Welcome to another exciting installment of Tuesday Debut, Everyone!
It’s been awhile since we had one!
Today I’m delighted to introduce Lisa Katzenberger and her debut picture book, National Regular Average Ordinary Day!
Title: NATIONAL REGULAR AVERAGE ORDINARY DAY
Author: Lisa Katzenberger
Illustrator: Barbara Bakos
Publishing House: Penguin Workshop
Date of Publication: June 23 2020
Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction
age range of your book: 3-7
Peter does not like being bored, so he comes up with a way to have some festive fun–he’ll celebrate a different holiday each day! But when he wakes up one morning to discover there isn’t any holiday, he realizes he’ll have to take matters into his own hands and make up his own!
SUSANNA: Welcome, Lisa! Thank you so much for joining us today! We are thrilled to have you and can’t wait to learn from you! Where did the idea for this book come from?
LISA: I worked as a Social Media Manager and wrote copy based on different “holidays” like National Barbie Day, National Homemade Bread Day, etc. I jotted down “crazy holidays” as a Storystorm 2017 idea.
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?
LISA: This book, like no other book before or since, kind of dropped out of me. It was my December 2017 12×12 draft. I worked on it a lot over the holiday break, and my critique partners thankfully had quick turnaround. My agent put it out on submission in February 2018.
SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?
LISA: I went through 11 revisions with this story before I sent it to my agent. I put it out for critique on the 12×12 forum and hit up two different critique groups.
SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?
LISA: I knew it was ready to send to my agent when I was only getting small tweaks from my critiques, instead of more extensive notes. I went through two more revisions with my agent, and when she felt it was solid, she put it out on sub.
SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?
LISA: I had an agent and she submitted the manuscript to 16 editors.
SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”? (Best moment ever! 😊)
LISA: I received the call about an offer just two weeks after we went out on submission. It happened super fast!
SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?
LISA: I had some champagne! But the sweetest part was the day I got the offer, my husband came home from work with a small plant for me. He said he didn’t want to give me flowers because he knew the publishing industry moved so slowly, and he wanted a something that would grow with me for a long time. Sadly, the plant is not around to celebrate the book’s publication. I am terrible at taking care of plants, but the sentiment was lovely!
SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?
LISA: I actually was really shocked by the amount of my advance (in a good way!). It’s from a Big 5 house, so I’m sure that made a difference. My agent was able to negotiate a 25% increase beyond the original offer! The rest of the terms were pretty standard. There is a non-compete clause that I couldn’t publish any other book for six months after NATIONAL REGULAR AVERAGE ORDINARY DAY’S date of publication. My book ended up getting pushed out two seasons, so it meant it would be longer before my next book could come onto the market.
SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?
LISA: The editorial process was pretty straightforward! My editor, the lovely Renee Kelly, sent me a marked up manuscript with her revision notes. Once she paginated it, she asked me to fill two additional spreads. So I created a friend for Peter to interact with! I added the new content to the beginning of the story to better set the stage. I also had a call with Renee after she sent her notes just to chat through her comments and establish a rapport.
SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?
LISA: I did not see anything until the book was complete, and I wasn’t aware of progress during the illustration process. This was probably best because I had nothing to stress over! My editor sent me the final design in a PDF when it was ready. I cannot properly express how joyful and happy I felt when I saw the finished product. Barbara Bakos saw the humor in the story and brought all my characters (even the squirrels!) to life with perfection. It is bright, vibrant, and fun, better than anything I could have imagined!
I did submit the manuscript with art notes. As Peter rates each holiday, I knew this could potentially be expressed in the art instead of the text (we ended up going with both).
SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?
LISA: I’ve had positive reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus. I kind of read them ready to cringe at an awful review, but both publications had kind things to say. Frankly, it felt like a relief!
SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?
LISA: It took 19 months! –FYI, I asked my publisher for the print run, but it is not their policy to share that data publically.
SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?
LISA: During the current circumstances with COVID-19, marketing and promotion has been kind of different! They are working to set up some virtual storytimes with local independent bookstores.
SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.
LISA: I made bookmarks to take to conferences and hand out at signings, share with friends. Let’s just say that given our current environment I have a few extras hanging around! I hired Blue Slip Media to create an free downloadable activity kit. I am also doing a virtual book party launch with The Writing Barn. I will be featured on a few other blogs as well. I was nervous about contacting authors – who wants to write about little ole me? – but everyone was so gracious and welcoming! It never hurts to ask.
SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?
LISA: I have been writing seriously since college. I started on short stories, wrote some angsty poetry in my 20s, then wrote a few really bad novels. It wasn’t until I had my own children that I focused on kidlit, which was in 2015. I don’t think it’s fair to say it took 3 years, as I’d been studying the craft of writing for more than 20 years.
SUSANNA Lisa, thank you so much for taking the time to join us and share your experiences with us today! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you the very best of luck with this and future books!
Readers, if you have questions for Lisa, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!
You may purchase Lisa’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)