Tuesday Debut – Presenting Nadia Ali! PLUS A Giveaway!!!

Greetings, friends, and welcome to Tuesday Debut!

Our debutess today joins a few others we’ve learned from who were able to start their publishing careers with work-for-hire books and move on to finding an agent and getting their own manuscripts acquired. That is why, although she refers to a previously published picture book she is still a debut.

Also, she is kindly offering a Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Non-rhyming) as a giveaway! So if you leave a comment below by Monday May 8 at 3 PM Eastern, you’ll be in the running to be randomly selected to win this fabulous prize! 😊

Which reminds me! Before we get to our interview, I’m happy to announce the 3 winners of personalized, signed copies of The Yellow Áo Dài generously gifted by last week’s Tuesday Debutess, author Hanh Bui!

And the winners are. . .

Barbara Kimmel

Shlomo Zachary Snyder

Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner

Congratulations to all you lucky ducks! Please email me with your snail mail address and who you’d like your book signed to so we can get your books to you! And thanks again to Hanh for her generosity!

Now! Let’s see what we can learn from today’s publication journey!

Title: Humphrey the Egg-splorer
Author: Nadia Ali
Illustrator: Valenti Gubianas
Publishing House: Yeehoo Press
Date of Publication: 4th April 2023
Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction
Age range of your book: 4-8yrs

Humphrey wants to be an egg-splorer just like his grandpa Humpty Dumpty but with one big difference – he doesn’t want to crack. He is determined to become stronger only and after taking a hot bath he realizes he is ready for his adventure.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Nadia! Thank you so much for joining us to day to tell us about your book’s journey to publication. Where did the idea for this book come from?

NADIA: The idea for Humphrey the Egg-splorer came from my love of nursery rhymes and the realm of fractured fairy tales. I remember reading Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer, It’s NOT a Fairy-tale series by Josh Funk and Goldilocks and the Three Engineers by Sue Fleiss and they all stirred the writer to put pen to paper and write my own. Then I read, After the Fall: How Humpty got Back Up Again by Dan Santat. It suddenly sparked my interest about Humpty Dumpty. I wanted Humpty to be relatable to today’s generation and to do this I created his grandson Humphrey who wants to fallow in his grandpa’s footsteps and become an egg-splorer. The idea began to take shape and evolved with my editor Siqin at Yeehoo Press.

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?

NADIA: Humphrey the egg-splorer took a long time to reach submission-ready status.  The actual story took close to almost two years to write. I have a number of works-in-progress on the go at the same time, so I worked on Humphrey when the feeling was right.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

NADIA: The initial outline of the story did not change much when it was just me and my critique partners working on it. It was after it got accepted for publication that the story really took shape. My editor Siqin did a wonderful job of explaining the why and how parts of the story should change. So, the beginning changed, the middle of the story took on a broader view with the introduction of a dragon and volcano. However, the biggest thing was being asked to paginate the story which means breaking up the story into pages. This was done to assist the illustrator Valenti Gubianas to understand the pace and the image needed. That was quite a task!  As a writer, you suddenly see your story in a very different way and I found it helpful for future manuscripts.

text copyright Nadia Ali 2023, illustration copyright Valenti Gubianas 2023, Yeehoo Press

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

NADIA: For me, there’s a point when I know the story is ready. I sit with the final story for a number of weeks going back to read, re-read and have it read to me. When there’s nothing more I feel I can add and have incorporated suggestions and advice from critique partners. It’s ready for submission.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

NADIA: I was un-agented when I began submitting ‘Humphrey’ directly to publishers that were open to unsolicited manuscripts. My query letter began with a hook sentence about Humphrey, then it gave a synopsis of the story together with the word count. Many times there is an online form to submit manuscripts so it’s a matter of having the information ready to copy and paste or attach.

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”?

NADIA: Humphrey the Egg-splorer was submitted to Yeehoo Press in June 2021 and I got a favorable response in the form of an email four months later in October 2021. I was initially in disbelief and then simply over the moon!

