I’m so happy to welcome author Molly Ippolito to the blog today to talk about her educational resource business, The Sunny Side. I met Molly through Twitter some years ago and we’ve followed each other for a while. I knew about her amazing experience creating teaching guides and educational resources for children, so before Santiago’s Dinosaurios was released, I reached out to her. Working together was such a nice experience for me. I’m truly a fan of Molly’s work and a very happy client. I was delighted when she agreed to this interview so that others can learn more about what she does and can take advantage of the wonderful resources she offers.
I invite you to visit my website to check out the beautiful, fun and dino related activities Molly has created for me. These resources are perfect for my book and have been a great hit with children in my school and library events. I’m so grateful to have Molly on my corner and I’m looking forward to more collaborations for my upcoming books.
About The Sunny Side:
The Sunny Side is the home of bright and sunny educational resources! Molly Ippolito, the creator and former elementary educator, provides authors with high quality, educational resources, aligned to Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. The resources are unlike any other, as they are customized and specifically tailored to each book. The eye-catching resources are intended to engage students, involve parents, support educators, and ultimately promote book sales.
Now, on to our interview.
M. Molly, can you share what inspired you to create The Sunny Side and how did you start? Why did you name it The Sunny Side?
MI. Mariana, thanks so much for this chance to chat about writing & education – my two favorite things!
I initially created The Sunny Side as an online teaching store to house the resources I made for my classroom while teaching full time. I thought it would be a good way to share my creations and also make a little supplemental income. If you’re familiar with the website teacherspayteachers.com, you can find my online teacher store there. I started getting serious about my journey to becoming a published author in 2020, when the pandemic allowed me to pursue a dream I’ve always held on to. The more involved I became in the #writingcommunity, the more I realized the need for educational resources, specifically resources tailored to picture books. Tying educational standards to lessons is something that, as a teacher, I was used to doing daily. Using these skills, I’ve been able to create authentic, one-of-a-kind resources for authors who are looking to provide teaching guides and/or host classroom visits for their newly published stories. After the 2020 school year, I decided to stay home with my two girls and since then have been able to really focus on my writing career. Through The Sunny Side, I’ve been able to help other authors in need, while also bringing in extra income for my family. I chose the name The Sunny Side because I feel that teachers are the sunshine in cloudy skies! Teaching is truly a work of heart – it takes a very special person to be an educator and I wanted my business name to reflect that.
M. I love that about The Sunny Side name, Molly! It’s perfect! Now, can you tell us what is your main objective with this business? What type of educational /authors resources are available?
MI. My main goal is to provide services to authors in need. Before getting my feet wet in the publishing world, I didn’t realize just how needed this service was. Having 8 years of teaching experience, across multiple grade levels and school districts, I bring a unique perspective. I’m able to create resources with teachers in mind, remembering the things that, as a teacher, were helpful. For example, at the start of each teaching guide I include a TABLE OF CONTENTS, that lists the page numbers of each activity. The intention is for teachers to be able to quickly and easily open the digital file and print the specific activity needed, without having to hunt down the page numbers of the activity. We all know that if there’s one thing teachers DON’T have…it’s time. This is such a small and seemingly unimportant piece of my process, however, I know teachers will appreciate it. I have a variety of resources available for authors. My educational resources are bundled into packs, with each pack having a different purpose. A teaching guide pack has 8 interdisciplinary activities, aligned to the Common Core and/or Next Generation Science Standards. The purpose of the teaching guide pack is for authors to post the guide to their website for educators who buy copies of their books. I also have a launch party and a classroom visit pack. Launch party activities include fun resources an author can copy for a launch event or book signing, like character masks, word searches, or coloring pages. Classroom visit activities are quick and easy printables for authors to take to a classroom visit.
They are aligned to standards, but are simple enough for anyone to complete. I also have a blog subscriber pack. These are free resources authors can give away to parents, librarians, and/or teachers who subscribe to their website. This tool helps establish a following and build an email subscriber list. Finally, I have a social media pack that includes promotional images used to spread the word about a new book. Files include book trailers, animated GIFs, social media banners, book flyers, cover reveal videos, and much more! I also provide website design and author branding services as well!
M. You really have a wide variety of services to cover different needs authors may have. What is the usual process you go through with your clients? How do you decide which resources are better for each of your client’s books?
MI. Authors typically contact me through my website contact form (https://mollyippolito.com/) or via direct message on Facebook and/or Twitter. I then send along a survey to gather the information needed to make a plan moving forward. After reviewing the survey results, I outline the plan in an email that includes the details of the client’s order. I do require a deposit to begin working and once I receive that payment I’ll begin creating. When the resources are ready for edits, I send along draft files for authors to review and suggest changes and/or to look for errors. After receiving the final payment I’ll then send along the final versions of the files they’ve purchased. I rely a lot on my teaching experience to help guide me in creating resources for certain books. For example, a nonfiction picture book is going to focus more on nonfiction literacy standards. This might mean that a specific nonfiction story would work well with a small research project. Or, perhaps a resource or activity might focus on new facts that were learned as a result from reading. I also take into account the audience of the picture book (the age of most readers) as well as the story’s tone and style (whether it’s written lyrically, has foreign language throughout, is interactive or breaks the 4th wall etc).
M. Molly what has been the most rewarding part of having The Sunny Side? What future plans do you have for this business?
MI. The most rewarding part of having The Sunny Side has been the meaningful connections I’ve made with the immensely talented authors and author/illustrators I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I’ve learned about so many AMAZING books that I’ve added to our home library after having fallen in love with them! To all my teaching friends and former colleagues, I’ve become the go-to book person they can always count on to make a great book recommendation for teaching certain skills…and I’ll gladly accept that title! I hope the future brings growth, both for me as a creator and also for The Sunny Side.
M. Finally, can you share what comes next for you, Molly?
MI. At the start of the year I signed a contract with Liz Nealon at Great Dog Literary. I’m currently out on sub with one picture book biography and working through edits on an informational fiction piece that will go out soon. In the future, I’m hoping that I’ll get the exciting news that my stories have finally found a special home! In the meantime, I want to continue growing my business and helping as many authors as I can! If you want to learn more about the specific services I provide or see samples I’ve created in the past, you can visit the AUTHOR RESOURCES tab of my website.
Molly, thanks so much for this wonderful chat! It was so interesting to learn more about what you do and all the available services you offer at The Sunny Side. I wish you a lot of success with this venture as well as with your books on sub. I can’t wait to hear the exciting news of a book deal. I’m rooting for you!
Nothing warms Molly Ippolito’s heart quite like a picture book. With a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education, her unrelenting passion for kid lit has helped Molly’s students become lifelong readers throughout her career. Now, she’s looking forward to reaching young people through her non-fiction, lyrical, and humorous picture books. As a stay at home mom, she keeps her love of children’s literature alive with her own two daughters. Molly is currently using her professional teaching background to create educational resources for authors that are aligned to instructional standards. Her current projects include both non-fiction and lyrical picture books. Molly hopes that her stories will teach and empower young readers, showing them the new heights they can reach by opening a book.
Thanks for reading!
Cover photo by Artem Podrez.