Tuesday Debut – Presenting Gnome Road Publishing!

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

Time for another exciting installment of Tuesday Debut!

Today’s debut is a very special one! Not an author. Not an illustrator. But a brand new publishing company!

You have a unique opportunity here to learn about this new resource in children’s literature and get in on the ground floor. Publishers need manuscripts to turn into books, and you are the talented people who write them!

So without further ado, I’d like to introduce Sandra Sutter, Owner-Publisher, and the creative force behind debut Gnome Road Publishing!

Gnome Road Publishing – Logo Design by Wendy Leach

SUSANNA: Hello, Sandra! We had you here on Tuesday Debut with your delightful picture book, THE REAL FARMER IN THE DELL, back in April of 2019, but we are delighted to welcome you again as Owner-Publisher and creative mind behind a brand new publishing company – Gnome Road Publishing! You are a published picture book author.  What inspired you to start a publishing house of your own?

SANDRA: Gnome Road Publishing has been on the horizon for quite a while. I knew in my heart that becoming a publisher was my ultimate goal when I first began writing for children in 2017. I am a behind-the-scenes kind of person, and I love bringing ideas and people together. Once upon a time (in former lives), I was a counselor and a mediator, and those same skills and enjoyment found in collaborating with others seem to be at play. Now, with my experience in the publishing industry, I have the tools and information I need to finally move forward.

SUSANNA: How did you choose the name “Gnome Road Publishing” and what does it represent?

SANDRA: Little did I know when I chose the name (way back in 2019!) that gnomes would be as popular as they have been lately. I’m taking that as a sign of good things ahead. The name comes from a real place (an actual road) in the mountains of Northern Colorado, near where I grew up. It would be much more interesting if I had a story to tell about gnomes and how that relates to a publishing house, but the truth is I simply like the earthy, mythical, and somewhat mischievous nature of gnomes. And, the name reminds me of a childhood place associated with happiness and the outdoors. I think illustrator Wendy Leach, who I hired to design the logo and artwork for the website, was able to capture that feeling and history for me. I really love how it all turned out.

SUSANNA: What do you hope to accomplish/what are your goals/what is your mission as a publisher? (What do you want from authors and illustrators, and what do you hope to provide for readers?)

SANDRA: If you look on the GRP website, you will see two mission statements. One is for the (future) readers of our books, and the other for creatives that come to work with us. I feel a responsibility to not only produce books that children love and want to read time and again, but to also shine a light on the talented people who create these stories. My job as a publisher is to be a bridge that connects authors and illustrators together with children that love good storytelling and reading.

SUSANNA: Can you tell us about your staff members and staff structure? Associate editors, art director, art editors, etc?

SANDRA: Well, there is me at the very top. And then there is me at the very bottom. This is a small, start-up press so I am responsible for almost all aspects of the publishing process. However, that does not mean I work alone. I have a team of helpers, from members of my Acquisitions and Editorial Advisory Board to consultants on design and marketing strategies. And, this is a family-owned business, so I have hands-on support at home, too. As the company grows, I look forward to building a staff dedicated to furthering the GRP mission. 

SUSANNA: What will you publish? Board books? Novelty books? Picture Books? Early Readers? Chapter Books? Graphic Novels? Middle Grade? YA? Fiction and/or Nonfiction? Please be as specific and detailed as you care to be – the more information the better 😊

SANDRA: Can I pick “D. All of the above?” I certainly wish I could publish them all! But starting out, my focus will be on picture books through early middle-grade and a select number of upper middle-grade and young adult novels. As much as I like board books, I am not actively seeking them. Long-term, I am interested in producing novelty books and items under the Gnome Wild! imprint. But all in good time.

Logos and Art by Wendy Leach

SUSANNA: As owner/managing editor, what is your wish list for each category?

SANDRA: The GRP website has a wish list for each of the imprints which I hope provides guidance on what we are looking for (and what I particularly like as a publisher). But no matter the specific topic or style of writing, one thing a story must have is the “R” factor. Re-readability! I want to publish the story a child will pick out at bedtime three times a week, the one with the tattered corners and curled pages from being checked out and loved so much at the library, or the one a classroom of children beg the teacher to read at story-time. Please – send that story to me!  