SUSANNA: How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?

NADIA: It took roughly three months between the offer and getting the contract. Fortunately, before signing on the dotted line, I also got an offer of representation from an agent who took over contract negotiations.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

NADIA: Ice-cream!

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

NADIA: The editorial process took several rounds to perfect the story. My editor Siqin was very helpful and discussed points with me ensuring I was on board with edits. I could see her vision and saw how the story gathered strength as it evolved.

SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?

NADIA: Being involved in the illustration process came as a surprise. For my 2016 picture book “Pirates in the Library’ I only knew the name of the illustrator when I read it on the cover. For Humphrey the Egg-splorer, there were no art notes on the manuscript. I was contacted by my editor and told they were sending the initial sketches across for me to give my opinion. The sketches were first draft, pencil sketches drawn by Valenti Gubianas – the assigned illustrator. I felt quite apprehensive about commenting on the sketches. I had a fair idea of what I wanted Humphrey to look like and agreed with the rough sketches. However, when I saw the full color illustrations it took my breath away. Valenti used warm colors to make the reader feel welcome to each page. I was pleasantly surprised to see there was a wordless story via the sun in the window seen on each page. Valenti also added a family to the story which brought a feeling of home and belonging particularly when they waved goodbye sending Humphrey on his way.

text copyright Nadia Ali 2023, illustration copyright Valenti Gubianas 2023, Yeehoo Press

text copyright Nadia Ali 2023, illustration copyright Valenti Gubianas 2023, Yeehoo Press

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc?

NADIA: I did get to see advance reviews which came via my publisher. The first one out was not favorable to me as the author but good for Valenti as the illustrator. My agent and publisher cheered me on saying it’s not the end of the world that there will be other reviews. Lo and behold, my next early review was a glowing one and the one after that, and the one after that. So, all’s well that ends well.  

SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?

NADIA: The offer came in October 2021 and I held the picture book in my hand in December of 2022 – so roughly a year and two months. I am not aware of the amount of copies for the print run.

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

NADIA: My publisher initially had a zoom call with the authors and illustrators of their Spring 2023 releases way back in October of 2022. The publisher spoke to directly to us and gave a wonderful presentation with handouts on how to market and promote our books. It was very helpful and well in advance of the release date to maximise impact. They also created graphics, set-up interviews, reached out to book influencers, podcasts, posted books out as prizes and as donations to worthy causes. As a result of their marketing of ‘Humphrey’ in the form of advanced readers copy, teachers and students have contacted me via social media tags and directly to tell me how much they loved Humphrey the Egg-splorer. One student even sent a photo holding up her craft egg.

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

NADIA: Firstly, I was only just introduced to Canva. If you have not heard of this, it is a free design tool used to create social media graphics and presentations. One of my fellow writers recommended it and since then –there is no stopping me! I have made coloring pages, a teacher’s guide, an animated book trailer and many, many graphics for promotion purposes across my social platforms.

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

NADIA: My first book sold in 2012 and was published four years later in 2016. I would have to say that I started writing seriously after that. I joined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Challenge which provided a whole network of writers, webinars, interviews and a forum. I am a member today and highly recommend it as a brilliant resource for writers.

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?)

NADIA: In my opinion, the most important thing is to be on social media and be able to network. Nowadays that’s a whole lot of platforms from Twitter, InstaGram, FaceBook, TikTok to Post. It is time consuming, and it requires you to create graphics, but the rewards are worth it to get your name out there. It assists on your way to publication, by offering things like Pitch Parties for you to take part in, calls for submissions from publishers and access to real time agents Manuscript Wish List (MSWL). It makes you feel like you are part of a writing community and you will not be alone.

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Nadia! We appreciate the opportunity to learn from your experience, and wish you all the best with this and future titles!

NADIA: Thank you to the writing community, my publisher and agent for all the support and encouragement. And a special thank you to you Susanna for giving me the opportunity to share my book journey with your readers.

