Tuesday Debut – Presenting Janie Emaus!

Welcome to another exciting installment of Tuesday Debut!

I realize, of course, that it is not yet Halloween 😊 But that is no reason not to delight in today’s debut picture book about Christmas and Hanukkah! Enjoy! (and preorder so you’re ready for those holidays when they come along 😊) and join me in welcoming today’s debut-ess, Janie Emaus!

Latkes For Santa Claus
Written by Janie Emaus
Illustrated by Bryan Langdo
Published by Sky Pony
October 13, 2020
Fiction, ages 3-7

Anna is excited that Santa will be visiting her house for the first time, and she wants to leave Santa a treat that blends the holidays her new family celebrates: Christmas and Hanukkah.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Janie! Thank you so much for joining us today! We’re excited to hear about your journey to publication! Where did the idea for this book come from?

JANIE: The idea grew out of my own experience. Having grown up in a Jewish home, I didn’t celebrate Christmas until I married my husband. When our daughter was small, I started looking for books to read to her about families that celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas. Not finding anything fun and playful, I decided to write one myself.

Every year the women in our family gather to make latkes. The title came to me while I was flipping over a latke. That is the only thing about the book which has remained the same.

One of my agents along the way suggested adding the recipes at the end.

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

JANIE: I came up with the idea about fifteen years ago.

As this is my first picture book, I had to remember to leave room for the illustrator to expand the story. I had difficulty in the beginning as I was used to writing middle grade and young adult stories. I was getting too wordy and descriptive.    

Early on, I had an agent who helped me shorten the word length. I worked with her until she thought it was ready for submission. Most of the editors passed on the book because they didn’t need another holiday story. Ultimately my agent left the business and I continued on my own.

Throughout the years, I would put it away and work on something else. But the story wouldn’t leave me alone. Every year as the holidays approached, I searched for books with a similar theme.

Last year I pulled it out again and was determined to work on it until it sold.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

JANIE: Yes, dozens, if not hundreds!

It started off in verse. I dumped that rather quickly and started approaching the story from a hundred different angles. Where to begin was the most difficult decision.  

In the original version, the main character was alone. Then I gave her a brother. Upon the suggestion of a critique partner, he became a stepbrother. And I amped up the cooking challenge. 

Every time I had a new version, I would read it aloud to myself, listening to the flow of the story. And I kept cutting words with the illustrator in mind. If I thought I was describing too much, I hit delete. Believe me, I wore the letters off that key.

Janie’s work space

SUSANNA: When did you know it was ready for submission?

JANIE: This is a hard question to answer. I knew it was getting better with each revision. Yet, I  wasn’t sure it was the best it could be. Every time I reread it I changed a word here, a word there.  I took long walks, talking to myself, reciting the story. But at some point, I knew I had to get it back out in the world. I hoped an editor or agent would like it enough to want to work with me.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

JANIE: I began querying agents in Oct 2019. Several passed with a polite “Thank you. Not for me at this time.”  One agent did express interest but wanted some changes. She suggested I send it back to her in three months.

Meanwhile, I entered #PitMad on Thursday, December 5th, 2019. #PitMad is a Twitter event which occurs four times a year. Writers tweet a 280-character pitch for their completed manuscript, along with the corresponding hashtags to identify the genre of their work. The participating editors and agents make requests by “liking” the tweeted pitch.

Nicole Frail of Sky Pony Press liked my tweet. On Saturday, I sent her the manuscript. On Monday I received an email saying she loved my book and was taking it to her publisher. On Tuesday she offered me a contract.

I like to say it took a mere decade for me to achieve overnight success!

Janie’s work buddy, Ziva, watching her write 😊

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?

JANIE: On that Tuesday, I was driving when my phone dinged. I glanced down quickly and saw an email from Nicole. I immediately pulled over and read her offer to publish the book.

I let out a scream and pumped my fists in the air. To the passing cars, I’m sure I looked like a middle aged women in the midst of a seizure!

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate?

JANIE: The day I signed the contract I had a martini with my family. And then another one!

SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected?

JANIE: I actually had no idea what to expect as this was my first contract with a traditional publisher. My advance was under $1,000. But I was assured the book would appear in bookstores as well as outlets, such as Target and Walmart. That aspect was more important to me than the advance.

I had no idea it would distributed by Simon and Schuster until the announcement came out in Publisher’s Marketplace in February 2020. I googled the book and then I really became excited.

SUSANNA: Can you tell us anything about the editorial process?

JANIE: I didn’t have to make any major changes.

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

JANIE: From the start I was very involved with the illustration. I was asked for my vision and for a possible list of illustrators. I was given the chance to see Bryan’s work before he was offered the contract. And throughout the process I was sent digital files. All the suggestions I made were passed on to Bryan and incorporated into his illustrations. I’d have to say, I was extremely pleased.

text copyright Janie Emaus 2020, illustration copyright Bryan Langdo 2020, Sky Pony

SUSANNA: Did you get to see any advance reviews? What was that like?

JANIE: So far I have not seen any reviews.  They did get blurbs for the book before it went to print. And I was very happy with those.

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

JANIE: At the time I’m answering these questions, I still haven’t seen a hard copy! I did see the finished PDF and I loved it!

I was told the initial print was going to be around 2500

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

JANIE: I received an email in August that B&N had picked up the book for their holiday promotion and had committed to 2300 copies. That was another middle-aged seizure moment! I was on vacation with my grandkids and I was jumping up and down with my youngest grandson.

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

JANIE: I have set up interviews and contacted book bloggers. And I have an appearance in November at The Flintridge Bookstore in La Canada, California. But COVID has certainly put a damper on book signings and appearances.

I made postcards announcing the book and I put the photo on my business card as I was planning on attending several conferences between the signing of my contract and the release date. So, now I carry them with me everywhere I go and pass them out. And I mean everywhere! Starbucks, restaurants, novelty stores. I even gave one to the Geek Squad guy who came to set up our new TV.

Yum! Latkes 😊

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

JANIE: I’ve been writing seriously for over thirty years. But wasn’t always concentrating on picture books. My very first sale was a rhymed story, The Jogging Frog, to Cricket Magazine. This is it, I thought. I’m on my way. Well, I was on my way, alright, to hundreds of rejections. Years passed before I sold another story.

The first rejections hurt the most. I’d poured my heart and soul onto the page and was devastated when agents and editors didn’t accept what I had written.

But as the years passed, I realized how subjective this business is and that I wanted and deserved someone who shared my vision.

SUSANNA: What is the most important thing you learned?

JANIE: The most important thing I have learned is perseverance. Don’t give up. And believe in your vision for your story. I’ve had horrible experiences along the way. Times when I rewrote based on an agent’s recommendations and then it all fell apart So, trust your instincts.

It’s hard not to take rejections personally, but remember agents and editors are just people. I used to be in awe when pitching face to face. I would break into a sweat and stumble through my pitch and walk away thinking. Oh, why did I say that? And then I would obsess over the meeting well into the next workshop.

Oh, and one last thing. Join writing organizations. SCBWI has been invaluable to my success.

Thanks for reading.  And good luck with your writing.

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your writing and publication experience, Janie! We are grateful for the opportunity to learn. And I know I speak for everyone when I wish you all the best with this and future books!

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

Author Janie Emaus

Website – http://www.janieemaus.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/janie.emaus/
Facebook author page – https://www.facebook.com/Janie-Emaus-Books-Blogs-473633136036884
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Janie_Emaus
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/janieemaus/
Medium – https://medium.com/@janieemaus

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Illustrator Julie Rowan-Zoch!

Howdy, y’all!

Get ready for something special!

I am SO excited about today’s debut-ess I can hardly sit still enough to type! 😊

For starters, she is a dear friend and a totally awesome person!

She is also one of those people who has really worked hard to earn her place as a published author and illustrator, committing in every way to improving and perfecting her craft.

To top it off, she is the first person to appear on this series as a debut illustrator! Although she is also an author and will be featured here again in March when her debut as an author is released, this picture book features Tom Lichtenheld’s words and her amazing art. Given that Tom himself is well known as an illustrator, you know it’s some kind of special deal that he and his publisher chose someone else to illustrate this book.

And today is this book’s actual birthday! 🎂🎉🎈🧁

So without further ado, I have the very great pleasure of introducing you to my talented friend, Julie Rowan-Zoch and her debut-as-an-illustrator picture book, LOUIS!

LOUIS
By Tom Lichtenheld
Illustrated by Julie Rowan-Zoch
HMH
Oct.6, 2020
Fiction
Age: 4-7

Synopsis: Louis the bear has had enough. From day one, life has been one indignity after another. If he’s not being used as a hankie, he’s being hung out to dry—literally. (No one likes clothespins used on their ears!)

This teddy is sneaking away just as soon as he can. Then again, no use running off in the rain . . .or during a show-and-tell routine. Maybe Louis has something to lose, after all.

JULIE: Hello, Susanna! Thanks for having me to introduce my picture book illustration debut today!

SUSANNA: Hi Julie! Are you kidding? I’m delighted!!! Thank you for being our first ever illustrator debut-ess! Having never illustrated a book myself and only seen the process from the writer’s side, I am eager to hear about how an illustrator takes an author’s text and turns it into a picture book. How were you approached to participate in this project?

JULIE: Via my agent, HMH sent me the manuscript and asked if I would be willing to send preliminary sketches, should I want to be considered as the illustrator. That was late in 2017, and after sending off the images we got a quick reply – I got lucky but the book would not release until Fall 2020.

SUSANNA: What did communication look like with your editor and/or art director concerning the book?

JULIE: From start to finish, all communication was conducted via email. I did get to meet both of them once in real life though!

SUSANNA: Where do you begin? How do you approach it? 

JULIE: Shortly after signing the contract I asked for a more concrete timeline because I work better under a little pressure. I began sending the editor and art director sketches for Louis, a teddy bear and the main character. I sent 3 or 4 different bears knowing I had to be happy with whichever one they chose The only change they asked to make was to use the coloring from one bear, but the shape /line from another! Once I had the bear, and subsequently the boy and his sister, I began creating sketches for the dummy. The mother, bus driver, other toy animals were all developed as I went along with the dummy.

SUSANNA: Were art notes passed on to you via the editor?

JULIE: I believe there were two or three art notes/suggestions included in the manuscript, but I’ll admit I ignored them and allowed the images to appear as I read the text again. After delivering the full dummy, the editor asked if I might revisit one of the art notes, and I did, and we are all happy with the results!

SUSANNA: How long did it take to illustrate the book?

