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

 

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Sarah Kurpiel!

Welcome to another episode of Tuesday Debut!

I’m excited to introduce today’s debut-ess who is both an author and an illustrator!  Illustrators are way under-represented here on Tuesday Debut, since most of our debut-ers are authors only, so it’s exciting to have a chance to hear about the publication journey from someone who does everything!

Please join me in welcoming the talented Sarah Kurpiel and her amazing book, Lone Wolf!

Title: Lone Wolf
Author/Illustrator: Sarah Kurpiel
Publishing House: Greenwillow/HarperCollins
Date of Publication: May 19, 2020
Category: Fiction
Age Range: 4-8

LoneWolf_Cover_Kurpiel_med

Synopsis: Maple the husky is mistaken for a wolf so many times that she starts to believe she might be one.

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Sarah!  Thank you so much for joining us today – we are thrilled to have you!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

SARAH: Lone Wolf was inspired by my childhood dog. Years ago, I drafted a few comic strips about her just for fun. When brainstorming story ideas, I thought back to those comic strips and chose one idea I felt had depth: a husky mistaken for a wolf. I imagined how she might feel about being called a wolf again and again. That’s how the story got its start. But that’s not the final story that went on submission. My co-agents—though they weren’t my agents yet (they would offer representation later that year)—provided feedback that pushed me to develop the story further. I’m glad they did. The conflict at the heart of Lone Wolf remained the same, but the point-of-view and story arc evolved.

 

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

SARAH: I spent about two months on and off developing the dummy I sent to the agents who had expressed interest in possibly representing me. Over the course of three months, they gave me several rounds of feedback. I found it helpful to take a few days to absorb the feedback before approaching revisions. Sometimes I feel so attached to an idea that it’s hard to see how it could work another way—at first. All in all, it took me about five months on and off to write this book.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

SARAH: I revised the story text many times. I save each version in a new file and end the file name with the date. This helps me keep track of revisions. You never know when you’re going to need to take a step back. When it comes to editorial feedback, I prefer reading it right away and listing all revisions I need to consider. Giving myself a task—methodically translating feedback into a checklist—helps me avoid becoming too overwhelmed. Then (if I have time!) I’ll take a few days to let it sink in. I tend to start with easy revisions while ruminating over the larger ones.

 

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

SARAH: When my agents felt it was ready, I trusted it was.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

SARAH: In late 2018, my agents crafted a letter, to which I contributed an illustration, and sent me the first round of editors they intended to contact. Once everything was ready, they sent out the letter, dummy, and samples.

 

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

SARAH: About a week after submission, I had my first call with an editor. Her vision for the book aligned well with mine. A week after that, the book went to auction. I ultimately chose the first editor I spoke with.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

SARAH: After accepting the publication offer, I remember feeling elated to share the news with my family. I don’t quite remember much beyond that! The signing of the final negotiated contract came months later. By then, I was nearly finished with the book! It was certainly a happy moment to sign the contract, but nowhere near as exciting as the day I accepted the publication offer.

Roxie
Sarah’s writing buddies, Roxie and Cad 😊

Cad

 

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

SARAH: Before the book went on submission, I’d spent a little time researching publishing contracts and reading the results of surveys where picture book makers anonymously self-report information. This gave me a sense of averages, but I still didn’t know what to expect. That’s a huge reason why having an agent is important for me; I don’t know enough about the business side. I don’t yet know what’s reasonable to negotiate and what’s not. When I read the contract it all seemed about right to me, though I had a few questions which my agents helped me understand.

 

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

SARAH: Since my co-agents are editorial, I went through several rounds of revisions with them back when they were first considering representing me. I didn’t have a critique partner or group, so I was grateful for the opportunity to receive feedback from people well-versed in the market. After the book sold, I revised further based on the editor’s feedback. By that point, the overall story was pretty well set, so revisions were more pointed. The editor had a nice vision for the book. All the changes made sense, but some took a little getting used to. For example, I was asked to consider making a change to the way I’d been drawing the main character. At first, I worried I was going to lose what made her design unique. But I’m glad I tried it because, in the end, it was the right decision.

 

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

SARAH: So far, I’ve never written a manuscript start to finish before illustrating it. Some of the illustrations in Lone Wolf preceded text. Others were developed alongside the text. Since I draw digitally, I like to build each new draft upon the previous draft, so I rarely “start over.”

LoneWolf_Interior2_Kurpiel

 

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

SARAH: Yes! My editor sent me advance reviews. It was always such a nice surprise.

 

 

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

SARAH: Sixteen months.

 

 

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

SARAH: Greenwillow distributed copies of the book at events prior to the pandemic, distributed copies to influencers and reviewers, created activity sheets, shared Twitter posts about the book trailer release, updated the book description as reviews rolled in, and offered to connect me with local bookstores.

 

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

SARAH: My favorite marketing-related task I’ve done is make a few animated GIFs. I then applied for a GIPHY Artist channel so the GIFs could be used as stickers in Instagram Stories. The GIFs were fun to make, and I’ve ended up using them in ways I didn’t originally expect: Twitter, videos, and my website. I also made a 15-second teaser trailer (basically a long GIF) and a 1-minute book trailer. One of my favorite bloggers agreed to host the trailer premiere, and I lined up interviews and reviews with a few other bloggers whose blogs I enjoy, including this one!

 

 

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

SARAH: In December 2017, I purchased a copy of Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market 2018 and started a dummy. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking about making picture books before that point, but buying that book cemented my commitment. I sold Lone Wolf in November 2018. The reason it took less than a year is thanks to a stroke of luck. An illustration account on Instagram shared one of my drawings and the right person saw it. If that hadn’t happened, I’m not quite sure when (if ever) I’d have felt ready to query agents.

 

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?)

SARAH: Don’t wait until you’re ready because you may never feel ready. And after you sell your first book, join a debut group if you can. I’m part of the 2020 Debut Crew. It’s reassuring being part of group that shares ideas and answers each other’s questions. Plus, I’ve gotten to know some kind, talented writers and illustrators in the process.

Profile_Kurpiel

Author/Illustrator Sarah Kurpiel

Website: sarahkurpiel.com
Instagram: @sarah.kurpiel
Twitter: @SarahKurpiel

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for talking with us today, Sarah, and sharing your experience so all of us can learn from it!  We are so grateful for your time and expertise!  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 Sarah, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!

You may purchase Sarah’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

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Gabi Snyder!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, Everyone!

We all have our favorite books from childhood, and one of mine happens to be GO, DOG. GO! by P.D. Eastman.  If you’re as ancient as I am you may be familiar with it 😊 Anyway, although it is new and different, there is something about today’s debut picture book which hearkens back to that a bit, so I instantly loved the look of this brand new title!

Today’s Debut-ess is the lovely and talented Gabi Snyder, here to share with us her journey to the publication of TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE!

Two Dogs on a Trike
Written by Gabi Snyder
Illustrated by Robin Rosenthal
Abrams Appleseed, May 19, 2020
Fiction; baby to 5 years

Two Dogs Cover

Count up to 10 and back down again in this picture book starring 10 traveling dogs and one very tenacious cat!

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Gabi!  Congratulations on the publication of your delightful book, and thank you so much for joining us today to share your experience!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

GABI: The dog versus cat dynamic that plays out in TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE was inspired, in part, by my childhood pets. I grew up with a cat we called Kinko (named for his kinked tail) and an assortment of dogs. Kinko was the undisputed boss. Now my family includes one dog and one cat. (They take turns keeping each other in line.)

