Welcome to today’s edition of Tuesday Debut, everyone!
I realized, as I’m in the habit of introducing authors here as “Debut-esses”, that today’s debut is only the 3rd man to be presented in our series so far. Out of 105! (The others being Matthew Lasley way back at #12, and John Bray, #97, in case you’re interested 😊) I guess that’s an indication of how much more prevalent women are in the world of picture book writing!
This publication journey is also interesting because the author and illustrator submitted as a team, which is pretty unusual.
So, without further ado, I’m delighted to present Royal Baysinger and his debut picture book, KASANOVA – LOST IN LOVE!
Kasanova – Lost in Love
Written by Royal Baysinger
Illustrated by Tamzon Olmstead
Lawley Publishing, 18 Oct. 2022
Fiction, Ages 3-8
Kasanova is a lonely koala who is tired of hugging his old gum tree for comfort. Desperate for love and someone to hold close, he falls for the first creature he sees – a kangaroo. Confident that she will appreciate his koala wooing techniques, he goes to great lengths to impress her. But will they be enough to win her affection?
Royal Baysinger’s humorous story is brought to life with Tamzon Olmstead’s playful illustrations and lush watercolor designs. Join the fun as Kasanova charms his way into your heart.
SUSANNA: Welcome, Royal! Thank you so much for joining us today! We are looking forward to hearing all about you journey to publication! Where did the idea for this book come from?
ROYAL: I had an Australian roommate after high school, who told me that koalas are listless and docile, except during mating season. He claimed it was due to their diet. As a joke, I suggested that maybe they were just heartbroken and disappointed in love. I wrote the idea in a writing journal and forgot about it. Years later, I came across the note and expanded it into a short poem about a koala falling in love with a kangaroo. Then it sat in another writing journal for several more years.
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?
ROYAL: 6 months, once I decided to turn it into a story. For much of my life, I have written ideas, scenes, and poem fragments in journals. I wanted to make writing my profession, but I was scared I wouldn’t be taken seriously. Because of that, I just amassed a lot of wishing, rather than written work. In February 2021, I decided to commit to the craft and become a writer. I sifted through journal ideas, and this one made its way to the top of the pile in April. By October, it was the completed manuscript as it exists today.
SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?
ROYAL: I did. Initially, I was writing it in rhyme. I got up to 110 words, then decided to scrap it and write it in prose. In about a month, I had a workable draft of 550 words and started sending it out to reading groups, making alterations along the way. At the same time, I pitched it to my sister, Tamzon Olmstead, who is an illustrator. She got excited about the idea and her sketches and storyboarding gave a lot of GREAT ideas that caused me to make some creative tweaks in the story-telling.
SUSANNA: Wow! I love that you are a writer and your sister is an illustrator and you were able to work as a team! What a talented family! When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?
ROYAL: By early October, we had a book dummy put together which made its way through additional reading groups. Based on that final feedback, we changed the ending a bit and felt comfortable sending it out for publication by mid-November. The book dummy included the full manuscript and storyboard, a cover design, and two interior spreads in full color.
SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?
ROYAL: We submitted our book dummy with a query letter directly to the publishing house in late November 2021. We chose to go with a smaller publisher so that we could be considered as a team. Lots of the bigger publishing houses refuse to take illustrations unless you are an illustrator/author and most publishers, if not all, reserve the right to accept the words without the illustrations (or vice versa).
SUSANNA: How long after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?
ROYAL: Just under 2 months! I was shocked and thrilled that the response came that quickly! I had expected to wait at least 6 months, as that was the timeline they gave on their website.
SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?
ROYAL: The contract was fairly standard. I used the sample contract in SCBWI’s “The Essential Guide to Publishing” and took it point for point. It gave all the information you could ask for and made the whole process a lot less stressful. The terms I asked to have adjusted, were easily resolved. But in hindsight, I would have asked for more author copies.
SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?
ROYAL: I was envisioning a long process with several rounds of editing that would magically change my story into the brilliance of two combined creative minds. In the end, I received a few grammatical recommendations, which I took, and a bit of good advice to write a sentence or two more at the end, which I did. But after that one round of revisions, it was done.
SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?
ROYAL: This was my favorite part of the whole process! It helped having a close relationship with the illustrator! I got to see sketches and give input. I live on the east coast and Tamzon lives out west, but with video conferencing and digital drop boxes, it was easy to bounce ideas off of each other. Like any other collaborative effort, there was a lot of synergy involved and things took shape quickly. By the time we had our dummy put together and the book was accepted, there wasn’t anything more to be revised as far as the layout was concerned. Initially, I didn’t have any illustration notes in my manuscript; I only include them when I feel that there is a visual plot devise that I want to leave out of the text itself. But if I were to re-submit this manuscript to a different illustrator today, it WOULD have illustration notes, based on some of the changes we made during our collaboration.
SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?
ROYAL: I noticed that they had some social media posts in the first week of the release. But they haven’t really kept us in the loop about what they are doing behind the scenes. We were pleased to hear that they had submitted for a review with Readers’ Favorite. Kasanova received a five-star review shortly after the release. The publisher also gave us a list of things we should be doing to market the book ourselves, which is difficult as I do not enjoy being a salesman nor have I ever been big on social media.
SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.
ROYAL: Tamzon and I put together a book trailer and book release announcements which we posted on social media. Tamzon made some awesome bookmarks and colouring pages. We are currently working on putting together activities that will be posted on the publisher’s website, but we are waiting to meet with their educational consultant.
SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?
ROYAL:11 months. In the beginning, when I had more time, I had a daily word count goal of 1,000 words, which I seldom achieved. Now that I am a lot busier being a stay-at-home parent, I switched to a time goal of 2 hours, which I hit way more often.
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?)
ROYAL: Set yourself daily writing goals that work for you and your schedule. Don’t forget to set macro goals (weekly, monthly, yearly) as well to give your writing some direction! Make yourself accountable.
Finish what you start. I don’t know who said it, but it bears repeating: The worst thing you’ve ever written is better than the best thing you’ve never written.
Find as many willing readers for your initial drafts as possible. Feedback is gold when it comes to improving your craft.
Be brave and start submitting. I have read so many stories from other writers that I wish they would submit, because I KNOW they will get published, and I WANT to buy their book!
Contracts are MEANT to be negotiated. Don’t be scared to push for terms that will benefit YOU.
There will always be naysayers, even yourself, but pay them no mind. Just keep writing! Like any other craft or trade, it is one that requires daily practice and endless perseverance.
SUSANNA: Great advice! Thank you so much for joining us today, Royal, and sharing your experience and knowledge. We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from you and wish you all the best with this and future title! Readers, if you have questions for Royal, please post them in the comments below and if he has time I’m sure he’ll respond!
Author Royal Baysinger
Royal Baysinger, Author
You may purchase Royal’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
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!
Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)
Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)
Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)
Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)
Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)
Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)
Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)
Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)
Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)
Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)
Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)
Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)
Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)
Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)
Carrie Sharkey Asner – Blueberry Blue Bubble (self published)
Gela Kalaitzidis – Ozzie & Prince Zebedee (author/illustrator)
Caroline Perry – The Corgi And The Queen (nonfiction)