JULIE: I read the manuscript and completed the requested sketches in November 2017. I believe I signed the contract in January 2018. I delivered the first character sketches in early May. Did you notice the huge gap there? That’s because the team was focussed on other work, and final art would not be due until July 2019! After I delivered the sketch dummy, and again after adding color, a lot of revision work began, mostly with notes from the AD [art director], but she worked closely with the editor in giving me comments and/or suggestions. I was always assured I could keep any art elements the way I liked it if I didn’t agree with their suggestions, but I also made constructive arguments if I did want to keep something – as did they if opinions differed! I really enjoyed the collaboration! I think it was around February of 2019 that we wrapped up the dummy revision work and 4+ months later I handed in final art. The decision to include endpapers and a case cover came later, as did a small amount of text revision, which required some illustration changes.

[dummy sketch – the final is quite different]

SUSANNA: What materials, media did you use to create the artwork? Please describe the process.

JULIE: I created everything from dummy sketches to final art in Procreate on the iPad. I used to use the iPencil to draw directly onto the tablet, but while waiting for the stylus to recharge I started using my fingers – and haven’t looked back! Just like traditional work, I lay down my linework first then apply color in different layers. The resolution needed for printing is pretty high, and the higher the resolution the less layers are made available for each file. I struggle with keeping the look of a character consistent, so using layers to drop in a sketch for reference is an advantage. And of course the elements in layers help immensely with revision work! I chose my palette early on and believe I changed just one color for vibrancy after the cover design was finalized. I sent the final files in Photoshop format directly from the iPad to the publisher. On that same day my mother had an accident which required me to fly out that night. Having created everything on the iPad allowed me to make further corrections in the final art from a hospital waiting room – how lucky was that!?!

SUSANNA: Did you have any say in text placement or font choices?

JULIE: I was not given any sort of design instructions or text guidelines before handing in the dummy, so I “wrote” the text into the dummy by hand. Then the AD suggested we collaborate and create a font based off of my handwriting! So I wrote out many pangrams (sentences including all 26 letters of the alphabet) using templates she provided to maintain consistent letter height.

[pangram image]

SUSANNA: What about book dimensions and paper choices?

JULIE: With no pre-stated design guidelines I was able to choose the format myself, which is square. Based off of (one of many!) discussions I’ve had with one of my local children’s librarians, I decided on a square book that allows for a wide spread when opened. (Vicky taught me not to move the book while reading to kids, not to pan from side to side, as the children need the time to focus and absorb the image. If they can’t see from their seated position they should move, or the reader should move back, to accommodate.) After the final work was submitted I was sent single spreads in different papers. One important aspect to me is how rich black looks in a print. In October 2019 I was sent color proofs of the whole book and I think there where maybe two places where 2 color corrections needed to be made, and a “big” correction for the placement of the patch on Louis’ leg on the back cover. 

SUSANNA: What things can writers do to make mss more interesting/engaging/appealing/easy-to-work-with for illustrators?

JULIE: I’m sure you’ve all heard this before, but leave room! Good writing will allow the illustrator to envision images while reading At this stage it is not yet meant for the consumer/reader. I realize this is no easy task, especially since the manuscript must go through the agent and the editor before it reaches the illustrator, but these are all professionals who work with this very unique, collaborative art form. Trust that they can “see” what isn’t in the text. Yes, there will be exceptions for image suggestions that might be necessary to understand the text, but these too should be as shapeless and colorless as possible. 

SUSANNA: How does contract payment work for illustrators?

JULIE: The illustrator receives 1/2 the advance upon signing the contract, and the other 1/2 upon receipt of the final artwork. The same applies to author-illustrators.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

JULIE: I am lucky to be able to celebrate publishing milestones with my dear friend and fellow picture book junkie, Julie Hedlund. We meet halfway between our homes at a restaurant that features cheese! I hope we can do that again soon. I also got the fun idea to have a ring made by my friend’s daughter, and if it’s ready soon I will share a photo of the final piece with you.

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

JULIE: I admit I did not give much consideration to the details of a contract before the offer, but I was quite pleased. The rights have also been sold to a publisher in Japan and Israel, and that was something I did not expect so soon. 

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

JULIE: I was lucky to know a couple of other authors through the 12×12 Picture Book Challenge whose debut books were to release in 2020, and joined in on the effort with more authors and illustrators for group promotion and marketing efforts, called The Soaring 20’s. Now I would say we are in it for group support and encouragement efforts, as almost all of us will debut in Corona-Time. Gah! I contacted people like yourself to be featured in an interview or article on their blogs or podcasts. After my editor shared reviews with me, and I in turn shared them with my  Soaring 20’s friends because I was so excited about good reviews, they pointed out that I should make “quote cards”, little graphics tailored for social media with blurbs from the reviews. I contacted my AD in order to incorporate the font she created,  and I shared them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I am in the process of creating resource materials for teachers/parents, and activity sheets are available on the HMH page already – HERE. HMH also ran a giveaway on Twitter for Int’l Teddy Bear Day (9/9), and will do another one on 10/16 for Take Your Teddy to Work/School day. I’m doing a joint outdoor signing event with my critique partner, Beth Anderson as her book, “SMELLY” KELLY releases next week, on 10/13. Fingers crossed for sunny weather!

did you know you could make teddy bears out of towels? 😊

SUSANNA: How many copies did your house do for first printing?

JULIE: I believe it’s 40K. 

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

JULIE: Yes. A unique thing about this book is that I was chosen to illustrate for an illustrator! And a famous one at that! I was surprised from the get-go and didn’t find the courage to ask until I had the opportunity to meet my editor in person. She told me Tom wanted to see what the process would be like! That’s it! But with that in mind I was worried that my work would be looked at with more scrutiny as people would wonder “Why?”. The good reviews put my worries to rest, but also the support and enthusiasm I received from the editor, art director, and design team (I got to meet them as well!) throughout the entire process.

SUSANNA: Julie, thank you so much for joining us today and giving us such an enlightening glimpse of the creation of your debut picture book from the illustrator’s perspective. I learned a lot, and I’m sure everyone else did too! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you all the best of luck with this and future titles! I expect my copy of LOUIS in the mail today, and I can’t wait to read I’M A HARE, SO THERE when it comes out in March!

Illustrator (and soon to be author) Julie Rowan-Zoch

Face Book https://www.facebook.com/ArtistJulieRowanZoch
Twitter @JulieRowanZoch
Instagram @jrzoch
Blog

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Jolene Gutiérrez!

Hi Everyone!

It’s Tuesday, and I’m so excited to introduce you to a new debut-ess! Let’s give a warm welcome to the lovely and talented Jolene Gutiérrez and have a look at her book about learning to respect personal space!

Mac and Cheese and the Personal Space Invader
written by Jolene Gutiérrez
illustrated by Heather Bell
published on August 11, 2020
Clear Fork/Spork Publishing
Fiction, ages 5-9

Oliver hopes he can learn to be a good friend by observing how guinea pig friends Mac and Cheese interact. Snuggling might be OK for guinea pigs, but Oliver’s classmates don’t like him getting in their personal space bubbles!

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for joining us today, Jolene! We are all excited to hear about your journey to publication! Where did the idea for this book come from?

JOLENE: Based on some of my experiences as a teacher librarian and a parent, I know that many kids struggle with the concept of personal space and friendship/social skills. I wanted to write a story that would give kids and adults talking points and tools around these topics.

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

JOLENE: My first draft took me a few weeks to write, but something about it wasn’t quite right. I tinkered with it on and off over a couple of years (in addition to writing other things).

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

JOLENE: Yes, I went through many revisions! Originally, the story included tiny aliens in flying saucers who were zooming into people’s personal space. In 2018, I had a critique with Callie Metler-Smith, owner of Clear Fork Publishing. While we were looking at the manuscript, Callie said, “Why not take out the aliens and just make this about a boy who struggles with personal space? Lots of people can relate to that.”

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

JOLENE: After my initial critique with Callie, she said she’d be interested in seeing the edits I made to my manuscript, so I shared them with her. We went back and forth for 3 or 4 months, tweaking the story and making edits.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

JOLENE: At the same time I was making edits on Mac and Cheese and the Personal Space Invader with Callie, I was wrapping up one of Mira Reisberg’s Children’s Book Academy courses, the Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Books. I didn’t have an agent at this time, but Mira had invited me to submit one of my other manuscripts to Clear Fork Publishing and Callie invited me to submit Mac and Cheese (then called The Personal Space Invader), so in the summer of 2018, I submitted both manuscripts to Clear Fork.

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

JOLENE: At the end of October in 2018, Callie reached out via email and asked for my address and phone number. . .I was cautiously optimistic. I didn’t want to get too excited and be disappointed. 😉 So when Callie called me and said she and Mira would like to publish Mac and Cheese and the Personal Space Invader, I was over the moon happy!!

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract? 

JOLENE: After I finished screaming and jumping up and down, my family and I went out for dinner at a nice restaurant and I ate chocolate!

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

JOLENE: Much of the revision process happened before Callie offered me a contract. After I signed the contract, there was more work with fine-tuning the manuscript and language and making sure the pagination worked. Although I never say it in the text, my main character Oliver is a boy on the autism spectrum, so I had a few sensitivity readers including people with autism and school counselors who have worked with children with autism, and I incorporated their feedback into my edits as well.

SUSANNA: What can you tell us about your experience of the illustration process?

JOLENE: Before Callie and Mira signed an illustrator, they did show me a few options and asked their favorite illustrator, Heather Bell, to create character sketches. When they shared Heather’s character sketches, I fell in love with her gorgeous illustrations. Mira hosted various video meetings with Heather and I where we looked at the spreads and talked through edits.

From the very beginning, I knew I wanted Oliver to have a notebook where he wrote and sketched his observations about the world, so I included that information in the form of art notes. My first art note in the manuscript read: Mac and Cheese are guinea pigs. Oliver watches them and takes notes/sketches pictures in notebook. Oliver’s notebook is with him throughout the book, and I love the adorable sketches Heather created within. Here’s an example of Oliver with his notebook and one of the sketches he made based on what he saw Mac and Cheese doing.

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc.? What was that like?

JOLENE: Yes, and that was tough. I made a conscious choice not to label Oliver as a boy with autism, and my reviewer from Kirkus didn’t like that. The reviewer wrote, in part, “Gutiérrez’s simple story, sprinkled with a few Spanish words from the teacher, lacks the context needed to explain why this young, apparent middle grader has no socialization skills, introducing his difficulty with the simple line “I’ve always wondered how to be a good friend.” The author’s note discusses how acceptable personal-space boundaries can vary culturally and individually but does not illuminate Oliver’s particular challenges further.”