Another way to answer this question might be to share a few of our household favorites (picture books, in no particular order):

  • Tyrannosaurus Rex v. Edna, the Very First Chicken by Douglas Rees (Illus. Jed Henry)
  • They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
  • The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins (Illus. Jill McElmurry)
  • The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors by Drew Daywalt (Illus. Adam Rex)
  • The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard (Illus. Oge Mora)
  • A Gift for Amma by Meera Sriram (Illus. Mariona Cabassa)
  • Holy Squawkamole! by Susan Wood (Illus. Laura González)
  • Caring for Your Lion by Tammi Sauer (Illus. Troy Cummings)
  • The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
  • Mummy Cat by Marcus Ewert (Illus. Lisa Brown)
  • Read the Book Lemmings by Ame Dyckman (Illus. Zachariah O’Hora)
  • Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales
  • The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig (Illus. Patrice Barton)
  • There are no Bears in This Bakery by Julia Sarcone-Roach
  • Teach Your Giraffe to Ski by Viviane Elbee (Illus. Danni Gowdy)
  • Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller (Illus. Anne Wilsdorf)
  • When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L.B. Deenihan (Illus. Lorraine Rocha)
  • The William Hoy Story by Nancy Churnin (Illus. Jez Tuya)
  • In the Sea by David Elliott (Illus. by Holly Meade)
  • Predator and Prey by Susannah Buhrman-Deever (Illus. by Bert Kitchen)
  • Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

There are so many more! A few of my older favorites are The Upstairs Cat, The Riddle Monster, and Calvin and Hobbes comic strips. And if you really want to get my attention, get your hands on a copy of This Room is Mine by Betty Ren Wright (Illus. Judy Stang) and send me something like it for today’s market.

SUSANNA: How many titles do you expect to start with and in what genres?

SANDRA: The plan is to start with 4 to 5 picture books, an early reader or chapter book (with series potential) and one or two MG or YA novels each year, with the first releases coming out at the end of 2022 or beginning of 2023. I would like to double that soon thereafter, but again, one step at a time.

SUSANNA: Will authors and illustrators receive an advance?  What will the royalty structure be like?

SANDRA: Yes, authors and illustrators will be paid on an advance against royalties structure in a traditional publishing format. It should be no surprise that advances will not be as competitive as in a large publishing house, but I believe strongly in providing something upfront for work acquired at GRP.

SUSANNA: What kind of experience can an author or illustrator expect to have with Gnome Road?

SANDRA: I am glad you asked this, and I think it goes nicely with the last question on advances. We know we cannot fulfill our mission to readers without a list of talented creatives! Authors and illustrators can expect timely and straightforward communication from the earliest point in working together, through production, publication, and beyond. As an author myself, I know that feeling valued and appreciated is important to having a good experience in this industry.

Authors and illustrators will be working with me and the GRP team closely to make a book the best it can be, starting with an initial discussion about the overall story vision, what happens behind-the-scenes to turn a manuscript into a physical book, and how we plan to market and distribute the title. We expect authors and illustrators to work collaboratively to the best of their capabilities. I know what I am able to do as the publisher, but I also want to know what each of their strengths are and how that fits with our overall goal to get the book into the hands (and hearts) of young readers. We want to identify those strengths and help creatives to successfully continue down their publishing paths. And perhaps this is a good time to answer the next question . . .

SUSANNA: Will authors and illustrators be expected to have existing social media platforms and presence? How much will they be responsible for marketing and publicity?

SANDRA: Yes. No. Maybe. Is that a good answer? It’s 2021. There is steep competition for space on the shelf, whether that be in a store, a library, school, or someone’s home. Every bit of marketing and positive publicity helps. Although we will be working with a distributor and part of the budget for each title will include an allocation for marketing (and reviews), an author or illustrator should have (or plan to develop) a social media platform to assist in these efforts. Authors and illustrators will not have ultimate responsibility for marketing their book(s), but we encourage active involvement in this process. This can come in many forms – not just a social media platform. But having one is almost essential at this point.

SUSANNA: As a new publisher, how do you plan to tackle marketing and distribution?

