I subscribed to her mailing list.

    Oh, and what is the marketing value difference between a newsletter and a semi-regular blog post? Any tips on how to get people to actually subscribe to either when you offer valuable content?

    1. Oooh, it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask! Thanks for the idea, Sarah!

      Arree would know marketing value difference better than I would. They can both be valuable, but email subscribers are the more valuable of the two. To get people to subscribe, offer them something they want (a lead magnet) for free for their subscription. Arree goes over how to do this in the first six modules of his Makers Pro Business Series. If you need a link to it, email me, and I’ll send it to you. You should have access as a Makers Pro member.

  9. I subscribe to Abi’s newsletter. She does an excellent job. I loved how she shared her die-cut process for her new book. Congrats Abi!

  10. I love seeing the dummy/manuscript-in-progress. When I one day have a newsletter/website, I want to share drafts so other writers can see the process, too!

  11. I thought it was entertaining and informative – I really like how she took us through a process and taught us something specific. I also really liked how she is already including activities for kids BEFORE they get the book. That is a great way to get kids and parents excited about it. Great work, Abi!

  12. I don’t have a newsletter, but I am a brand-new blogger. I love the way intro catches the reader’s attention. Walking readers through the thought process that went into creating this book and offering a sneak peek is a great idea.

  13. Congratulations on another outstanding book cover Abi Cushman and on the awesome newsletter with a cool monster picture. Thanks for sharing and running this contest Myrna. I hope to win this die cut book, ANIMAL’S GO VROOM!

  14. What is especially striking and engaging about this newsletter, in contrast to many others, is the spare use of easily readable, large font text interspersed with images and a video clip. The text ties closely to the images, not unlike a photo caption. This format moves the reader along in a way that feels natural and is quite different than reading (or more likely skimming) a large block of text, even if followed but the same types of images. Fabulous job!

  15. There were many great things in her newsletter….a few of them are:
    Behind the scenes images and video
    Connecting with kids
    Linking bookstore, highlighting free shipping/autograph
    Downloadable activities
    EXpressing appreciation for her readers

  16. I like the free activities and mini guide, but I’m not an illustrator.
    I also like the “what I’m reading” section which would be easy to do, and supportive of other authors and illustrators.

  17. I like the humor she uses, especially the use of her child’s drawing. I also really like how she promotes others by including the books she’s currently reading.

  18. I liked where she showed PBs that she is currently enjoying. It’s just a little extra at the bottom of the newsletter.

  19. What a cute book! Littles will love this! And although I’m not an author/illustrator, I think authors too can gain a lot by making picture book dummies, esp from the pacing perspective. (And then I’ll personally just put holes & die cuts in cuz it looks fun, LOL!) Congrats on your next greatest book!

  20. Amaya Lambert

    Such a great newsletter, Abi! I love how you make it personal with a cute, quick anecdote from your daughter. We’re already laughing! Sharing your creative process shows how much effort and love was put into the book. Including the coloring and activity pages was a real treat and totally something I’d make available in my classroom as the children enjoy the book. Can’t wait to read it! ♡

  21. Amanda Shapiro

    I noticed that she included freebie printouts. People like and appreciate freebies, plus they could attach children to the characters so they are more eager to read the book when it comes out.

  22. Carole Meyer-Rieth

    Wow, Abi!!! What a fantastic newsletter! This gives me something to aim for in multiple respects, including interactive content and downloads, an explanation of the book -making process, and the sense of a very personal connection (via your child’s drawing) with the author! Although I have a website, I am not yet published and I’m feeling like I really don’t have anything to put in a regular newsletter yet. How often is Abi’s newsletter published? How did she build her email distribution list prior to publication?

  23. This is an excellent example of a newsletter! I love that she opened with her daughter’s drawing and makes it clear that her family is very involved in her writing career! I also really was intrigued with the behind the scenes look at her newest book! I think that is a great tip for my future newsletters to offer insight that goes deeper than the book itself! Abi’s newsletter is very informative and inspirational. I look forward to reading more issues and her new book!

  24. Thanks for sharing Abi’s neletter. I like that she shared her process and is providing free activity sheets for the kids. Great value and layout on her newsletter. Congrats Abi Cushman on your book ANIMALS GO VROOM!