I still feel strongly that a person (or reader) doesn’t need to know a child’s diagnosis (if they have one) to treat them as an individual and with respect and compassion. Many people are challenged by personal space, and I didn’t want it to be viewed as something that only people with autism struggle with.

SUSANNA: I understand your reasoning and think it is sound! (And a lot of us have had less than complimentary reviews from Kirkus! 😊) How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?

JOLENE: A little over 1½ years—it felt like a long time, but honestly, this is pretty fast in the picture book world!

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

JOLENE: They’ve promoted Mac and Cheese in blog posts, on their websites, in Mira’s Children’s Book Academy, and on social media.

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

JOLENE: I created a teacher’s guide, activity guide, and craft sheets (with the help of illustrator Heather Bell and my daughter, Shaian Gutiérrez), and created book swag like bookmarks, stickers, and pins (again, with the help of Shaian). I made a book trailer and sell sheets. I am a member of debut book groups Picture Book Buzz and Perfect2020PBs. I was part of a blog tour, participated in Twitter parties, and have done a few virtual school visits. I partnered with my local SCBWI chapter on some events, did a book launch party with local book store Second Store to the Right, was hosted on the Reading with Your Kids podcast, and presented to the Detroit Writing Room. I’m scheduled as a guest presenter for Children’s Book Academy as well.

SUSANNA: Wow! You’ve been busy! How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

JOLENE: Oh, boy. Well, I joined SCBWI in 2008, and at that time, I wanted to write picture books. A friend who was also a writer told me that the picture book market is really difficult to break into, especially since I’m not an illustrator, so she encouraged me to write within another genre. I tried young adult first, but in 2013, I joined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 group. I still worked on young adult and middle grade as well, but I finally allowed myself to follow my heart write picture books. I received my contract in 2018.

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?)

JOLENE: I always knew the writing journey would teach me patience. It has also taught me persistence. There were times during this journey that I considered giving up. I’m a teacher/librarian as well, so I would say to myself, “What are you doing? You already have a day job and there aren’t enough hours in the day! You don’t need to write.” But the truth was, I did need to write. Not to pay the bills, but to feed my soul. So I told myself I’d just keep writing as long as I was moved to do so. I gave myself permission to stop if the joy in the process disappeared. But the joy never disappeared, because writing is like magic—you’re conjuring something larger than yourself. I self-talk like that a lot, and another thing I’ve told myself in regards to reaching my goals is that I have two choices: to stop working toward a goal (in which case I’ll never reach that goal), or to continue working toward a goal (in which case I’ll get there eventually). The other thought I would offer is try to surround yourself with a supportive community. The KidLit community is one of the kindest communities you’ll find anywhere. Connect with others who are moved to make magic like you are. Share tips and tricks. Read others’ work. Read their books and leave reviews. Settle in with the people who will hold you up when you’re falling and lift you up when you’ve done well.

Author Jolene Gutierrez

Website: www.jolenegutierrez.com
Facebook: facebook.com/writerjolene                   
Twitter: twitter.com/writerjolene
Instagram: instagram.com/writerjolene/

This is me with Daffodil, a baby squirrel we found right before a blizzard in April 2020. My daughter and I fed him every 2 hours and released him in our back yard in July. He still visits us.

And these are our 3 rescue dogs, Wynter, Echo, and Summer. 😊

SUSANNA: Great advice! Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series, Jolene, and for paying it forward to other writers! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you the very best of luck with this and future titles!!! 😊

JOLENE: Thank YOU so much for this amazing opportunity! I’m so grateful!!

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Nancy Roe Pimm!

It’s Tuesday, everyone! And you know what that means!

It means that today is the first day of Autumn!

from the forthcoming DEAR GRANDMA by Susanna Leonard Hill, illustrated by John Joseph Sourcebooks Wonderland January 5, 2021

Also, it just so happens to be Elephant Appreciation Day! So here are some elephants for you to appreciate 😊

But even more exciting than those things is that Tuesday means it’s time to meet a debut author and have a look at her brand new picture book whose book birthday is TODAY! 😊🎉🧁🎈

I’m delighted to introduce you to the talented Nancy Roe Pimm and her very interesting book about a refugee from Afghanistan who becomes a pilot and travels across five continents!

FLY, GIRL, FLY: SHAESTA WAIZ SOARS AROUND THE WORLD
written by Nancy Roe Pimm
illustrated by Alexandra Bye
Beaming Books
September 22, 2020
Nonfiction ages 5-10.

“You must believe in yourself and allow your dreams to soar.” –Shaesta Waiz
Shaesta Waiz, a refugee from Afghanistan, dreamed of doing great things. But first she had to leave a refugee camp with her family to make a new life in America, overcome gender stereotypes, be the first in her family to go to college, and overcome her fear of flying. After becoming a pilot, Shaesta made the flight of a lifetime by crossing five continents, making thirty stops in twenty-two countries.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Nancy! We’re so thrilled to have you here with us today! Where did the idea for this book come from?

NANCY: I wrote a middle-grade biography titled, The Jerrie Mock Story: The First Woman to Fly Solo Around the World. While I interviewed Jerrie in her Florida living room, she told me a young woman named Shaesta Waiz had visited the week before. Shaesta was an immigrant from Afghanistan, and she sought advice  since she too wished to fly around the world. As Jerrie told me about Shaesta, she put her finger to her temple and said, “Shaesta is a smart girl. She is going to do it.”  Shaesta and I met at an airshow where I was promoting The Jerrie Mock Story and she was planning her circumnavigation of the globe. When Shaesta completed her historic flight, she asked me to write her story.

Nancy Roe Pimm (author) and Shaesta Waiz (pilot)

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

NANCY: It took me two years to write Fly, Girl, Fly. Different versions of this manuscript made it through all of the editorial hoops at two different publishing houses, only to get rejected in acquisitions. Acquisitions is the last hurdle to clear on the path to publication, and it is strictly a business decision and a numbers game at that point. I’m glad I kept moving forward despite the rejections. Sometimes you must fly through turbulence to get to the blue skies ahead.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

NANCY: I went through lots of revisions with many versions of the manuscript. But looking back, I was able to pull out the best aspects of each revision to create one manuscript that shined. Nothing is really wasted. During the journey to publication I received editorial feedback from professional editors, and I found the experience priceless. Once I signed the contract with Beaming Books, we went through three months of revisions.

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

NANCY: I begin with a very messy first draft. After a few revisions, I bring the manuscript to my monthly critique group. I also love taking my work in progress or WIP to a writer’s retreats. One of my favorites is a weekend retreat given by award-winning picture book author and editor, Michelle Houts.https://michellehouts.com/home-old/editorial-and-consulting-services/

With Fly, Girl, Fly I also hired professional editor and award-winning picture book author Jenn Bailey. After lots of feedback and many revisions, I felt it was ready to submit. (Jenn Bailey can be contacted through reedsy.com)

Nancy’s co-worker – Tessie the cattle dog 😊


SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

NANCY: I do not have an agent. I have eight published narrative nonfiction books and almost all of them were submitted directly to editors who accept unsolicited material. I painstakingly go over each query letter, and my nonfiction proposals go through numerous revisions before submission. I’ve met a few editors at SCBWI conferences and that is how Fly, Girl, Fly came close to publication twice, but crash landed. So, I tried something different—PBPItch, a twitter platform where you can pitch a story idea to editors and agents on certain days of the year. If you a get a “like” from an agent or editor, you need to look up the submission guidelines on their website and send your manuscript for consideration. Another twitter pitch event is #Pitmad

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”? 

NANCY: Fly, Girl, Fly had spent six months with one editor and three months with another before I finally submitted my pitch in June 2019. I revised a few times for Beaming Books and the contract came in September via email while I was on vacation in Paris. It is always nerve-wracking negotiating the terms without an agent, but the folks at Beaming Books were wonderful.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract? 

NANCY: After I virtually signed the contract on September 23, 2019, I climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, gave thanks, and raised my hands in victory—for climbing the steps and for getting a book deal. Best moment ever! I also popped the cork on a bottle of champagne!


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

NANCY: This is my debut picture book so I didn’t know what to expect. I hear most picture books take two years or more after the contract is signed. My publisher worked quickly and one year later, September 22, the book is released. I was given a nice advance, 10% royalties, and 20 free copies of the book.

SUSANNA: What can you tell us about the editorial process?

NANCY: I had a great experience. The editor and I went through several rounds of revisions, and we were both very respectful in our back and forth. The editor suggested I focus on how Shaesta took on new challenges and built her confidence. Shaesta overcoming her fears was an integral part of the story. We worked together to bring Shaesta’s inspirational story to life in forty pages.

Shaesta Waiz and Nancy Pimm

SUSANNA: Tell us a little about your experience of the illustration process?

NANCY: A big lesson I learned is that picture books are a 50-50 proposition with an author and an editor. An illustrator does not want to see any illustration notes. This is how it was explained to me: “Would you want the illustrator to tell you what to write and what not to write?” I did not send any illustration notes. I did see sketches, and I asked for a few little tweaks. The publisher sent me a digital advanced reading copy (ARC), and I was blown away! Alexandra’s illustrations were stunning. She really portrayed Shaesta’s spunk when needed, and at other times—her fear

Text copyright Nancy Pimm 2020, illustration copyright Alexandra Bye 2020 Beaming Books
Text copyright Nancy Pimm 2020, illustration copyright Alexandra Bye 2020 Beaming Books
Text copyright Nancy Pimm 2020, illustration copyright Alexandra Bye 2020 Beaming Books
Text copyright Nancy Pimm 2020, illustration copyright Alexandra Bye 2020 Beaming Books
  • Dreaming Big
  • Feminism
  • Resilience
  • Opportunity
  • Refugees
  • Aviation

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

NANCY: I just saw a nice review from School Library Journal:
K-Gr 3-Pimm’s debut picture book introduces readers to an inspirational young pilot named Shaesta Waiz, who was born in a refugee camp in Afghanistan. Waiz’s family was able to break free from the camp and move to America. Waiz, who grew up in California, defied expectations in many ways. She overcame language barriers at a young age, studied hard to become the first in her family to graduate from college, and became the first certified female pilot from Afghanistan. At the age of 30, she became the youngest woman in history to fly a single-engine aircraft around the world. Waiz’s story encourages children to never give up. This book could serve as an engaging read-aloud or an enjoyable solo reading experience. Bye’s colorful illustrations are emotive and elegant. Readers will be inspired to chase their own dreams. An author’s note and a personal note to children from Waiz are included. VERDICT Recommended for any classroom, library, or home collection.­Kristin Unruh, Siersma Elem. Sch., Warren, MIα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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

NANCY: It only took one year from the signing of the contract to holding the book in my hand. My debut picture book arrived one week ago. I hugged it. I looked at my name on its spine. I smelled the book and felt the raised lettering that spells the words, Fly, Girl, Fly on the cover. I’ve never piloted a plane myself, but I felt like I was flying then!

