Tuesday Debut – Presenting Karen Condit!

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to our first Tuesday Debut in awhile!

I’m thrilled to introduce you today’s debut-ess, Karen Condit, who has written a lovely book about mindfulness and taking the time to slow down – advice I think we can all benefit from 😊 She is the first author we’ve had on Tuesday Debut who chose a hybrid publishing model, so for those of you interested in that, you may gain some insight, and you have the opportunity to ask her questions in the comments!

Let’s jump in and have a look at her beautiful book!

Turtle on the Track
written by Karen Condit
Illustrator, Mollie Ginther
Orange Hat Publishing
Release date: February 2, 2022
Ages 4-8
Themes: Mindfulness – Patience – Emotional Wellness

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When the restless, impatient passengers on the Scurryville Express are forced to wait when a turtle crosses the tracks, they can’t help but blow off a little steam! Can Oscar come along to help them slow down and enjoy the ride? Only time will tell!

SUSANNA: Welcome, Karen! Thank you so much for joining us today! Where did the idea for this book come from? 

KAREN: I was walking along our country-side property close to the railroad tracks that ran along the Mississippi when I spotted a snapping turtle on the dirt road. I knew snapping turtles made their way to dry land to lay eggs so I was intrigued to watch this creature and see what she would do. As I watched, I was pulled into the beauty and quiet of my surroundings and it made me pause—It’s time I slowed down, too. I’ve always been more of an energizer bunny. I knew I needed to change my pace and live a slower, more intentional life. Coming across this turtle was the seed for this story.
                       

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?

KAREN: It didn’t take me long to write the bare bones of the story—a few days. From our home, we could hear the trains along the river which helped me set the scene. The story flowed easily and most of what is written today came from those first few days. As with most of my stories, I don’t have a particular ending in mind, but I do stay focused on the theme. The theme of slowing down was easy to keep in mind because my experience had been so personal. 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

KAREN: Yes! Turtle went in and out of revision while I continued writing other stories. It’s never been a waste of time for me to put a story away for a while. I’m always amazed at what needs attention when I get it out again! I worked mainly on character development and after dummying out the story, I found some weak spots in the story arc. Paginating a manuscript has always been a great revision tool for me. Of course, everything I write is shared with my two critique groups who are committed to helping me, not humoring me—all with grace. 🙂 Turtle also received several critiques from on-line writing communities and at writing conferences. 

SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?

KAREN: I’ve a hard time knowing when a manuscript is truly ready. It’s much easier to tell if it’s not ready! If I’ve given the manuscript enough time to percolate, and still believe in it after all the rounds of revision from those that know more than me, I’m ready to submit. It had been two years since I wrote the first draft. It was time. 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KAREN: At first, I sent the manuscript to a handful of publishers on my own. When a writing conference came up, I decided to pitch it to agents and editors. I guess Turtle was ready—I landed an agent! Publication here I come! Not quite. After two years, Turtle had been rejected 29 times, only a few more than Dr. Suess’ 27 rejections of his first book, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street! That made me feel a little better. A little. I was discouraged. A short time later, I made the hard decision to end the relationship with my agent . . . but not with Turtle.  🙂 

During the next two years I continued writing and submitting while Turtle took a rest. I was working on other manuscripts when I heard about Orange Hat Publishing—a small indie-publisher that offered both hybrid and traditional publishing. After checking their website, I thought they’d be a good fit, so Turtle came back out of her shell. 😉 

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”?

KAREN: I submitted Turtle on the Track on December 7, 2020 and received an email on January 12, 2021, saying they were interested in considering my manuscript for a hybrid contract. 

SUSANNA: How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?

KAREN: I love to share this part of my story . . . 

