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
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!
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)
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
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!
Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)
Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)
Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)