Tuesday Debut – Presenting Shachi Kaushik!

Hi, Everyone!

Welcome to today’s edition of Tuesday Debut!

I’m thrilled to present debut author Shachi Kaushik and her beautiful book about Diwali, DIWALI IN MY NEW HOME! She has a lot of great tips and advice to share, so let’s get right to it! 😊

Diwali In My New Home by Shachi Kaushik
Illustrated by Aishwarya Tondoon
Published By: Beaming Books
Releasing: September 27th, 2022
Age: Early Grades (5-8 years)

Priya loves being with family and friends to watch fireworks and celebrate Diwali. But this year Priya and her parents are living in the United States, and no one seems to know about the holiday. Priya misses the traditions in India. But as the day passes she celebrates the day with her neighbors. And even though the celebration is different this year, it’s still Diwali.
 



SUSANNA: Welcome, Shachi! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today and share your journey to publication. We can’t wait to hear about it! Where did the idea for this book come from?

SHACHI: For the past few years, I had been doing Diwali events for children at the RoundRock Public Library. This event grew bigger and bigger each year. Seeing the joy on children’s faces bought so much satisfaction to me that I wanted to write a Diwali book. The story of Priya is drawn from my own personal experience. The ideas are always floating around us. We just need to catch one and make it our story.
 
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?
 
SHACHI: Most of my manuscripts are a result of the Writing Barn classes. For me taking classes are a self-investment. These classes keep me focused, I learn new techniques, I get to make new friends and most importantly one can find their critique group. I took classes from The Writing Barn, The Storyteller Academy, SCBWI and the monthly 12×12 webinars. 
 
SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?
 
SHACHI: The rough draft of this manuscript had 1200 words, which now is under 500. So there have been several revisions. The first draft is never your final draft. I wrote drafts from the point of view of first person and third, in past tenses and present tenses. Once I have my manuscript I do storyboarding where I put the layout the text onto thirty pages. This helps me see the story more clearly and helps with my edits. One can use Canva or sticky notes for storyboarding.



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

SHACHI: I took my manuscript to different of critique groups and took a lot of feedback.  I eventually submitted it for the Austin 2019 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference where this manuscript was nominee of Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award. At that time, I knew I could start submitting it to agents.
 
SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?
 
SHACHI: I first submitted this manuscript for LEE & LOW BOOKS – New Voices Writing Competition. When I did not get a response for three months, I signed up with an agent and the manuscript went out for submissions.
 
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”?
 
SHACHI: This book got a number of rejections, and it took almost 9 months when the ‘Yes’ came my way. But it came from three publishers. One of them wanted me to make changes, which they did not quite like and rejected. In the end I had two offers. The 9 months were worth a wait.
 
SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

SHACHI: We all want to hear that good news as early as our book is out for submissions, but it doesn’t always happen. I got several rejections for this book. At one point I rebranded my book, by changing the title and changing the name of the main character. The book was earlier titled ‘Diwali Away from Home’ and the main character was a boy character which now is a girl.
 
SUSANNA: How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?

SHACHI: I got the offer in June 2021 and signed the contract in July 2021.
 
SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?
 
SHACHI: I had moved from Austin to Toronto, without my husband behind.  Due to covid restrictions, Toronto was still under a a lockdown. I celebrated virtually with my husband eating pizza and later celebrated the big news with my new friends in a new city, Toronto.



SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?
 
SHACHI: When I had two offers, I evaluated both the publishing houses on the publication timeline and the marketing of their books.  I signed the contract with Beaming Books and negotiated on the number of author copies.



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

 
SHACHI: My editor Andrea Hall made the process helpful. Andrea gave notes with explanation which helped me learn why the change was necessary.  There were a few changes that I had to make, and nothing major that would make the story go off track.
 
SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?

