It’s Tuesday, and you know what that means!
Time for another exciting installment of Tuesday Debut!
Today’s debut is a very special one! Not an author. Not an illustrator. But a brand new publishing company!
You have a unique opportunity here to learn about this new resource in children’s literature and get in on the ground floor. Publishers need manuscripts to turn into books, and you are the talented people who write them!
So without further ado, I’d like to introduce Sandra Sutter, Owner-Publisher, and the creative force behind debut Gnome Road Publishing!
SUSANNA: Hello, Sandra! We had you here on Tuesday Debut with your delightful picture book, THE REAL FARMER IN THE DELL, back in April of 2019, but we are delighted to welcome you again as Owner-Publisher and creative mind behind a brand new publishing company – Gnome Road Publishing! You are a published picture book author. What inspired you to start a publishing house of your own?
SANDRA: Gnome Road Publishing has been on the horizon for quite a while. I knew in my heart that becoming a publisher was my ultimate goal when I first began writing for children in 2017. I am a behind-the-scenes kind of person, and I love bringing ideas and people together. Once upon a time (in former lives), I was a counselor and a mediator, and those same skills and enjoyment found in collaborating with others seem to be at play. Now, with my experience in the publishing industry, I have the tools and information I need to finally move forward.
SUSANNA: How did you choose the name “Gnome Road Publishing” and what does it represent?
SANDRA: Little did I know when I chose the name (way back in 2019!) that gnomes would be as popular as they have been lately. I’m taking that as a sign of good things ahead. The name comes from a real place (an actual road) in the mountains of Northern Colorado, near where I grew up. It would be much more interesting if I had a story to tell about gnomes and how that relates to a publishing house, but the truth is I simply like the earthy, mythical, and somewhat mischievous nature of gnomes. And, the name reminds me of a childhood place associated with happiness and the outdoors. I think illustrator Wendy Leach, who I hired to design the logo and artwork for the website, was able to capture that feeling and history for me. I really love how it all turned out.
SUSANNA: What do you hope to accomplish/what are your goals/what is your mission as a publisher? (What do you want from authors and illustrators, and what do you hope to provide for readers?)
SANDRA: If you look on the GRP website, you will see two mission statements. One is for the (future) readers of our books, and the other for creatives that come to work with us. I feel a responsibility to not only produce books that children love and want to read time and again, but to also shine a light on the talented people who create these stories. My job as a publisher is to be a bridge that connects authors and illustrators together with children that love good storytelling and reading.
SUSANNA: Can you tell us about your staff members and staff structure? Associate editors, art director, art editors, etc?
SANDRA: Well, there is me at the very top. And then there is me at the very bottom. This is a small, start-up press so I am responsible for almost all aspects of the publishing process. However, that does not mean I work alone. I have a team of helpers, from members of my Acquisitions and Editorial Advisory Board to consultants on design and marketing strategies. And, this is a family-owned business, so I have hands-on support at home, too. As the company grows, I look forward to building a staff dedicated to furthering the GRP mission.
SUSANNA: What will you publish? Board books? Novelty books? Picture Books? Early Readers? Chapter Books? Graphic Novels? Middle Grade? YA? Fiction and/or Nonfiction? Please be as specific and detailed as you care to be – the more information the better 😊
SANDRA: Can I pick “D. All of the above?” I certainly wish I could publish them all! But starting out, my focus will be on picture books through early middle-grade and a select number of upper middle-grade and young adult novels. As much as I like board books, I am not actively seeking them. Long-term, I am interested in producing novelty books and items under the Gnome Wild! imprint. But all in good time.
SUSANNA: As owner/managing editor, what is your wish list for each category?
SANDRA: The GRP website has a wish list for each of the imprints which I hope provides guidance on what we are looking for (and what I particularly like as a publisher). But no matter the specific topic or style of writing, one thing a story must have is the “R” factor. Re-readability! I want to publish the story a child will pick out at bedtime three times a week, the one with the tattered corners and curled pages from being checked out and loved so much at the library, or the one a classroom of children beg the teacher to read at story-time. Please – send that story to me!