SUSANNA: It’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it?! What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?

NANCY: Beaming Books sent media releases to flying magazines and parenting magazines. They pitched to major media outlets like Newsweek and TIME, as well as bloggers such as The Children’s Book Review and Mr. Schu Reads. The publisher also sent the book to all awards committees who may be interested.

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

NANCY: I formed a launch team to help spread the word about my new book. I also made promotional material in the form of book marks and flyers. I hope to promote my book through my interactive virtual author visit. I started a newsletter to introduce readers to Shaesta Waiz and share stories that are not in the picture book. You can subscribe to my newsletter at: https://mailchi.mp/4a1c99c8b497/nodream2big.  I wrote a magazine article for Girls in Aviation magazine. Although I try to do what I can, it is more challenging due to the pandemic. Many of the book fairs and author presentations are now cancelled. On a positive note, I am having a virtual book launch party with Cover to Cover Bookstore. Shaesta Waiz lives in Dubai, and she normally would have had to miss out on this event. But since we are all Zooming these days, Shaesta will be a featured guest at the book launch party! Please join us on Saturday, September 26 at 11:00 a.m. ET. The more the merrier! Register on the link below!

https://www.covertocoverchildrensbooks.com/event/fly-girl-fly-zoom-book-launch

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

NANCY: I wrote my first book, Horses, Horses, Horses, at age ten and a picture book, Penelope the Platypus, nearly twenty years ago. Neither of those books ever got published. In those twenty years, though, I have written a couple of novels, and had a bunch of magazine articles and seven nonfiction books published. But the idea of getting the elusive picture book published continued to haunt me. Five years ago, I took action. I studied Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul. I took out my highlighter and read it cover to cover—twice. On each library trip, I checked out 30 picture books. Award-winning picture book author Will Hillenbrand gave me great advice. He said, “Read tons of picture books, take your favorites, and type the text into your computer to learn the rhythm and understand the flow of the picture book.” I went to Society of Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating (SCBWI) conferences and took every picture book breakout session. If you haven’t joined SCBWI, I highly recommend it. I always learn a lot, grow in my craft, and I love the meeting fellow authors.

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

NANCY: There really are no short-cuts. I’ve made many mistakes along the way, but I learned from each and every one. I’ve learned to love revising. Like a potter with clay, we must remove the impurities and get the lumps out. Then you can begin to knead and shape. When you are happy with your creation, fire away! It’s ready to send!  I’ve almost given up on many occasions, but I always found a way to say yes and work even harder. In closing, I wish you the best in your journey and I’ll leave you with a few pointers to consider.

  • Develop your craft (Highlights Foundation, SCBWI conferences, 12 by 12, SCBWI digital webinars, Children’s Book Insider)
  • Join a critique group
  • Read a lot and read as a writer
  • Use mentor texts
  • Keep saying, “Yes!”
  • The three P’s Perseverance, Patience, and Persistence
  • Channel your emotions into your story. The writer’s heart needs to connect to the reader’s heart.

And most of all…never…Never…NEVER give up!!!!

Author Nancy Roe Pimm


www.nancyroepimm.com
@nancyroepimm
Nancy Roe Pimm Facebook
https://mailchi.mp/4a1c99c8b497/nodream2big

SUSANNA: Nancy, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your experience. We all benefit from hearing about other authors’ journeys! I know I speak for everyone when I say best of luck with this and future titles!

NANCY: Thank you, Susanna Leonard Hill, for giving me this opportunity to celebrate my debut picture book and to share with fellow writers. I very much appreciate it!

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Lindsay H. Metcalf!

Hi there, Everyone!

Long time no see!

I realize summer is technically not quite over, and my blog won’t be back to regularly scheduled programming for a couple weeks, but when a debut debuts, you’ve got to be there with the spotlight!  And I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to introduce you to today’s Tuesday Debut, Lindsay H. Metcalf, and her gorgeous and interesting book, Beatrix Potter, Scientist! which has its book birthday TODAY!!! 🎉🎉🎉

Title: Beatrix Potter, Scientist
Author: Lindsay H. Metcalf
Illustrator: Junyi Wu
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Date of Publication: September 1, 2020
Fiction Ages 4-8

Beatrix Potter

Synopsis: As a child, Beatrix Potter collected nature specimens; as a young adult, she was an amateur mycologist presenting her research on fungi to England’s foremost experts. Like many women of her time, she remained unacknowledged by the scientific community, but her keen eye for observation led her to an acclaimed career as an artist and storyteller.

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Lindsay!  Thank you so much for joining us today!  We are so looking forward to learning about your journey to publication!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

LINDSAY: I read this Brain Pickings article and immediately became entranced with the scientific side of the author I’d always known as an all-caps name on the cover of some favorite books from childhood. After Googling, I saw that there would be a rich amount of primary and secondary sources for me to draw upon. I considered traveling to the UK for research (which still hasn’t happened yet). Before I committed too much time and money, I ran the idea past my agent, Emily Mitchell at Wernick & Pratt, to see if it was marketable. She was all in from the beginning because she knew this period of Beatrix’s life hadn’t explored fully in a children’s book.

 

 

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

LINDSAY: About nine months, from idea to the draft that was accepted. I sent that email to my agent on September 13, 2017, and had my first draft about a month later. Along the way I reached out to a mycologist who had been quoted about Beatrix Potter’s studies, as well as an expert with the Beatrix Potter Society in the UK. Both agreed to read and vet my manuscript, and I made small changes based on their feedback. The offer came in May 2019 after being on submission and mostly out of my mind for about a year.

 

 

SUSANNA:  Did you go through many revisions?

LINDSAY: I have about 11 distinct drafts of this manuscript on my computer. For me, a draft is when I feel like I’ve finished revising based on any amount of feedback, so I may pop into the same draft and tinker for a week or two.

My first draft came quickly in an experimental question-only style modeled loosely after Patricia MacLachlan’s exquisite THE IRIDESCENCE OF BIRDS. My critique partners wisely called my approach obtuse, in nicer words, because I am not Patricia MacLachlan. I purchased a conference critique from a nonfiction editor when I felt the manuscript was ready. She asked to see a revision, but declined to buy the book. Her encouraging feedback helped me polish and eventually sell what would become BEATRIX POTTER, SCIENTIST to an editor at Albert Whitman.

thumbnail_workspace

Lindsay’s workspace and writing buddy, Meeko 😊

 

 

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

LINDSAY: When my editor bought it! LOL. I always think a manuscript is ready when I send it to critique partners and bristle a bit when they tell me it’s not. It’s like, can’t you people see the genius here?! Just kidding. They’re usually right. I revised based on the comments that resonated with me, and when they told me it was ready, I sent it to my agent, who had more suggestions. When she told me it was ready, we sent it to a handful of editors, and I submitted it for the conference critique. That editor even more suggestions.

 

 

SUSANNA:  When and how did you submit?

LINDSAY: My agent submitted on my behalf in the spring of 2018, and several editors politely declined. My agent sent the revision exclusively to the editor who had done the conference critique, but unfortunately, we never heard back from her. Even agents get ghosted sometimes. Then in the fall of 2018, I attended the Kansas/Missouri SCBWI annual conference, where I had purchased a critique with an editor at Albert Whitman. She gave solid feedback on the rhyming, fiction picture book manuscript I had submitted, but it still needed a lot of work. During her conference talk, though, she mentioned that if she weren’t an editor, she would be a literary tour guide in England. Bingo!

 

SUSANNA:  When did you get “the call”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

LINDSAY: It was an email from my agent—on her birthday! I doubt I’ll ever top that as a birthday gift to her. The offer came in May 2019, a year after first going on submission and six months sending to Albert Whitman. The offer actually came from a different editor at Whitman—Wendy McClure. We learned that the editor I had met at the conference had left her job, but the offer would not have happened if I hadn’t met her at our regional conference. Overall the manuscript went to only about five editors, but it was because I had other projects circulating at the time and was also heavily working on the first book I sold—NO VOICE TOO SMALL: FOURTEEN YOUNG AMERICANS MAKING HISTORY. That book, a poetry anthology edited by me, Keila V. Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley, sold to Charlesbridge on proposal almost a year before BEATRIX POTTER, SCIENTIST. But because of publishing mysteries I don’t understand, BEATRIX will release a few weeks before NVTS. 😊

 

SUSANNA:  How did you celebrate signing your contract?

LINDSAY: 1) I shrieked. 2) I ran into my husband’s home office, told him, and jumped up and down. 3) I danced in my kitchen and proceeded to be unable to do anymore work for the day. 4) I think I took my kids for ice cream after school and then the family to our fave Mexican restaurant that night. And I probably 5) cleaned up cat puke or something equally glamorous along the way.

 

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

LINDSAY: I probably shouldn’t get into specifics, but the contract came with a modest advance along the lines of what I would expect from a small publisher and a standard royalty split, and I think my agent negotiated a bit better deal on some aspects. I can’t remember how many author copies I’m getting – maybe 20? They haven’t arrived yet as of this writing on August 23!

 

 

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

LINDSAY: A few months after the offer, my editor sent a lovely two-page editorial letter. I had completed my previous revision about 15 months prior, so it took me awhile to wrap my head around her notes and re-immerse myself in the research. Once I dug in, I realized that her changes were largely to clarify and tweak. She did suggest some cuts to my extensive author’s note that helped bring the important parts forward. I love the final version! Once I heard from her at the end of August 2019, I was shocked to learn they wanted to release the book only a year later. They already had an illustrator working on cover sketches!

 

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

Screen Shot 2020-08-31 at 8.25.13 PM

credit © 2020 Albert Whitman and Company

 

LINDSAY: On the first call with my editor, Wendy, I told her about all the visual research I’d compiled in a secret Pinterest board, and she was excited to pass that along to Junyi Wu, the illustrator. I also snapped pictures of a few descriptive passages in Beatrix Potter’s journal, as well as samples of Beatrix’s fungi artwork, to have my editor pass along to Junyi. Beatrix is well-understood and revered historical figure who has a whole society dedicated to her scholarship, so I wanted to make sure we got the book right. Fortunately, the team at Albert Whitman did, too. They looped me in for feedback at all stages of the illustration process, and I was able to annotate the PDFs for accuracy and request changes before Junyi went to final art. One example: Beatrix Potter’s mentor, Charles McIntosh, had severed several fingers in an accident, and was known to hide that hand. One of the sketches showed both hands and ten fingers. Another example showed Beatrix illustrating a character that would have been created decades after the scene that was depicted. They were happy to make changes like that. I absolutely love the way Junyi made this book her own, not mimicking Beatrix’s style, but providing enough detail to render the botanicals accurately and with a hint of nostalgia.