And, as a kid, one of my favorite picture books was GO, DOG. GO! by P.D. Eastman. I must’ve read that book hundreds of times. The silly dogs and sense of movement and fun in TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE are, in part, an homage to the P.D. Eastman classic. (But as one of my critique partners pointed out, “without the weird hat stuff.”)

Gabi work space writing buddies

Gabi’s work space and writing buddies 😊

 

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

GABI: Unlike most of my stories, drafting TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE was fairly quick and painless. It came out mostly whole. Of course, my brilliant critique partners still had suggestions for taking it to the next level.

 

SUSANNA:  Did you go through many revisions?

GABI: With this book, revisions were fairly minimal. But, in general with a picture book, I think it’s helpful to get a complete first draft down in one sitting. And then I like to let the draft sit and marinate for bit – at least a week. If, after marinating, it still shines, still feels like a promising idea, I revise again. Sometimes I revise several more times before the manuscript feels ready for my critique partners.

 

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

GABI: I didn’t! It’s lucky I shared TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE with my critique partners because I might not have thought to submit the story to agents and editors if my CP Mary Worley hadn’t encouraged me to send it out.

 

SUSANNA:  When and how did you submit?

GABI: I submitted TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE, and many other picture book manuscripts, to agents as well as editors at small presses before signing with my agent, the fabulous Natalie Lakosil at Bradford Literary, in July 2018.

 

 

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

GABI: We received an offer from Meredith Mundy at Abrams Appleseed in late August 2018. It all happened very quickly – but it followed a long wait! I’d been submitting picture book manuscripts to agents and editors since 2014.

 

 

SUSANNA:  How did you celebrate signing your contract?

GABI: Honestly, it took awhile for the good news to fully sink in. I didn’t quite believe it and mostly went on in a business as usual manner for a few days. But my awesome critique partners encouraged me to take a moment to pause and celebrate. So I took my family out for a special dinner.

 

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

GABI: The contract was in line with my expectations. I was happy to have my agent negotiate the contract for me and know what improvements we could ask for. For a first book, I think the advance was reasonable and the royalty percentages line up with industry standards. I’m delighted that 20 author copies will be coming my way!

And, for picture book publishing, the timeline was actually pretty fast—from offer to published book in under two years!

 

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

GABI: I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with editor Meredith Mundy and the team at Abrams. The suggested text changes were pretty minor, but definitely strengthened the story. Additionally, we made some punctuation edits—changing the periods in the counting down section of the story to exclamation points to heighten the urgency of the chase!

 

 

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

GABI: As a newbie, I didn’t know what to expect, but was happily surprised that Meredith kept me apprised of each new development with the art. Once we had a finished book, Meredith asked me whether the illustrations matched what I envisioned when I submitted the text. In truth, the book’s illustrations are even more adorable and humorous than I’d imagined. The 80s retro vibe/wardrobing of Robin Rosenthal’s characters is very much in line with my aesthetic. It may sound clichéd, but there’s something magical about the picture book collaboration between an author and an illustrator. The whole is so much more than the two parts!

Art notes played a huge role in my manuscript! For example, at the start of my manuscript, I included this overarching note:

{Art: A cat watches as her dog escapes their yard through an unlatched gate. The reader sees the cat follow, but she is unseen by the dogs. With each new mode of transportation, another dog joins the adventure.}

Here’s one of the finished spreads, showing the cat in hot pursuit!

Two Dogs Int. Spread

 

And here’s another one just for fun 😊

Two Dogs Int. Spread 2

 

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

GABI: So I’d heard several writers and illustrators advise new authors (and really all authors) NOT to read reviews. They can sometimes be disheartening; not everyone will love everything you write. And I was all set to follow that advice! But then in late February my editor emailed me with the news that TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE had received a Kirkus starred review! Reading the review still gives me a thrill. You can read it here: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/gabi-snyder/two-dogs-on-a-trike/

Though not as glowing as the Kirkus review, SLJ also gave the book a positive review, calling it, “A recommended purchase.”

The downside of that fur-raising first review from Kirkus is that since then I’ve been waiting and watching for more reviews! I’m embarrassed to say I’ve been Googling my book. Not recommended!

 

 

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

GABI: I received my advance copy in December 2019, so from offer to first copy was only about 16 months – super fast! The announced first print run was 15,000. Fingers crossed all those copies sell!

 

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

GABI: I think the bulk of the pre-publication promotion has focused on advance mailing to trade reviewers, educators, and librarians. I believe Abrams intends to promote more at publication with targeted outreach to parenting websites and blogs as well as social media campaigns.

 

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

GABI: I joined a debut group, the 2020 Debut Crew, to help with marketing and promotion. We share marketing strategies and help spread the word about each other’s debut picture books.

And Robin Rosenthal has created a whole bunch of amazing graphics, including this one, to promote the book.

Two Dogs Promo Graphic

 

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

GABI: It depends on your definition of “writing seriously” – LOL! I studied creative writing in the early aughts but then mostly set my own writing aside for several years.

Fast forward to 2013: when my kids were little (3 and 5), we moved from Austin to Corvallis, Oregon. With a break from work following the move, I found time to get back to my own writing. Only by then, reading daily with my two littles, I’d become immersed in the world of picture books and fallen in love with this form of storytelling. In 2014, I wrote my first picture book and soon after started submitting to agents and editors. So you could say I’d been writing seriously for children for four years before I sold my first picture book, but I’d been a writer much longer.

 

 

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?)

GABI: Be gentle with yourself; in other words, don’t expect instant brilliance, instant success. And be especially easy on yourself right now when your attention is likely pulled in so many directions. In times of stress, it can be easy to fall back on bad old habits, like berating yourself for not getting enough writing done or mindlessly scrolling through social media when you mean to be writing. That’s when it’s especially important to lean heavily on your good habits. If taking walks helps clear your head and let you focus, then (assuming you can safely walk right now) keep taking walks!

(Also, keep writing new stories not just revising the old!)

 

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

GABI: You never know what’s might inspire a story; keep an open mind and jot down every idea!

 

SUSANNA: Great advice!  Thank you so much, Gabi, for taking the time to participate in this series and pay it forward to other writers!  I know I speak for all of us when I say congratulations on your starred debut and all the best of luck with this and future publications!!!

GABI: I hope my answers are helpful. Thanks, Susanna, for all you do for the kidlit community. Your blog and website are such amazing resources!

Gabi Snyder

Author Gabi Snyder

Website: gabisnyder.com
Twitter: @Gabi_A_Snyder
Instagram: @gabi_snyder_writer

 

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

You may purchase Gabi’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!

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Sharon Giltrow!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, Everyone!

You are in for a treat today! Our debut-ess is sharing some fabulous information on her writing process, query letter, and marketing that we can ALL learn a great deal from!

I’m thrilled to introduce you to Sharon Giltrow and her very entertaining debut picture book BEDTIME, DADDY! which, incidentally, would make a ***fantastic Father’s Day gift*** for anyone who happens to need one!  I have had the pleasure of reading it and can highly recommend it, and there are purchase links below for your convenience!

But now, without further ado. . .