Another way to answer this question might be to share a few of our household favorites (picture books, in no particular order):
- Tyrannosaurus Rex v. Edna, the Very First Chicken by Douglas Rees (Illus. Jed Henry)
- They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
- The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins (Illus. Jill McElmurry)
- The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors by Drew Daywalt (Illus. Adam Rex)
- The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard (Illus. Oge Mora)
- A Gift for Amma by Meera Sriram (Illus. Mariona Cabassa)
- Holy Squawkamole! by Susan Wood (Illus. Laura González)
- Caring for Your Lion by Tammi Sauer (Illus. Troy Cummings)
- The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
- Mummy Cat by Marcus Ewert (Illus. Lisa Brown)
- Read the Book Lemmings by Ame Dyckman (Illus. Zachariah O’Hora)
- Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales
- The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig (Illus. Patrice Barton)
- There are no Bears in This Bakery by Julia Sarcone-Roach
- Teach Your Giraffe to Ski by Viviane Elbee (Illus. Danni Gowdy)
- Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller (Illus. Anne Wilsdorf)
- When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L.B. Deenihan (Illus. Lorraine Rocha)
- The William Hoy Story by Nancy Churnin (Illus. Jez Tuya)
- In the Sea by David Elliott (Illus. by Holly Meade)
- Predator and Prey by Susannah Buhrman-Deever (Illus. by Bert Kitchen)
- Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal
There are so many more! A few of my older favorites are The Upstairs Cat, The Riddle Monster, and Calvin and Hobbes comic strips. And if you really want to get my attention, get your hands on a copy of This Room is Mine by Betty Ren Wright (Illus. Judy Stang) and send me something like it for today’s market.
SUSANNA: How many titles do you expect to start with and in what genres?
SANDRA: The plan is to start with 4 to 5 picture books, an early reader or chapter book (with series potential) and one or two MG or YA novels each year, with the first releases coming out at the end of 2022 or beginning of 2023. I would like to double that soon thereafter, but again, one step at a time.
SUSANNA: Will authors and illustrators receive an advance? What will the royalty structure be like?
SANDRA: Yes, authors and illustrators will be paid on an advance against royalties structure in a traditional publishing format. It should be no surprise that advances will not be as competitive as in a large publishing house, but I believe strongly in providing something upfront for work acquired at GRP.
SUSANNA: What kind of experience can an author or illustrator expect to have with Gnome Road?
SANDRA: I am glad you asked this, and I think it goes nicely with the last question on advances. We know we cannot fulfill our mission to readers without a list of talented creatives! Authors and illustrators can expect timely and straightforward communication from the earliest point in working together, through production, publication, and beyond. As an author myself, I know that feeling valued and appreciated is important to having a good experience in this industry.
Authors and illustrators will be working with me and the GRP team closely to make a book the best it can be, starting with an initial discussion about the overall story vision, what happens behind-the-scenes to turn a manuscript into a physical book, and how we plan to market and distribute the title. We expect authors and illustrators to work collaboratively to the best of their capabilities. I know what I am able to do as the publisher, but I also want to know what each of their strengths are and how that fits with our overall goal to get the book into the hands (and hearts) of young readers. We want to identify those strengths and help creatives to successfully continue down their publishing paths. And perhaps this is a good time to answer the next question . . .
SUSANNA: Will authors and illustrators be expected to have existing social media platforms and presence? How much will they be responsible for marketing and publicity?
SANDRA: Yes. No. Maybe. Is that a good answer? It’s 2021. There is steep competition for space on the shelf, whether that be in a store, a library, school, or someone’s home. Every bit of marketing and positive publicity helps. Although we will be working with a distributor and part of the budget for each title will include an allocation for marketing (and reviews), an author or illustrator should have (or plan to develop) a social media platform to assist in these efforts. Authors and illustrators will not have ultimate responsibility for marketing their book(s), but we encourage active involvement in this process. This can come in many forms – not just a social media platform. But having one is almost essential at this point.
SUSANNA: As a new publisher, how do you plan to tackle marketing and distribution?