Author Nadia Ali

Nadia Ali is a children’s author who writes fiction and nonfiction picture books. Her stories range from funny to fanciful to factual. She is a member of Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 community and was honored to be a Grand Prize Winner in the 2022 #SunFunWrite Contest, a #DVPit Critique Winner and a 2021 Picture Book Party Finalist. Humphrey the Egg-splorer with illustrator Valenti Gubianas is her latest picture book.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NadiaAwriter
FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/NadiaAwriter/
InstaGram: https://www.instagram.com/NadiaAwriter/
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7054925.Nadia_Ali
Webpage: https://nadia-ali.weebly.com/

Readers, if you have questions for Nadia, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond! And remember, your comment by Monday May 8 at 3 PM Eastern qualifies you to be randomly selected to win a Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Non-rhyming) from Nadia!

You may purchase Nadia’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)

Yeehoo Press

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!

39 thoughts on “Tuesday Debut – Presenting Nadia Ali! PLUS A Giveaway!!!

  1. seahorsecoffeeelektra79018 says:

    Nadia, thanks for sharing the idea of creating Humpty’s grandson which will certainly take Humpty Dumpty into future generations. I foresee many nursery rhymes and fairy tale characters being brought back to life intriguing today’s and tomorrow’s children with timely topics and new adventures.

  2. Kristin M. says:

    Congratulations, Nadia! Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I can’t wait to check your book out 🙂

  3. brilawyer says:

    Nadia, thank you for sharing your journey! I’ve used Canva before, but never thought to use it to that extent. I will start now! And I agree 100% about the importance of social media connections. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Twitter. I love fractured fairy tales and am excited to read your book! Susanna, thank you for sharing this interview!

    • Nadia A. says:

      Thank you so much for your comments. A writer friend told me about Canva and since then, it’s become my number one go-to for marketing. I am egg-cited for you to read ‘Humphrey the Egg-splorer’ too. Happy reading!

  4. marsue77 says:

    I love how Humphrey came to be born and all the steps you took on your journey. It feels like you were a bit of an “egg-splorer” too with your marketing. I adore how your artist, Valenti added the family and your wonderful relationship with your editor. I can’t wait to read this story. Congrats.

  5. anakellyinla says:

    I love the idea of Humpty having a grandson! What a wonderful way to bring the classic rhyme to the younger generations. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, Nadia. And thank you Susanna for showcasing and supporting kidlit writers.

  6. horsewriterlady says:

    Thank you for sharing your story behind the story. I love how you put a new spin on the Humpty tale. Congratulations on this adorable book! I look forward to reading it.

    • Nadia A. says:

      Thank you so much for your kind comments. I think most of the nursery rhymes have a bit of a grim tale to tell, so it was refreshing and rewarding to put a new spin on Humpty and bring it to a new generation.

    • Nadia A. says:

      Thank you Miss Amy, when I saw the illustrations by Valenti Gubianas it was overwhelming. He did such a great job!

  7. seschipper says:

    Nadia, thanks for sharing your fantastic journey to publication with us! I love the idea of creating a character based on a well-known nursery rhyme character!
    Looking forward to reading your PB! 🙂
    Thanks, Susanna!

  8. Danielle Hammelef says:

    Thank you for the interview and insight into your book’s publication path. I have tried dividing my manuscripts into spreads to help me think visually about my story and how I can leave room for the illustrator. Thank you for the chance to win a valuable critique!

    • Nadia A. says:

      Thanks Danielle, pagination as it’s called – really makes you look at your manuscript in a different way. I find it helpful.

  9. Janet Frenck Sheets says:

    It looks like Humphrey the Egg-splorer contains a lot of fun wordplay. Did Yeehoo Press also publish a Chinese version of this book? If so, were the translators able to re-create the puns?

  10. Jessica Milo says:

    Fantastic interview! So inspired by what Nadia shared! Thank you Nadia and Susanna for this great blog post! I can’t wait to read Humphrey!

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