Screen Shot 2020-08-31 at 8.27.18 PM

credit © 2020 Albert Whitman and Company

I had a lot of art notes because I wanted the book to be accurate, so whenever I had a specific scene in mind, I included quoted descriptive passages from Beatrix’s journal. We removed some of the art notes for submission purposes, but after the first call with my editor, she requested to see the original version with all my art notes. The team was very good about doing what was needed to get the details right.

Here’s how I wrote one scene:

“She wrecks her parents’ kitchen in her hunger for answers. Day and night, she zooms in with a microscope to check and record her specimens. She can taste the breakthrough that is sure to come.

 [ART: She turned her kitchen into a messy lab for spore germination. She checked and recorded her specimens of basidiomycetes spores every six hours using a Beck’s microscope with 600x magnification.]”

This art note included historical and scientific details that would have cluttered the manuscript but were important for visual accuracy.

 

 

SUSANNA:  Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc.?  What was that like?

LINDSAY: Yes! The wait for reviews was nerve-wracking. When they finally came in, all positive so far, it was thrilling!

 

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

LINDSAY: It was exactly 51 weeks from offer to the day I unboxed advance reader copies of BEATRIX POTTER, SCIENTIST. (And yes, I asked: the paperback, stapled copies I received are called ARCs and not F&Gs, or folded-and-gathered copies that picture book publishers usually print in advance of publication.)

 

 

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

LINDSAY: The publisher has sent my book to all the major reviewers, to ARC-sharing groups on Twitter, Bookstagrammers, and fungi lovers! They have submitted it wherever I have asked as well, and probably done a lot behind the scenes that I’m not aware of. I was surprised and impressed when I was contacted by a reporter from FantasticFungi.com for an interview, and their Instagram post about my book racked up more than 1,600 likes. Publisher support for the win!

 

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

LINDSAY: The best thing I have done is join a group of highly motivated and talented fellow debuts. The Soaring ’20s have been a godsend for marketing. We share speaking opportunities and team up on conference proposals; we review one another’s books; we request books from libraries; set up blog opportunities and maintain a group website. If you have a book coming out, comarketing is effective and much more fun than going it alone. Some of my Soaring ’20s colleagues are conducting a virtual ShopTalk for NESCBWI on September 22 if you’re interested in the nuts and bolts.

I have spent a lot of time applying to speak at conferences, since teachers and librarians will be such a big part of my market. Over the summer, I participated in nerdcampPA, nerdcampCT, and the Missouri Association of School Librarians book festival. This fall I’ll be at virtual events for the National Council of Teachers of English, the Association of Rural and Small Librarians, and a few others.

Other than that, I hired an expert to create a standards-aligned discussion and activity guide, set up a blog tour, and ran a handful of giveaways on Twitter for teachers and librarians to grow my following there as well as my newsletter audience.

 

 

SUSANNA:  How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?
LINDSAY: That depends on how you calculate it. I have been writing seriously since 2001, when I took my first paying job as a writer. I was a newspaper reporting intern and went on to have a career as a reporter and editor at The Kansas City Star. But children’s books? I started getting serious about those in 2015—the very day my youngest went to preschool and I had time to myself. Shortly thereafter I took Making Picture Book Magic from you, Susanna. So the answer is either 17 years or three years, but probably a mix of both.

 

 

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

LINDSAY: I never imagined I would debut in the middle of a pandemic. But I’m trying to take things in stride and still find joy in the process. The advantage is that the prevalence of virtual events has opened up opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to access before. And I get to celebrate with all my friends, wherever they are! Thank you for having me, Susanna — it’s such an honor to be here after learning so much from you over the years!

 

Lindsay Metcalf

Author Lindsay Metcalf (photo credit Anna Jackson)

Lindsay H. Metcalf is a journalist and author of nonfiction picture books: Beatrix Potter, Scientist, illustrated by Junyi Wu (Albert Whitman & Company, 2020); Farmers Unite! Planting a Protest for Fair Prices (Calkins Creek, 2020); and No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History, a poetry anthology co-edited by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley, illustrated by Bradley (Charlesbridge, 2020). Lindsay lives in north-central Kansas, not far from the farm where she grew up, with her husband, two sons, and a variety of pets. You can reach her at lindsayhmetcalf.com and @lindsayhmetcalf on Twitter and Instagram.

https://www.lindsayhmetcalf.com/

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much, Lindsay, for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! We so appreciate getting the opportunity to benefit and learn from your experience!

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Teresa Krager!

Hey there, everyone!  Welcome to another exciting episode of Tuesday Debut!

Today I’m delighted to introduce you to debut author Teresa Krager, whose beautiful picture book, Before Your Birth Day, gives children a glimpse of all the special ways they were becoming themselves before they were even born.

Take it away, Teresa! 😊

Before Your Birth Day
By Teresa Joyelle Krager
Illustrated by Thalita Dol
Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.
July 11, 2020
Nonfiction
Ages 4-8

Cover F - front only

This celebration of life in the womb traces the miraculous milestones of development in lyrical rhyme as each precious child is wonderfully woven by God.

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Teresa!  Thank you so much for joining us today to share Before Your Birth Day‘s journey to publication!  Where did the idea for the book come from?

TERESA: The idea came in May 2018, a few months after I learned my daughter-in-law was expecting. I began to follow a pregnancy app and was amazed at the incredible amount of scientific information available. Inspired to learn more, I researched what was happening during each week of her pregnancy and finally had to record my findings. As a 27-year veteran of teaching K and 1st grade, the story was ‘birthed’ in rhythm and rhyme, thanks to Dr. Seuss!

 

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

TERESA: Initially, the book took about four months to write. I researched a few different websites to make sure I was getting accurate information. Of course, it was still far from its final version.

 

SUSANNA: Did it go through many revisions?

TERESA: I continued revising and tweaking the manuscript with the help of my SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) local critique group. I also paid for a one-on-one mentorship at a writer’s conference. Revisions continued even after I had sent the book off to publishers and had signed a contract. It’s amazing what we see after setting a manuscript aside for a time and then looking at it again with fresh eyes. I think my last revision was just a couple of weeks prior to it being sent to the distributor.

 

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

TERESA: I sent the manuscript off ten months after the idea was ‘conceived’. To the best of my knowledge and based on the response of my SCBWI friends, I thought it was ready.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

TERESA: In the spring of 2019, I submitted to two small publishers who accepted unsolicited manuscripts. One answered with an automated message that they would contact me within six weeks if they were interested. Crickets. The second was super interested. After six weeks of discussions, however, they admitted the cost of the project was beyond what they could afford at the time, but encouraged me to contact them in a year or two if I was still looking to be published. Overall, this was a good learning experience as they asked for comparisons with similar books, marketing ideas, and my vision of illustrations. It forced me to start brainstorming and gathering that information.

In the summer of 2019, while attending a writer’s conference, I made an appointment with an editor from Elk Lake Publishing, Inc. She encouraged me to send in my manuscript. After finding their proposal requirements online, I set about the task of putting the multifaceted proposal together. Of course when I sent it in, I mentioned the name of their editor who encouraged me to submit my manuscript.

IMG_5525

Teresa’s writing space

 

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”? (Best moment ever!)

TERESA: I received “the call” by email just over an hour after submitting the proposal. I was shocked and elated!!! (Imagine ‘happy dance’ emoji here.) They wanted to offer me a contract, but wanted me to have an agent first. They recommended agent Karen Neumair from Credo Communications and I signed with that agency the following week. A month later, I signed with Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

TERESA: My husband and I went out to dinner and stopped to buy a beautiful flower arrangement. On an amazing note, I received the executed contract from the publisher the same day my new grandson, who inspired this book, turned one-year old!

 

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

TERESA: From my contract it was perfectly clear that this small publishing house did not offer an advance or author copies. Because of this, the royalty percentage was better than most. The publisher also allowed the author to purchase copies at a significant discount since the author is doing most of the sales. The publication timeline moved right along and was mostly dependent on my illustrator and her pacing.

 

SUSANNA: What can you tell us about the editorial process?

TERESA: The editorial process was better than I could ever have imagined. My editor gave guidelines up front and we worked really well together. She asked for only a couple minor changes and was flexible with some of the formatting. She updated documents in our Dropbox regularly after receiving completed panels from my illustrator.

 

SUSANNA: What can you share about your experience of the illustration process?

TERESA: My publisher gave me the option of choosing one of the artists they work with (most of whom would evenly split royalties with the author) or hire an independent contractor. I chose the latter. I found Thalita Dol’s portfolio on the SCBWI website when I was specifically looking for artists who illustrated the pre-born. I checked out her website and contacted her directly. Before starting the project a few months later, we were able to meet in person and I was able to share my vision for the book.

panel 9 for Marketing

text copyright Teresa Krager 2020, illustration copyright Thalita Dol 2020 Elk Lake Publishing

My working relationship with Thalita has been exceptional. In the beginning, she provided thumbnail sketches which were far better than any of my ideas and which later became full panels. She considered each of my suggestions/questions and we dialogued well together by email (since she lives in Canada). Thalita would typically complete a panel or two each week, would send me the digital file for ‘approval,’ and then forward it to my editor who would add text and place it in our Dropbox. Thalita provided a contract and I agreed to pay her per panel, plus the cover. I am blessed to say we have become lifelong friends.

panel 10 for Marketing

text copyright Teresa Krager 2020, illustration copyright Thalita Dol 2020 Elk Lake Publishing

The main art notes I provided were those describing the age and average size of each pre-born, just to maintain accuracy. Thalita also included an illustration of my husband and I as grandparents imagining our future grandbaby, where I am holding a sweater I knit for him. The illustrator’s family and my grandson are also included on special pages.

 

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?

TERESA: I have not received any reviews. To do so, I will need to send the book or ebook to reviewers. My publisher does not do that.

 

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

TERESA: Nine months, of course … or close to it, if I count from the date I received the executed contract from the publisher to when the book was released. The ebook was released first on Amazon and there will also be an audiobook, which I was able to record. I am currently waiting to receive real live books from the distributor (although they are available on Amazon).

 

SUSANNA: Wow! That’s really cool that you got to record your own Audiobook!  What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?

TERESA: Elk Lake Publishing, Inc. will mention the book on Facebook and their blog. 95% of the marketing is done by the author.

 

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

TERESA: A few months ago, I created a new author website and have posted an update on Facebook. I have sent emails letting family and friends know of the upcoming release. Later this month, I will be posting a devotional on a fellow author’s website and she will promote the book as well. Once I have the books in hand, I am sure I will be busy making contacts, letting everyone know my book is available.