SANDRA: “Tackle” is an appropriate word for this topic. Although I love the creative aspects of being a publisher, the fact is much of my time is devoted to making quality products (in a physical sense as much as in the stories told) and getting them into the hands of as many readers as possible. I made the decision early on that GRP would use offset printing rather than print-on-demand services. This provides a wider range of options for distribution and marketing, but it also requires more time and money upfront and greater financial risk. This is one reason advances are less attractive than those found at a large, traditional publishing house. It means I must be very selective about choosing manuscripts and take on a limited number of projects so that resources can be put towards finding book buyers and building the brand as a whole. It is a balancing act of trying to attract talent, making quality products, selling them, and also keeping workload manageable and finding help when needed. Interview me again in five years and ask if all of my hair has turned gray. Chances are it will, and largely because of this.  

SUSANNA:  Will you submit your titles for review by top reviewers (Kirkus, SLJ, Booklist, etc) and for awards?

SANDRA: Yes. I feel this is a core component of a marketing and publicity strategy. But I do not want to discount the importance of less formal reviews and publicity found through connections within the greater Kidlit Community. We will work with our creatives on identifying and creating opportunities for personal growth and publicity through avenues like blog tours, podcasts, online promotional groups, book fairs, school and library visits, honor and awards submissions, and bookstore and influencer relationships.

SUSANNA: Do you have any advice for authors and illustrators who are planning to submit to GRP?

SANDRA: Let’s call it “Words of Wisdom”. First, learn your craft, get critiques, and write a good query letter. If you submit no query at all with the manuscript, send a 900-word story for pre-school age children, or fail to use any type of standard formatting, it is almost certain that submission will end up in the “no” pile. Almost. I could be wrong, but why take that chance with your work? Make your submission the best it can be. My Acquisitions Team will always appreciate the effort!

Little Gnome – Logo Design by Wendy Leach

Please come visit, get to know, and follow Gnome Road!

website: https://www.gnomeroadpublishing.com
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/GnomeRoadPub
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/gnomeroadpublishing/

Submissions Info HERE

SUSANNA: Sandra, thank you so much for stopping by today to tell us about your wonderful new publishing company! It’s so exciting – for you and for us! I think I speak for everyone when I say we can’t wait to see what you will publish!

And thanks to everyone 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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Rebecca Kraft Rector!

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to another exciting episode of Tuesday Debut!

Today’s debut-ess and I are clearly kindred spirits! Her book is being published by Nancy Paulsen, who has one of my books due out next year, her publication date is one of my daughters’ birthday, and her name is Rebecca, which is my sister’s name! There’s a pretty good chance we are twin princesses separated at birth 😊

So I am delighted to introduce you to Rebecca Kraft Rector and her fun-looking book, Squish Squash Squished! (I don’t have my copy as of the writing of this post but I hope it will be here soon!)

Squish Squash Squished
Written by Rebecca Kraft Rector
Illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte
Published by Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Random House
February 16, 2021
Fiction, ages 2-6

When Max and Molly complain about being squished in the back seat of their gracious-spacious automobile, Mom invites their animal neighbors to ride along. They’d better figure out what to do before they’re truly SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED!


SUSANNA: Welcome, Rebecca! Thank you so much for joining us today! We’re excited to hear all about how Squish Squash Squished came to be! Where did the idea for this book come from?

REBECCA: Family car rides were a big part of my childhood. But the story was not inspired by us kids being crowded in the back seat, because we were very well behaved. 😊 In fact, SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED grew out of another story I was working on. That story was about the car itself. Gradually I started focusing on the children and adding humor and word play. My most successful stories happen when I’m making myself laugh.

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

REBECCA: I wrote and revised the story with the help of my critique group in about three months. It didn’t sell and I put it away. That was twenty years ago!

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

REBECCA: SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED was revised at least 15 times before it was submitted.

I revise before sharing with critique partners and then I revise again. (and again) When I think a story is finished, I do a few more passes. I use Word to turn the text into a 4 x 8 table. It’s an easy process under Insert/Table/Convert Text to Table. Each cell of the table represents a page of a 32-page book. The table lets me see where page turns will fall, if one page will have more words than another, if I’m repeating things unnecessarily, etc. A new revision tool I use is Read Mode in Word. I can see the text spread across two pages, just like a book. And if I enlarge the font to 18 (or so) it has fewer words on the page, so it reads like a picture book. I also like to change the font size and color of the text. It gives me a totally new perspective on the story.

