Today’s installment of Tuesday Debut will be of special interest to those of you who want to write for youngest audiences. Although we usually feature picture books, today’s debut is a board book. I thought we might all learn a thing or two from debut-ess Rebecca Mullin about first-time publishing in this fun and wonderful format.
Rebecca has generously provided a copy of her book as a giveaway, so one lucky commenter will be randomly chosen to win the book! Please comment on this post by Sunday September 19 at 9PM Eastern to qualify for the random drawing!
And now, without further ado, please join me in welcoming Rebecca Mullin as she kindly shares her journey to publication of ONE TOMATO – a book she wrote for her daughter and which was illustrated by her niece!
Written by Rebecca Mullin
Illustrated by Anna Mullin
Rubber Ducky Press, May 1, 2021
Counting board book for 2-6 year olds
Count the vegetables as you harvest the garden beginning with one ripe tomato! Ants, moles, bees and other garden friends join in the fun. Watch for the sneaky yellow dandelion. Learn about growing healthy foods while counting to ten in One Tomato!
SUSANNA: Welcome, Rebecca! Thank you so much for joining us today. We’re all excited to hear about publishing a board book. Where did the idea for this book come from?
REBECCA: One night while cooking dinner I asked my daughter to pick a zucchini from our garden. She came back with a cucumber! We needed some help with vegetable identification! So, I contacted my niece, Anna Mullin, to make a poster of the vegetables we grew in our garden. At the time, Anna was a senior biology major at Earlham College and had a side-hustle doing commission artwork from her website, ANNAEM.com. She created several beautiful posters which I hung in my kitchen. Now that would be the end of the story except that my mom, who owns Kids Ink Children’s Bookstores in Indianapolis saw the posters and said “that looks like a board book.”
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book? And how long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your book?
REBECCA: The initial writing of One Tomato took a couple of weeks. But in reality I spent my whole life working on One Tomato. I’ve been an avid gardener and reader my whole life. I began working in my mom’s bookstore in 8th grade and have since logged thousands of hours buying books for the store, selling books to customers, reading at storytimes, hosting author events, writing book reviews, and of course packing, unpacking, and lifting lots and lots of boxes of books (not sure how the manual labor piece helped in writing – but I sure do remember the back aches!)
SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?
REBECCA: Honestly, I never thought it was truly ready for submission. At some point I just couldn’t see how to make any improvements so decided I’d just give it a try!
SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?
REBECCA: I submitted directly to Rubber Ducky Press without an agent or query.
SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”? When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”? 😊
REBECCA: The “yes” came slowly. I submitted by email and got a reply within days that the publisher was “interested.” We spoke on the phone a few weeks later at which point I understood that my book needed some significant changes to fit within the Rubber Ducky brand. I submitted a revised edition several months later and was subsequently invited to visit the publishing house. (Covid delayed this visit by 3 months.) The “yes” came when I met with the publisher, distributor, editor, sales manager and probably a few others…it was such an exciting blur!
SUSANNA: How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?
REBECCA: Three weeks.
SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?
REBECCA: Standard royalty contract and 10 copies of the book included.
SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?
REBECCA: After signing the contract I thought the book was finished….rookie mistake! The editor asked for several major changes that required re-writing and re-illustrating. Honestly I thought the changes were outrageous. You want to substitute corn for spinach? You want pumpkins instead of dandelions? But once the changes were made it undeniably made the book better.
SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?
REBECCA: Of course, my experience with the illustration process was unusual because I worked with my niece! We met several times and layed out all the pages of the book across a table to see the flow of the story. Anna sees color and composition in an entirely different way, I learned so much working with her!
SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?
REBECCA: The initial interest in the book was in December 2019 and the publication date of One Tomato was May 1, 2021. However, the book was delayed by shipping and customs issues and did not arrive until the end of July! Boy was that an agonizingly long wait! The print run was 3,000.
SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?
REBECCA: Rubber Ducky Press has an incredible sales team and marketing staff. One Tomato is now available in bookstores, libraries, Ingram warehouses, and Amazon.
SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.
REBECCA: I’ve found some great gardening items to promote One Tomato! I had custom tomato seed packets printed and paired these with a child sized watering can with a One Tomato image to use as a giveaway at the book launch. Also, I’ve printed stickers and postcards for promotional purposes and my publisher produced a really nice sell sheet for gardening and book stores. Additionally, I’ve reached out to gardening centers and seed catalogs as another avenue to sell One Tomato.
SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication?
REBECCA: Read everything available in the genre and age range for which you are writing.
Link to publisher product page:
SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge and expertise in board book publishing with us today, Rebecca! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from your experience! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you every success with this and future titles!
Readers, if you have questions for Rebecca, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond! And don’t forget to comment on this post by Sunday September 19 at 9PM Eastern to qualify for the random drawing! Someone will win a copy of this cute book!
You may purchase Rebecca’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
– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.
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!
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!
Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished
Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)
Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly
Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)
Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)
Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival
Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather
Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree
Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)
Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma
Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls
Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)
Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail
Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!
Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari
Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success
Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)
Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom
59 thoughts on “Tuesday Debut – Presenting Rebecca Mullin!”
What a fun book! I love hearing how books come into being. How special to have it illustrated by your niece! And all the activities to go along with it—super!! It’s a winner . . . and hope I am, too!😉 Thanks, Rebecca!
Thank you, Karen! So glad you like the activities too!
It’s really cute, Karen! I think you’ll like it!