 

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

TERESA: I started focusing more on writing once I retired from teaching (K/1st grade) in 2015. So, it took about four years to get my first book offer.

 

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication?

TERESA: Be brave, invest in your book, and go to conferences. While there, take advantage of the workshops. Pay for critiques and mentorships if possible. The one-on-one mentorship I paid for was someone whose prices were for longer manuscripts. Since picture books are short, I asked if he would critique two for the price of one and he did. (It never hurts to ask!) Memorize your pitch and be ready to promote your book. The connections you make could change everything.

Also, join a writer’s group. This is where you can learn, grow, and be mentored.

Finally, always check the publisher’s website to see what and how they want you to submit. Follow their guidelines to the tee! (It’s like they test you to see if you can follow directions.)

 

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

TERESA: As a Christian, I believe this book was inspired by the Lord. The facts about life in the womb are often denied and I have a passion to get the truth out. For support, I have a couple of friends who pray for me and this project regularly. I call them my Prayer Pair.

DS02776 (5)JPG for ELP 400x400

Author Teresa Krager

My Author pages are:
http://teresakrager.com
http://pointingtheway.live
Facebook:  http://facebook.com/teresakrager

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience with us today, Teresa!  We so appreciate the opportunity to learn!  Wishing you the very best with this and future titles!

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

 

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Abi Cushman!

Hello Everyone, and welcome to Tuesday Debut – one of the ones that’s an actual Book Birthday!

 

I have such a treat for you today!  We usually have debut authors on this series, but it is much less common that we get an author/illustrator.  Today I’m thrilled to introduce you to the fabulously talented Abi Cushman and give you the opportunity for a really in-depth look at her process of both writing and illustrating a picture book.  You’re in for a treat!

Grab your umbrella, your raincoat and your rain boots and let’s jump in!

SOAKED!
by Abi Cushman
Viking Children’s Books
July 14, 2020
Fiction, Ages 3-7

 

image4

A Hula-Hooping moose, a badger with a bumblebee umbrella, a bunny in a cashmere sweater, and a very wet bear star in this unpredictable and laugh-out-loud picture book in which having fun gets the best of a grumpy bear.

 

SUSANNA:  Welcome, Abi!  Thank you so much for joining us today! We’re excited to get a glimpse of how you work your magic!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

ABI:  I went out for a walk one summer day and ended up getting caught in a torrential rain storm. At the time, I was eight months pregnant and was definitely in the “slow waddling stage” of my pregnancy. But the long, soggy walk home helped me realize that once I was completely soaked, the rain was actually quite pleasant.

I thought it would be interesting in a picture book to play with the idea of someone’s attitude evolving despite the circumstances staying the same, so I wrote that sentiment in my ugly sketchbook. (I call it an ugly sketchbook so that I feel free to capture my story ideas with badly drawn doodles or little phrases- whatever is easiest to get the idea down. I don’t worry about my sketchbook looking really cool or artsy.)

At first, I was picturing this beautiful wordless picture book about the beauty of splashing in puddles. But after months of letting the idea percolate in my head and continuing to add to my ugly sketchbook, I came up with a sorry-looking, very drenched bear character. And then one night, the voice/tone of the narrator came to my head, and I thumbnailed the first draft in one sitting.

image1

 

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

ABI:  I had thumbnailed my first draft about 3 months after that rainy walk that sparked the idea. I then made a mini dummy with roughly drawn characters and text to share with my critique groups and agent. For my mini dummies, I just cut some printer paper in half and then fold that in half to make a little booklet of 32 or 40 pages (which would include the endpapers, title page, etc.). My goal with mini dummies is to get the pacing and page turns right and to have something legible enough to share with other people.

 
After getting a lot of feedback, I revised the story to strengthen the moose’s role and ramp up the narrative arc. I made a larger (letter-sized) dummy that had more polished drawings and the text typed in to show at the New England SCBWI Spring Conference in late April.

So from idea to polished dummy took around 8 months, some of it spent actively working on the story and drawings, and some of just letting it float around in the back of my head.

 

 
SUSANNA:  Did you go through many revisions?

ABI:  I definitely revised the story several times. Interestingly, the beginning of the story didn’t change too much from my initial thumbnailing session. But I did revise the middle and end a bit based on feedback from: my critique groups, then my agent, then finally my editor and art director (​before and after​ they made an offer).

 

 

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

ABI:  I always go through the process of making a mini dummy and then getting feedback and then making a more polished dummy before I feel a story is ready for submission. When I go from the smaller format to the larger format, I generally feel like the story is more or less there, and then I really focus on refining it, adding more details to the drawing and punching up the jokes (or adding visual ones in).

I had also done two pieces of finished art. So I was happy with the illustration look/style. It’s important to do some finished art because sometimes you realize there are issues once you add in color or put the background in properly. Also the agent/editor/art director will want to see what you have in mind for the final look.

For ​Soaked!​, I wanted to have the dummy polished up in time for the NESCBWI Conference. So that gave me a deadline to work toward. I definitely felt it was “ready enough” to show when the conference date arrived. I think conferences and contests are great motivators for authors and illustrators to get their work submission-ready.

image2

 

SUSANNA:  When and how did you submit?

ABI:  I included my ​Soaked!​ dummy with my portfolio for the NESCBWI Portfolio Showcase. To my great amazement, I ended up winning the showcase that year. One of the judges was Jim Hoover, art director at Viking.

About a week or so after the conference, I posted a drawing on Twitter, not related to Soaked!​ (it was of a parachuting hippo), and Jim commented on the drawing and said I could send him my dummy for another look. So I guessed what his email at Penguin Random House was and sent it over. And he shared it with the editor he thought would like it, Tracy Gates. At that point my agent, Kendra Marcus, got involved, and Tracy and Jim sent over some notes for revision.

image9

The picture I posted on Twitter a week after the conference.

 

SUSANNA:  When did you get “the call”? (Best moment ever! ☺)

ABI:  After I punched up the dummy based on Tracy and Jim’s notes, I got an email from my agent. She said that they loved my revision and more details would be forthcoming in a couple weeks! I was so excited that I told my whole family and everyone that I came in contact with that I got a book deal. The next day, it occurred to me that I didn’t actually see the word “offer” anywhere in the email.

So for the next two weeks when people congratulated me after hearing the news from my family, I’d say, “YEAH!! I GOT A BOOK DEAL! I mean, PROBABLY I THINK… IT LOOKS LIKE I COULD… ​MAYBE!!!”

The offer DID come thankfully, and it was for a two-book deal! And yes, at that point, I did have a nice call with my agent. But it’s funny to me when people talk of this one moment- THE CALL- because my experience has always been more of a slow buildup of events (with getting an agent as well). And even after getting the verbal offer, I was still
worried that it somehow might fall through. When I got my first advance check three months later, I felt better. 🙂

 

 
SUSANNA:  I have to agree with you on that, Abi.  I should probably change the wording of that question because nowadays it’s hardly ever a “call”  – more likely an email – and as you say we tend to be more in the loop of a possible offer than we were back in the old days 😊  How did you celebrate signing your contract?

ABI:  I celebrated by going out for pizza with my family. I had also gotten pizza when I *thought* I had a book deal, when I got the verbal offer, when I got the signed contract back, and when I got the first advance check. Basically, I was just looking for any excuse to eat pizza.

 

 
SUSANNA:  I don’t think one should need an excuse to eat pizza – Just Do It! 😊 Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

ABI:  My deal was for two books, and I think my advance per book was in line with what most Big 5 debut author/illustrator advances are. (See Hannah Holt’s survey). Kendra negotiated their initial advance number up a few thousand dollars, which was nice. I know a couple debut author/illustrators who got bigger advances, but their books had gone to auction, so it makes sense that the competition raised those advance numbers up a little more.

In addition to the advance, Kendra also negotiated some of the other terms of the contract. I read through the final contract very carefully making sure I understood each part. (It was boring, not going to lie.) But everything made sense so I signed it.
Later, I found out from some other authors that their contracts had really vague wording about their ability to submit future manuscripts to other publishers. So they were stuck waiting with submission-ready manuscripts, unable to send them out. I looked at my contract again and saw Kendra had changed the wording on mine to be VERY specific with a short time span. (Thank you, Kendra!) I would not have known to change that, so having an experienced agent is so important. They absolutely deserve their 15% commission.
😊

 

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

ABI:  As I mentioned before, Tracy and Jim had edits for me before and after they acquired the book. For the second round of notes, Jim had told me, “Don’t worry, it’s not that bad.” and I opened the document and their comments said, “Combine these spreads so you have room for a new ending. We don’t know what it is, but we’re sure you’ll think of something good.” And I thought, “Yes. Sure. Just need a completely different ending. Great. Great.” But it turned out to be fine, and I really appreciated their trust in me.
So yes, the editorial process went smoothly because they really got my vision, and their input improved the book tremendously. I think when you’re all on the same page, editorial notes are easier to accept because you know you’re all working together to make the story the very best it can be.

 
SUSANNA:  What can you tell us about the illustration process?

ABI:  Illustrating my first picture book was a breeze. I didn’t have any existential crises at all. I didn’t wonder, “How does one draw?” or “What is drawing?” or “What is a moose?” at any time during the process. Wait, scratch that- I DID have those existential crises.
Yes, the illustration process was a huge learning experience for me. One thing that surprised me was how LOOOONG it took me to finish all the spreads. I’ll give myself a little slack because I was also juggling working as a web designer and being a parent of young children, but it took me from December all the way through the end of August to finish the art. Part of that was the psychological aspect of wanting everything to be perfect, and part of it was basically learning things on the fly.

And because of all that, I am so proud of this book. I feel so much better equipped to take on the next book. (Actually, I’m working on that now and experiencing no existential crises at all… yet.)

And by the way, the answer to most of those existential/illustration questions and insecurities is just, “You’ll be fine. Just use reference photos.”

 

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SUSANNA:  Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc?  What was that like?

ABI:  Yes, I had reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, and Publishers Weekly. Whenever I came across a trade review, I’d squint my eyes and grimace while scanning the page looking for tidbits that might be horrible. I think the squinting helps. Definitely give that technique a try next time you see a review of your book.

After my eyes had recovered, I made pull quote graphics for each review and shared it on social media to celebrate. Here’s my SLJ review graphic on Twitter:

image3

 

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

ABI:  It took about two years from offer to author copy. The initial print run for ​Soaked!​ is 30,000.

 

SUSANNA:  If your book has been out for at least one statement cycle, has it earned out yet?

