I’m excited to share today’s Tuesday Debut because it’s something we haven’t really done before (although Karen Kiefer – Drawing God was similar in some ways.)
One of the fun (and educational) things about Tuesday Debut is that we get to learn about different paths to publication with different kinds of publishing houses.
I know that many of you are interested in writing for the religious market, so I’m thrilled to introduce Theresa Kiser who has published her debut picture book with Holy Heroes.
Title: A Little Catholic’s Book of Liturgical Colors
Author: Theresa Kiser
Illustrator: Chris Pelicano
Publishing House: Holy Heroes
Date of Publication: October 2019
Age Range: 0-3
Synopsis (from the publisher’s website): Written in delightful rhyming verse by Theresa Kiser and illustrated by Chris Pelicano (the long-time illustrator of Holy Heroes’ products!), this board book will walk children through the different liturgical colors of the Catholic Church and where they will find them in the Mass. The rhythm of the poetry is tuned to a child’s ear, so you may soon find your little ones “reading” the book themselves!
SUSANNA: Welcome, Theresa! We’re so glad to have you with us today! Where did the idea for this book come from?
THERESA: My infant son’s FAVORITE book was a book about colors, and the liturgical colors are an important symbol in the Catholic faith. Holding my son, I knew I wanted him to understand how each of the liturgical colors points to God’s love, so I started brainstorming and drafting ideas.
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?
THERESA: It took about a month to get through the first draft. First I researched the liturgical colors, and jotted ideas down on papers that–because I had an infant–ended up strewn all over the house. I brainstormed while nursing, and then, when the baby was sleeping, sat down to revise one stanza at a time.
SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?
THERESA: The biggest decision point for me was deciding on the structure and the rhyme scheme. Once I decided that each verse would begin “COLOR is for___” with an ABAB rhyme scheme, I worked through each verse on its own until the work felt ready as a whole.
SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?
THERESA: I always ask for feedback from other professionals in the field. Once I had done that with positive results, and felt proud sharing it, I knew it was ready to submit.
SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?
THERESA: Catholic publishing houses are generally small, so I could query directly without an agent. I was very lucky that my friend–who had done illustration work for this particular publisher in the past–guided me through the process and helped me submit. He ended up being the illustrator that the publisher chose for the book!
SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”? (Best moment ever! ☺)
THERESA: The publisher let my friend announce the good news! It was very exciting! Afterwards, the publisher requested some revisions and additions, and after some back-and-forth, the final text was approved!
SUSANNA: Tell us about your experience of the illustration process?
THERESA: I was really lucky to know the illustrator ahead of time, and doubly lucky that he 100% understood the vision for the book. The liturgical colors are tricky to convey in illustration because you have to show both the color as represented in the church AND the meaning of that color.
Once he was assigned by the publisher to illustrate the book, Chris sat down with me and graciously asked what I envisioned when I wrote the text. Honestly, I had no idea how he would pull off without, as he put it, “drawing the inside of a church five times.” This is where trust in the illustrator’s expertise comes into play, and it definitely paid off! Chris did a great job showing not only what each color would look like on liturgical vestments, but also what it means for a child’s relationship with God.
SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?
THERESA: This was a small house with an amazing turnaround time. It was just six months from contract to print, and the publisher kept me well informed as production went along.
SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?
THERESA: If anyone out there has a story or manuscript that they believe there’s a market for but won’t be accepted by larger houses because it’s too “niche,” I’d just encourage you to do your research and use the specificity of the text to your advantage. Somewhere out there, someone is looking for the same kind of specific book, and we’re lucky enough at this time in the publishing world to have access to many niche publishers with different missions, as well as the opportunity to Indie-publish if you have done your research and are ready to take that on.
Sometimes publishing in a “niche” market can feel a little unusual when working on picture book craft. Most workshops and conferences focus on general market texts, and often advice regarding agents and submission strategies stems from an assumption that authors are looking for publication with a large house.
I hope that my experience shared here will encourage writers of “niche” books, such as small religious markets (like the Catholic market) that publication is possible, and readers in that niche may be waiting for your book!
We have more opportunities now than ever, so don’t discount your book if it is for a specific audience. Don’t be discouraged or give in to resistance…Write! Create!
Because somewhere there’s a child who will benefit from your book.
SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from your experience, and wish you all the best of success with this and future books!
THERESA: Thank YOU, Susanna!
Readers, if you have questions for Theresa, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!
You may purchase Theresa’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!