 

EK Books

Bedtime, Daddy!
written by Sharon Giltrow
illustrated by Katrin Dreiling
Publisher – EK Books
Fiction, 5-8 year olds

51Zx7leYiBL._SY486_BO1,204,203,200_

Synopsis- Putting Daddy to bed can be hard work but it can be lots of fun. This story will show you how to wrestle your daddy into his pyjamas, read just one more story, battle bedtime excuses and uses go away monster spray to get your daddy to sleep. Full of heart and humour, BEDTIME, DADDY! is for anyone who wants to try and put a grown-up to bed. 

Release dates – 1st May 2020 (Australia)
12th May (America), which is today – Happy Book Birthday to me. 😊🎈🎉

Here’s a birthday cake to celebrate. Let’s eat!!

birthday cake

SUSANNA: Welcome, Sharon, and Happy Book Birthday to you!!!  We are all as excited for you as you are, and thrilled to have you here with us today! Where did the idea for this book come from?

SHARON: The idea for BEDTIME, DADDY! was sparked in 2017, during Tara Lazar’s writing challenge – Storystorm. A writing challenge where you are encouraged to be open to ideas and write down thirty ideas in 30 days. On Day seven of the challenge my husband was putting our eight-year-old son to bed, after my son brushed his teeth, he found his daddy lying in his bed. That gave me the idea of a role reversal story where the child puts their daddy to bed.

 

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

SHARON: In June 2017, I took my idea and started brainstorming how to put a grown up to bed. I planned out all the steps in the bedtime routine. I researched funny parenting memes, and parenting blogs. Then I used this brainstorm and research and wrote the first draft of BEDTIME, DADDY!

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

SHARON: Once I was happy to share my story, I sent it to my international critique group – THE WORDLIES. We share stories at the start of the month through a google docs group and critiques are due by the end of the month. I took the suggestions that were helpful and revised and revised and revised. Version six sold to EK Books in June 2018. One year after I wrote the first draft. Here is how the beginning of BEDTIME, DADDY! changed from version one to the final published version ten.

How to Put a Grown-up to Sleep – version1 Bedtime, Daddy! – version10
A grown-up can get grumpy.

A grown-up can get tired.

A grown-up sometimes needs to be put to bed.

And this is how you do it.

When your grown-up starts rubbing their eyes and yawning.

Announce “It’s time for bed!”

Your grown-up will start crying immediately.

HOW TO CONSOLE YOUR GROWN-UP

Give your grown-up a cuddle.

Wait for them to stop crying.

Explain that bedtime happens every night and that it isn’t a punishment.

And wait for crying to stop again and say, “still bedtime”.

Then watch your grown-up move at a snail pace to their bedroom.

 

When you see your daddy rub his eyes and stifles a yawn.

Announce, “Bedtime daddy!

Your daddy will start crying immediately.

Give him a cuddle until he stops.

Tell your daddy, “it’s still bedtime.”

Watch as he moves as slow as a sloth to his bedroom.

 

 

final first spread

Final first spread

 

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

SHARON: In November 2017 I started submitting BEDTIME DADDY. But, after receiving a number of rejections, I decided that the story wasn’t quite ready. So, with more help from my critique group and a publisher’s critique I started submitting again.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

SHARON: In June 2018, I submitted directly to EK Books who are an Australian publishing house who accepts unsolicited manuscripts. Here is the query letter that I sent.

Dear Editor,

As an author with an interest in humorous picture books with heart, I am seeking representation from a like-minded publisher. Pasted below for your consideration is my 343 word, 5-8-year-old, – humorous, plot driven picture book manuscript, Bedtime Daddy.

Putting a daddy to bed can be hard work. But it can be loads of fun too. A little girl wrestles her daddy into his pyjamas, reads just one more story, battles bedtime excuses and uses go away monster spray to get her daddy to sleep. Bedtime Daddy, a story for anyone who has ever tried to put a grown up to bed.

Readers of such picture books as Jean Regan’s How to Babysit a Grandad, Tammi Sauer’s Your Alien and Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Bedtime for Mommy will similarly enjoy the story Bedtime Daddy.

I am a member of SCBWI and the 12×12 picture book challenge. I am also an Early Childhood teacher working with children with Developmental Language Disorder. I have several other submission ready PB manuscripts available upon request.

Thank you for your consideration and time. I look forward to your response.

I still use a similar query format for current submissions but my bio has now changed and now includes my publishing credits and writing awards.

 

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

SHARON: Two weeks after submitting to EK Books I received ‘the email’ while on a family vacation. I read the email over and over again to make sure it was real. Then I researched EK Books some more, looked at their published books, emailed one of their published authors and then made the decision to accept their offer. EK Books didn’t request any revisions and I signed the publishing deal in August 2018, two months after I submitted BEDTIME, DADDY!

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

SHARON: To celebrate signing the contract my family and I went out for lunch at our local beach side café. After lunch I made them take photos of me, thinking that these would be my author photos. I later got professional author photos taken 😊.

 

 

 

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

SHARON: As this was my first publishing contract, I didn’t really know what to expect. However, through the great KidLit community I knew what clauses to be wary of. The contract didn’t contain any red flags and was straight forward and fair. I didn’t receive an advance. I receive 15% royalty of the publisher’s net receipts in Australia. For copies sold overseas I receive a 10% royalty of the net price received. In addition, I receive 7 author copies. Ten additional copies have been sent to book reviews and KidLit gurus around the world. I was also able to purchase author copies at a discounted rate of 40%.

 

 

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

SHARON: After sending version six of BEDTIME, DADDY! to Anouska Jones, the editor of EK Books, I made slight changes at the word level which were accepted. Anouska suggested one textual change, which was change the title punctuation from BEDTIME DADDY! to BEDTIME, DADDY! Anouska also suggested that the characters be bears instead of people. I had always pictured the characters as people but when she shared her reason, which was that bears would have more of an universal appeal, I was happy to accept the change.

 

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

SHARON: Anouska then asked the amazing illustrator Katrin Dreiling to do some preliminary sketches for the characters. These sketches were of people and bears. I put these sketches up on my wall so I could compare them. Once I had seen the sketches, it became even clearer that bear characters were the way to go.

first sketches1   first sketches2

First sketches

first sketches3

 

Then Katrin’s story board was shared with me, which I added my text to. I made a few suggestions and both Anouska and Katrin where very open to these. Katrin revised the sketches and seven months later I saw the first coloured PDF’s. That was a very exciting day.

fave spread

One of my favourite page spreads

 

I was very happy with the way that Katrin illustrated my story and I was very happy that I left room in my text for her to add her illustrative ideas. When I submitted the manuscript for BEDTIME, DADDY! I only had one illustration or art note, which was for the last page. Illo note: Child falls asleep outside the door; daddy gets out of bed picks the child up and puts the child into bed and winks).

illo note example

 

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

SHARON: Not yet but I hope to 😊.

 

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

SHARON: Twenty-one months and the initial print run was 2000 books.

 

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

SHARON: Approximately six months from the release of BEDTIME, DADDY I devised a marketing and sales plan. I sent this to EK Books and asked their marketing and sales team what they would do, what I was expected to do and what we would both do. This is the marketing and promotion that EK did for BEDTIME, DADDY!

  • Created a Media Press Release
  • Sent the Media Press Release to local press, bloggers, reviewers, radio stations
  • Set up Media interviews
  • Cover release to all online book stores
  • Shared the ARC with media and reviewers.
  • Posted reviews on their social media
  • Designed and printed book marks

bookmarks

EK Books has a fantastic international sales and marketing team which reply promptly to any of my queries They also sent me a guide to getting consumer reviews for my book.

