Naperville publisher releasing Wheeling native's book about perseverance
The denials really add up in a new children's book set for release Aug. 4 by Naperville publishing company Sourcebooks.
In "A Thousand No's" by Chicago-area author DJ Corchin and illustrator Dan Dougherty, the main character gets so many "no's" when she brings up her big idea, she can no longer carry them on her own. She enlists help, collaborates with others and keeps working, but the "no's" just keep coming.
Until the last page.
There's a big reveal at the end that's surprising even when readers know the book falls into the children's literature subcategory of "growth mindset."
The book is Corchin and Dougherty's best-known and best-selling work out of about a dozen books for children and teens on which the two have collaborated. It's the first of the 23 books Corchin has written to be released by Sourcebooks, and before its broad release next month, the title is available at Barnes & Noble as part of a national virtual storytime series.
Sourcebooks, led by Publisher and CEO Dominique Raccah, acquired Corchin's titles after a chance meeting early this year at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo.
Although Corchin and Dougherty had released "A Thousand No's" via self-publishing in 2017, both author and illustrator said the book followed its own advice and got better through critical feedback and collaboration with the Sourcebooks team.
"The book taught us how to treat it," Dougherty said.
Corchin said the Sourcebooks release of "A Thousand No's" comes at a perfect time when the world needs to hear the book's "multi-layered" message, which is designed to start a discussion about getting along with others.
"Things are better when you include," he said.
Before their book about the importance of what Dougherty calls "perseverance and collaboration" came together, the duo worked on it side-by-side in a coffee shop. Dougherty drew on an iPad as they designed the main character and illustrated the stages of "no's" she receives.
Dougherty said he enjoyed the creative process of "A Thousand No's" more than he has with any other book. He said the book is relatable, with a character who has her high hopes dashed and needs the power of community to build back up again.
Dougherty, 39, grew up in Tinley Park, got a bachelor's degree in fine arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago and works full-time as an illustrator and author of books and comics, including the autobiographical "Beardo" comic series. He and Corchin both are fathers, each with two kids, and they were excited to have their books picked up by an independent publishing house with a broader reach to promote and distribute their work.
Corchin, 40, is a Wheeling native and technology professional who came to children's authorship after studying music education at DePaul University in Chicago and spending a couple of years helping out with the Wheeling High School marching band in the late 2000s.
His first book came out of his experience touring with the professional marching band troupe, Blast!, for which he said he "rode a unicycle and played trombone." While on the road, Corchin set up an outreach plan to meet with local marching bands. These interactions gave him the ideas that formed "Band Nerds," now a four-book series for young adult readers ages 13 and older.
In 2006, Corchin put out a Craigslist ad seeking an illustrator for the idea that became "Band Nerds." He said he got 80 responses in 24 hours, but clicked right away with Dougherty after seeing his work and talking with him on a brief call.
Back then, Corchin said, he was "a nobody trying to get a book out."
Now, with their library of works acquired by Sourcebooks, the author and illustrator are what Corchin called a "15-year overnight success."
Sourcebooks describes "A Thousand No's" as a rare children's book that appeals to people of all ages, with "a powerful message that has the ability to change lives."
"In many ways, this book, and its message, was made for a time such as this -- when so many things are uncertain, and so much change and growth is needed," Heather Moore, director of marketing for Sourcebooks Kids, said in a news release. "'A Thousand No's' is really a representation of learning how to listen and work well with others."