I love Tuesdays!
It’s the day all the new picture books are released each week, and it’s the day we get to meet new authors as they present their first books to the world for the first time.
What could be better? 😊
Today, we get to meet debut-ess Jennifer Raudenbush and get a glimpse of her beautiful book, IN THE PALM OF MY HAND.
IN THE PALM OF MY HAND is a lyrical concept book published by Running Press Kids (Hachette) on March 14, 2023. It’s illustrated by Isabella Conti from Milan, Italy. Ages 4-8.
“On an ambling walk, a child discovers they hold the promise of larger worlds—forests and meadows—in the palm of their hand. An acorn becomes a tree within a woodland wonderland. A grain of sand becomes a sandcastle in a kingdom of imagination. By exploring nature’s tiniest details, they learn even small things, including them, contain infinite potential.”
SUSANNA: Where did the idea for this book come from?
JENNIFER: The idea for this book came as a springboard from the opening lines of William Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence”: “To see a World in a Grain of Sand /And a Heaven in a Wild Flower / Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour.” I dreamed about how that might be interpreted for a child.
I’d loved how a humorous picture book called Fear the Bunny, written by Richard T. Morris and illustrated by Priscilla Burris (Atheneum, Simon & Schuster, 2019) incorporated poetry into their book, and I embraced the challenge of doing something similar.
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?
JENNIFER: Unlike the struggle I have with most picture book manuscripts, this one flowed out of me quickly. Within a couple days, I had a solid first draft.
SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?
JENNIFER: I wrote the first version in early June 2019. My critique group looked at it in person shortly afterward, and it seemed strong enough for a professional critique after the second version. I made two more revisions before both querying it and sending it for an editor critique through the Eastern PA SCBWI conference. She requested an R&R, suggesting I remove the back matter and epilogue, and take out its focus on the water cycle. I made six revisions to this new format.
SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?
JENNIFER: The R&R was a great indication it was close. An agent in an Inked Voices workshop also said she believed it would sell and offered a few ideas for tweaks.
SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?
JENNIFER: I queried it to 14 agents with the first version and 14 agents with the second version, before signing with my agent—not as the lead manuscript, but as one of the three follow-up manuscripts.
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”?
JENNIFER: Of the six editors my agent sent it to, only one told us they were going to “talk with their team” about it. I believe we heard back a “Yes!” in 6-8 weeks.
Jennifer’s writing buddy, Mazy, with some most excellent reading material!
SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?
JENNIFER: We had the “Yes” within 3 months of it going on submission to 6 houses.
SUSANNA: How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?
JENNIFER: To me, it felt like forever! It was so difficult not to be able to talk about my dream come true. In actuality, it took about 9 months.
SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?
JENNIFER: My husband and I went out to dinner, and, I believe, cake was involved!
SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?
JENNIFER: It was a standard picture book advance and royalty percentage. I received more author copies than I expected, close to 30.
SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?
JENNIFER: My agent wanted me to add page numbers and remove an overarching art note. I tweaked one of the lines that dealt with that art note. My editor requested a few minor revisions. I brainstormed several alternate phrases/lines for her to choose from.
SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?
JENNIFER: I can’t say enough fabulous things about the team at Running Press Kids. They involved me from the beginning and showed me sketches and proofs, digitally. They sought and valued my opinions and feedback. Everyone, from my editor Allison Cohen to my publicist Becca Matheson, was spectacular to work with. And, I was blown away by Isabella Conti’s illustrations! My first experience with the publication process has been fantastic.
text copyright Jennifer Raudenbush 2023, illustration copyright Isabella Conti 2023, Running Press Kids
There was one art note in the version that was submitted to editors: “Art: Child follows butterfly into a meadow, where it lands on a flower.” The illustrator did use the note in the illustration.
SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?
JENNIFER: My amazing editor shared the advanced review from Kirkus Reviews, which I’d been so worried about. Fortunately, it was a great review, and I breathed a serious sigh of relief.
SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?
JENNIFER: We received the offer in April 2021. My publisher sent me an early airfreighted copy in October 2022. Holding it was amazing—like holding the heart of my heart 😊
SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?
JENNIFER: I had a Zoom marketing plan meeting with my team in September 2022. At that point, I learned about their four-page marketing plan for this book, and was awed by all they’d be doing behind the scenes. It included digital outreach to trade publications, major market daily newspapers, nature and wildlife publications, parenting and kids learning publications, women’s interest magazines, and news, entertainment and pop culture online publications. They offered to send copies to Kidlit bloggers or media contacts. They also pitched a targeted list of long-lead publications and other media contacts expanded from the digital outreach with advance copies. I really felt supported.
SUSANNA: Wow! That is amazing! Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.