 

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

SHARON: The first and best thing that I did in regards to marketing and promotions was to join a debut picture book group. Our group is called the 2020 Debut Crew. It was through this group that I learnt how to create a marketing plan. Without the support of this group the marketing of BEDTIME, DADDY! would have been a lot harder. Here are some of the marketing and promotion that I did.

  • Had professional author photos taken
  • Had a Daddy Bear soft toy made through the company Budsies
  • Wrote the book blurb
  • Made my own stickers
  • Organised a cover reveal
  • Made a list of KidLit gurus that I wanted copies of BEDTIME, DADDY! sent to.
  • Developed a blog tour
  • Set up an author page on Amazon, Goodreads and Library thing
  • Promoted pre-orders through social media
  • Wrote guest blogs
  • Set up interviews on blogs
  • Planned my launch party and re-planned a virtual launch party.
  • Created twitter giveaways
  • Created teaching notes
  • Created a book trailer

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

SHARON: Five Years 

 

family        niece and nephew

Photo of my family and I with my first copy         Photo of my niece and nephew

 

work space and work buddy   daddy bear with book

My work space and work buddy                           Daddy Bear with his book

 

Sharon Giltrow

twitter
Instagram
Facebook

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Sharon!  We’re so grateful to be able to learn from all the wonderful specifics you shared about revision, querying, and marketing, and we wish you all the very best of luck with this and future books!

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

You may purchase Sharon’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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Claire Annette Noland!

Hi there, everyone, and welcome to Tuesday Debut!

If you tuned in to Perfect Picture Books on Friday, this book will look familiar!  But today we get to meet the author and hear about how this book came to be.

I’m happy to introduce you to Claire Noland and her debut picture book, Evie’s Field Day!

EVIE’S FIELD DAY: More Than One Way to Win
by Claire Annette Noland
illustrated by Alicia Teba
Cardinal Rule Press May 1st, 2020
Fiction. Ages 4-8

Evie's Field Day cover

Evie loves to run, jump, hop, and win. She even has ribbons and trophies to prove it. So, when the school’s field day comes around, she is sure she will add to her winning collection. When Evie finds herself ahead of the pack, she is faced with an important decision. Does she choose the chance at a trophy or the chance to be a good friend? Join Evie as she navigates the playground and learns about sportsmanship and the challenge of losing.

 

 

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

CLAIRE: Thank you, Susanna, for this opportunity to share the journey of EVIE’S FIELD DAY.  The idea was a long time coming. As a parent and teacher, I know how much kids hate to lose. On the other hand, sometimes the kids who win aren’t always gracious. So, I had a rough idea but couldn’t quite figure out how to tell the story until… I read a call for submissions from Cardinal Rule Press. They were looking for stories featuring children facing an obstacle or problem that most children must deal with. Then the story seemed to almost write itself as I remembered how much kids enjoy the end-of-the-year Field Day activities and decided that was a good setting for a child who hates to lose.

 


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

CLAIRE: I only had a month to write and revise because submissions were only open for a limited time.

Claire's office Eric Carle

I enjoy writing in the company of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and some other friends.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

CLAIRE: I meet with my writing group weekly so I revised for each meeting. I have learned that shorter is better so I cut the original manuscript by 200 words. I also went through and cut things that I thought an illustrator could show in the art.

 

 


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

CLAIRE: I knew my manuscript was ready when my critique group felt it was done and I read it aloud and thought, “kids will like this!”

 

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

CLAIRE: I submitted directly to Maria Dismondy at Cardinal Rule Press during the open submission window. I read most of the books published by CRP and felt that this manuscript would fit in well with the books they publish. I don’t have an agent but am actively seeking representation.

 


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

CLAIRE: I received an e-mail from Maria Dismondy setting up an online meeting. This was my first online meeting and I couldn’t get the camera on my computer to work! She told me that a friend had recently shared that her son had a meltdown every time he lost a game. Then she opened my submission and found a book on the very topic. She called me a few days later to let me know they would like to publish my book! As people often say, your book needs to come across the publisher’s desk at just the right time.

 

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?  (If you care to share )

CLAIRE: I cried happy tears then celebrated with champagne with my husband. There’s just something so satisfying about clinking glasses.

 

 

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

CLAIRE: I have been writing a work-for-hire series which pays a flat fee for each book. Since this is my first trade book, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was just thrilled my book was being published. Cardinal Rule Press has been wonderful I received an advance after signing the contract and the rest upon completion of editing. I will receive 10% on all copies sold. I also received hardcover and soft cover copies of the book.

Claire's Office

My office is filled with wonderful books including my childhood favorites.

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

CLAIRE: There was some editing but most of the work I did after signing the contract was writing backmatter. Cardinal Rule Press publishes books of special appeal to families, teachers, and librarians. I wrote a section for parents and teachers to use before, during, and after reading. I also wrote suggestions on how to help children learn about good sportsmanship as well as a game I call “good sport/bad sport.” I was able to draw on my experience as a teacher and a mom to four children who were all involved with sports and 4H.   

 

 

 

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

CLAIRE: The illustration process was a lot of fun. Maria Dismondy had a very clear vision for the book with strategic use of color. Even the text becomes part of the art with colorful fonts used to emphasize different parts of the story.

I was able to see sketches throughout the process and I even received a pdf of the rough draft. I reached out to the amazing Alicia Teba (who lives in Spain!) to thank her after the illustrations were finished and now, we’re Facebook and Instagram friends. I did not add any illustration notes.

 

 

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

CLAIRE: I saw the positive book reviews given by Kirkus and School Library Journal. I was a children’s librarian before becoming a teacher and I made book purchases using these periodicals so I was thrilled to see my own book included.

Claire's dog Ernest

My 5 month old puppy, Ernest, is a Catahoula/ Poodle mix. He is a very literary dog since he was named after Hemingway. He has great taste in book selection.

 

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

CLAIRE: I signed my contract at the end of February 2019 and had copies sent to me in December 2019. I didn’t open the box because I needed to wait until my cover reveal. I was tempted to peek but I didn’t.

My initial print run is 3,000 books.

 

 

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

CLAIRE: Everything has changed in a short period of time because of Covid-19. I had a series of book events planned including an actual Field Day Launch with games and activities along with the book reading and signing to coincide with the end of the school year. Now we are having a virtual book launch via zoom. We are also planning something super exciting. Just because kids are learning at home it doesn’t mean they can’t celebrate the end of the school year with fun and games. On May 21st, we are having a virtual field day. Families are encouraged to set up games and activities and post pictures on Instagram with #AtHomeFieldDay and #EviesFieldDay. There will be drawings for some fabulous prizes. My publisher has also put together a social media campaign, a book trailer, a preorder campaign, a blog tour, and is helping me to be a guest on podcasts.

 

 

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

CLAIRE: One of the best things I did was join a debut group of picture book writers. We’re called the 2020 Debut Crew and we work together to promote our books. I wrote a post on field day activities on my blog and am posting on social media.

putting book in little free

A special day! Getting to donate a copy of my debut picture book to my local Little Free Library!

 

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

CLAIRE: I have been writing for many years but rarely submitted manuscripts. I finally made writing a priority becoming involved in my regional SCBWI group, going to conferences and workshops, following kid lit writing blogs, and joining 12 x 12. I sent stories to magazines which were my first sales. I even won the Pewter Plate Award from Highlights for the best rebus story of the year.