When I received an email from Orange Hat Publishing requesting a phone meeting, my husband was going through a very difficult time with his health. In many ways, the timing couldn’t have been worse. I hesitated. No—I cried. Why now? I couldn’t possibly think straight. I had no room on my plate for anything more, not even a phone call. Then my daughter sat me down. “Mom, this may be just the right time. Don’t let this go.” I made a phone appointment several weeks out thinking things may settled down by then but as the time approached, I felt more uneasy. I wanted to be on top of my game. A day before the scheduled call I decided to contact the office and cancel the appointment explaining my situation. When I called, they offered to do a conference call with the team that was already gathered in one place. AHHH! Before I knew it, I was sharing about my writing journey, my goals as an author and learning about their offer.  After a 45-minute conversation I decided to consider a hybrid contract even though I was hoping for a traditional contract. One team member said, “Perhaps, this will be a light in a dark place for you right now.” After our call ended, I had a feeling it very well could be. They sent the contract, and after a careful review, I signed.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

KAREN: I didn’t. Unless you’d call sitting alone at my desk and letting out a huge sigh of gratitude is celebrating. There was no fanfare. I’m saving that for later! 

SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

KAREN: Hybrid contracts do not offer up-front royalties; however, one big benefit is that royalties on book sales are higher (50-60%) than with traditional publishing arrangements (5-10%). These are sales directly through the publisher and me. Profits from a retail distributor like Amazon and Barnes and Noble are less (1-4%). As with all hybrid arrangements, there’s a publishing fee and an investment in hiring an illustrator. I invested approximately $2000 in the publishing fee and considered illustrators whose fees ranged from $70-130 per page. 

For some more information on hybrid publishing, I found this to be a fair article on Hybrid vs Vanity Press publishing.  https://www.liminalpages.com/how-to-tell-the-difference-between-a-hybrid-and-a-vanity-press

Even though this article is written by Dudley Court House, a hybrid press, I found it true to my experience 
https://www.dudleycourtpress.com/why-vanity-publishing-is-not-hybrid-publishing/

I found this to be true . . . ” . . . hybrid presses genuinely care about their authors’ success.”

SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?

KAREN: The editor suggested some minor edits, all of which I agreed. The pagination also had a few revisions regarding page turns and book length.

SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?

KAREN: This was the most fun and inspirational part of the project! 

I hired my illustrator through Orange Hat Publishing. They provided me with over 10 portfolios of different artists within their company. I was given a character sketch from my top two favorites to help me make a final decision. After looking at many artists, I decided on Mollie Ginther. She was an author/illustrator herself! I loved her style and admired other books she had illustrated. I also love watercolor. We were ready to go! So I thought. The day after Mollie accepted the job, she withdrew because a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came through she thought had passed her by. I was back to reviewing portfolios. 

After seeing Mollie’s work, I had a hard time settling on another illustrator so I asked if we could delay the project so Mollie could do the job when she was available. What? Whoever asks the publisher to hold up the show? I’m sure they wondered about me. 🙄 Thankfully, they agreed and the project was held for four months. Now I had a little breathing room to tend to the cares at home and I had my first-choice illustrator! Delays can be gifts. 

When Mollie was ready to begin, we face-timed and discussed every page of the manuscript. I included only one art note, so she wanted to hear my ideas. I was delighted to discover we had a similar vision for the story. The greatest moment was when she said, “I really connect with this story. This is going to be fun!” A light in a dark place. 

I reviewed early sketches, uncolored drafts, the painted drawings through .jpeg files.

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First sketch with notes. My heart was a little nervous with Oscar on the tracks. 😬
A drawing on a white board

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Revised sketch. Now I can sleep!

     

A picture containing text, indoor, picture frame

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Final

If I had a new idea, I’d run it by Mollie. For example, I thought it would be fun to have a little mouse family riding along with the passengers. She loved the idea. She also was willing to hide a little turtle on each page so kids could have fun searching for it. She also added a coloring page and a dot-to-dot page at the back of the book. Throughout the process she let me know what would work and what wouldn’t. (She was very patient with me.) I learned so much! There were no surprises when the full final interior was sent to me. All around it was a great experience! 

Here’s a short time-lapse video of Mollie at work: 

There was an art editor who worked mainly on formatting text, cover design, and other details before final edits. The illustration process wasn’t really left up to me but I was able to give input, especially in our initial meeting. I was also able to view two rounds of drafts before finals were decided. These parameters were stated in the contract. The illustration process took about two months.

 

SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?

KAREN: From when I got the call, to having the first copy in my hand was almost a year to the day. But remember, we delayed the project. The process from start to finish was about five months.  Release date:  2-2-2022! Can’t get ‘2’ much better than that! 😆

SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?

