And you know what that means!
Time to meet a brand new picture book author and get a glimpse of her beautiful book!
One small note before we begin:
The finalists for the Valentiny Writing Contest were posted yesterday! If you haven’t had a chance to read the top twelve and place your vote, please go over when you have sec and do so. We need lots of readers and voters! If you know anyone who would enjoy reading and voting, please spread the word – parents, teachers, classrooms, libraries – anywhere there are readers of kid lit! 🙂
Now then! Welcome, Natalee! And thank you so much for joining us today to share your publication experience! Let’s have a look at your gorgeous book!
WHEN DAY IS DONE
Written by Natalee Creech
Illustrated by Robert Dunn
Beaming Books, Feb. 12, 2019
Fiction, ages 3-5
When Day Is Done is a soothing bedtime book with child-friendly poetry, perfect for calming down after a busy day.
SUSANNA: Where did the idea for this book come from?
NATALEE: One day when I was writing, the line “We sleep when day is done” popped into my head. I liked it and decided to see how I could build upon that.
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?
NATALEE: After the first line, I completed the first verse right away and worked on parts of a few others. I “finished” it over a couple of months but revisited it over the course of a year making tweaks.
SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?
NATALEE: Looking back I found only four complete drafts of When Day Is Done, but I know there were many small-scale changes that I made without creating an entirely new draft.
Some things I do when revising, particularly poetry:
- Write on paper first, then move to the computer. Go back to paper if I’m stuck.
- Have my children read it to me so I can see where they stumble.
- Read it aloud.
- Work out problem stanzas while exercising or taking a shower.
- Keep rejected lines of poetry in a table at the end of the document. Sometimes I second-guess myself or make other changes in the verse which then make the first version of the line a better fit.
I tend to work through these steps, though they overlap.
- Write something.
- Improve what I say. (content)
- Improve how I say it. (execution) The overall sound of the words is crucial with poetry, so this is where most of the reading aloud and playing with word choice comes in – adding alliteration, assonance etc.
SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?
NATALEE: I knew it was ready when I stopped making any real changes and was just fiddling – trying something and then going back to my original word choice.
SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?
NATALEE: I am fortunate to have an agent, whom I found through a Twitter pitch called #Faithpitch. WHEN DAY IS DONE was one of the manuscripts I sent her when she asked to see more of my work. We were actually in the process of submitting the original manuscript I queried her with when a publisher asked to see some companion manuscripts I had written. My agent sent those and included WHEN DAY IS DONE to showcase a different side of my writing. The publisher continued to consider the original manuscript (eventually passing) but in the meantime they quickly made an offer on WHEN DAY IS DONE.
SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”? (Best moment ever! 🙂 )
NATALEE: I got a call about a week later while I was out eating lunch prior to an orthodontist appointment with my son. I felt like sharing the news with the whole orthodontist’s office, but I think I just called my husband instead!
SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?
NATALEE: I don’t remember doing anything special!
SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?
NATALEE: Yes. The advance was typical. The contract was for world rights and included escalating royalties and a generous number of author copies. I was happy to have an agent handling everything for me! I signed the contract in fall of 2017 and the publication timeline was spring of 2019.
SUSANNA: How was the editorial process?
NATALEE: I wasn’t asked to make any changes or edits to WHEN DAY IS DONE.
In contrast, my second book, NOTHING, which releases in April, underwent considerable changes.
I spoke with the editor before signing a contract and she asked me how I felt about making some revisions. Of course I said I was open to them. Initially she emailed me some notes which I used to revise, however, I overcorrected! We then decided a phone call might be easier, clarified things over the phone, and I revised again. Later the art director asked to add back in a verse we had removed, and the editor and I agreed. The final version is much stronger and more kid-friendly than what I originally submitted and I’m so glad the editor saw the potential and helped me make those changes. This spread shows the verse that got added back in.
From Nothing, written by Natalee Creech, illustrated by Joseph Cowman. Published by WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group. All rights reserved.
SUSANNA: Can you tell us about your experience of the illustration process?
NATALEE: With the two books the process was similar, but the timeline was much faster with NOTHING. My agent added language to both contracts that allowed some input on my side with final decisions to be made by the publisher.
- I did not provide any art notes for either book.
- The second editor asked about my illustration preferences during our initial phone call and I told her I could picture a style similar to Peter Reynolds’ but didn’t have anything particular in mind for illustrations.
- Both publishers asked my thoughts about the illustrator they had selected, and in both cases I loved their choice.
- The second publisher shared rough sketches and a couple of full color spreads very early in the process – within a month or two of signing the contract.
- Both publishers asked for notes/input before finalizing the illustrations.
SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc?
Unfortunately, not yet!
SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?
NATALEE: WHEN DAY IS DONE: I signed the contract in September of 2017 and it was released February 12, 2019 – about 17 months.
NOTHING: I signed the contract in April of 2018 and it will be released April 23, 2019. – about 1 year.
SUSANNA: If your book has been out for at least one statement cycle, has it earned out yet?
NATALEE: WHEN DAY IS DONE has just been out a few weeks, so although I hope it’s doing well, I doubt it’s anywhere near earning out yet!
SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?
NATALEE: Shortly after signing the contract the publisher sent me an author questionnaire to complete with a long and short author bio, interview questions I’d like to be asked, reviewers or websites I’d like the book to be sent to, a short summary of the book and various other questions. They used the information from my answers on the book itself, on online sites, for sell sheets etc. Later they provided me with an Author Publicity Packet that detailed steps they would take and suggested steps for me to take. On their side, it listed many things such as SEO, social media, press kits & press releases, book fairs, etc.
SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.
NATALEE: I made a book trailer, am printing bookmarks and have been doing various interviews on blogs. I’ve had to forego marketing that involves mailing swag or books because it’s prohibitively expensive from South Korea. Joining a debut author group has been a tremendous help in countless ways. I would highly recommend it for any debut author.
SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?
NATALEE: I would consider the time I started writing seriously to be the date I joined the SCBWI in February of 2015. Paying for that membership was me declaring to myself and my family that I wanted to write books, and also an admission that I needed help to do it. From that time until I signed my first contract was about 2.5 years. However, children’s books and writing have always been a part of my life. I was the teacher who had a children’s book for everything, and in fact, when I was in elementary school my dream was to be a librarian! I worked as a public librarian for several years until we moved back to South Korea. I think these things gave me a head start, otherwise, I’m sure the journey would have been much longer!
SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?
NATALEE: This is not so much about a book’s journey as about a writer’s journey. When you are taking steps toward publication you have no idea when you will make “real progress.” (Meaning find an agent or get published, to most of us.) I find it helpful to keep in mind that any effort you are making – to learn, to write, to make connections, is bringing you closer to your goal. Even things that initially look like setbacks could be catalysts pushing you closer to publication. Look for what you can learn in any situation!
SUSANNA: Natalee, thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers!
NATALEE: Thank you so much for having me, Susanna! This series has been very helpful for many people, including myself.
Readers, if you have questions for Natalee, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!
You may purchase Natalee’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)
We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:
– purchasing their books
– recommending their books to friends and family
– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians
– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores
– sharing their books on social media
Thank you all for stopping by to read today! Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday! Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 🙂
Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts? Check them out!