Welcome to another edge-of-your-seat episode of Tuesday Debut, especially thrilling today because it involves ZOMBIES!!!
Don’t be scared 😊
My fierce guard dogs and I will protect you 😊
This is a fun Debut because it’s a wife/husband author/illustrator team – something we haven’t seen here yet. Their book was also released simultaneously in English and Spanish – something else we haven’t seen here yet! So without further ado, let’s welcome debut author Megan Lacera and her author/illustrator husband, Jorge Lacera!!!
ZOMBIES DON’T EAT VEGGIES!
LOS ZOMBIS NO COMEN VERDURAS (Spanish edition available simultaneously)
By Megan and Jorge Lacera
Illustrated by Jorge Lacera
Lee and Low Books/Children’s Book Press
April 2, 2019
Age Range: 4-8
Mo Romero is a zombie who loves nothing more than growing, cooking, and eating vegetables. Tomatoes? Tantalizing. Peppers? Pure perfection! The problem? Mo’s parents insist that their niño eat only zombie cuisine, like arm-panadas and finger foods. They tell Mo over and over that zombies don’t eat veggies. But Mo can’t imagine a lifetime of just eating zombie food and giving up his veggies. As he questions his own zombie identity, Mo tries his best to convince his parents to give peas a chance.
SUSANNA: Thank you so much for joining us today, Megan and Jorge! Where did the idea for this book come from?
MEGAN: We wanted to create a zombie book. We love zombie movies, classic horror films. The idea of Mo Romero’s character came to us—a zombie kid who wasn’t sure he wanted to be a zombie. He didn’t fit “the mold.” We zeroed in on his food choices (he’s not into zombie cuisine…he loves vegetables!) because it felt like such a stark contrast to the rest of his world and provided great conflict. We were also very excited to explore Latin-inspired dishes…the result is a lot of puns that keep us (and kiddos) laughing.
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?
MEGAN: From the very initial conception to the publication date…about five years. That is for a fully illustrated book.
SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?
MEGAN: Tons! On our own, we revised the manuscript dummy countless times. Because we are an author/illustrator duo, our process is very collaborative. We work on the text and art simultaneously, each influencing the other. Once we signed with our agent, we revised again before submission. After finalizing our publication deal with Lee and Low, we went through about ten rounds of revision. Most of these edits at this point weren’t major revisions, more about refinement.
SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?
MEGAN: When we loved it! We had put this story through so much…critiquing the heck out of it, tearing it apart and building it back up….until one day we felt it was ready to fly.
SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?
MEGAN: We are represented by John Cusick at Folio Jr. Interesting twist…we originally signed with his wife, Molly at Folio. A few months into the partnership, Molly moved away from agenting into book scouting and we transitioned to working with John. He handles the submission-to-editors process, negotiates the deals, and much more. He’s excellent.
SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”? (Best moment ever! 😊)
MEGAN: From the time we went on submission, to the time we received the offer from Lee and Low, it was about several months. Our agent let us know that there was interest from a few editors, and that those editors would be bringing the project to their acquisition meetings. Oh, to be a fly on the wall at one of those meetings! (SUSANNA: yeah, seriously!)
We received the “call” over email—because the offer letter from our now editor (Jessica Echeverria) was forwarded to us. It was perfect; Jessica understood our vision and intentions for the book so clearly. She connected with the characters from the beginning. And she/Lee and Low offered us a two book-deal which was something we didn’t ask for, but definitely wanted.
SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?
MEGAN: We went out to dinner with our son! We share a lot of we do with him (in age-appropriate ways, of course) and he was excited to celebrate “the big deal.”
SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?
MEGAN: As the author and illustrator, we were happy with the contract terms as this is our debut book. The second book being included was great, because it means that we have the chance to build on all we’ve learned with the Lee and Low team on book 1.
