Sometimes, there is just not enough time for everything that needs to be done!
So for your reading pleasure and publication-pursuit education, we’re going to pretend Thursday is an extra Tuesday this week to make room for an additional Tuesday Debut! 😊
I didn’t want to miss the chance to introduce you to debut author Aimee Isaac and show you her beautiful book, THE PLANET WE CALL HOME, which is just two days old today 😊, and which you will want for Earth Day and every day! And Aimee is kindly offering a signed copy of her book to one lucky randomly chosen commenter on today’s post! Please leave a comment below by Monday March 27 at 5PM Eastern to be entered in the drawing!
The Planet We Call Home
By Aimee Isaac
Illustrated by Jaime Kim
Pub date: March 21, 2023
A lyrical and loving ode to Planet Earth and the ways in which its many features are interconnected–to each other and to us–told in the cumulative style of “This Is the House that Jack Built.”
SUSANNA: Welcome, Aimee! We’re so happy you could join us today for this special edition of Tuesday Debut, and so excited to learn from you! Where did the idea for this book come from?
AIMEE: Thank you so much for having me! My ideas usually start with an element of nature, and I take what this element naturally does, and create a story around it. So, whether it is a plant, an animal, or an ecosystem, how can I use that element of fact to creatively tell a story?
The idea for PLANET came together over time. In 2015 I jotted down “Cumulative – This is the trash that…” in my Storystorm notebook but every subsequent thought lacked heart. So, the idea simmered in my head and came forward every now and then. Like when I heard about the infamous sea turtle with a straw in it’s nose, and when I did beach cleanups with my daughter, and when I advocated for clean water in my state. And finally in 2019, when I reread a letter my father wrote to my daughter about appreciating “the delicate balance of nature in this world we call Earth…” and thought, the planet we call home!”
I was intrigued by the interconnectedness of nature, and specifically how water connects our planet as is travels from mountain to ocean and this idea that human behavior (positive and negative) can have impacts near and far. My daughter began reading (repeatedly) The Jacket I Wear in The Snow, and the structure and rhythm took hold and it all clicked.
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?
AIMEE: From idea to first draft, it took 4 years, but once it clicked, I wrote it in under an hour. It really flowed right out of me and it was one of those moments when I couldn’t wait for “writing time.” I stood at the kitchen counter and scribbled it all down while my daughter crawled around my feet. And I say scribbled because words were crossed out and blanks were left to be filled in later. (Of course, there were months of revision ahead!)
Aimee’s daughter – already writing! 😊 – in 2019)
SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?
AIMEE: Yes. When I typed up my draft, I added in nonfiction sidebars. I also researched streamflow to make sure I had the science right. That took some time. Then I filled in those blanks and spent time on diction. This is the point where I spend a lot of time with a Thesaurus! The manuscript went through 2-3 revisions before I took it to my critique group.
SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?
AIMEE: I felt really connected to this story from the beginning. I lost my father the year before and he was a major influence on my love of the environment. Something about it just felt “right” but my critique group helped me determine it was ready.
I had been submitting to my critique group for years and this manuscript was the first one that received that unanimous “send this out” feedback. It was was pretty thrilling to finally hear that! I took some of their comments into account and then began sending it out.
SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?
AIMEE: I didn’t have an agent, so I sent this out to several agents as well as publishers. I had my first champagne passes. In 2019, I attended an SCBWI conference and submitted PLANET to editor Talia Benamy with Philomel. She had such positive feedback and invited me to revise and resubmit. I think I was in shock but I was also very excited.
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”?
AIMEE: It was about a year from my first R&R submission to “yes.”
I never knew about this going to acquisitions. One of Talia’s suggestions was to remove the nonfiction sidebars and reorganize them as back matter. I also had this balloon in an art note traveling from page to page as litter. She suggested I be less specific. I made my revisions, asked an expert reader to give it one more look, and then mailed it off. Then, I had one more R & R where I worked on making the text more rhythmic. With a little help from 12×12, I did a quick study in meter and it made a lovely difference!
SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”? (Best moment ever! ☺)
AIMEE: I got the “email” in 2020 asking for “the call” but I was convinced the call would be to let me down gently. I was so nervous! But, it was an offer! After receiving the offer and having a lovely conversation, I cried very happy tears. Then I called my friend and author, Michelle Meadows, and asked what I should do next. We weighed the pros and cons of negotiating the deal by myself or seeking an agent (or the Author’s Guild). Michelle was very pro-agent and I really wanted a career as an author so I emailed the agents who had this manuscript and heard back quickly.
SUSANNA: How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?
AIMEE: I signed with agents Alyssa Eisner Henkin and Alice Fugate (they were still at Trident at the time). They were so wonderful to connect with and began contract negotiations on my behalf. That went fairly quickly but it was about 5 1/2 months from offer to contract signing. (And if anyone is curious, I’m still represented by the wonderful Alice Fugate who is now with Joy Harris Literary.)
SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?
AIMEE: It was 2020 and the height of the pandemic so I stayed home and celebrated with my husband and three kids. We probably ordered carryout and I definitely had a glass of wine. 😊
SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?
AIMEE: I had no prior experience but the contract was in line with what my friend Michelle had described. My agents negotiated my advance, and royalties were the standard, 5% hardcover and 3% paperback. We received 35 hardcover copies – what a treat to open these when they arrived!
Publication was set for three years out (2023) so that PLANET could release with Philomel’s next available spring list.
Aimee had to wait as patiently for publication as her dog Thanos waits for her to get up from her work and take a walk every day!
SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?
AIMEE: We had already made several revisions in the R & R process but there were some minor changes left to make. We revised the one art note to keep it very general. We revised the back matter pretty significantly to keep in line with the vision for the book. For the main text, we tweaked at the line level so that the manuscript could really sing. There were a few lines that team thought felt heavy/clunky, for example.
And these are the children who cherish the Earth.
Who clean up the shore, sandy and flat,
and study the ocean, wondrous and vast,
who wade in the bay, sparkling and bright,
and speak in the town, bustling and proud,
who fish in the river, meandering by—
And these are the children who cherish the Earth.
Who clean up the shore, swept by the breeze,
and study the ocean, vast as can be,
who wade in the bay, bubbling with life,
and speak in the town, bustling and proud,
who fish in the river, meandering by—
I obsessed over these words! And since I live near a bay and an ocean, I visited both to brainstorm.
At this stage, there was a lot of back and forth and I enjoyed the collaborative process and just how excited everyone was. From first draft to final there were at least 50 revisions.
SUSANNA: I think there’s some quote about writing being 1% writing and 101% revision… or maybe I just made that up but it’s true! 😊 What was your experience of the illustration process like?
AIMEE: The illustration process was very collaborative! From the beginning, I was invited to give input on which illustrators to ask and I was thrilled when Jaime signed on. She is so talented and her final art, just breathtaking. I saw sketches along the way and later full color art and was invited to give input at each step. (Although, as is typical, Jaime and I did not communicate; that was all done through our editor.) From the beginning, my vision mattered. I felt the entire team was invested in it.
There were no art notes in my first drafts but I did add one, eventually, asking that a piece of trash be illustrated on each spread to show the interconnectivity of our planet. My editor was not sold on the specifics of the trash and so we left it more general. She was absolutely right. In the end, there was no trash at all but rather a beautiful celebration of nature and interconnectivity, with children and families enjoying and caring for the Earth to tie it all together.
[Art suggestion: We’d love to have some sort of element of interconnectivity that carries through from spread to spread, further highlighting the ways in which various ecosystems are connected.]
Text copyright Aimee Isaac 2023, illustration copyright Jaime Kim 2023, Philomel Books
SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?
AIMEE: I did! We only have the Kirkus review so far and it was very positive and lovely. It was a relief, honestly, because you just can’t be sure what anyone will think. I had been told that positive Kirkus reviews can carry some weight (and be hard to come by) so I was grateful.
SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?
AIMEE: Nearly three years!
SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?
AIMEE: I have a wonderful publicist through Philomel. She helped organize my launch event for April 1st at the Lewes Public Library here in Delaware. She is also seeking interviews and connecting with general media as well as seeking trade and other reviews. Marketing is creating social assets and pushing the title out to many outlets. There will also be some marketing around Earth Day. And much more!
SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.
AIMEE: I’ve been told authors should do what we love and not expect to move the needle too much, but I really love the promotion work. I want to do school visits so I thought of the promotion as much for my business as an author as for this particular title.
I made a book trailer and did a little unboxing video. I created postcards that I can use for recommending my title at stores and libraries as well as for seeking school visits and events. I also created a bookmark to giveaway at events this spring. I created an educator guide which will be on my website soon. I’m a former teacher so that was fun. I joined two marketing groups (Picture Book Junction and GreenPB 2023) and planned several blog visits.
I used Canva to create everything and so far have used GotPrint for printing. They offer recycled paper products which was important to me.
SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?
AIMEE: It was about five years but I did take about a year off to focus on family and other commitments.
SUSANNA: If your book has been out for at least one statement cycle, has it earned out yet?)
AIMEE: It’s too soon to tell but wouldn’t that be a dream!
SUSANNA: It certainly would! 😊 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?)
AIMEE: If you want to publish, you have to send your work out. I hope it goes without saying that you must work at the process, revise, and join a critique group first! I think it’s perfectly fine to write for yourself and not send work out, but if you want to be published, you have to. That’s nerve-wracking for most of us but we can learn from what is resonating, we can learn to pitch our work and ourselves and I think we can grow from all of it.
SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?
AIMEE: I don’t think so! You asked so many wonderful questions. It was so lovely to chat with you today! I would love to mention that my journey began in earnest in 2015 and one of the first things I did was take your class, Making Picture Book Magic. I still refer to my notes from your class! Thank you, Susanna!
SUSANNA: My pleasure, Aimee! You are so sweet to mention Making Picture Book Magic, and I am thrilled if it was helpful to you and you still refer back to your notes. That makes my day almost as much as seeing you achieve your dream of publication with this beautiful book! Congratulations! Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! We all wish you the best of luck with this and future titles!
Author Aimee Isaac
@IsaacAimee on Twitter
Aimee Isaac on Facebook (author page)
aimeeisaacwrites on Instagram
Readers, if you have questions for Aimee, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond! And don’t forget, a comment below earns you a spot in the random drawing for a signed copy of this gorgeous book!
You may purchase Aimee’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!
74 thoughts on “Tuesday Debut – Thursday Edition 😊 – Presenting Aimee Isaac! PLUS A Giveaway!”
Thanks for sharing your writing journey with us. Congrats on your book debut. Can’t wait to read it!
Such a great idea for a story, isn’t it Bri? And a title that makes you want to read it! 😊
Thank you, Susanna!!
Thank you so much, Bri! I loved reflecting on my journey and sharing it with you all!
Congratulations, Aimee! Looking forward to reading your book!
Maybe you’ll win it and get to read it next week, Sarah! 😊😊
Thank you, Sarah! I hope you like it!
Wow, this looks gorgeous! Congratulations, Aimee!
Isn’t it beautiful, Angie? And such an important concept!
Thank you, Angie!
I know this will be one beautiful book! it’s so important to teach our children to respect and care for the earth. Thanks!
So SO important! And books like this help so much!
I agree! I hope this book helps children discover that respect and care!
This looks like a lovely book! Thanks for sharing your journey! Congrats!
It’s a beautiful book, Karan – so nicely done!
Thank you so much, Karan!
Love hearing about the revision process. Congratulations! The book looks beautiful!
That was a great section, wasn’t it, Hannah? I always love actual examples like that!
I’m so glad that resonated! Thank you, Hannah!
This is a book after my heart. Congratulations!
Mine too, Joyce! 😊
I love that! Thank you, Joyce!
Ordering to share for Earth Day with my students! Loved reading about your writing journey! Congrats! 🌎☀️❤️
So nice of you to support Aimee that way! I’m sure your students will love it, Jennifer!
Jennifer, thank you so much for ordering and sharing PLANET for Earth Day! I hope your students love it!
I am looking forward to reading your beautiful book!
It looks so kid friendly!!
Isn’t it gorgeous, Phyllis? Such a great topic – so important – and so timely for Earth Day (and all the scary articles in the New York Times recently!)
