When Dustin Brady (Commercial Writing, ’08) walks into the children’s section at a Barnes and Noble in Ohio, he’s tempted to sign his name in some books—not because he plans to buy them, but because he wrote them.
Just two years ago, Dustin and his brother Jesse Brady (Commercial Art, ’10), eagerly waited for their self-published book Trapped in a Video Game to make its first sale on Amazon’s CreateSpace. Yet, in a short period of time, the brothers watched the book sell more than just a few copies—it was selling thousands.
Within a few months, Dustin had received a phone call from a representative with Andrews McMeel Publishing. The company wanted the rights to all five books in the series, and they wanted to keep Jesse as the illustrator.
When asked what inspired him to write the books, Dustin said, “When I was a kid, books that were action-packed and funny inspired my love for reading. With Trapped in a Video Game, I set out to write my 10-year-old self’s favorite book to help today’s kids discover for themselves that reading can be fun.”
Scheduled to come out early next year, the fifth book in the series is the culmination of lots of late nights, early mornings, and cups of coffee. For Dustin, it took eight years working in journalism, copywriting, and editing before he transitioned to writing fiction; and even after that, it took eight self-published books before Andrews McMeel took on his series. “While many authors consider their work done once they finish the manuscript, self-published authors are in charge of everything from cover design and page layout to copy editing and marketing,” Dustin explained.
Thankfully, Dustin had Jesse to help with some of these tasks, such as illustrating the book covers, even though Jesse lives nearly 500 miles away in Florida. The illustrations were no easy task. Jesse explained that he did most of the artwork after having completed his shift at Abeka where he works as an illustrator in the digital department. “The whole creative process can be hectic sometimes, but there’s nothing like seeing an idea, or a character, or some crazy alien laser robot come to life after a long day of work,” Jesse said.
Both Dustin and Jesse agree that having a good foundation and being willing to work hard is important for success in their fields. “PCC has a great traditional art program, and that makes it the perfect place to learn core principles like drawing, composition, and color,” Jesse explained. “By the end, I got more than a fun hobby from my time at PCC—I was ready to take on some work.”
Dustin also considers his education at PCC a major factor in his ability to do well in the competitive field of children’s literature. “By training me to think critically and strive for excellence, PCC’s program helped my writing stand apart in the self-published space and get noticed by a traditional publisher,” he said.
Now with a large publisher behind them, Dustin and Jesse’s books are gaining momentum. In fact, several countries including Russia have purchased the rights to translate and sell the books.
Recently, Dustin spoke at the first-ever writing workshop for PCC students during which he explained his writing routine and gave tips about the publishing world. “I was worried hardly anyone would come,” Dustin admitted. But in the end, fifty-six students and eight faculty and staff members showed up, with many excitedly asking him questions well after the workshop was complete.
On his writing routine, Dustin explained that he has to wake up early if he’s going to get in 1,000 words and two hours of solid writing time each day. “I have to turn off my Internet,” Dustin admitted. “I’ve even turned off my router and thrown my phone across the room so I don’t get distracted.”
The brothers’ hard work has paid off—few people have a self-published book picked up by a large publishing house. Happy the books are doing so well, they are excited to see what the Lord has next. “God has opened doors to continue in this field, and I’m thankful for that! I never really felt led to do anything else,” Jesse said.
Dustin echoed these sentiments: “I’m so thankful for the career the Lord has given me and the doors He’s opened to create wholesome children’s entertainment from a biblical worldview.”