 

 

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

CLAIRE: I would like to encourage pre-published authors to really pay attention to publisher’s guidelines. Cardinal Rule Press was very clear about the books they were looking for but received animal stories, poetry, and many other types of writing that weren’t right for their house. Take time to look at the publisher’s catalogs and, as much as possible, the books they publish. Working with Cardinal Rule Press has been a dream come true for me.

 

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! We so appreciate your generosity in sharing your experience with us so we can learn from it and wish you all the best with this and future books!

CLAIRE: Thank you so much for featuring me on your blog today, Susanna. I’ve been a long-time follower and I’m pinching myself realizing that I now have a book debut to share.

 

Claire Headshot

Author Claire Noland

Website
A Field Trip Life blog
Instagram
Facebook
Twitter

 

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

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

Bookshop.org – Petunia’s Place Bookshop
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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Nell Cross Beckerman!

Hi there!

It’s Tuesday, and you know what that means!

It’s the day to remember all the things you didn’t get done Monday. . .

. . .and push them off until Wednesday! 😊

It’s also time to meet a brand new author!

Today, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Nell Cross Beckerman and her wonderful debut picture book Down Under The Pier!

DOWN UNDER THE PIER
By Nell Cross Beckerman
Illustrated by Rachell Sumpter
Publishing House: Cameron Kids
Date of PublicationL April 7, 2020
Fiction with non fiction back matter
Age range: 5-7 years

LOW REZ cover PIER

 

There’s lots of fun to be had up on the pier—the Ferris wheel, cotton candy, the carousel—but it’s down under the pier, at low tide, where the real magic can be found.

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Nell!  Thank you so much for joining us today to share your journey to publication!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

NELL: I was taking a picture book writing class at UCLA Extension taught by writer Michelle Markel.  At the very last class, we did an in-class writing prompt that was a “How to” format.  On a whim, I thought of, “How to have fun at the pier,” thinking of my hometown Santa Monica Pier, where I spent a lot of time with my kids.  As I was writing about all the fun stuff to do on top of the pier with the thrill rides and arcade games, the words just flowed, going from how to have fun ON the pier, to have to have fun UNDER the pier.  I shared it out loud with the class and another student whose opinion I respected gave me a deep look and said, “That’s a really good idea.”  I got goosebumps because I felt it, too.

 

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

NELL: The first draft came very quickly, but it did not have the same structure or format that the finished book does.  After my UCLA class ended, I realized I craved even more instructor attention.  Rather than signing up for more classes where you only get perhaps one or two chances to get feedback, I decided it would be smarter to spend my money and time working directly with a freelance editor.  She helped me with the structure and format and I learned a lot about picture book writing in general from her.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

NELL: Yes, I went through a bajillion revisions…even after final illustrations came in, I tweaked some words!  I previously worked in television so I’m very used to having to make tons of revisions and incorporate notes from other people.  I don’t take it personally at all and (especially at this point) feel like I’ve developed a good sense of what notes to listen to and what notes to ignore.  It’s hard when you are starting out and try to please any reader who has an opinion—that can lead your to spiral out and lose track of your original vision and intention.

 

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

NELL: After a few rounds with my freelance editor, she said something to the effect of, “I feel good about this manuscript’s marketability.”  And I agreed—I was happy with it!

 

IMG_4060

Nell’s writing nook

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

NELL: From all the classes and the research I had done, it looked like the best way to start a career was to have three polished manuscripts before you start querying or submitting.  So, I just put it aside and started to work on other stories.  I went to my first summer SCBWI conference and I didn’t even bring it to my manuscript consultation (in retrospect: bad move!  Send your best stuff!) because I wanted notes on my work in progress.

Coincidentally, I noticed that an old friend from college was now an agent who was on a panel at the conference.  We caught up and she invited me to send her my story for notes.  I was thrilled to get notes from a professional, of course.  After we did a little back and forth with notes, she offered to start sending it out.  It was not the path I had planned, but I was grateful for the opportunity and took the plunge!

 

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

NELL: Pretty early on an editor at Chronicle took it to acquisitions, but it was ultimately a pass.  That was still so exciting—I felt truly legit!  In the meantime, my agent and I started submitting another MS, but then she did another round for PIER about seven months later, and about a month after that she got the email from Cameron Kids that the editor loved it and would be taking it to the publisher in a few weeks.  It was hard to be patient but it was worth it!  I got “the email” on our way to the waterslide park.  It was a great way to celebrate the good news.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

NELL: I bought my family presents.

 

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

NELL: My agent helped put the offer in context for me, saying it was normal for a publisher the size of Cameron Kids.  I was just happy to have my first book sold, to be honest!

 

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

NELL: I loved working with Amy Novesky (who is an accomplished picture book writer, herself!)  We did some notes over email, then we spent a good hour going through it line by line.  It felt like a good collaboration.

 

PIER up on

text copyright Nell Cross Beckerman 2020, illustration copyright Rachell Sumpter 2020 Cameron Kids Publishing

 

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

NELL: Last summer, the illustrator, Rachell Sumpter, started to post her progress in Instagram Stories—I became addicted to checking for new videos!  It was thrilling to see it all come to life.  Her evocative, dreamy, style really felt like a good fit for my words.  The schedule was a bit in flux but I ultimately respected and trusted that they had a vision and a process that worked for them.  If you have seen any Cameron Kids books, they are all unbelievably gorgeous, so I focused on knowing that whatever happened, there would be a beautiful book at the end.  And I was right!  I was happy they included back matter to address some of the scientific education concerns I had, as well.  It felt like a great way to accommodate everyone’s visions.

 

PIER down under

text copyright Nell Cross Beckerman 2020, illustration copyright Rachell Sumpter 2020 Cameron Kids Publishing

 

SUSANNA: That’s really cool that Rachell posted her progress in Instagram stories – that must have been such fun to watch!  Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc?

NELL: The first advance review I saw was from Kirkus.  I was thrilled!  They were very complimentary and “got” the book.

 

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

NELL: I got the offer in August 2017 and had a copy in my hand Dec 2019.  I got super silly and slaphappy when I got my author copies—video evidence can be found on my Instagram page @NellCrossBeckerman if you click on “Author copies”.

 

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

NELL: They have sent it for reviews and assisted in planning some events. They post on Instagram as well.

 

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

NELL: I helped plan events and partnered with the Heal the Bay Aquarium to do joint events and have them sell my book on site.  I also made flyers for the events and promoted them through email and social media.  I did a Twitter giveaway.  I hired my daughter to make a book trailer.  I am sort of haphazardly doing a blog tour and approached some big blogs, one of whom requested a review copy.  I am trying to pivot to online events for the book launch, but it has been hard to muster the energy after putting so much into events that are now canceled.  I’ve decided I have to just stretch it out over the coming months because we are in the middle of a global pandemic for crying out loud—I can only ask myself to do so much!

 

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

NELL: There are different ways to answer this question, of course.  I started my first picture book class in Jan 2016 and sold it by Aug 2017.  HOWEVER, over a decade ago I was serious about writing middle grade, got an agent, and then could never do the revisions and basically quit writing for 10 years and focused on raising my kids.  As I read and read to them, I kept having this feeling…I could do this (especially after the 30th Rainbow Magic Fairy book!).  I tried again, and failed.  Finally, I found my way to a creative painting class that followed along the book, THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron.  This class and book changed everything for me.  It put all my creative struggles into perspective and gave me tools to nurture my inner artist.  At the same time, I got to paint freely, being fully playful and creative in my class.  Without this class and the book, I would have remained creatively frustrated.  BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert was also wonderful—the idea of “getting down” stories rather than “making them up” resonates with me.  I love the images of stories buzzing around, looking for a portal to come though.  That has been my experience.  My art teacher, Helen Bradley, from The Playful Art Studio, pushed me to carve out early mornings for myself, which was also a huge step in taking myself and and my work seriously.