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

REBECCA: After many revisions and feedback from my critique group, I felt I had a solid story. It made me laugh and the words flowed smoothly when it was read aloud.

Rebecca’s work buddies, Ollie and Opal 😊


SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

REBECCA: My agent submitted the story three times before we parted ways. Then I submitted to publishers that took unsolicited manuscripts. I put the story away when it was rejected and only pulled it out again, almost 20 years later, when I needed a story to work on for a workshop. Cecilia Yung, Art Director at Penguin Random House, saw the story at the workshop (text only since I can’t draw), loved it, and took it to editor/publisher Nancy Paulsen. A week later, I received an email from Nancy offering to publish the story!

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

REBECCA: This was my first picture book contract so I only had a vague idea of what to expect. The advance was divided into two payments—half on signing the contract and half on “delivery and acceptance of the manuscript.” I believe “delivery and acceptance” referred to a revised manuscript after editorial feedback. The number of author copies was negotiated from 10 to 24. The contract’s timeline for publication was 18 months after acceptance of text and illustrations. 18 months seemed a long, but reasonable time to wait. However, the timeline was actually about three and a half years. Publishing is sloooow.

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

REBECCA: The editorial process was wonderful. Nancy was awesome to work with—responsive and open to discussing any questions I had. Yes, I had to make some changes. But she really did listen to my concerns. One example is that she had revised the story so that the animals exited the car in one paragraph—the dogs got out at the puppy school, the ducks got out at the duck pond, and the pigs got out at the market. I really wanted to show the car gradually emptying—the dogs got out but Molly still had two ducks on her head quack-quacking and Max still had a pig on his lap oink-oinking. (Those lines are all paraphrased.) Nancy’s changes were made so that the story would fit into a 32-page picture book. After some discussion, she decided to go with a 40-page picture book so that we could include my original text!

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

REBECCA: I was included in the illustration process from the start. I had input on illustrators and I was able to give feedback on sketches. I hadn’t included any art notes but I had pictures in my head, of course. It took a little time to adjust my vision when I saw the sketches. But they quickly grew on me. I was so lucky that illustrator Dana Wulfekotte came on board to create the world for SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED. She even made some changes based on my suggestions.

text copyright Rebecca Kraft Rector 2021, illustration copyright Dana Wulfekotte 2021, Nancy Paulsen Books

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

REBECCA: Nothing yet.

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

REBECCA: July 2017 to January 2021. Three and a half years.


SUSANNA: What was the initial print run for your book?

REBECCA: 10,000 copies.

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

REBECCA: The associate publicist is pitching widely to national and regional media, targeting trade and book-interest sites, illustrator and educator media, and parenting media.

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

REBECCA: I’m doing blog interviews and I’ve joined a debut picture book group—21 for the Books. It’s been a great, supportive group. We have a blog https://oneforthebooks.wixsite.com/2021 and we create graphics and interviews to publicize each other’s books.

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

REBECCA: It was a long time—at least thirty years.

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?)

REBECCA: The most important thing I learned was Don’t Give Up! Keep writing and keep trying. This might not be the right time for this story, but who knows? Maybe it’ll sell next year (or twenty years from now).

Author Rebecca Kraft Rector

RebeccaKraftRector.wordpress.com
RebeccaKraftRector on Facebook
RebeccaKRector on Instagram and Twitter


SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to join us today and give us a glimpse of your publication process, Rebecca! It is such a privilege to get to learn from you! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you the very best of luck with this and future titles!

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

You may purchase Rebecca’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!

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Melanie Ellsworth!

It’s that time again. . .

Time to meet another amazing Tuesday Debut-ess!

I’m thrilled to introduce you to Melanie Ellsworth and share a glimpse of her journey to publication with this delightfully lively and fun-looking picture book due out on February 23 (so pre-order your copy now! 😊)

Are you ready?