KAREN: My publisher helps by creating promotional materials, registering the book with major online distributors, arranging distributions through special orders, assisting in book launches if requested, and, of course, listing and promoting the book on their website. They’ve given me encouragement and support along the way. It was obvious they truly care about my success as an author.

SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.

KAREN: I’m doing the same type of marketing that my friends are doing who are traditionally published.   I’m using social media, my website, and relationships with indie bookstores. I have a podcast opportunity coming up, was interviewed with our local community event magazine, and I’m planning an in person Launch Party. I also have several school visits set up for the spring. As a retired teacher, this will be the most fun of all! And last, but certainly not least, I thank Susanna for featuring me in this Tuesday Debut post! Thank you, Susanna! 

(a couple of activities to go along with the book)

A drawing of a car

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Coloring Page
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Can you find the hidden turtle?

SUSANNA: Absolutely my pleasure, Karen! 😊 How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

KAREN: Nine years. I started writing seriously when I retired from a 25-year teaching career as an elementary teacher and reading specialist. My goal has always been to publish but I knew the chances were slim since I started later in life. But wasn’t it Laura Ingalls Wilder who published her first book, Little House on the Prairie, at the age of 65? Let’s just say, I’m in good company! 

If you’ve been counting, it took about six years before Turtle was accepted for publication.

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up and coming writers?)

KAREN: Oh, my . . . THE most important thing? I’ve learned so much! May I share three? Thanks! 😉

-The work to be done on learning the craft is as vital as the work to be done on growing emotional stamina for the journey. Find your people to keep going. 

-Writing is more than an ISBN number—it’s the people you meet; it’s the learning; it’s what feeds your heart! Be watchful for all the ways you’re being “paid.” It can be soooo frustrating, but it’s a wonderful life!

-Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. Comparison only deflates desire and robs joy. Someday you’ll have your story to tell . . . and it will be wonderful!

SUSANNA: That is very good advice! Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?

KAREN: Take a lesson from a turtle: Your speed doesn’t matter; forward is forward. 

SUSANNA: Karen, thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! We so appreciate you sharing your knowledge and experience – such a wonderful opportunity for us to learn! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you all the best with this and future titles!

A person smiling at the camera

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Author Karen Condit

www.karencondit.com
https://www.instagram.com/kacondit/
https://www.facebook.com/kacondit/

A group of people sitting on a couch reading a book

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The first read of the finished book with some special booklovers—my grandkids! 

Readers, if you have questions for Karen, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!

You may purchase Karen’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

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

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

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

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

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

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

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

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

28 thoughts on “Tuesday Debut – Presenting Karen Condit!

  1. Anna Maledon Children's Author (@AnnaMaledon) says:

    Congratulations to a fellow student of Children’s Book Academy! The book looks great, Karen and I love your wisdom words at the end, it doesn’t matter how fast as long as you move forward. Great advice.

    Dr Seuss got published only because he ran into an old friend on the street who happened to be into publishing. Beatrix Potter self-published first as she couldn’t get a traditional contract so nothing wrong with going after your dream. I independently publish myself. It’s a lot of work, you need capital, but it’s very rewarding and fun.

  2. kathalsey says:

    Congrats to you and your debut. You had a long road and were persistent through some hard times. Excited for you, Karen! TURTLE ON THE TRACK shares my actual birthday, Groundhog’s Day!

  3. Dianna Sirkovsky says:

    Congratulations for your perseverance and the courage to move forward with a different publishing model than you had originally wanted. It looks like an beautiful book and I think the subject matter is particularly important with all the pressure and upheaval children have been experiencing these past two years. Well done and wishing you great success, Karen!

  4. marty bellis says:

    Karen, I love your philosophy, your humor, and your book. The illustrations are gorgeous. I can see why you wanted to wait for Mollie! Happy for you and your success. Congratulations!

  5. palpbkids says:

    Thank you, Karen:)
    This is not only a lovely book that I look forward to reading, but you give hope to all who are in the Laura Ingalls Wilder age group:).
    The illustrations are golden!
    Thank you, Susanna, for highlighting Karen’s beautiful book:)

  6. Melissa-Jane Nguyen says:

    Such a fascinating interview! I particularly enjoyed reading about the collaboration between author and illustrator.

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