JENNIFER: My graphic artist sister, Amy K. Moore at Peacock Paperie, created the most amazing laminated bookmarks. Author Kari Allen created a fantastic educator’s guide and coloring pages for my website. I received permission from my publisher/illustrator to create bookplates and stickers from some of the adorable art, and Amy helped me with that, as well.
I contacted Kidlit bloggers and set up my own small blog tour. (Thanks for being one of them, Susanna!) In January 2022, I joined a picture book promo group (Book Friends Forever) for both debut and established picture book authors. I reached out to local and not-so-local bookstores, and I started an email list with a quarterly newsletter. You can sign up for it HERE. 😊
Additionally, I’m already scheduled for a book festival, school visit, library conference, and several book signings.
SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?
JENNIFER: I started writing picture books and joined a virtual SCBWI Eastern PA critique group in 2015, but it largely disbanded. In June 2016, at the Highlights Foundation picture book PB & J (Picture Books & All That Jazz) workshop, I connected with my first serious critique group, the Highlighters. My debut was sold in April 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?)
JENNIFER: Don’t query too early. You think you’re ready (we all do), but you’re not! Spend all that querying time on improving your writing craft by…writing. Trust me.
SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?
JENNIFER: I couldn’t have done it without the support and encouragement of my critique groups. If you’re not already in one, definitely, put in the legwork to find one that’s a perfect fit.
Author Jennifer Raudenbush
Jennifer Raudenbush feels most alive when she’s creating stories, especially picture books, poetry, and middle grade novels. Jen lives with her husband and teenage son in eastern Pennsylvania, where its natural beauty provides endless inspiration. She has been published in Cricket children’s magazine, the 10.10 Poetry Anthology and Two Truths and a Fib Poetry Anthology. She is represented by Natascha Morris at The Tobias Literary Agency. IN THE PALM OF MY HAND, illustrated by Isabella Conti, Running Press Kids (Hachette), is Jen’s first picture book. Preorder HERE.
Connect with Jen through her Linktree, HERE.
SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from your experience and wish you all the best with this and future titles!
JENNIFER: Thank YOU for all you do for writers and for featuring me!
Readers, if you have questions for Jennifer, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!
You may purchase Jennifer’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 HERE!
34 thoughts on “Tuesday Debut – Presenting Jennifer Raudenbush!”
Every writer’s journey is different. Thank you for sharing yours. Congrats!
Thank you so much!
Yay! Congratulations, Jen! So happy to be on this journey with you. Your wonderful words sing in this beautiful book and will be a delight for any child to read, hear, and hold in their hands.
Rose, thank YOU for your beautiful words. I’m so touched. Grateful to be on this journey with you, too!
Congratulations, Jennifer! Looking forward to holding your book “in my hands” 🙂
🙂 Thank you! I can’t wait until you do 🙂
Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your journey. A journey that has only begun 🙂
What a beautiful concept.
Here’s to the book’s success!!
That’s so sweet! Thank you!
Congrats Jennifer and thanks for sharing your journey! Much success to you.
Congratulations Jennifer – what a wonderful book!
Thank you, Cathy!
Congrats! This looks like a wonderful book. I’m looking forward to reading it.
Thanks, Ellen! I really hope you get to read it soon!
Wow, beautiful! Congratulations! Happy book birthday!
Thanks so much, Angie!
Jennifer, my smile widened with each line of your post. What an incredible journey you traveled from inspiration to published book. Congratulations on rising to the challenge of “kid-a-fying” William Blake’s luscious poem, inspiring young readers to be more observant and appreciative of the tiny things in life. I’ve always been drawn to the concept of seeing the “world” through a grain of sand. Your book and artwork are lovely. I look forward to reading it. Sending you energy and encouragement for your continued success…
Oh my goodness, thank you for your kindness! I hope you get to read the book very soon 🙂 ~
Congratulations, Jennifer! Your book sounds lovely!
Thanks, Lauri, I appreciate it!
Wow – your book looks and sounds awesome!
I’d like to add that you give a great interview – so much positivity about your book, your craft and your publication process:) Thank you!
Wow, right back, Patti! Thanks a bunch for your kind words 🙂
Congratulations, Jennifer and Isabella! I’m looking forward to reading your new book!
Yay! Thank you!
Congratulations, Jennifer! I look forward to reading your book!
Thanks so much, Kim! I hope you love it!
Congratulations, Jennifer! Thank you for sharing your journey! Looking forward to reading your book! 🙂
Thank you! I hope you enjoy it!
Congratulations, Jen! I’m looking forward to receiving my copy soon!
I hope it arrives super quick!
Congrats, Jennifer! What a great debut experience. Wishing you much success with this beautiful book.
Awww, thanks, Marty!
I love the inspiration for this book! Poetry can spark all kinds of responses. Great interview, and congrats Jennifer!
Yes! Thanks, Jilanne!