ABI:  Not yet! But one thing that was really cool is that we sold the foreign rights to a Russian publisher. So SOAKED! will be available in Russian, AND the money from the foreign rights sale goes toward me earning out!

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

ABI:  The marketing team and my publicist, Lizzie Goodell, at Penguin have done a fantastic job getting my book out in front of people. They had to adjust their strategy midway through due to the pandemic, and I applaud their agility and creative thinking.

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(An F&G of ​Soaked!​)

 

Before the quarantine, they showcased my F&G at the Public Library Association’s conference in Nashville along with five other titles and presented them together as “Great Storytime Read Alouds.”

They made an activity kit + poster to hand out, and it’s also available on the Penguin Classroom website here: https://penguinclassroom.com/books/soaked/

They also sent physical F&Gs to bookstores and influencers.

During the quarantine, they included ​Soaked! i​n a Zoom webinar highlighting summer picture books. They also sent out digital review copies and made the digital galley available on Edelweiss for review.

 

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

ABI:  Probably the best thing I did was join a debut marketing group called the Soaring 20s. We lend each other support, offer advice, review each other’s books, and boost each other’s posts on social media. I also had a blast teaming up with other Soaring 20s members to present a funny picture book panel at a couple of librarian conferences. It’s been wonderful to be a part of this group, and I’m so happy to share my debut journey with them.

Another really important thing I did was reach out to Mr. Schu and ask about doing a cover reveal on his blog. I had attended his workshop at the New England SCBWI Conference, and I thought he might enjoy ​Soaked! ​My gamble paid off, and he not only agreed to do the cover reveal, he also included my book in his ​2020 Books I Love Presentation​. I was thrilled!

I also worked with my local bookstore, Bank Square Books, on a pre-order campaign where people could purchase personalized, signed books. I printed special stickers to go with those pre-orders.

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In addition to that, I created a ​Soaked!​-themed activity guide and craft for parents, teachers, and librarians to enjoy. You can find them here: https://www.abicushman.com/fun-stuff/

And finally, I organized a little blog tour for the couple weeks before and after the book’s release. This blog is in fact the Book Birthday Stop on that blog tour! So thank you, Susanna and Tuesday Debut readers, for celebrating with me!

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SUSANNA:  Are you kidding?  We are THRILLED to be celebrating your book birthday with you!  It’s a dream come true for you to have your first book out, and the dream of every writer/reader here to emulate your success!!!  Getting to see how you accomplished it makes it seem possible for all of us!  How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

 

ABI:  I started writing and illustrating seriously in 2015 after I’d had my first baby. I sold my first picture book three years later. I actually think three years is a pretty short time, even though it would shock people who weren’t familiar with the industry.

 

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

ABI:  I’d just like to encourage everyone who is working toward publication to not give up, to keep making art that excites you, and to keep putting your work out there. ​Soaked!’s​ publication was made possible by the chance that Jim Hoover and I were at the same conference in 2018. But we were also at the same conference two years previously, and at that time, my art wasn’t ready yet. It took two years of working at my craft and finding my illustration voice to be ready… two years of creating new stories to come up with one that stood out. So if you keep putting in the work and then putting it out there, eventually something will stick for you too.

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Author/Illustrator Abi Cushman

Join my email list ​(for crafts, activities, and picture book sneak peeks)​: https://eepurl.com/dCUjeH

My website:​ ​https://www.abicushman.com
Twitter: ​https://twitter.com/AbiCushman
Instagram:​ ​https://instagram.com/Abi.Cushman
Facebook:​ ​https://facebook.com/AbiCushmanArt

 

SUSANNA:  Abi, thank you so very much for joining us today to share your journey to publication! It was very illuminating!  I know I speak for everyone when I wish you the best of luck with this and future books!

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

 

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Pam Webb!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, Everyone!

Today we’re meeting a wonderful author whose debut book embraces the very timely topic of hope that we’ll soon be together again.  I am so pleased to introduce you to Pam Webb!

TITLE: Someday We Will
AUTHOR:
Pam Webb
ILLUSTRATOR:
Wendy Leach
PUBLISHER:
Beaming Books, 2020
TOPICS: family, visits, multi-generational, anticipation
AGES:
K-3
FICTION: Hardcover

Pam Webb Cover

In Someday We Will, kids and grandparents mark the time until the next visit by anticipating all the wonderful activities  they’ll do together someday, from bicycling down a hill to whiling away the hours on a beach to applauding a sunset’s beauty at day’s end.

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Pam!  Thank you so much for joining us today!  We’re so glad to have you here and look forward to hearing about your book’s journey to publication!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

PAM: When my granddaughter was born I began a list in my head of all the activities I could not wait to share with her as she grew up. She just turned 13 and we have done most, if not all, of the activities that are featured in the book.

 

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

PAM: I played with rhyming couplets and activities off and on for ten years! Rhyming picture books are tricky—getting the rhyme and rhythm right is important. I would work on the manuscript and then put it away to move on to other projects. I finally brought it to one of my writing group sessions, wanting feedback if it was worthwhile to pursue. The group was quite enthusiastic and encouraged me to keep working on it.  One of my writer newsletters featured Beaming Books and I sent off the manuscript in April 2018 and received an offer in June 2018.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

PAM: Before I submitted the manuscript I didn’t go through many revisions, it was more of a matter of completing the story idea. Once my story was accepted, I worked closely with Andrew De Young, who was the editorial director at Beaming Books. He convinced me to write the story with less rhyme and more lyrical prose. We probably had two or three revisions as we worked through our ideas together. It was a very positive process.

 

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

PAM: After my writing group encouraged me to keep working on the story I kept with it until I felt it was complete. I then did my usual practice of ignoring it for awhile and then returning it to with fresh eyes. I still really liked its upbeat message of anticipation and thought the couplets worked out well. When I saw the call out for manuscripts from Beaming Books, I felt it was the right manuscript for them.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

PAM: The newsletter came out in March of 2018 with the Beaming Books announcement for manuscripts. Whenever I see a publisher, editor, or an agent advertise a specific call out, I take the leap. I am a freelancer, so it was just a matter of taking the initiative of sending it in to them.

 

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

PAM: I received a text message from Andrew De Young stating how much he liked the manuscript, especially relating to it with being an expectant parent and having great memories of his own grandparents. He stated the terms and I accepted them via email.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

PAM: My husband and I went out to dinner and then to a concert featuring the students from the local music conservatory. It was surreal sitting at the concert thinking “I’m going to have a book published. I’m going to be a published author.”

 

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

PAM: Yes, having read up about contracts through SCBWI and being a debut author, I thought the terms reasonable. I received half the advance and then, as required, worked on the suggested revisions. Once those revisions were accepted by Beaming Books I received the second half of the advance. Originally the book was to come out in the fall of 2019, but it was pushed to April of 2020 to be in the season for Mother’s Day. I received 21 copies—the PR department sent a bonus copy!

 

SUSANNA: What can you tell us about the editorial process?

PAM: My original manuscript was rhyming couplets and after I signed the contract Andrew gently and persuasively suggested to shape it to be more prose. At first, I was devasted, but I saw his wisdom and the changes made the book much stronger by focusing on the emotions of each moment. During the revision process I replaced the rhymes with more prose. Andrew “rescued” a couple of his favorite lines from the book and ironically, they were rhymes. I very much appreciated Andrew’s guiding hand and I felt that he was personally invested in the book. His vision and encouragement made the entire process pleasant and I feel I have grown as a writer due to his caring editor style.

 

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

PAM: Once the contract was signed, Andrew asked me to find illustrator styles. I promptly parked myself at the local library’s kids’ section. After some time I whittled my pile of books to three and sent photos of the covers to Andrew. He found Wendy Leach who provided bright, lively illustrations that complement the text well. I was able to see the proofs and make suggestions. I appreciated having so much input. I did not include any illustrative notes with the manuscript. I felt Andrew’s vision and Wendy’s abilities matched my own ideas. I especially enjoyed Wendy’s approach to the sidewalk chalk drawing spread, as that was a favorite activity with my granddaughter.

 

 

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

PAM: Kirkus provided the first review and they were quite positive and encouraging. It is certainly a lift to read that reviewers like my book! Our local children’s librarian was impressed about the review, mentioning not all debut books are reviewed. My publisher forwarded a positive review from Midwest Book Review a couple of days ago. I am hoping more reviews will be forthcoming.

 

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

PAM: From offer to copy in hand took about two years due to the push to make it a spring release instead of a fall release.

 

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

PAM: Having a debut book come out in April 2020 meant it was released just as the pandemic shut down bookstores, libraries, and schools. The traditional marketing and promotion format has been challenging, to say the least. Beaming Books has provided a superb Amazon page, along with author pages for other online venues. They have highlighted Someday We Will on their own website. They will be contacting the possible markets I provided them, arranging for promotion as soon as the coast is clear again. Beaming Books provided books to my launch team members, and in turn they are promoting the book to their circle of influence and providing reviews to Amazon and Goodreads. Word of mouth among friends is very helpful. My own local library has recently opened and there are plans for a launch party; however, they are not ready for programs yet.

 

 

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

PAM: I have been quite actively promoting my book pursuing all sorts of marketing paths ranging from my college alumni newsletters to inquiring websites specializing in grandparenting. I even queried NPR, The New York Times, and AARP about how my book addresses how there is hope that Someday We Will be together again, that it is not only an audience for grandparents and grandchildren, but for everyone feeling the separation and anxiety of our situation. Since I am a teacher, I announced the book’s debut through our school web blog and held a giveaway through my WordPress blog. I have contacted local magazines and newspapers as well. I have made a couple of book trailers and submitted resources to SCBWI, who is essential in supporting authors.

 

 

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

PAM: My first published story was in 1988 through Highlights for Children, and although I have been actively publishing through a variety of publications, it wasn’t until 2020 that I sold a book under my own name.

 

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?)

PAM: In the long course of publication, I have learned perseverance is essential. I don’t let rejections bother me (or at least not discourage me) and I always keep writing. I have many projects I am working on, always ready to submit something when the right opportunity comes up. It is also important to be part of a writing community. I have received a great benefit from being involved with the national SCBWI (since 1991) and our regional chapter. Being part of a writing group is important for feedback and polishing up manuscripts. So, two words of helpful advice: don’t let rejections interfere with your creativity, and become active in the SCBWI, if a children’s author/illustrator.

 

 

SUSANNA: If your book has been out for at least one statement cycle, has it earned out yet?

