A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Murray State University senior goes viral for self-published children’s book about pronouns

Simon Elfrink
Murray State University

Senior Autumn Brown gained sweeping attention on Twitter after posting their illustrated children’s book “New Names” on Oct. 12 for national Coming Out day.

Brown uploaded the book, which addresses diversity in gender identities, as a thread on Twitter. Only hours later, the first tweet in the thread went viral with over 102,000 likes and 42,000 retweets.

“I was beyond excited,” Brown said. “It exploded the same day I posted it, and I remember being ecstatic when it reached 500 likes just a couple hours after posting it. Over the course of about three days it reached its peak of 102k likes and 42k shares. My phone was entirely unusable for that week.”

Senior Autumn Brown wrote and illustrated the book “New Names” that went viral on Twitter. (Photo by Cady Stribling,The Murray State News)

Brown said they have officially self-published “New Names” and has now sold over 300 copies, handling everything individually through direct messaging.

“It has definitely been very hard to balance while also going to school, but it’s been an exciting kind of crazy,” Brown said. “I honestly expected it to be like my other posts that get about 50 likes, and had I known that this would blow up the way it did I would have prepared the selling process differently.”

Brown, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in drawing, said the book is officially an illustrated children’s book, but they encourage it for anyone who is willing to learn about gender identity expression and inclusivity.

The book centers around characters who are divided by a king into two identities: “sneeps” and “morps.” As the story progresses, many of the characters do not fit into the characteristics of a “sneep” or “morp” and choose to identify with other names.

“The topic came naturally to me,” Brown said. “A lot of the zines I was making at the time were focused on the idea of arbitrarily categorizing things, drawing parallels to binary gender markers. A lot of that imagery was more esoteric and funny than educational at a glance, so I made it a point to make the idea of defying labels something that even a child could easily grasp.”

Brown said the process of conceptualizing, drafting, writing and illustrating the book took about a month to complete. The early stages included a lot of sketching and drafting the story. Once the visuals were decided, the story adapted to take advantage of the imagery, as Brown wanted in order to make the book feel cohesive.

“The first part of conceptualizing ‘New Names’ was choosing a topic I wanted to talk about and what tone I wanted to approach it with,” Brown said. “A lot of my work centers around the different facets of identity, and I was striving to make a more complicated or ‘intimidating’ topic more approachable.”

The scans on Twitter and Instagram are from the original copy of the book, and Brown said “New Names” was entirely traditional from the beginning. Even the earliest writing and sketches were pencil in a notebook and the final product was watercolor and ink, Brown said.

Brown said they have wanted to be an author-illustrator since they were young, so they are excited to keep selling copies as long as the demand is there.

Brown said they have been drawing and making things their entire life. As a kid, Brown said their favorite pastime was drawing cartoons they saw on TV, and as they got older they realized how powerful art can be and wanted to use it to speak to people.

If interested in purchasing Brown’s book, contact them on Twitter at @FreshlyPeeled or on Instagram at @AutumnNotGrace. They conduct all business through DMs currently but are looking to open an online storefront in the future.

Simon Elfrink is a staff writer for The Murray State News

Related Posts

Leave a Comment