The process of a board book is interesting. I learned something today!. . I have a black thumb so any green I see are tops of garlic (fool-proof) Tomatoes are the hardest for me to grow. Thank you for sharing.
Hahaha! I have a black thumb too, Bru! Hopefully this book will help is both 😊
I love this idea Rebecca! Especially how it came about in a delightful and unexpected way. 🙂 The activity guide is great – always love ways to continue the conversation and learn beyond the reading of the book – wonderful! Thanks Susanna for all you do to share these lovely stories.
My pleasure, Sharon! And I thought the activity guide was terrific too!
Thank you, Susanna, for showcasing this beautiful board book!
I had not been aware of Rubber Ducky Press, but see it is distributed by Cardinal Press.
Your Tuesday posts bring such a wealth of information to us. Just can’t thank you enough!
Best wishes to you, Rebecca and Anna! Can’t wait to see what you have in store for your next book:)
Thank you! Anna and I do have another book in the works….hoping it will be accepted!
I’m so glad you learned something new and find the posts helpful! That makes my day 😊
Congratulations on you debut! I love that you are marketing at garden centers because it’s a wonderful place to see a picture book! Wishing you success with your book and your garden.
I know, Laura! Isn’t that a great idea?!
Hooray for you and your first book! (and to your niece too:) I am very impressed with your extensive and creative marketing!
All books are exciting, but first ones especially so! 😊 I agree, Patti, that Rebecca had a lot of great ideas for marketing!
Congratulations on your first book. How sweet that you worked on it with your niece!
It was such a joy to work on One Tomato with my niece…I hope it is the first of many such collaborations!
I know, Sally! Isn’t it wonderful that Rebecca and her niece got to do the book together? That doesn’t happen every day!
Thanks for reading, Elizabeth!
Congratulations! The simple text and colorful illustrations are perfect for a board book. Loved hearing the back story, too.
They really are, Rose! It works very well! And such a great idea. Makes me wonder how I never thought of one tomato!
What a lovely book. Thank you for sharing the back story.
So glad you enjoyed hearing about Rebecca’s publication journey, Claire!
Congratulations, Rebecca! Great idea for a board book. I look forward to reading it. Thanks for all the information, too. Wonderful interview, to you both.
Kim – Thank you! I hope you enjoy One Tomato!
So glad you enjoyed it, Kim!
💛WOW! Rebecca, thank you for sharing your amazing journey. Best of luck.💛 Would love to talk further if you are willing. firstname.lastname@example.org
I get the impression you might have a board book or two in the works, Dawn! 😊
Congrats Rebecca on your wonderful book. How great to work with your niece. It is always fun to learn about a new publisher I had never heard of. it was fun to see the other books they publish.
Deb – So glad I could introduce you to Rubber Ducky Press! They have a great collection of board and picture books and are absolutely fantastic to work with!
Rubber Ducky was new to me, too, Deb! It IS always fun to learn of a new publisher!
What a fun idea and love the comnet re: you’ve been working on this book through all your life experiences. So true! Congrats. I’d love to win this board book. Go, tomatoes!
Go Tomatoes! I Love It!
It’s a really cute book, Kathy! I think you’ll like it 😊
ONE TOMATO sounds adorable! Congratulations on your debut!
It IS adorable, Heather! 😊
Congratulations on your debut, and thank you for sharing the story and process behind the book!
Hope the post had a few tidbits that were helpful to you!
Awww, I love the premise of this book, esp because I love growing tomatoes! And your Activity Kit is just grand. Well done!! Congrats on your book baby 🙂
I see we share a love of home-grown tomatoes! I’m eating one of my last today on a BLT… yummy! (My tomato plants are all turning brown due to the cold nights here in Western Wisconsin.) Thank you for your kind words!
It’s a great idea, Jenny, and such a cute book!
Love all the activities you’ve devised to go with the book. What a fun way to get little ones interested in gardens and the things they can grow.
I know, Marty! I thought the activity guide was great!
I can’t wait to buy this book. This is a book that needs to be in the hands of children and early childhood educators. Counting, gardening, searching for hiding images, each one of those just adds another layer of learning that is fun! Congrats on your debut!
So true, Sally!
Thanks so much for sharing your writing journey with us! How amazing to have your niece illustrate your Board Book! Looking forward to purchasing and reviewing your book on Goodreads and Amazon! Congratulations! Thanks Susanna for a great post! 🙂
So glad you enjoyed it, Susan! And TIA for helping Rebecca out with a review!
What a gorgeous book. I enjoyed hearing about Rebecca’s inspiration and journey. How lovely to have worked with her niece on it. I have worked with my niece on illustrating some stories for my website. The accompanying activities are cute too (and educational).
So much to like about the book, the activity guide, and the how cool it is that Rebecca and her niece got to do it together, Norah!
That’s all very true, Susanna.
What an adorable book! Thanks for sharing your journey with us!
You’re welcome! And a big THANK YOU to Susanna for featuring One Tomato on the Tuesday Debut!
My pleasure, Rebecca! 😊
Congratulations, Rebecca! I enjoyed reading about your author’s journey so far. How wonderful that you got to collaborate with your niece. I look forward to reading this book to my little ones!
I hope you and your little ones enjoy One Tomato! Tell them that a dandelion is hiding on each page and see if they can find it!
I think you and they will like it, Sarah!
One Tomato looks like a delightful book. Congratulations and thanks for sharing your bok journey with us.
Glad you enjoyed hearing about One Tomato and Rebecca’s journey, Claire!
I loved hearing about your process and connections to Kids Ink! Great board book!