Hey there, folks!
It’s time for another edge-of-your-seat episode of Tuesday Debut! 😊
Today, we have something very special in store.
To date, in this series, we have focused on the journey to publication for traditionally published authors, because that is what the majority of pre-published writers are striving for. And for the most part, that will continue to be the focus of the series. But some authors choose a different route for their own reasons, and I thought you might enjoy hearing at least once about a different kind of publication journey because I think there’s a lot we can learn and apply to our own situations.
So I now have the pleasure of introducing you to Jill Mangel Weisfeld and her adorable book, Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job!
Title: Riley the Retriever Wants a New Job
Author: Jill Mangel Weisfeld and Deborah Mangel
Illustrator: Shirley Ng-Benitez
Publishing house: Peek-a-Bear Press
Published: August 2018
Picture book for ages 4-8
Book description: The book tells the adventures of Riley who is trying to find a more meaningful job than being a Retriever. Riley begins her quest researching working dog jobs on “Doogle” to see if she can find one that is a better fit for her. The book is entertaining and educational. The colorful illustrations bring Riley’s adorable personality to life. The story is based on Jill’s own dog Riley who is a certified therapy dog with the Good Dog Foundation.
SUSANNA: Welcome, Jill! Thank you so much for joining us today! We’re looking forward to hearing about the publication process from a different angle! Where did the idea for this book come from?
JILL: The idea of the book came to me when I was working with Riley at the library about six years ago. The idea was fully formed when I first came up with it. I wanted the story to be educational so immediately I thought the idea of Riley being bored being a Retriever and having her research working dog jobs on her computer. The word “Doogle” came to me later. I began to do my own research on different kinds of working dog jobs and picked different jobs that I thought would be appealing to children.
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?
JILL: I wrote the book with my mom and it took us about 3 months for the first draft. I sent my mom all of my research about working dogs and a very rough draft of the story and then she tightened it up for me and added some of her ideas. My mom’s writing is a little more formal than I wanted it to sound so I adjusted it so it sounded more like Riley’s voice.
SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?
JILL: The book went through many revisions. Like the Beatles song I got by with a little (actually a lot) of help from my friends. I had the librarian at the local library where Riley works read the manuscript to make sure the language was suitable for the intended age group. I had a friend who is a child psychologist read it to make sure the images were suitable for the age group as well. Two of my close friends helped me with editing the book. My husband and daughters also helped me a lot. I read the book out loud many times to make sure the sentences flowed well to the ear.
SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?
JILL: I was never 100% sure the book was completely ready for publication. Grammar can be very subjective, one person would tell me to add a coma and another person would tell me to remove the same comma. I hired a children’s book editor who was very helpful but the book still went through many grammatical revisions after he edited it.
SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?
JILL: I started my own publishing company called Peek-a-Bear press when I published my first book titled: “Take a peek with Peek-a-Bear. I like self publishing because you have creative freedom with the end product such as the illustrations and design of the book.
SUSANNA: How did you go about creating your book?
JILL: I searched for illustrators on the internet who used the style I was looking for. I also posted the job on Guru but in the end I found my illustrator on Instagram.
Before I sent manuscript to the illustrator I had her sign a non disclosure form. The illustrator is represented by an agency and I did sign a contract. I didn’t want to pay an illustrator a royalty every time I sold the book so the contract stated that I was paying a flat fee for the art.
The fee is based on the page count of the book and the number of illustrations. I spoke to many illustrators and the fees ranged from 1,500-15,000.
I am a graphics designer so I designed the book with clip art that represented what I wanted the illustrations to look like. The illustrator, Shirley, first sent me sample art of Riley, once I approved those she sent me black and white sketches of the rest of the book.
Shirley moved on to color after the black and white sketches were approved. I really enjoyed seeing Shirley bring the book to life with her color illustrations. Shirley lives on the west coast so everything was done over email. The entire process went well and Shirley completed the book in about 9 months which is fast.
I designed the book on Quark which is the design program that I use. I exported the book to the printer who is in Hong Kong.
My husband is an exporter and he works with agents in Hong Kong who helped me find the printer. They also printed my first book and since they were competitively priced and nice to work with I hired them again.
SUSANNA: How did you handle print run and distribution?
JILL: I printed 2,000 copies of my book and I am distributing it through Amazon Advantage, local bookstores and my website. I just had a book signing at FAO Schwarz in Manhattan. I am going to approach toy stores and pet stores as well.
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to have the first copy in your hand?
JILL: The total process writing to publication took at least three to four years.
SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc?
JILL: I did not submit my book yet to be reviewed by Kirkus or Booklist but maybe I will after reading this question.
SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.
JILL: Book Marketing has been a challenge for me, it’s hard to know what is going to generate sales. Riley has an Instagram account. I just decided I am going to donate 100% of my proceeds to The Guiding Eyes For The Blind in Yorktown, NY. I have socialized guide dog puppies from this wonderful organization. When I do a book event I bring a coloring page of Riley to give to the children. I have not done a book trailer or sent out flyers.
I have hired a PR person, Valerie Kerr, to send out a press release to print and media when I have an event. Valerie has gotten me write ups in local newspapers and web sites, podcast interviews and a guest spot on a local radio show.
My first book won five awards but I wasn’t able to enter this book because the copyright date was for 2015 and it has to be the same as the publication date
SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?
JILL: One thing I would like to share is that sadly my mom passed away almost two years ago while we were still working on the book. My father who is suffering from dementia moved in with me and I was not able to work on the book for for a long time afterwards. Part of the reason was it was too painful for me and for a while I didn’t think I would be able to complete it. I knew my mom would be really upset with me if I didn’t finish the book so this gave me the motivation to do so.
SUSANNA: So sorry to hear about your mom, Jill, and that she never got to see the finished book. I’m sure she’d be proud of you, though, and really pleased with how it came out. And it’s clear from the photo how much Riley meant to her. Thank you so much for joining us today. I think I can speak for everyone when I say it was really interesting to hear about publishing a book from a new perspective. We can all learn a lot from you! Best of luck with this and future books! 😊
Readers, if you have questions for Jill, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!
You may purchase Jill’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
– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries
– 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!