 

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

NELL: I’d like to mention that although my original goal was to publish a book, I now find that my writing community is the real prize.  I am lucky enough to be part of an in-person writing group that is incredibly supportive and filled with growth.  I have truly found my tribe, and when we all get together at conferences, I feel even more connection with “my people.”  Even now that we all can only connect online, the kid lit community continues to fill me up.  This was not something I expected to find as a writer!

Also, I’m grateful that I have the privilege of taking classes, going to conferences, etc. and try to give back to the writing community any way I can.

Please go to my website and join my mailing list—I’m planning on writing a series of newsletters DEMYSTIFYING THE DEBUT where I’ll share more in depth about all the different things I learned writing, selling, and promoting my book that I wish I had known before!  Plus I’ll be sending out a full read-aloud video of the book to share with children as well, all free for newsletter subscribers.

Thanks so much for having me!

Nellwith Bookcopy edited

Author Nell Cross Beckerman

www.nellcrossbeckerman.com
IG @NellCrossBeckerman
Twitter @NellBeckerman
Watch the book trailer at https://youtu.be/PLenD_075j0
Playful Art Studio http://www.playfulartstudio.com

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Nell!  We so appreciate you sharing your expertise and experience and wish you all the best with this and future books!

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

You may purchase Nell’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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Mary Wagley Copp!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, Everyone, where at the moment, in addition to learning from newly published authors about their journey to publication – what worked for them and how you might incorporate that into your own journey – we are also trying to give them a little boost as they launch their books in this strange time of social distancing and cancelled in-person events!

I’m delighted to welcome today’s Debut-ess, Mary Wagley Copp, and share with you her beautiful picture book, WHEREVER I GO!

 

WHEREVER I GO
by Mary Wagley Copp
Illustrated by Munir D. Mohammed
Atheneum/S&S, April 21st, 2020
Fiction. Ages 6-9.

Wherever I Go

Of all her friends, Abia has been at the Shimelba Refugee Camp the longest; her papa says they need a forever home. Until then, though, Abia has something important to do. Be a queen..

 

SUSANNA: Thank you for joining us, Mary!  We’re so grateful to you for sharing your knowledge, expertise, and experience with us today!

MARY: First of all, how wonderful to be a part of a community that shares joys and struggles and encourages each other. Susanna, you are a model for us all! It is thrilling to share a bit of my journey to publication.

My first piece of advice is to spend some time asking yourself how important is it that your story get out into the world and into the hands of children. If you answer with anything but a hearty YES, you might want to think twice about the time, effort and the cost that goes into this journey. I believe you have to be fully in the process – learning the craft, being truly open to feedback, connecting to writing pals and groups, supporting fellow writers, going to conferences, etc. It is a real commitment. AND there is so much joy in that commitment.

 

SUSANNA: Where did the idea for this book come from?

MARY: The initial idea for this book came when I was producing a documentary about refugee resettlement. When we visited a refugee camp, I was so amazed by the children – their creativity, their resilience, their joy – amidst a life of struggle. They were my inspiration.

I kept the idea alive for several years (I think writing it over and over in my mind) until I finally put pen to paper.

In terms of new ideas, my advice is to stay as open and receptive (this takes practice) as possible to your experiences, all your senses, etc. Also, cultivate quiet and space in your life. I am much more creative when I turn off my ‘automatic’, always-busy mode!

 

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

MARY: About 2 years. The first drafts came easily – kind of a stream of consciousness, which is the way I often like to write. It is the least intimidating for me. For any writer, just start where you have the least resistance. For some people, it might be an outline; for others, scenes. Really, just get some words down before they escape you!

When I began studying the craft of writing for children, I knew so little about it. I was a sponge – saturated at times, for sure – wanting to fill up with information and inspiration. I went to workshops and conferences, found mentors, etc. I joined critique groups. I paid for critiques – asking for them for birthdays, Christmases and anniversaries!

I took my first drafts of Wherever I Go to various workshops/classes/conferences; it was my work-in-progress for 2 years. I’d get a good idea or a nugget of knowledge from a teacher and I’d run back to my desk and revise. It is a long process! And my learning curve is still steep!

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

MARY: Yes! Many revisions. Sometimes, they were just tweaks here and there but there were also major revisions – always getting me closer to the version that was bought! I truly believe that openness is critical to getting one closer to a polished manuscript. Sure, we all have our preconceived (and often very good) ideas of what makes a great story. But, until we suspend those notions and hear, really hear, what others have to offer, we close ourselves off too early. For new writers, try taking out a character (maybe that parent?), try another POV, trying a new ending – something unexpected? Play with the story and definitely don’t get too attached to the way it is!

Mary's Workspace

Mary’s work space featuring a favorite quotation: “In soft whisperings from the heart, the child within offers you always the thread of your truth. May you cherish that child, trust that voice and weave that thread richly into the fabric of your days.” AnonymousWhen did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?

Above: One of my writing spots – a little cubby-hole off the kitchen. It has photos of my kids, then and now, as well as photos of me as a child and a few quotations.

 

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

MARY: Well, I really didn’t. It was a bit of a leap of faith. I met an agent at a conference and she had given me really valuable feedback (BTW, it was valuable AND quite critical – maybe the most helpful kind!). I was able to share my revisions with her before the end of the conference and she said she’d like to see it again – when it was polished. Well, what is polished is subjective. I did what I thought was needed and submitted to her. I signed with her a few weeks later. One word of advice – sit on your manuscript for longer than you think you need to. I have to remind myself of this often. You may wake up at 2 am and have an “aha” moment!

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

MARY: This same agent helped me polish a bit more; we worked on the author’s note and then she submitted to editors. We received rejections but then came the YES!

My agent submitted the manuscript in early 2017 and we had a contract about 2 months later. So, I guess that is fairly prompt.

 

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

MARY: My agent submitted to about 12 houses and we heard from all of them over the course of a few weeks. My agent would email me whenever rejections, interest, nibbles came in. I am embarrassed to say that I don’t actually remember ‘the call.’  Most of our correspondence was though emails. Yes, very exciting emails! We did speak about the contract and any proposed revisions but mostly we connected through email.

 

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

MARY: I am not a jumping up and down person but I was extremely happy! I called my kids and my husband hugged me for a long time 😊 Then I probably went for a long walk and cried. I felt so relieved – more relieved than any other emotion. I wanted this story to be available to the world. I do remember thinking, yes, I am the author but it is so many children’s story.

 

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

MARY: As this is my first book, I did not know what to expect – except information from limited online searches. I really left it up to my agent to present me with the best offer she could get. As I am with an imprint of Simon & Schuster, my guess is that I have a pretty good deal for a debut PB writer. I have heard of artists hiring a lawyer if they don’t have an agent. I think this is a good idea –agreements like the one I received and signed can be intimidating.

I received ½ the sum upon signing and ½ on the publisher’s acceptance of the complete manuscript. I believe the 5% royalty is fairly standard. And I will receive 30 free copies – which is SO exciting!!