Hip, hip, Beret! 😊

HIP, HIP…BERET!
written by Melanie Ellsworth
illustrated by Morena Forza
Fiction Picture Book for ages 4-7
HMH Books for Young Readers
February 23, 2021

Bella’s beret blows away on a windy day, taking a ride through the seasons and landing on a variety of heads along the way. Full of rhyme, repetition, and humorous word play, with a few touchable berets to engage young readers.


SUSANNA: Welcome, Melanie! Thank you so much for joining us! We are so looking forward to hearing Hip, Hip…Beret!’s birthday story 😊 Where did the idea for this book come from?

       
MELANIE: Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Susanna. I’m thrilled to be here!

I often play around with common sayings, idioms, or nursery rhyme phrases and see what happens if I change a word or two. I remember playing around with the phrase, “Hip, hip hooray!” to see what would happen if I changed the last word. One of my early ideas was “Hip, hip moray!” a non-fiction picture book about moray eels. (It’s probably best I didn’t follow that idea too far…) Fortunately, it didn’t take long from there to get to “Hip, hip…beret!” and imagine where a beret might travel on a windy day.

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

MELANIE: I wrote the first draft in one sitting once I hit upon the structure of the book, and I revised over the next month and a half while also working on other projects. Unlike a number of my ideas, which sit around in a Word doc on my computer for months or years before I write them, I was eager to write a first draft for HIP, HIP…BERET! as soon as I got the idea. It seemed like tons of fun to write, and it was. Rhymezone.com was my best friend on this journey as I needed many words that rhymed with “hooray” for the repeating phrase!

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

       
MELANIE: I wrote eight drafts of this story, sharing with my critique groups along the way, before sending this off to an editor. For many of my books, I write twenty or thirty drafts, so writing HIP, HIP…BERET! went much more quickly than usual for me. (Thank goodness! We could all use one like this from time to time!)

Because I established the simple structure of the story quickly, the various drafts don’t reflect major differences from the first to the eighth – just minor word tweaking. It was one of those rare stories that came to mind almost fully formed, although early on in the brainstorming process, I tried a few rhyming stanzas like this:

A beret sails away       

One very windy day    

Frog tries it on

And flings it to a fawn

I did like the idea of the beret passing from one head to another, but I threw out that stanza pattern and went with a structure that involved the repetition of “Hip, Hip…” followed by various words like “soufflé” and “ballet.” (Turns out a lot of French words rhyme with “hooray!”) That simplified structure fit better with the story I was telling and also allowed readers/listeners to predict the next rhyming word. I wanted the tone to be lightweight and breezy like the wind carrying the beret.

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

MELANIE: By the eighth draft, I had done all the wordsmithing I could do, and my critique group members thought it was ready. One of them suggested I submit HIP, HIP…BERET! to an editor who was already considering another one of my manuscripts because it seemed like a good companion to that book. That turned out to be a great idea because the editor ended up acquiring both books! Thank goodness for critique groups who often give you the push you need at the right time!

Melanie’s writing buddy, Baxter, working hard in her office 😊



SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

       
MELANIE: For HIP, HIP…BERET! I had a connection with an editor I had met at the Agents/Editors/Writers conference in Belgrade Lakes, Maine. She was considering a different manuscript of mine from that conference, and I asked if she would be interested in this one as well. She said yes, so I sent HIP, HIP…BERET! along to her in May of 2018.

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted did you get your offer?

MELANIE: I emailed HIP, HIP…BERET to the editor in May and received an offer on August 13th, so it was about three months from submission to offer for that one. (My other book being considered by the same editor around that time, CLARINET AND TRUMPET, took a lot longer – with an initial submission of November 7th, a revise/resubmit request, and an offer seven months later in June. )

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

MELANIE: In June, I heard back from the editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt by email with an offer on my other manuscript (CLARINET AND TRUMPET). At that point, I reached out to a few of the agents on my list and ended up signing with Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis. She negotiated the contract for CLARINET AND TRUMPET with my editor. Then in August, I had an offer on HIP, HIP…BERET! from the same editor, and Christa negotiated that contract as well. It was definitely a joyful summer for me! The two books were originally scheduled to come out about 6 months apart, but due to the pandemic, CLARINET AND TRUMPET was pushed from 2020 to 2021, so now the two books are practically twins, due out in February and March of 2021. (I imagine HIP, HIP…BERET! elbowing CLARINET AND TRUMPET out of the way so it could come out first!)