 
SHACHI: My publisher involved me from the early process. They shared Aishwarya’s work and asked what my thoughts were. I loved her work. It was colorful and beautifully detailed. Knowing that Aishwarya is from India, I was happy cause she too celebrates Diwali and could bring out all the colors of festival. 
The illustrator and art director did a wonderful job in bringing the story to life. I added my personal elements to the story with my words and similarly Aishwarya added her personal elements and touch to the story with her art.

It was lovely to meet Aishwarya and hear what her thoughts were when she read my manuscript and how she filled the story with colors. In the cover you see the character wearing a sweater with a sun, the sun is the sign of Beaming Books.

I did add my notes because I wasn’t sure if the illustrator would be someone who would have experienced the holiday. Aishwarya did get a few notes but not all.



SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?

SHACHI: The Kirkus review wasn’t so great. It said, “A book about Diwali that doesn’t quite crackle.” First, I was disappointed but as a creative I’ve learned not everyone will like your book.  I get more satisfaction when an immigrant tells me that they relate to the story and share their experience. 

SUSANNA: Reviews can be tough. It’s wonderful that you were able to focus on what was important – your readers! How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?

SHACHI: 15 months.

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

SHACHI: Beaming Books is good with their promotion. They meet you in advance and have one on one with you to discuss the marketing plans. The publicist has reached out to several bookstores for events, made connections with media companies for my book. 

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

SHACHI: I joined a picture book promotional group, and we help each other promote. I did create a book trailer. As my book is on the holiday Diwali, I’ve made a special Diwali Kit, which has my book, bookmarks, stickers and a few Diwali goodies.

SUSANNA: That sounds like fun! How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

SHACHI: When I started writing I thought of self-publishing, but when I came out of Carmen Oliver’s class at the Writing Barn, my perspective changed. I started writing seriously in January 2019 and sold my book in June 2021.

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?)

SHACHI: Read, Write, Critique, go out for events and have patience because it takes time.

SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?

SHACHI: One thing I’ve learned if you can believe it, you can achieve it. Just keep working towards it.

SUSANNA: That is great advice! Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Shachi! We all wish you the best with this and future titles!

Author Shachi Kaushik and illustrator Aishwarya Tondoon. Shachi was finally able to take a trip to India and met her in Jaipur.

website: www.storiesbyshachi.com
Facebook: storiesbyshachi
Twitter: @KaushikShachi
Instagram: storiesbyshachi

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

You may purchase Shachi’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

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)

Kimberly Wilson – A Penny’s Worth

Candace Spizzirri – Fishing With Grandpa And Skye

Carrie Tillotson – Counting To Bananas

Patrice Gopo – All The Places We Call Home

Rebecca Gardyn Levington – Brainstorm!

John Bray – The End

Jocelyn Watkinson – The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story

Katie Mazeika – Annette Feels Free: The True Story of Annette Kellerman, World-Class Swimmer, Fashion Pioneer, and Real-Life Mermaid (nonfiction)

12 thoughts on “Tuesday Debut – Presenting Shachi Kaushik!

  1. readmybook2002 says:

    This is why diversity is an important part of book publishing. Knowing about different cultures and customs from different areas broadens a child’s & adult’s mind. Who wouldn’t want to know about this celebration after hearing about it? Congrats to the author and illustrator for giving us more knowledge about your culture/customs.

  2. Angie says:

    Congratulations, Shachi! You are right, not everyone will like the same books. But I can’t wait to read yours! And maybe you can share how you do storyboards on Canva! 🙂

  3. Wendy says:

    I’ll echo the storyboard question. Congratulations on your debut! We lived overseas and sharing holidays in a different culture is fascinating.

  4. seschipper says:

    Shachi, congratulations! I am looking forward to reading this PB! Thanks for sharing the “ups and downs” you have encountered on the road to
    being published. I will have to learn more about using Canva!
    Thanks, Susanna! 🙂

  5. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Great interview! And boy, I don’t know why Kirkus can be so snarky. I’m glad Shachi realized that happy readers are much more valuable. Congrats to Shachi and Aishwarya! It looks like a beautiful book!

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