Lakewood resident Lou Alpert has built a business with the help of an itsy bitsy spider and a little teapot. The owner of Whispering Coyote Press, this mother of seven turns nursery rhymes into children’s picture books with the help of about two dozen authors and illustrators from across the country.
Her best seller is a rendition of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” which currently has more than 300,000 copies in print, Alpert says. She has published nearly 40 books, including versions of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “I’m a Little Teapot,” which was released last year. In the fall, she will release an adaptation of “How Much is That Doggy in the Window?”
Alpert, who founded the Lakewood Service League (a women’s volunteer organization), started her publishing company in 1991 while living in New York. She grew up in Lakewood, graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1971, but moved with her family to Miami in 1987. The family then moved to Long Island and then to Boston before returning to our neighborhood in 1994.
Alpert has an art degree from Southern Methodist University, and says she always has read nightly to her children, who range in age from 7 to 20.
One day, she decided to try her hand at writing stories. Then, she took the next step and self-published her books. Her business grew from there, she says.
Today, she spends most of her time behind the scenes, publishing other writers, saying her stories aren’t her “hottest sellers.” Writers submit about 6,000 manuscripts to her a year, and she publishes between six to eight new books annually, she says.
She works out of her home, negotiating book deals over the phone while folding laundry and stirring spaghetti, she says.
How does she manage?
“Some days I do it better than others,” she says. “You don’t sleep much.”
“My kids have to come first.”
Alpert’s husband, Spencer, is an attorney by education, but spends most of his time cutting real estate deals, Alpert says.
He is supportive of her company and doesn’t mind that her manuscripts cover the kitchen table, she says.
The children also are supportive, she says.
“I’ve trained all my children to go into bookstores and face my books to the front on the shelves. It’s our own little marketing strategy,” Alpert says.
Alpert’s books are sold nationwide and are available in our neighborhood at The Enchanted Forest, 6333 E. Mockingbird, and Borders Books in the Old Town Shopping Center at Lovers and Greenville.
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