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

MELANIE: I got the offer for HIP, HIP…BERET on August 13, 2018 and had the contract (which my agent negotiated) two months later on October 4th.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

MELANIE: I remember letting my critique groups know first thing – they did some happy dances with me over email/phone. My husband suggested I frame the first advance check that I got, so I did, and it’s hanging on my office wall. I was especially excited to share the news with my daughter; she had been watching my picture book writing journey since she was a little picture book reader herself, and even though she was moving into chapter books and early middle grade by then, she was still thrilled for her mom. (Plus, no one is ever too old for picture books!)

SUSANNA: That is so true! Picture books are for everyone! Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

MELANIE: My contract was fairly typical, with an advance in the 3-6K range, and the standard royalties, and 20 author copies. I thought the initial advance offer was generous for a debut author, and my agent was able to increase it even more. 

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

MELANIE: It was fun to work on revisions with my editor; I’m one of those writers who (most of the time) loves the editing process. I think we went back and forth with a few changes here and there about five times before we had a final version. Most of it was small word changes, but there were some larger stanza changes as well. I had a stanza featuring an old oak tree that we ended up replacing with a ballet scene which was more dynamic. I originally had a hawk swooping down to grab the beret – “hip, hip…my prey!” and I really didn’t want to cut that scene at first, but the editor convinced me that it darkened the tone of an otherwise lighthearted book. We replaced it with a balloon carrying the beret skywards until the balloon pops. Morena Forza, the illustrator, also played a role in some text changes; she felt like the donkey stanza would result in illustrations too similar to the horse stanza, so the donkey hit the cutting room floor (Hip, hip…br-aaay!!). We made the ending a bit brighter as well, with the beret almost sprouting from the ground as the spring flowers emerge. In retrospect, it’s surprising how many revisions you can make on a story that is less than 300 words long! But every word is gold and needs to shine.

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

MELANIE: I didn’t have much to do with the illustrations, as publishers wisely like to give illustrators freedom to explore their own vision. I had very few art notes in my initial submission, except one for a plot point at the end that wasn’t clear in the text and one at the beginning suggesting that the illustrations show Bella looking for her missing beret throughout the story. As it turned out, the illustrator and design team disregarded that note because they felt that having Bella searching in each spread, even as an inset, would make the spreads too busy. I had also suggested that Bella not be white, feeling like more of our young readers need to see themselves reflected in text and/or illustration, but they made a different decision on that. But there is diversity reflected in other characters in the book.

My editor thought that it would be fun to have a few touchable, felt berets throughout the book, and I think children will enjoy the search for those. I got to see the art early on in the process in case I wanted to make comments, and I was happy to let Morena (and the art department) pursue their vision. As I sit here holding an author copy in my hand, I’m thinking that the vivid color and whimsy that Morena brings to the illustrations perfectly matches the tone of the text, and I love her work.

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

MELANIE: I haven’t seen reviews yet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

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

MELANIE: Let’s see – offer on August 2018 and first copy in hand January 22, 2021! So about two and ½ years.

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

MELANIE: My editor shared HMH’s 50-page marketing guidelines PDF which helps authors with social media promotion. Other publishers might have something similar – for writers debuting, it’s worth reaching out to your editor or publicist to ask. My editor suggested I pass marketing questions by her, but some editors prefer that an author work directly with their assigned publicist. I asked about doing book giveaways, and they offered to do an Instagram giveaway. When I inquired, my editor also said they are willing to send books to winners (living in the U.S.) of my blog tour giveaways, so it’s helpful that I don’t have to use all of my author copies for that. The publisher has also reached out to their usual sources for reviews of my books. As a debut author, I have been reluctant to ask tons of marketing questions – not wanting to be a major pest! – but I do think it helps to be as proactive as possible in promoting your work. Ultimately, that will benefit the publisher as well. And being part of a debut book group is very helpful – I’m part of the Soaring ‘20s Picture Book Debut Group (https://www.soaring20spb.com/) – because you can get a lot of marketing questions answered by folks who have debuted before you, and they can help you figure out what you need to ask your publisher.