Thank you so much! I hope you like it!
What an exciting time for you, Aimee! Congrats on this book and the inspiring message it brings. It is very instructive to she how the book was revised over time and all about that final art note.
I love when writers share such specific examples, Kathy – so helpful!
I’m so glad you found the examples helpful, Kathy. It is definitely an exciting time! Thank you so much for your kind words!
Thank you for sharing your journey. Congratulations on your new book. Exciting!! Everything about it looks amazing.
It’s a lovely book on a very important topic!
Thank you! I really appreciate your kind words!
Congratulations, Aimee! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I’m looking forward to reading THE PLANET WE CALL HOME!!
I’m glad you enjoyed what Aimee had to say, Judy, and I hope you get to read her book soon!
Thank you, Judy! I hope you enjoy it!
Congratulations, Aimee! I did my grad research in the Lewes marsh and your post brought back fond memories. Your book sounds gorgeous.
That is so cool, Wendy! What was your grad research on?
Microbial nitrogen cycling.. it involved a lot of mud collection in hip waders then work back in the lab. Those were the days!
Wendy, that is so cool! It’s such a beautiful area. Have you read Jennifer Ackerman’s BIRDS BY THE SHORE? She spent time here as well. In my book, I describe the bay as “bubbling with life” – I’m always amazed at what we find in the bays and marshes here. (And, thank you!)
This looks so wonderful! Congratulations!
It’s a beautiful book on a very important subject, Nancy! I hope you get to read it soon! 😊
Thank you, Nancy!
All your hard work really paid off. Congratulations, Aimee!
What a group you all are, David! So many great books coming out this year, including this gorgeous title!
Thank you, David. I appreciate your support!! And, I can’t wait for your book to launch as well!
Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. The book looks amazing and the timing is perfect with Earth Day just around the corner!
I agree on all counts, Toni! Beautiful and timely!
I really enjoyed sharing my journey. Thank you so much, Toni!
Congratulations! I enjoyed this interview today, especially the before and after revisions. I’m excited to read this book–I’ve always been a steward of the environment, including picking up trash carelessly discarded.
That is so wonderful, Danielle! If everyone did that, think how much better off the world would be! I also really liked the specific revision examples – so helpful!
Thank you for being a steward, Danielle! I hope the book inspires children to be stewards as well. I’m glad the revision information was helpful! Thank you!!
This book looks so fun, congrats!
Think my twins would love it!
Good luck in the random drawing, Zach! 😊
I hope they do!! Thank you, Zachary!
Congrats!! Loved reading about your book journey and how the process went for you. I can’t wait to read your lovely story!!
Thanks for reading the interview, Jessica, and for your kind words for Aimee!
Thank you so much, Jessica! I appreciate it and I hope you enjoy the book!!
Congratulations. I enjoyed hearing about the process from inspiration to book in hand. Your book looks delightful!
So glad you enjoyed the interview! I hope you’ll get to read the book soon!
Thank you so much!!
Aimee, Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your amazing journey. Looking forward to reading your book! 🙂
Thank you!! I hope you enjoy it!
I hope you get to read it, Susan!
This is a wonderful interview, Aimee Isaac, by Susanna Hill. Looking forward to reading your book. I loved hearing about your process writing THE PLANET WE CALL HOME, getting it published, and now marketing. Congratulations!
I’m so glad you enjoyed this, Judy, and I hope you enjoy the book, too! Thank you for planning to read it and for you comment!
So glad you enjoyed the interview, Judy!
Congratulations, Aimee! The cumulative structure is one of my favorites, but so hard to do. Love the excerpt you shared and the revisions you made. Beautiful illustrations, as well! Look forward to reading this.
Thank you, Marty! I think the difficulty is part of what took me so long. It has to build in just the right way. I hope you enjoy it; thank you for reading!!
It was great to get to see some revision specifics, wasn’t it, Marty? So helpful!
Congratulations Aimee! What a beautiful/important book! *My parents live near Lewes – we love going to Browseabout Books when we are down visiting. 🙂 Wishing you continued success!
It is a lovely book, Laura! And how cool that you and Aimee have something in common 😊