Our Former Intern Published a Book to Send a Kid to College

Kayla Frost is a go-getter. We found that out when she was Arizona Highways' editorial intern in the spring of 2013. Since then, Frost, who graduated from Arizona State University the same year, has toured Europe, worked near Alaska's Denali National Park and Preserve and taught English in Cambodia. The latter is where she met Vin, a student she befriended. He inspired her to compile and publish a book to fund his college education. That book, Tiny Humans, is out now. Frost now lives in Los Angeles and remains an Arizona Highways contributor; as she was heading out on a road trip (as she often is), we caught up with her to talk about the project.

Where did you get the idea for Tiny Humans?
The idea came into my mind while I was having a rare quiet moment in Arizona after months of travels. I think I've had this book in the back of my mind for years, but it was finally something I could actually do. I've always loved taking on collaborative projects, so this was a natural next endeavor for me. Soon after I began, I realized the book would be even better if its proceeds were going toward a greater cause than myself, so I decided to donate all the money to the college education of a boy in Cambodia I taught a couple of years ago, who's like my little brother.

Tell us about the process.
In the beginning, putting together the book seemed potentially daunting, but I tried not to think about all the steps at once. Finding people to contribute was easy, since I've been lucky enough to get to know many inspiring and talented people in my life. I asked natural writers, as well as musicians and other creative people, to contribute their personal stories to the book. Readers of Arizona Highways might be familiar with contributors such as Kelly Vaughn, an editor of the magazine, and Jim Adkins, the singer of Jimmy Eat World. Two band members from the incredible Arizona-based Jared & the Mill contributed, too, as well as other names that might be less familiar, but whose tales made the book so perfect to me. Many of the writers are from Arizona, but all the illustrators are out of state, or even out of country. It's a nice mix of talents and perspectives, which is exactly what I wanted.

What surprised you about the process? What unexpected challenges or obstacles did you encounter?
I acted as an editor for the first time, which was a fun challenge. The only story that I didn't touch was Kelly's, since she's such a beautiful writer that there was nothing I could improve upon. I also had to learn how to use InDesign to put together the book. My friend Brett Lewis, who is a professional designer, helped make it look better after I made the basic layout. This whole thing was a collaborative effort. I found a wonderful printing company not far from where I lived in downtown Los Angeles to print the book, called Tiny Splendor Press. Kenneth from Tiny Splendor has been a joy to work with, and advised me on many details of the book that made it better in print than I could have hoped for. I was even able to pick out many types of special paper to give the book the exact look and feel I wanted. So I was very involved with each step of this book, but it wouldn't have been possible without each person who contributed their stories, art or talents.

I was surprised that mostly everything went better than I expected. So many things could have gone terribly wrong, but instead things miraculously fell into place. The only thing that surprised me in a bad way was shipping prices. I'd done research into how much I should charge for shipping, and I thought $4 for domestic shipping would cover costs due to online calculations with USPS, but upon trying to print the bulk of the labels online, I realized that I couldn't print first-class shipping online, which is what I'd used for the estimate. So I paid more for shipping than I'd received, but it's OK ... I'm already over it considering how nicely everything else went. I think everything else was just fun, even if it was hard, because this is what I love to do.

How much have you raised so far?
I've raised about 75% of the funds needed to send Vin to college (which is $2,300). I have, as of now, about 40 books left to sell, so hopefully I can raise the rest of the necessary money. The minimum donation with each book purchase is $5, and goes up to $50.

Where can people get a copy?
If you'd like to order a book, visit tinyhumansbook.bigcartel.com. I specially wrap each book and send with a personal thank-you card, so it'll be like a nice little present to receive.

Photo: Kayla Frost displays a copy of Tiny Humans. | Courtesy of Kayla Frost

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