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

MELANIE: I’ve arranged for a number of blog tours, particularly on blogs that I’ve been following regularly – like this one! – for years. I’ve also participated on Matthew Winner’s The Children’s Book Podcast (and soon on KidLit TV) with my Soaring ‘20s debut group. It has been helpful for our group to promote and review each other’s books and provide useful content to other writers. I’ve also set up a library event with my local library, offering signed/personalized books through my local bookstore. For both of my books, the illustrators have agreed to be part of Zoom book events, which is wonderful (especially since Morena Forza lives in Italy – quite the time difference!). A website seems like a must for authors/illustrators, and you can certainly create one for yourself if you are willing to put in a lot of time. I started down that route for a while before realizing I was better off putting my website into more capable hands. 😊

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


MELANIE: About 6 years. I started writing and joined a critique group in 2012 and sold my first picture book in 2018.

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

MELANIE: It can get a little stressful as you approach your debut date and think about all the marketing you still need to do, but I’d advise anyone debuting to be sure to also have fun and enjoy the crazy journey! And for writers who aren’t sure if they’ll ever get that first book out there, keep the faith. You have your own stories to tell, and the world needs them.

Author Melanie Ellsworth

Find Melanie at:
Twitter:  @melanieells
Instagram:  @melaniebellsworth
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/MelanieEllsworthAuthor
Website:  www.MelanieEllsworth.com

Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Melanie! We are so grateful to you for sharing your time and expertise, and wish you all the best with this and future titles!

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

You may purchase Melanie’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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Hope Lim!

Roll out the red carpet! It’s time for another Tuesday Debut!

Today I’m delighted to introduce a graduate of Making Picture Book Magic! I am always so proud when one of my students gets published! Not that I have that much to do with it – it is all their own talent, creativity, commitment to their craft, and hard work! But still. . . 😊

So without further ado, let’s welcome Hope Lim and have a look at her beautiful picture book, I Am A Bird!

I AM A BIRD
written by Hope Lim
illustrated by Hyewon Yum
Candlewick, February 2, 2021
Fiction. Age for 3-7.

On her daily bike ride with her dad, a bird-loving little girl passes a woman who frightens her—until she discovers what they have in common.

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

HOPE: The idea for I AM A BIRD started after an encounter with a stranger in Golden Gate Park. I thought she was strange at first, but I immediately recognized my perception was unfair and started to reflect on our innate fears and biases toward each other. When I came home, my husband told me about how my daughter made joyful birdcalls on their way to school on the back of his bike. I was struck by the contrast between my daughter and my simultaneous experiences. At that moment, I knew I had to write a story about exploring the fear of the unknown and combined it with my daughter’s soaring spirit. That’s how I AM A BIRD was born – a story of celebrating kindred spirits discovered unexpectedly, all told from a child’s perspective.

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

HOPE: To answer this question, I looked back at the folder of I AM A BIRD on my computer. The first draft was written in October 2015. I distinctly remember the moment when I felt the urge to work on this story. It was after finishing two poetry books, BOOK OF NATURE POETRY and WINTER BEES. I had already started a draft, but after reading these books, the lines started to pour out of my heart and I simply transferred them onto paper. I realized again the importance of reading poetry for picture books, especially when your mind is still fresh with a story idea. After that first draft, I wrote 14 revisions in the next three months. Over the following year, I revised it several more times while working on other projects.

Hope’s work space

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

HOPE: A resounding yes. I went through many revisions. First on my own, then with my CPs, then with my agent, and finally with my editor. The most dramatic revision was with my editor who encouraged me to look for another way to strengthen the connection between the girl and the woman. Up until then the main focus of the revision was mostly polishing language. It was the first time for me to work with an editor whose vision clearly guided me to look at the story from a new perspective. The moment I discovered another critical connection (the bird calls) felt so exuberant.