  25. Her use of design/art is great for page turns. This time, she cuts. The use of dummies really help and downloads. It’s family oriented with her daughter’s drawings and pictures. Going to a pop up shop is a quality bonding between writer and son. It’s also great for book exposures and sales. Another great creation! Thanks Abi and Myrna for sharing.

  26. Marty Findley

    I love the personal feel of this newsletter. It creates such interest in the book. What a fun book with the cutouts and guessing what’s on the next page! I love that you offer give-aways to create interest even before the book is out. I’m anxious to see your book. Congratulations on a successful book!

  27. Some tips/things I learned and appreciated from Abi’s post were the before and after images provided of the beginning stages and thoughts of Animals Go Vroom! and then the final/finish product as a good lead-in for pre-orders. The punny-ness of “no fingers at risk of being stabbed” was fun and kept the newsletter down to earth and kid fun. Plus, I enjoyed that Abi provided the activity sheets and asked for feedback if there were other activities readers/supporters would like. I too am planning to do activity sheets, so I found it smart to ask for additional feedback and thoughts of other things readers/supporters might suggest or want.
    Also, Abi had a funny intro with their daughter’s drawing and something from their everyday life, before getting book specific.

  28. Vanessa Kirchner

    I absolutely loved seeing the before and after, the book dummy and the actual book! I also like how she began the newsletter with art created by her daughter as well as the photos of she and her reading buddy at the book store, it makes me feel like I am a part of her world, an insider in the group.

    What I would like to know, you may have discussed this before, is how do you create your email list?

    Thank you!
    Vanessa Kirchner

  29. I enjoyed Abi’s tone of her post. It made me feel like I was chatting with a friend, especially when she shared her daughter’s drawing. It was great to see Abi’s process in creating her dummy, then to view the finished result. Including activity pages that relate to the book is a big plus as well – helps get the kids excited about ordering a new book. Congrats, Abi, on your new book!

  30. This is so awesome Abi! Congrats on the book! I can’t wait to see it in the shelves. Well done! Dummies are the best. Thanks for the tips and being so transparent in your process with us. Great job! I’m loving the Creating Picture Books class you and Arree are teaching. I can’t wait to submit my dummie! Yay!

    1. P.S. In a similar fashion to your lovely monster picture (every monster needs a ball and chain, of course!), a little student said to me, “You’re really nice, but you look a little villainy.” I was wearing a shirt that said “Kindness Turt-alley Rocks,” with a happy little turtle on it, and was confused and amused. Thank you for the smiles from your mom life and your darling story!

  31. Eva NMN Felder

    As always, thank you Myrna for providing us all sort of interesting and needed information!.
    Brainstorming sounds and playing with the results is utterly crafty. What the reader anticipates and how the page turns, constantly surprise us. It is achieved in a masterful way of placing die-cuts in the most interesting spots to give us two different realities of the same word.
    The warm way of weaving her dream family with her storytelling, is so endearing!
    My favorite part of Animals Go Vroom! is the HISS sound. Thinking about a snake when in reality it is a car that gets a flat tire.
    I am very impressed by the interview with Betsy Bird A Fuse #8 Production..
    The letter covers so many items at the same time in a very easy to follow technique, including colors reminding the cover of the book in blue and red for important information.
    Good luck developing your brainstorming ideas for graphic novel into BEING PUBLISHED.! We will keep on following you wherever you go!

  32. I loved reading Abi’s newsletter and I’m happy to be her newest subscriber. What I loved about it is the tone, fun and engaging (not sales-y at all) and the way she shared personal info that made me feel connected and also craft. Excellent job, Abbi! And thanks, Myra!

  33. Karen Henderson

    It was fun, personal, engaging. I really enjoyed seeing some of the processes she went through on her way to a finished product. I also love that it got to the point and wasn’t wordy and long.

  34. Amy Lee Firestone

    Her email is warm and friendly. Her opening with a hilarious portrait from her son shows she doesn’t take herself too seriously, ideal for a funny picture book author-illustrator. Well done! My students would love this story and the teacher in me loves I wouldn’t need to create any accompanying worksheets.

  35. Savannah Rogers

    Thank you for sharing this post and offering a giveaway of this cute book!

    I love how Abi is promoting her local independent bookstore and other authors’ books. It was also so interesting too see her dummy process for the die cut pages!

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