 

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

MARY: The editor did ask for a revised ending. Of all the revisions, this was the hardest – not so much because of the actual request (trust your editor!) but because I was afraid of letting go of ‘my’ story. Once I understood her reasoning (always ask if you have questions) I was reassured and was able to meet her vision without compromising the integrity of my storyline.

Advice: allow ideas in. The beauty of publishing a picture book is that one lets go of it being ‘my’ book. The collaboration with the illustrator, editor, art director, etc. is wonderful and creative and results in a stronger work of art. It is really quite a beautiful orchestration of talents and Munir and I feel so fortunate to have been able to work with the Atheneum team, who was really supportive – and continues to be!

Companion Rosa

Mary’s writing buddy and constant companion – Rosa 😊

Rosa 2

 

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

MARY: I believed all along that the editor had a similar vision for the artwork as I did. It is hard for me to believe how aligned we ALL were in our visions. The illustrations not only fit the text so well, they are more beautiful than I ever imagined!

I had an unlikely situation as I know the illustrator, Munir D. Mohammed. Both of us were aware of the unwritten yet wise ‘rules’ that the author and illustrator not communicate or share ideas. Munir and I were very strict about this. I think I saw one or two sketches early on (out of sheer excitement) but we really kept our communication to a minimum. Munir often told me how amazed and grateful he was for the direction the art director and editor were giving him. That was so reassuring to me!

By the way, many writers are interested in art notes. I don’t think I had any. If I had to advise a new writer, I would say less is more when it comes to art notes – unless, they are absolutely necessary for the understanding of the story. Not only do they tend to be directive, but also an editor really wants to know that you fully appreciate that a picture book is a collaboration between so many different people.

 

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

MARY: Yes! That was very exciting. My editor alerted me to very positive reviews in Kirkus and Booklist! It was thrilling to read someone’s ‘take’ on the book. And I was incredibly relieved!

 

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

MARY: Three years.

I believe the first printing is 20,000 copies.

 

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

MARY: Atheneum is an imprint of Simon and Schuster so they have quite a robust publicity department. They send out F&G’s and promote online as well. They will display at conferences and submit to award committees. It is a good idea to ask your editor for the publishing house’s plans. Inquire if you have questions. They will be forthcoming with their plans. Definitely, assume you will be doing more than you ever imagined in marketing and publicity.

 

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

MARY: There is SO much an author can do on the marketing/promotion front. It can be quite overwhelming. My advice is to do what feels comfortable for YOU. Do not compare yourself to others on the marketing front. I did not make flyers, bookmarks, stickers, etc. I sent an email to everyone in my address book describing the book and asking them to pre-order. Munir and I planned a large private launch party with about 150 guests (we live near each other) – unfortunately, that has had to be cancelled because of Covid-19. However, we wrote a ‘celebratory’ letter in lieu of the party and asked folks to purchase the book and we’d have a signing event.

Another really cool thing that has happened in terms of promotion: I found a donor who would match 1:1 each purchase of Wherever I Go, with the match going to a resettled child. This would be for all of April when ordering from our indie bookstore, which really needs the business during this precarious time. A win-win-win!

 

SUSANNA: What an amazing idea, that matching program!  How wonderful for the kids!  How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

MARY: I took my first writing for children course in the Fall of 2014. I sold my first picture book in the Spring of 2017.
SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?

MARY: I wanted to get this story right – not in the marketable sense but in the ‘honesty’ sense. All journeys are different, of course, but I didn’t want to gloss over or leave out something that was important. I have not been a refugee. I have never been resettled to a country I did not choose. I have never come close to experiencing what it feels like to flee one’s home, on and on.

I shared this story at all different stages with resettled folks. I do realize that this has inherent limitations. However, I received some very important and honest feedback from many. It was such a critical part of the process and I credit these folks for being an integral part of the story. They will each get a copy as a thank you.

Our writing communities are absolutely invaluable to our progress. It is one of the many incredible aspects of this industry – we really are in it together and we support each other, no matter where we are in our journeys. My recommendation is to find a local (mine is 1.5 hours away!) writing group: thank you Writers’ Loft and, eventually, a debut group: thank you Soaring20sPB

soaring 20s

These folks become your friends and the sharing and encouragement will sustain you as you ride the rollercoaster. I am so grateful to all of them and I hope I give them a small part of what they have given me.”

I’d also like to thank all the folks at Atheneum for their belief in this story and their incredible and beautiful vision for Wherever I Go. They make up an amazing team. Also, thank you, Susanna, for the work you do to introduce us to so many books, authors and illustrators who offer so much insight, advice and encouragement.

SUSANNA:  It is truly my pleasure, Mary, and it’s only possible because of the generosity of authors like you who are willing to take the time to share your experience!

Mary Wagley Copp

Author Mary Wagley Copp

marywagleycopp.com
Instagram: @Marywcopp
Twitter: @Maryfkwc
Facebook: Mary Wagley Copp

 

Below is my headshot and Rosa, my constant companion – sleeping, or waiting patiently while I finish writing!

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for joining us today, Mary! We so appreciate your words of wisdom, and wish you all the best with this and future books!

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

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

Books on the Square (Providence, RI) – order signed copies from Mary’s local indie! Free shipping!
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?

 

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Kelly Carey!

Welcome to Tuesday. Debut, Everyone!

Today I’m delighted to introduce you to Kelly Carey!  We’re going to jump right in because she has a lot of great information to share that I know you’re going to find very interesting and helpful.  Let me just take this opportunity to say don’t miss her video on the Charlesbridge site (link below) – she did a terrific job and, as a writer who does not perform well on camera!, I admire her greatly! 😊

Title: How Long Is Forever?
Author: Kelly Carey
Illustrator: Qing Zhuang
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Pub Date: April 7, 2020
Genre: Picture Book – Fiction
Age Range: 3-7

 

How Long Is Forever

Synopsis: In How Long Is Forever?, Mason is waiting for the first blueberry pie of the season and it’s taking forever. At least that’s what Mason thinks, until Grandpa asks him to prove it and sends Mason searching the family farm to find the meaning of forever.

Fans of Guess How Much I Love You will love figuring out how long forever is alongside Mason and Grandpa.

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Kelly!  Congratulations on your debut and thank you so much for joining us today to share your publication experience!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

KELLY: The nugget that inspired How Long Is Forever? happened when I was a teenager. A song I loved came on the radio and I excitedly squealed, “Turn it up! This is the best song ever.” My friend’s Dad scoffed, “Really? This is the best song ever?”

That exchange stuck and launched the interaction between Mason and his Grandpa in How Long Is Forever?. Mason is waiting for the first blueberry pie of the season and it’s taking forever. At least that’s what Mason thinks, until Grandpa sends Mason searching the farm to find the meaning of forever. I loved the idea that what can seem like the best song ever to a teenager or feel like forever to an eight year old can be very different for an older adult.

The idea for a story can come from childhood memories that linger in your brain. Those standout moments that hold a reserved space in your mind, are probably the moments that will resonate with a reader. Those are the archives you should mine when you are looking for a book idea.

By the way, my friend’s father was right. Thomas Dolby’s, She Blinded Me With Science was NOT the best song ever! And Mason is going to find out that waiting for a blueberry pie to bake is not forever.

 

 

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book? Did you go through many revisions?

KELLY: I wrote the first draft of How Long Is Forever? in 2013. At that point, the story was in first person and almost 800 words and my main character was a boy named Billy waiting for his parents to bring a new sibling home from the hospital. The opening line read:

Grandpa’s rocker creaked slowly on the front porch. I tapped my foot on the front steps.

