Tuesday Debut – Presenting Carrie Sharkey Asner!

Welcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Debut!

Today, we get to learn all kinds of helpful things from Carrie Sharkey Asner, who has a lot to tell us about the self-publishing route to publishing a picture book.

Let’s jump right in, shall we? 😊

Blueberry Blue Bubbles
written by Carrie Sharkey Asner
illustrated by Marcin Piwowarski
self-published
October 18, 2022, fiction, ages 4-8

A bubblegum blower blows a blue bubble.
But what happens when the bubble gets bigger, and bigger and bigger?
Packed with humor, and filled with lively alliterations, this book is sure to have them begging to
hear it again and again!

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

CARRIE: I realized I didn’t know much about picture books, so I took a lot of courses (including Making Picture Book Magic) and read many books.  One repeating concept was to use strong verbs/nouns and not use many adjectives or adverbs.  I thought, “I’ll show them” and ended up with a book with an increasing list of “B” words to describe a growing bubble. I would suggest trying out different things to see what works best for you and the book.

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

CARRIE: It took me about 10 months from thought to self-publishing.  I have a folder for each potential book idea and then add to them as I think of additional information. Many folders just have a sentence or two.  Then I write a really rough draft and put it up for a few weeks. I revise it and put it back for another few weeks. Then I repeat it several times. Taking breaks seems to work the best for me.   I also shared it with 3 critique groups and 2 editors and made changes after their input.

Carrie’s writing assistants, Joule and Aurora. . .
. . . and Pixel (but not at the same time – Pixel does not tolerate dogs! 😊)

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

CARRIE: After the 3 critique groups, I had a critique/developmental edit and then a more in-depth edit with one editor and then I worked with an editor in our self-publishing class for the final edit.

Once the illustrations were back, I read the story to a 4-year-old.  The book has a repeating line “I want it bigger.”  After a couple of times, she was saying it with me and by the end, she was almost shouting it.  Then she said my new favorite word – “Again!”.   We read it 6 times.  That encounter really helped me think it was ready to go. 

SUSANNA: At what point did you decide to self-publish rather than submit to traditional publishers?  Did you try traditional first? Or did you have specific reasons for wanting to self-publish?

CARRIE: I have several friends who have self-published and strongly suggested I go that route. I had heard that even if I went the traditional route, I would still be responsible for most of the marketing.  I also wanted to pick out my own illustrators.  Those are the main reasons for me to self-publish.  

SUSANNA: How did you find an illustrator?

CARRIE: I absolutely LOVE my illustrators.  I had two books that I sent out at the same time – a fun one and a sweet one.   I felt I needed two very different styles of illustrations.  Early on, I joined many Facebook author/illustrator groups and I saved any illustrations that I wanted to look at again. I followed illustrators on Instagram and looked through SCBWI  and Reedsy and Fiverr illustrators. I spent hours trying to find the ones I thought were the best fit. After reviewing them many times, I decided on one that I found on Instagram and one from Facebook.  I contacted them and was thrilled and surprised when they said they could work on my books.

SUSANNA:  Did you and the illustrator have a contract of any kind?  What types of items did it address?

CARRIE: I wanted to have the rights to the illustrations.  So I had a work-for-hire contract for one and the other one also had a Fiverr page which basically has a work-for-hire contract so we worked through Fiverr.  We had a time frame set up – one was much faster, and the other would send a new illustration every week.      I had them sign a non-disclosure agreement as part of the contract.

I also used a graphic designer to place the text and help with the cover.  Everything I read stresses how important the cover is.

SUSANNA:  Are you able to give a ballpark figure of any kind (or a specific one if you’re so inclined 😊) about the cost of the illustrator?  

CARRIE: One of them was ~$3500 and the other was ~ $1800. 

SUSANNA: What was the illustration process like since you were directing it? Any particular challenges?  Anything you particularly enjoyed?

CARRIE: I actually gave them a lot of freedom and I am so glad I did. They had a copy of the manuscript and I intentionally put in very few art notes. They came up with ideas that I never would have thought of.  They did rough sketches and then we tweaked them from there. 

SUSANNA: How did you format your book for publication?

CARRIE: The graphic design team also did the formatting.

SUSANNA:  How did you select a printing service?

CARRIE: I followed what many of the self-publishing people I know to do,  print-on-demand. Amazon for the eBook and soft cover. (Amazon does not have a hardcover option for lower-page number picture books).  

Many also use IngramSpark for the hardcover which can be sold on Amazon and for hard and soft covers for other sellers besides Amazon.  I have looked into using an offset printer for better pricing, but I feel I should see how my books sell before ordering the large minimums.

SUSANNA: Did you do a print run so you’d have inventory, or is your book print-on-demand? (And where is your book available – online bookstores? brick and mortar bookstores?)

CARRIE: Right now, it will be print-on-demand.  My launch day is October 18 and will be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

SUSANNA:  Were you able to get your book reviewed by Kirkus, SLJ, Hornbook, Booklist etc? 

CARRIE: I’m looking into the review process soon.  

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

CARRIE: I had a song commissioned for the book from a musician on Fiverr.  It was so much fun!  I started a website with help from my sister and we have the song plus a few activities to go along with the book. I am planning on adding more educational activities – something that teachers could use along with the book if they wanted.  I also started a launch team so hopefully, it will help with reviews.  I’ve reached out to other “bubble” picture book authors and hopefully, we can work out a group project for Bubble Week which happens the first week of Spring.

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

CARRIE: It is a LOT of work, but it is also really fun. The internet is full of resources that people can use and I would highly recommend critique groups – for both the feedback and the friends that you can make.  I am so grateful to my family for their support.

Author Carrie Sharkey Asner

Website:  www.CarrieSharkeyAsner.com

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

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)

Kimberly Wilson – A Penny’s Worth

Candace Spizzirri – Fishing With Grandpa And Skye

Carrie Tillotson – Counting To Bananas

Patrice Gopo – All The Places We Call Home

Rebecca Gardyn Levington – Brainstorm!

John Bray – The End

Jocelyn Watkinson – The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story

Katie Mazeika – Annette Feels Free: The True Story of Annette Kellerman, World-Class Swimmer, Fashion Pioneer, and Real-Life Mermaid (nonfiction)

Shachi Kaushik – Diwali In My New Home