Tuesday Debut – Presenting Laura Seely-Pollack!

Hi Everyone!

Pull up a chair!

It’s time for today’s episode of Tuesday Debut!

Before we get to it, I want to remind anyone who’s interested in writing, reading, or both that the Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge is going strong and there are tons of creative, fun stories to read! Check out the Week #1 Stories HERE, and the Week #2 Stories HERE. You can enjoy reading and maybe get inspired to write your own!

Now, it is my pleasure to introduce today’s Tuesday Debut-ess, Laura Seely-Pollack, and her delightful book, CAVE GIRL’S BIG IDEA!

Title: Cave Girl’s Big Idea
Author: Laura Seely-Pollack
Illustrator: Alexandra Colombo
Publishing House: Reycraft Books
Date of Publication: May 15, 2023
Age Range: 4-9

Cave girl doesn’t like living in a cave, so she sketches, studies, stacks and shazam! She finds a solution. But can cave girl get her family to listen to her big idea?

SUSANNA: Welcome, Laura! Thank you so much for joining us today! We can’t wait to hear all about how CAVE GIRL’S BIG IDEA came to life! Where did the idea for this book come from?

LAURA: My family and I went hiking in New Paltz, New York. New Paltz has lots of great trails and rock formations. It began to snow and I started to imagine what it must have been like living in pre-historic times.  Where would we find shelter?  I began to look at the rocks in a new way. Would any of these little caves and nooks make a good home?  They all looked uncomfortable to me, but they gave me inspiration for Cave Girl’s Big Idea.

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

LAURA: I wrote the first draft of this story in 2017. My son is a ballet dancer, and he dances for many hours each day.  In 2017 he was only 11 years old, so I would drive him to New York City every day, and sit and wait while he did his classes.  It was a great chance to get lots of writing done!  I wrote this story in a café across from his ballet school. I believe I wrote the first draft quickly, but then I spent a couple more years agonizing over every little word and writing and re-writing.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

LAURA: This story did go through many revisions, although the story itself didn’t change that much. The beginning, middle and end all stayed the same, but I shortened the word count, re-worded things and added little jokes and puns throughout the story. 

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

LAURA: My first hint that this story was ready for submission was when it was critiqued by an agent and she had very positive feedback on the story.  That was at the beginning of 2020.  I then submitted it for another critique at the Austin SCBWI 2021 Writers and Illustrators Working Conference, which was online because of the pandemic. Again, the story was given a very positive critique and it won runner up for the Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award. That gave me the confidence to start the submissions process.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

LAURA: I do not have an agent so I decided to start submitting by attending the NJ SCBWI See You in September Critique Day. Through this event, I was able to submit my story to the various agents and editors who attended the event. Lucky for me, the wonderful Sunita Apte, from Reycraft Books, was on the faculty for the conference. I submitted to her on October 12, 2021 and I heard back in November that Reycraft wanted to publish Cave Girl’s Big Idea… Hooray!!

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”?

LAURA: I was lucky to find out right away.  The book had already gone through acquisitions before they contacted me.

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

LAURA: I got the email in my car. I was dropping my son off at his ballet class, and just as he was about to leave the car, I checked my email. I had to read it through twice and then I read it out loud to my son. My son was so excited for me, but I think I was in shock! Of course, I was beyond thrilled, but I didn’t really allow myself to celebrate until I had the signed contract.

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

LAURA: I got the contract about one month after receiving the offer.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract? 

LAURA: I did lots of jumping around and then my family took me out to dinner to celebrate!

SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

LAURA: The contract was what I expected it to be and was pretty straightforward. I received 10 author copies of my book.

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

LAURA: Sunita was great and so easy to work with.  She had a few suggestions which were easy fixes. However, as we went along, I realized there were some things I wanted to change.  Sunita was very kind and open to my new ideas. Overall, the editing process went quite smoothly.

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

LAURA: Until the book was finished, I only saw one sketch of the three main characters. Alexandra Colombo is an amazing illustrator and did a great job of conveying the characters’ personalities and giving them each unique qualities.

text copyright Laura Seely-Pollack 2023, illustration copyright Alexandra Colombo 2023, Reycraft Books

When I saw the finished illustrations, I was very happy with how everything turned out. I wanted the book to be fun and joyful, so I was really excited to see that the illustrations enhanced that feeling. I had a few suggestions and I feel like my opinion was valued. The only thing that surprised me was that my original manuscript had a few brief art notes which I found out were removed when they were sent to the illustrator, but overall, I am very happy with how everything turned out.

text copyright Laura Seely-Pollack 2023, illustration copyright Alexandra Colombo 2023, Reycraft Books

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

LAURA: I feel very fortunate that it only took a year and a half!

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

LAURA: My publisher has created pages for my book on the Reycraft Books website. My book also received a full-page debut in their spring/summer catalog. I also received bookmarks to promote my book. Reycraft also promotes my book on social media and sends eblasts to the school, library and third-party markets. In April, I also attended the Texas Library Association conference in Austin, TX to do book signings.

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

LAURA: Marketing your own book is definitely the hardest part of being a published author. I had no idea where to begin. Fortunately, many kind people stepped up to give me advice. Jena Benton, who did some illustrations for my website, was a huge help and really steered me in the right direction. On her advice, I started reaching out to kid lit blogs to do interviews. And once again I was met with wonderful people, like you – Susanna Leonard Hill, who were so kind and supportive. I am also in the process of trying to figure out social media, even though I am technologically impaired!

            I also used to be a high school English teacher, so I created teacher resources that I added to my website. I have reached out to my local schools, libraries, and bookstores to do readings.

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

LAURA: I have always loved to write. I have so many journals and notebooks filled with poems and stories going all the way back to when I was in elementary school. But I first got the idea that I wanted to write professionally around 2010. That is when I joined SCBWI and a critique group. Since then, there have been lots of ups and downs, and lots of times I thought about quitting.  But through it all, I never stopped loving the art of writing and I am so happy that I persevered!  

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?)

LAURA: As a humorous picture book writer, the best advice I have ever gotten is that if you aren’t having fun writing, your audience won’t have fun reading. Before I submit a story, I always try to go through and make sure every detail is as fun as possible. I look at each word and phrase and try to figure out how to up the humor. Usually if I can make myself laugh, other people laugh too.

SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?

LAURA: I just want to remind all the other writers out there that if this is your passion then you’re on the right path! Wishing you all endless inspiration and tons of success!

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

Author Laura Seely-Pollack

My website is: www.lauraseelypollack.com
My Instagram: @lauraloveswriting

Readers, if you have questions for Laura, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!

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

Bookshop (Indiebound)

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!

18 thoughts on “Tuesday Debut – Presenting Laura Seely-Pollack!

  1. Janet Frenck Sheets says:

    This sounds delightful! (Also, it was neat to see your mention of Jena. She’s SCBWI ‘s illustrator coordinator for my region, and she helps so many creators.)

  2. Patti Ranson says:

    Fun is where it is at! Reading gives an extra reward for any child who laughs along with your book 🙂 Looking forward to reading Cave Girls’ Big Idea!

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