Hello, all, and welcome to Tuesday Debut!
Today’s debut-ess has written a book I’m sure we all need at the start of summer. What could be better than having all our little darlings invent their own perfect pets?
by Vicky Fang
illustrated by Tidawan Thaipinnarong
Sterling Children’s Books
June 2 2020
Fiction, Ages 4-7
When a mysterious pet-making machine appears in her living room, can Katie figure out the formula for her perfect pet?
SUSANNA: Welcome, Vicky! Thank you so much for joining us today! We are so excited to have you! Where did the idea for this book come from?
VICKY: The idea itself came from a mashup of two ideas I had jotted down in my notebook at very different times: “mixing machine” and “mixed-up animals.” I find that I often need to combine my random ideas to get a story with appealing depth. As a product designer of technology experiences for kids, I was also able to pull from deep personal experience and craft the heart of the story I wanted to tell.
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?
VICKY: I wrote the first draft in May 2017 during my Writing With the Stars mentorship with Peter McCleery, who was an amazingly patient and insightful mentor. In early 2018, a pretty final version of the manuscript landed me my wonderful agent, Elizabeth Bennett! We sold the book in May 2018.
SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?
VICKY: I rewrote this manuscript dozens of times, with the help of feedback from Peter, from my critique partners, from paid editor critiques at conferences, and editors via R&Rs. A lot of the revisions were really about craft – getting the pacing and character arc just right.
SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?
VICKY: At the point that I was getting R&R requests, I knew that I was close.
SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?
VICKY: My agent submitted for me.
SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”? (Best moment ever! ☺)
VICKY: There were two houses interested in the book, which helps to move things along more quickly (in relative terms for the publishing industry.) I think we had an answer in about six weeks.
SUSANNA: 6 weeks is amazing! How did you celebrate signing your contract?
VICKY: You know, I don’t think I even did! I think I quietly signed it, did a happy dance, and filed it away. I hadn’t told most people I was writing books yet and to be honest, I kind of didn’t think it was real.
SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?
VICKY: Everything was pretty standard about this contract. I think we adjusted some small things, like a few more author copies for me and more limited option terms. I really didn’t know what to look for, so I was grateful to have an agent to help me through this!
SUSANNA: What can you tell us about the editorial process?
VICKY: My acquiring editor left, so there was a little bit of realignment that happened when my new editor, Rachael Stein, came on. It turned out to be a wonderful partnership! Rachael has since also left, but we worked together from initial manuscript to final ARCs.
SUSANNA: What can you share about your experience of the illustration process?
VICKY: The illustration process was so exciting! Rachael consulted me throughout the process, from early directions to my character vision, but Tidawan brought such energy, light, and humor to the art! My kids are completely enamored with the wacky animals she created.
SUSANNA: It is very. engaging! 😊 Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?
VICKY: My publicist sent me the Kirkus review before it launched, which was so exciting! It was such a relief to get a positive review.
SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?
VICKY: I still don’t have a copy of the book, as author copies are backed up right now! But offer in May 2018 to ARC in Feb 2020 took twenty months.
SUSANNA: That’s tough! It’s hard enough to wait until publication day without having to wait beyond it to see your book. Such crazy times we’re in! What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?
VICKY: I’m sure they’ve done much more than I am even aware of! I know that my wonderful publicist, Sarah Lawrenson, has been and will be sending it out to reviewers, media outlets, social media, trade shows, and award submissions. They also had a batch of fantastic bookmarks printed for me.
SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.
VICKY: I’m in the middle of this now. I’m doing blog interviews, posting on social media, and I put together a read-aloud/activity post that Sterling helped me boost.
SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?
VICKY: I started writing seriously in December 2016, so it took me a year and a half to sell my first picture book.
SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?
VICKY: I couldn’t have done it without the welcoming and supportive kidlit community!
Vicky Fang is a product designer who spent 5 years designing kids’ technology experiences for both Google and Intel, often to inspire and empower kids in coding and technology. Through that work, she came to recognize the gap in education and inspiration, particularly for girls and minorities. She began writing books to provide kids with accessible STEAM-inspired stories that they can read again and again, learning from characters they love. Her goal for her books is to inspire computer literacy for a wide range of kids—while letting their imaginations run wild with the possibilities of technology! Her debut books, LAYLA & THE BOTS (Scholastic early chapter book series) and INVENT-A-PET (Sterling picture book), are launching in Spring/Summer 2020 and feature courageous and innovative girls in STEAM. You can find Vicky on Twitter @fangmous or at her website www.vickyfang.com.
SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Vicky! We all really appreciate your time and expertise and wish you the best of luck with this and future books! And I hope you get your author copies soon! 😊
Readers, if you have questions for Vicky, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!
You may purchase Vicky’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!
Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)
Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)
Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)