PAM: My statement won’t be due out until September, so I am waiting…

 

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

 
PAM: At first I thought it detrimental that my book debuted during the pandemic; however, the book’s message of hope, of holding on to the optimism of being together again someday takes on an entirely different meaning now that we are separated from loved ones. I have come across at least three videos on YouTube where Someday We Will is featured as a story time selection. Each reader expressed how the book’s message provided them the reassurance and inspiration needed to get through these challenging days. It turns out the delay to be published might be fortuitous after all! Grandparents day is in September, which means the book gets a second round of notice. Taking advantage of opportunities is important would be a third bit of advice to writers!

Pam Webb

Author Pam Webb

Website: www.pam-webb.com
Goodreads

 

SUSANNA: Pam, thank you again for taking the time to join us today and share your experience with us so we can all learn!  I know I speak for everyone when I wish you the best of luck with this and future books!

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

 

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Lisa Katzenberger!

Welcome to another exciting installment of Tuesday Debut, Everyone!

It’s been awhile since we had one!

Today I’m delighted to introduce Lisa Katzenberger and her debut picture book, National Regular Average Ordinary Day!

Title: NATIONAL REGULAR AVERAGE ORDINARY DAY
Author: Lisa Katzenberger
Illustrator: Barbara Bakos
Publishing House: Penguin Workshop
Date of Publication: June 23 2020
Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction
age range of your book: 3-7

9781524792404_National_CS.indd

Peter does not like being bored, so he comes up with a way to have some festive fun–he’ll celebrate a different holiday each day! But when he wakes up one morning to discover there isn’t any holiday, he realizes he’ll have to take matters into his own hands and make up his own!

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Lisa!  Thank you so much for joining us today!  We are thrilled to have you and can’t wait to learn from you!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

LISA: I worked as a Social Media Manager and wrote copy based on different “holidays” like National Barbie Day, National Homemade Bread Day, etc. I jotted down “crazy holidays” as a Storystorm 2017 idea.

 

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

LISA: This book, like no other book before or since, kind of dropped out of me. It was my December 2017 12×12 draft. I worked on it a lot over the holiday break, and my critique partners thankfully had quick turnaround. My agent put it out on submission in February 2018.

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

LISA: I went through 11 revisions with this story before I sent it to my agent. I put it out for critique on the 12×12 forum and hit up two different critique groups.

 

 

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

LISA: I knew it was ready to send to my agent when I was only getting small tweaks from my critiques, instead of more extensive notes. I went through two more revisions with my agent, and when she felt it was solid, she put it out on sub.

 

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

LISA: I had an agent and she submitted the manuscript to 16 editors.

 

 

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

LISA: I received the call about an offer just two weeks after we went out on submission. It happened super fast!

 

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

LISA: I had some champagne! But the sweetest part was the day I got the offer, my husband came home from work with a small plant for me. He said he didn’t want to give me flowers because he knew the publishing industry moved so slowly, and he wanted a something that would grow with me for a long time. Sadly, the plant is not around to celebrate the book’s publication. I am terrible at taking care of plants, but the sentiment was lovely!

 

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

LISA: I actually was really shocked by the amount of my advance (in a good way!). It’s from a Big 5 house, so I’m sure that made a difference. My agent was able to negotiate a 25% increase beyond the original offer! The rest of the terms were pretty standard. There is a non-compete clause that I couldn’t publish any other book for six months after NATIONAL REGULAR AVERAGE ORDINARY DAY’S date of publication. My book ended up getting pushed out two seasons, so it meant it would be longer before my next book could come onto the market.

 

dining-room-table-1

Lisa’s dining room table writing space 😊

 

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

LISA: The editorial process was pretty straightforward! My editor, the lovely Renee Kelly, sent me a marked up manuscript with her revision notes. Once she paginated it, she asked me to fill two additional spreads. So I created a friend for Peter to interact with! I added the new content to the beginning of the story to better set the stage. I also had a call with Renee after she sent her notes just to chat through her comments and establish a rapport.

 

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

LISA: I did not see anything until the book was complete, and I wasn’t aware of progress during the illustration process. This was probably best because I had nothing to stress over! My editor sent me the final design in a PDF when it was ready. I cannot properly express how joyful and happy I felt when I saw the finished product. Barbara Bakos saw the humor in the story and brought all my characters (even the squirrels!) to life with perfection. It is bright, vibrant, and fun, better than anything I could have imagined!

I did submit the manuscript with art notes. As Peter rates each holiday, I knew this could potentially be expressed in the art instead of the text (we ended up going with both).

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc?  What was that like?

LISA: I’ve had positive reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus. I kind of read them ready to cringe at an awful review, but both publications had kind things to say. Frankly, it felt like a relief!

 

 

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

LISA: It took 19 months!  –FYI, I asked my publisher for the print run, but it is not their policy to share that data publically.

 

 

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

LISA: During the current circumstances with COVID-19, marketing and promotion has been kind of different! They are working to set up some virtual storytimes with local independent bookstores.

 

 

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

LISA: I made bookmarks to take to conferences and hand out at signings, share with friends. Let’s just say that given our current environment I have a few extras hanging around! I hired Blue Slip Media to create an free downloadable activity kit. I am also doing a virtual book party launch with The Writing Barn. I will be featured on a few other blogs as well. I was nervous about contacting authors – who wants to write about little ole me? – but everyone was so gracious and welcoming! It never hurts to ask.

 

 

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

LISA: I have been writing seriously since college. I started on short stories, wrote some angsty poetry in my 20s, then wrote a few really bad novels. It wasn’t until I had my own children that I focused on kidlit, which was in 2015. I don’t think it’s fair to say it took 3 years, as I’d been studying the craft of writing for more than 20 years.

Lisa Katzenberger Head Shot

Author Lisa Katzenberger

Website: www.lisakatzenberger.com
Twitter: @FictionCity
Instagram: @lisakatz17

SUSANNA Lisa, thank you so much for taking the time to join us and share your experiences with us today!  I know I speak for everyone when I wish you the very best of luck with this and future books!

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Vicky Fang!

Hello, all, and welcome to Tuesday Debut!

Today’s debut-ess has written a book I’m sure we all need at the start of summer.  What could be better than having all our little darlings invent their own perfect pets?

Invent-a-Pet
by Vicky Fang
illustrated by Tidawan Thaipinnarong
Sterling Children’s Books
June 2 2020
Fiction, Ages 4-7

Invent-A-Pet Cover

When a mysterious pet-making machine appears in her living room, can Katie figure out the formula for her perfect pet?

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Vicky!  Thank you so much for joining us today!  We are so excited to have you!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

VICKY: The idea itself came from a mashup of two ideas I had jotted down in my notebook at very different times: “mixing machine” and “mixed-up animals.” I find that I often need to combine my random ideas to get a story with appealing depth. As a product designer of technology experiences for kids, I was also able to pull from deep personal experience and craft the heart of the story I wanted to tell.

 

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

VICKY: I wrote the first draft in May 2017 during my Writing With the Stars mentorship with Peter McCleery, who was an amazingly patient and insightful mentor. In early 2018, a pretty final version of the manuscript landed me my wonderful agent, Elizabeth Bennett! We sold the book in May 2018.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

VICKY: I rewrote this manuscript dozens of times, with the help of feedback from Peter, from my critique partners, from paid editor critiques at conferences, and editors via R&Rs. A lot of the revisions were really about craft – getting the pacing and character arc just right.

 

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

VICKY: At the point that I was getting R&R requests, I knew that I was close.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

VICKY: My agent submitted for me.

 

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?  (Best moment ever! ☺)

VICKY: There were two houses interested in the book, which helps to move things along more quickly (in relative terms for the publishing industry.) I think we had an answer in about six weeks.

 

SUSANNA: 6 weeks is amazing! How did you celebrate signing your contract?

VICKY: You know, I don’t think I even did! I think I quietly signed it, did a happy dance, and filed it away. I hadn’t told most people I was writing books yet and to be honest, I kind of didn’t think it was real.

 

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

VICKY: Everything was pretty standard about this contract. I think we adjusted some small things, like a few more author copies for me and more limited option terms. I really didn’t know what to look for, so I was grateful to have an agent to help me through this!

 

SUSANNA: What can you tell us about the editorial process?

VICKY: My acquiring editor left, so there was a little bit of realignment that happened when my new editor, Rachael Stein, came on. It turned out to be a wonderful partnership! Rachael has since also left, but we worked together from initial manuscript to final ARCs.

 

SUSANNA: What can you share about your experience of the illustration process?

VICKY: The illustration process was so exciting! Rachael consulted me throughout the process, from early directions to my character vision, but Tidawan brought such energy, light, and humor to the art! My kids are completely enamored with the wacky animals she created.

Invent-a-Pet Spread

Invent-a-Pet spread, ©2020 Sterling Children’s Books

 

SUSANNA: It is very. engaging! 😊 Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?

VICKY: My publicist sent me the Kirkus review before it launched, which was so exciting! It was such a relief to get a positive review.

 

Vicky Fang's 2020 Books

Vicky Fang’s 2020 books

 

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

VICKY: I still don’t have a copy of the book, as author copies are backed up right now! But offer in May 2018 to ARC in Feb 2020 took twenty months.

 

 

SUSANNA: That’s tough!  It’s hard enough to wait until publication day without having to wait beyond it to see your book.  Such crazy times we’re in!  What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?

VICKY: I’m sure they’ve done much more than I am even aware of! I know that my wonderful publicist, Sarah Lawrenson, has been and will be sending it out to reviewers, media outlets, social media, trade shows, and award submissions. They also had a batch of fantastic bookmarks printed for me.

 

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

VICKY: I’m in the middle of this now. I’m doing blog interviews, posting on social media, and I put together a read-aloud/activity post that Sterling helped me boost.

 

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

VICKY: I started writing seriously in December 2016, so it took me a year and a half to sell my first picture book.

 

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

VICKY: I couldn’t have done it without the welcoming and supportive kidlit community!

Vicky Fang

Author Vicky Fang

Vicky Fang is a product designer who spent 5 years designing kids’ technology experiences for both Google and Intel, often to inspire and empower kids in coding and technology. Through that work, she came to recognize the gap in education and inspiration, particularly for girls and minorities. She began writing books to provide kids with accessible STEAM-inspired stories that they can read again and again, learning from characters they love. Her goal for her books is to inspire computer literacy for a wide range of kids—while letting their imaginations run wild with the possibilities of technology! Her debut books, LAYLA & THE BOTS (Scholastic early chapter book series) and INVENT-A-PET (Sterling picture book), are launching in Spring/Summer 2020 and feature courageous and innovative girls in STEAM. You can find Vicky on Twitter @fangmous or at her website  www.vickyfang.com.

 

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Vicky!  We all really appreciate your time and expertise and wish you the best of luck with this and future books!  And I hope you get your author copies soon! 😊

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf