Honors Medieval Studies Major Karen Neis (B.A, '16) Publishes Illustrated Children's Book about Emperor Charlemagne's Elephant

Author: Megan J. Hall

In Fall 2016 we brought you a video and story about how honors medieval studies major Karen Neis (B.A. '16) crafted an impressive senior honors project, her illustrated children's book Abul-Abbas, The Elephant, drawing inspiration from medieval manuscripts, illuminations, and art objects from Charlemagne's time.

The book recounts the journey of the elephant that caliph Harun al-Rashid gave as a gift to Charlemagne around the year 800. In the story, a Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim all work together to transport the elephant 3,000 miles from Baghdad to Aachen.

We are delighted to announce that her book has been picked up for publication by MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing. We asked Karen to tell us about the process of having her book published and give advice for students interested in doing the same. She tells us she began by emailing a variety of publishers, primarily in New York City.

She eventually met her current publisher locally, in California, at a children's book fair. After several months of discussion with the publisher, she signed a contract with them and then began the process of editing proofs. One particularly attractive thing to her about this publisher, she says, "is that they publish every book in traditional font and dyslexic font, to make the books more available for everyone."

As for advice, Karen writes, "Keep trying and [don't] lose hope when publishers don't get back to you; more specific advice would be that it's better to see a publisher in person than via email. Also, read their contract carefully and make sure you have control over the process. My publisher sent several versions of the book for me to approve, and let me have the final say. Finally, you need to make social media accounts to advertise your book; I use mostly Instagram (instagram.com/karenroseneis) and a public page on Facebook (facebook.com/karenroseneis)."

Congratulations, Karen!

Read more about Abul-Abbas, The Elephant.