By 2014 the story was in third person and just under 500 words. In all the manuscript went through six major revisions and a bunch of minor tweaks. I got help from critique partners and writing workshops. The final draft that sold in 2017 was about a boy waiting for the first blueberry pie of the season. It went through a few more revisions with the help of my editor, Karen Boss. Now, the opening line reads:

Grandpa’s rocker creaked. Mason’s foot tapped.

Patience and persistence is the key to creating a manuscript that will become a book.

How Long Is Forever - int

 

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

KELLY: This is a hard one. Looking back, I know I’ve sent drafts out on submission much earlier than I should have. It’s the classic mistake. But it’s easy to get excited about a project and push it out too soon. It’s important to let manuscripts marinate. If you are really excited about a manuscript, and you think it’s ready for submission, the best thing you can do is put it away for a week or two. Sometimes, when you pull it out again, you’ll see the places that still warrant revision. I recommend reading your story aloud and taking it for a few turns through critique group before submission. This method helped with How Long Is Forever?.

 

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KELLY: I am unagented and I submitted directly to the publisher. I credit The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, MA for my first book sale. I took classes offered by Karen Boss, Editor at Charlesbridge Publishing at The Writers’ Loft and Karen bought How Long Is Forever? about a year after that class. I could argue that my book would have found its path to publication on its own merits, but I think connecting with Karen, forming a professional relationship through the classes, and applying her excellent teaching to my manuscript, certainly helped speed up the process.

writer's loft

Karen Boss Charlesbridge logo

Figure 1 Karen Boss, Senior Editor, Charlesbridge Publishing

 

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

KELLY: Karen Boss at Charlesbridge actually took another manuscript of mine to acquisitions and it died there. I think she was more disappointed than I was judging by the huge hug she gave me the next time we saw each other. So while I was overjoyed to get “the call” for How Long Is Forever, I was a bit reserved until I actually had the contract in hand. And the lag between “the call” and the actual contract can be weeks or months – its super nerve racking! My contract came just before Christmas and I actually wrapped up a gift with the news and gave it to my mom on Christmas Eve – that was the best moment ever!

 

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

KELLY: I love the Charlesbridge model. They offer a lower advance but keep the book on their backlist for a longer time. I liked the idea that my book will continue to be sold for years. As a result my advance was smaller but I will get 5% royalty on hard cover, 3% on paperback and I just got my 15 author copies in the mail. And yes, I did the obligatory video reveal of the un-packaging.

 

 

SUSANNA: There aren’t too many things as amazing as opening the box with the copies of your very first book! 😊 Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?

KELLY: It was so helpful that I had taken a class with my editor so I had a sense of her work style and we had a rapport before we began the process. Karen did ask me to make a major change to the ending that would allow my main character to have the last word, and it was spot on!

The other changes were more minor word tweaks and I really appreciated that Karen and I collaborated on making those edits. There was plenty of room for me to accept, or push back on her feedback and the results were a stronger story that I’m very proud to put out into the world.

Kelly's Workspace

Kelly’s work space

 

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

KELLY: I had more of an opportunity for input into the illustration process than I expected.

My editor sent me the names of three illustrators they were considering and asked for my input from the start. I instantly fell in love with Qing Zhuang’s work and advocated for her to be the illustrator. I’m so happy I did and that Charlesbridge was able to bring her into the project!

While Qing was working, I had no contact with her and my manuscript had NO illustration notes. It was tough but Qing’s creative energy was able to flow without any interruptions from me and the results were more than I expected!

I was sent black and white sketches, then color files and finally proofs and was invited to send my comments at each phase.

Illustrator Qing Zhuang

Illustrator Qing Zhuang

 

Sketch   Finished Art
Sketch and final of one illustration

 

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

KELLY: I knew when advance copies were sent and started clicking a google search with my book title and Kirkus pretty much daily. Yes, it was insane BUT as a result I think I found my Kirkus review the minute it went out and I was actually the one who shared it with my editor!

I know Kirkus can be tough and I was thrilled that they gave time to two debut creators and that they gave How Long Is Forever? a glowing review https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/kelly-carey/how-long-is-forever/ . I know we have a great book, but it was wonderful to have that confirmed by Kirkus.

from Kirkus

 

SUSANNA: (Just butting my two cents in, but in case anyone doesn’t know, you can make google alerts for your name, your book titles, etc so you’ll get a notification if anything goes up about you or your book on the internet!) How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?

KELLY: From the signed contract to publication, it was two years. It seems long, and it is, but that gave me plenty of time to get all my marketing ducks in a row. I worked on my website, contacted blogs for guest interviews, talked to bookstores about visits, and designed school visits.

 

 

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

KELLY: My publisher sent advanced reader copies out and helped me design downloadable activity sheets. You can check those out here https://www.charlesbridge.com/products/how-long-is-forever. My publisher has also helped me set up bookstore visits and they have set up author videos on their website. You can find the videos here: https://www.charlesbridge.com/pages/remote-author-content

 

 

activity guideactivity

Link to Activity Pages: https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0750/0101/files/how-long-is-forever-activity-guide.pdf?4191

 

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

KELLY: The two best things I did to prepare to market my book was first to take Colleen Riordan’s Fan By Fan online course. Colleen’s course broke down the huge beast of marketing a book into doable chunks with great instructions. I highly recommend her course. You can find information on it here: https://courses.wildinkmarketing.com/p/fan-by-fan.

The next thing I did was join The Soaring ‘20s Debut group. We are a group of authors and illustrators who all have debut’s launching. There is a huge learning curve to all the marketing efforts that go into a book launch; pooling my energy and knowledge with those of 36 other folks has been key!

I could never accomplish everything individually that the debut group is doing collectively. We’ve got folks working on our website, a team running a blog, a committee handling giveaways and the efforts go on and on! The amazing illustrators in the group have produced wonderful book birthday graphics that I would never have been able to manage. Some members are librarians while others are booksellers and their expertise is super helpful.

My advice is to seek out a group of folks with debuts launching and pool your efforts. Kirsten Larson, author of WOOD, WIRE, WINGS (Calkins Creek, 2020) has put together a fabulous guide for starting a debut marketing group. You can check it out here: https://www.soaring20spb.com/author-illustrator-resources

 

soaring 20s   swag

 

SUSANNA: Wow!  So much great information!  Thanks, Kelly!  How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

KELLY: It took me 15 years from the time I got serious to the first book sale.

 

 

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

KELLY: For me getting serious met taking a class on children’s literature through The Institute for Children’s Literature. That class helped me figure out the basics, learn about the industry and get feedback on my writing. I sold my first magazine fiction story the same year I took the class, and then I was hooked. I’ve sold a magazine story every year since and kept taking classes and workshops to hone my craft. All that work paid off. You can learn about the classes at the Institute for Children’s Literature here: https://www.instituteforwriters.com/free-aptitude-test/about/institute-of-childrens-literature/

 

Kelly Carey

Author Kelly Carey

Social Media: 

website:http://www.kcareywrites.com/    and   https://www.qingthings.com/
twitter: https://twitter.com/KCareyWrites
instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kellycareywrites/
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KCareyWrites

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series, Kelly, and paying it forward to other writers!  You provided a lot of really interesting information that I know readers are going to find extremely helpful.  We so appreciate you sharing your expertise and wish you all the best of luck with this and future titles!

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

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

The Silver Unicorn Bookstore (order signed copies)
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