SANDRA: “Tackle” is an appropriate word for this topic. Although I love the creative aspects of being a publisher, the fact is much of my time is devoted to making quality products (in a physical sense as much as in the stories told) and getting them into the hands of as many readers as possible. I made the decision early on that GRP would use offset printing rather than print-on-demand services. This provides a wider range of options for distribution and marketing, but it also requires more time and money upfront and greater financial risk. This is one reason advances are less attractive than those found at a large, traditional publishing house. It means I must be very selective about choosing manuscripts and take on a limited number of projects so that resources can be put towards finding book buyers and building the brand as a whole. It is a balancing act of trying to attract talent, making quality products, selling them, and also keeping workload manageable and finding help when needed. Interview me again in five years and ask if all of my hair has turned gray. Chances are it will, and largely because of this.
SUSANNA: Will you submit your titles for review by top reviewers (Kirkus, SLJ, Booklist, etc) and for awards?
SANDRA: Yes. I feel this is a core component of a marketing and publicity strategy. But I do not want to discount the importance of less formal reviews and publicity found through connections within the greater Kidlit Community. We will work with our creatives on identifying and creating opportunities for personal growth and publicity through avenues like blog tours, podcasts, online promotional groups, book fairs, school and library visits, honor and awards submissions, and bookstore and influencer relationships.
SUSANNA: Do you have any advice for authors and illustrators who are planning to submit to GRP?
SANDRA: Let’s call it “Words of Wisdom”. First, learn your craft, get critiques, and write a good query letter. If you submit no query at all with the manuscript, send a 900-word story for pre-school age children, or fail to use any type of standard formatting, it is almost certain that submission will end up in the “no” pile. Almost. I could be wrong, but why take that chance with your work? Make your submission the best it can be. My Acquisitions Team will always appreciate the effort!
Please come visit, get to know, and follow Gnome Road!
Submissions Info HERE
SUSANNA: Sandra, thank you so much for stopping by today to tell us about your wonderful new publishing company! It’s so exciting – for you and for us! I think I speak for everyone when I say we can’t wait to see what you will publish!
And thanks to everyone 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!
Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them
Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons
Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution
Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy
Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie
Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude
Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush
Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods
Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book
Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate
Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon
Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story
Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done
Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous
Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky
Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong
B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth
Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows
Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep
Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell
Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)
Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound
Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat
Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?
Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round
Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater
Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?
Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall
Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist
Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)
Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas
Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior
Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)
Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)
Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)
Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane
Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!
Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books
Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen
Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?
Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go
Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier
Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win
Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!
Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike
Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day
Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day
Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist
Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World
Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader
Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)
Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa
Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights
Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!
44 thoughts on “Tuesday Debut – Presenting Gnome Road Publishing!”
How exciting for you, Sandra. And that’s a lot of work. I know because I also own a small independent press, Magical Books. My focus however is publishing my own books. I have more than 30 manuscripts so I will be busy for years to come. I’m getting ready to release the first few titles this year. Working with illustrators, editors and designers is great, but it is also a lot of work and it takes time. Quality takes time.
I love the name and logos! So cute. And the story behind the name is adorable. I have fond memories of my first street too, Acaccia Street.
Your THE REAL FARMER IN THE DELL is a beautifully done book. I remember it from Mira’s picture book course.
I like the list you shared with your favourites. I own 2 titles from that list: Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales and The William Hoy Story by Nancy Churnin (Illus. Jez Tuya). I love Yuji’s book and it is among my top favourites as well. I’m familiar with some titles already and some are on my TO BUY LIST already: The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors by Drew Daywalt (Illus. Adam Rex)
The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard (Illus. Oge Mora) and Sophie’s Squash.
There are some I haven’t heard of or haven’t read so I will add them to my TO READ LIST.
CONGRATULATIONS and all the best. I tried to follow you on Twitter but the page wouldn’t open. I’ll check later. More likely I have too many pages open. Typical for me as I have to juggle so many different things relating to publishing.
Hello Anna! Thanks for your support and kind words! I just read The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors again last night with my daughter – highly recommend if you like to read in different “voices.”
Congrats on your new press and making your dreams come true!
I do read in different voices. I have this book on my to-buy-list for a long time. I’ll get it for my older son’s birthday in May. Last month I got six new picture books for my younger son’s 6th birthday, so that’s enough. For a while.
So lovely to meet Sandra and hear all about her new publishing company. How exciting! I wish her all the best with her project. What a wonderful opportunity for those authors and illustrators who are chosen to be published by Gnome Road Publishing first.
Thank you, Norah! Susanna did a great job interviewing me. Her blog is such a wonderful resource for us all.
It is. So helpful to authors.
Wow, what a great opportunity! Good luck, Sandra, with Gnome Road Publishing, and thanks Susanna for posting this!!
Thank you, Elizabeth!
Congratulations, Sandra, on your new venture! What an appealing name!
Thanks, Melanie. It seems gnomes are everywhere these days!
Congratulations, Sandra! I loved learning more about Gnome Road. Thanks for the interview, Susanna!
Thanks for dropping by, Sarah!
Good luck and congratulations, Sandra! Lovely debut and interview, Susanna!
Credit goes to Susanna for such a great interview. She’s wonderful!
Good interview! And best of everything to Gnome Road.
Such a great interview and I loved learning about Gnome Road.
Thank you for taking the time to read about GRP!
So excited for you, Sandra, and for Gnome Road’s future!! Y’all are going to rock the kidlit world!
Hey there, mate (as in critique-mate)! As always, I appreciate your support!
While checking out possible places to submit my stories, I had come across Gnome Road Publishing. While I won’t be ready to submit during this winter/spring period, I just may be by Sept-Nov. Thank you, Susanna, for providing this behind the scenes how the company came about. Always helpful to know more in order to make the right decision when choosing a place for one’s stories. As Sandra spoke about, collaboration and having the same likes is so important. All the Best, Sandra!
Thank you so much! Don’t rush yourself. Writing is not a race 🙂
Congratulations, Sandra! I wish you much luck in this new venture with Gnome Road Publishing. Great to learn more about your vision.
Thank you, Rose!
Congratulations! I wish you tons of success with Gnome Road Publishing!
Many thanks, Lauri!
Great interview! Love the “Well, there is me at the very top. And then there is me at the very bottom.” Hands-on! Congratulations and best wishes!
Yes, very hands-on, but enjoyable. Thanks for reading and supporting Susanna’s blog!
Congratulations Sandra! Loved the interview. It’s a delight to hear how a new venture is created from the ground up. As a newbie on this writing journey, I’m building my foundation to become an author of picture books. Your post will be on my list as my reference guide. As you mentioned learn the craft, get critiques, and write a good query letter.
I can’t stress that enough about critiques and learning. I continue to take courses covering all kinds of topics on writing, publishing, industry news, etc. Keep it up, and thanks for stopping by!
Congrats Sandra on your new publishing company. It was great to hear how you plan to proceed. All the best.
Congratulations, Sandra! I am thrilled for you and so impressed that you’re doing this! I can’t wait to see where Gnome Road takes you.
Hey there, sweet friend! Hope you are well. So glad you stopped by to leave a comment.
This was one fascinating interview. Rooting for you Sandra and Gnome Road. And I love Wendy’s art!
Her art is amazing and she is the nicest person to work with!
I loved learning more about the publishing world!!
Congratulations, Sandra and Gnome Road !
Thanks, Susanna for providing this post! 🙂
Congratulations on creating your new company. I have enjoyed reading about it and am one of your new newsletter subscribers. Best of luck!
Thank you for the support. Cathey!
How amazing! Congratulations, Sandra! What a wonderful new publishing company and addition to the children’s lit community! 🙂
Many thanks, Katie!
How exciting (and somewhat intimidating) to start your own publishing company. And as a fan of gnomes myself, I absolutely love the name you chose! Although I have already submitted once and the MS was not quite right, I am truly hoping I make the right choice the next time!
Wishing you so much success in creating avid readers!
Yes, it is both exciting and imitating for sure. Thanks for your support by submitting and cheering us on!