For a few more specifics, the deal is for World Rights. We maintain the copyrights to our work. We receive royalty percentages for both the author and illustrator. We are afforded 20 author copies.
Our agent is entitled to 15%, which is the industry standard.
SUSANNA: What can you tell us about the editorial process?
MEGAN: As mentioned earlier, we went through about ten rounds of revisions with our editor. Many changes were about sharpening; either maximizing the power of a page turn or ensuring a character’s personality was coming through.
The biggest change was to the climax of the story. In our book, Mo Romero is a zombie kid who loves vegetables. He’s different from other zombies, like his parents. As we revised, it became clearer that Mo has to accept his own differences, whether his parents do or not.
SUSANNA: Please tell us about your experience of the illustration process. We’re especially interested because it is different from most authors’ sue to the fact that you work as a team!
MEGAN: We get to see everything! Being an author-illustrator team means that we collaborate very closely, which is not like the typical picture book process. Our submission was a fully illustrated dummy (though not final color), and we revised from there.
Because we submitted this way, we did not include art notes. We do work very closely together to create a cohesive vision for the book.
JORGE: As an artist, my perspective on art notes is to keep them very minimal. Only if there is something truly key to understanding the story that isn’t conveyed in the text. If you have a vision for something, definitely bring it up with your editor. But in general, I think you have to trust the artist and let them bring their own brand of visual storytelling to the project.
SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?
MEGAN: We received a starred review from Kirkus about two months prior to publication. It was amazing! We were stunned and probably read it about 30 times, just to make sure it was real. The reviewer really seemed to get our sense of humor which felt wonderful.
SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?
MEGAN: Hm…nearly two years!
SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?
MEGAN: Lee and Low has sent ZOMBIES DON’T EAT VEGGIES! to multiple media outlets, reviewers, and promoted the book on their social media accounts. We don’t know everything they’re doing behind the scenes, though we can say that their marketing and publicity team is wonderful to work with.
SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.
MEGAN: We made our own book trailer—including the voice-over work! Travis Jonker (Elementary school librarian, writer of THE VERY LAST CASTLE) was kind enough to premiere it on his blog. You can watch the full trailer here:
We’ve shared the trailer in many places and use it often when contacting booksellers, librarians, and media outlets. It took a lot of time and resources, but it’s been a great way to share the story. People love video!
Blog tours—yes, we’re happy to be a part of your blog today, Susanna! We’ve also appeared on several other blogs and will continue to share our story this way throughout the year.
Promotion is an on-going event. We reach out to out least one potential outlet each day…including local magazines, book influencers, pop culture-related sites and more.
We will be attending the Texas Library Association Conference the week of April 15th. We will be doing a panel with several other authors on BIG EMOTIONS IN PICTURE BOOKS. It’s going to be a lot fun—if you’ll be there, we’d love to connect!
Over the coming months, we’ll be visiting schools to share ZOMBIES and our journey as professional creators. We’ll also be doing story times at bookstores and libraries…and more events in the works!
SUSANNA: WOW! You guys are amazing with the marketing/promotion! One potential outlet every day? I need to step up my game! 😊 How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?
MEGAN: We’ve been working professionally in entertainment, gaming, and toys for about 15 years. During that time, we’ve always been collaborating on various projects so it’s a bit hard to say. As far as our picture book collaboration journey, it’s been about six years from initial exploration to publication.
SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?
MEGAN: The journey to publication is thrilling, challenging, gratifying, frustrating, and fulfilling. It’s a roller coaster—the highs are amazing and the lows can be quite low. We’ve learned to be patient and kind with ourselves—if you’re on this bookish journey too, prepare for adventure!
Megan and Jorge Lacera
Twitter: @Jlacera @MeganLacera
SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Megan and Jorge! We all so appreciate it and wish you the best of success with this and future books!
Readers, if you have questions for Megan and Jorge, please post them in the comments below and if they have time I’m sure they’ll respond!
You may purchase Megan and Jorge’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!