Welcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Debut!
Today, we get to learn all kinds of helpful things from Carrie Sharkey Asner, who has a lot to tell us about the self-publishing route to publishing a picture book.
Let’s jump right in, shall we? 😊
Blueberry Blue Bubbles
written by Carrie Sharkey Asner
illustrated by Marcin Piwowarski
October 18, 2022, fiction, ages 4-8
SUSANNA: Where did the idea for this book come from?
CARRIE: I realized I didn’t know much about picture books, so I took a lot of courses (including Making Picture Book Magic) and read many books. One repeating concept was to use strong verbs/nouns and not use many adjectives or adverbs. I thought, “I’ll show them” and ended up with a book with an increasing list of “B” words to describe a growing bubble. I would suggest trying out different things to see what works best for you and the book.
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?
CARRIE: It took me about 10 months from thought to self-publishing. I have a folder for each potential book idea and then add to them as I think of additional information. Many folders just have a sentence or two. Then I write a really rough draft and put it up for a few weeks. I revise it and put it back for another few weeks. Then I repeat it several times. Taking breaks seems to work the best for me. I also shared it with 3 critique groups and 2 editors and made changes after their input.
SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for publication?
CARRIE: After the 3 critique groups, I had a critique/developmental edit and then a more in-depth edit with one editor and then I worked with an editor in our self-publishing class for the final edit.
Once the illustrations were back, I read the story to a 4-year-old. The book has a repeating line “I want it bigger.” After a couple of times, she was saying it with me and by the end, she was almost shouting it. Then she said my new favorite word – “Again!”. We read it 6 times. That encounter really helped me think it was ready to go.
SUSANNA: At what point did you decide to self-publish rather than submit to traditional publishers? Did you try traditional first? Or did you have specific reasons for wanting to self-publish?
CARRIE: I have several friends who have self-published and strongly suggested I go that route. I had heard that even if I went the traditional route, I would still be responsible for most of the marketing. I also wanted to pick out my own illustrators. Those are the main reasons for me to self-publish.
SUSANNA: How did you find an illustrator?
CARRIE: I absolutely LOVE my illustrators. I had two books that I sent out at the same time – a fun one and a sweet one. I felt I needed two very different styles of illustrations. Early on, I joined many Facebook author/illustrator groups and I saved any illustrations that I wanted to look at again. I followed illustrators on Instagram and looked through SCBWI and Reedsy and Fiverr illustrators. I spent hours trying to find the ones I thought were the best fit. After reviewing them many times, I decided on one that I found on Instagram and one from Facebook. I contacted them and was thrilled and surprised when they said they could work on my books.
SUSANNA: Did you and the illustrator have a contract of any kind? What types of items did it address?
CARRIE: I wanted to have the rights to the illustrations. So I had a work-for-hire contract for one and the other one also had a Fiverr page which basically has a work-for-hire contract so we worked through Fiverr. We had a time frame set up – one was much faster, and the other would send a new illustration every week. I had them sign a non-disclosure agreement as part of the contract.
I also used a graphic designer to place the text and help with the cover. Everything I read stresses how important the cover is.
SUSANNA: Are you able to give a ballpark figure of any kind (or a specific one if you’re so inclined 😊) about the cost of the illustrator?
CARRIE: One of them was ~$3500 and the other was ~ $1800.
SUSANNA: What was the illustration process like since you were directing it? Any particular challenges? Anything you particularly enjoyed?
CARRIE: I actually gave them a lot of freedom and I am so glad I did. They had a copy of the manuscript and I intentionally put in very few art notes. They came up with ideas that I never would have thought of. They did rough sketches and then we tweaked them from there.
SUSANNA: How did you format your book for publication?
CARRIE: The graphic design team also did the formatting.
SUSANNA: How did you select a printing service?
CARRIE: I followed what many of the self-publishing people I know to do, print-on-demand. Amazon for the eBook and soft cover. (Amazon does not have a hardcover option for lower-page number picture books).
Many also use IngramSpark for the hardcover which can be sold on Amazon and for hard and soft covers for other sellers besides Amazon. I have looked into using an offset printer for better pricing, but I feel I should see how my books sell before ordering the large minimums.
SUSANNA: Did you do a print run so you’d have inventory, or is your book print-on-demand? (And where is your book available – online bookstores? brick and mortar bookstores?)
CARRIE: Right now, it will be print-on-demand. My launch day is October 18 and will be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
SUSANNA: Were you able to get your book reviewed by Kirkus, SLJ, Hornbook, Booklist etc?
CARRIE: I’m looking into the review process soon.
SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.
CARRIE: I had a song commissioned for the book from a musician on Fiverr. It was so much fun! I started a website with help from my sister and we have the song plus a few activities to go along with the book. I am planning on adding more educational activities – something that teachers could use along with the book if they wanted. I also started a launch team so hopefully, it will help with reviews. I’ve reached out to other “bubble” picture book authors and hopefully, we can work out a group project for Bubble Week which happens the first week of Spring.
SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?
CARRIE: It is a LOT of work, but it is also really fun. The internet is full of resources that people can use and I would highly recommend critique groups – for both the feedback and the friends that you can make. I am so grateful to my family for their support.
SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Carrie! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from you! Wishing you all the best with this and future titles!
Readers, if you have questions for Carrie, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!
You may purchase Carrie’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
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)
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!
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)
19 thoughts on “Tuesday Debut – Presenting Carrie Sharkey Asner!”
Congratulations, Carrie! What a beautiful cover!!
I see you have reviews on Amazon. I’ll add to it this week.
Also, do you have a listing on Goodreads? If yes, I’ll leave a comment there, too, once I read the book.
I’ll ask our local independent bookstore if they’ll carry the book. And, I’ll ask our acquisitions children’s librarian, too.
Really hope you get good traction.
Thank you, Susanna, for giving us this opportunity to learn more about self publishing.
Thank you so much! I really love my illustrator- he did such a great job. I appreciate your kind words and admire your go-get-them attitude 🙂 This is an amazing opportunity for me and I am humbled by how nice everyone is! Thanks again!
Sorry, I just realized it had me signed in as Badwolf1625 – my Dr. Who appreciation is showing. But, thanks again!
Carrie, If you’d like to collaborate with me for Bubble Week, I’d be happy to send you a copy of my 2021 picture book You Can’t Kiss A Bubble!
That sounds great! I love your book! I think we could have some fun with it 🙂
Hooray! Carrie, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org about how I should proceed.
CONGRATULATIONS!!! How rewarding to see all of your hard work materialize in the form of a picture book that a child wants you to read “again” and “again” – What a magical word for an author to hear.
Also, thank you for sharing your wisdom about self-publishing. I’m thinking of self-publishing one of my manuscripts, and the things you shared will be very helpful.
Thank you, Patricia! It was so much fun to hear her say “again”. If I can answer any questions, please let me know – I may not know the answers, but I might be able to find which direction to head.
What a great interview. So full of good information. Thanks.
Thank you so much!
Thank you, Carrie :).
Great interview! It contained a wealth of information regarding self-publishing!Thanks! 🙂
Thank you so much!
Great info! Congrats on your books Carrie!
Thank you so much!
Wow! This process is amazing! And it looks like you carefully covered all the bases. Congrats! and thanks for sharing all of this information. Congrats! I love the cover!
Hit “post” too fast, without proofreading. Also, I love all of your writing assistants!
Thank you so much! We just went on vacation and had to kennel them. The cat is tolerating the dogs much better now. There is hope that someday, we can live as one happy family.