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

HOPE: This question has always vexed me. First, do what it takes to get the story ready, such as sharing it with CPs, revising, putting it away and revising and sharing again. Second, when it feels as polished as possible, I put it away for at least two weeks. When you read it with fresh eyes and feel something, either joy, sadness, humor, or the emotion you hope your story will evoke, then the story is ready for submission. Once, Mem Fox said, “…the thing that I look for most in a book is something that will change the emotional temperature of the children who are listening.” I use that as a final gauge for each of my stories to see if they are ready or not.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

HOPE: I submitted to agents, mostly, until I found my current agent. I entered a contest once and submitted manuscripts for critiques at a local conference and the LA summer conference. Early on, when I was blissfully ignorant about the publishing industry, I submitted to a few publishing houses directly, which I wouldn’t have done if I knew then what I know now. At that time, my story wasn’t ready, and I had no idea what it takes to get an agent or get a story published. What worked for me was to submit the strongest story widely. Chose the one that represents who you are as a person and a writer. For me, it was MY TREE and when I started to attract positive responses, I knew it was my strongest one and submitted it widely. MY TREE landed me an agent and my first book deal. I think you should have three or four complete and polished manuscripts, in addition to the one you are submitting.

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

HOPE: My experiences with submissions have been very different and each story has had a unique journey to find the perfect home. For I AM A BIRD, fortunately, the initial interest came quickly and it ended up having two houses with serious interest. My agent and I decided to go with the first house, for her thoughtful comments helped me see my story in a new way. It was like discovering something buried in the story that I hadn’t thought of before. She didn’t ask for a revision, but I had already revised the story based on her comments and after we sent the revision, we got the call immediately.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

HOPE: I shared the news with family and seeing them happy and excited was a celebration itself. That same week, good friends visited from the east coast and we had champagne before dinner at a great place in San Francisco. Little did I know how precious that moment would be given the new norm brought by COVID-19.

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

HOPE: I remember I was taken aback when I received comments from my editor on I AM A BIRD. The text was already very spare, but she removed a few lines, which I thought were essential for raising tension. After trying to see the story from her perspective, I accepted her most of suggestions, but kept some lines in the text. My editor allowed me to keep those lines until I came to realization that they could go after seeing the text with the illustrations. It was an eye-opening experience for me to learn about how illustrations can sometimes effortlessly replace what the text tries to deliver in PBs.

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

HOPE: My experiences with the illustration process have been very rewarding. Trust and respect for the vision of my editor and illustrator is critical, as the author may not be able to influence the final outcome. Still, I believe that my editors get an understanding of my vision through our conversations. I have been involved in that my editor has sent draft sketches and proofs as they became available. I have known from early on that an illustrator will bring depth and layer to a story beyond what is written in the text. I have other books scheduled for publication and the draft illustrations fully evoke the emotions as described in the story. I am thrilled to provide the foundation on which beautiful art can be created.  

text copyright Hope Lim 2021, illustration copyright Hyewon Yum 2021, Candlewick
text copyright Hope Lim 2021, illustration copyright Hyewon Yum 2021, Candlewick

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

HOPE: My editor emails me advance reviews whenever they are available, and Kirkus gave a starred review to I AM A BIRD.

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

HOPE: I received the offer for I AM A BIRD in July 2018 and the first copy on the first week of November 2020!

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

HOPE: Joining a debut picture book group was very helpful in terms of sharing information and supporting each other. I have done several blog interviews, including yours. and I have found them helpful by keeping the momentum going.

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

HOPE: I wrote solo for a year before I realized I had no idea how to improve my stories. That’s how I found your class in 2014 and afterward joined 12×12. I signed with my agent in November 2016, who sold my first book, MY TREE, to Neal Porter in July 2017.

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


HOPE: Keep dreaming and reading and writing. And enjoy the process before you land an agent. I call that period your time in the cocoon, as you are making something beautiful on your terms, with no time demands.  For that reason, it can be cozy and comfortable without worrying about the realities of the publishing industry. Try to focus and be productive in that time and you will be rewarded later with your hard work.

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Hope! We so appreciate your time and expertise! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you the best with this and future titles!

Author Hope Lim

Website: http://www.hopelim.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hope_lim  
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hopelim_sf/

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

You may purchase Hope’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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Amy Mucha!

Hi Everyone!

Welcome back to Tuesday Debut!

We had a kind of a long stretch without any new debuts, but today’s marks the first of at least 9, so get ready to meet some great new authors!

Today I’m thrilled to introduce you to Amy Mucha, whose interview I’m sure you’ll enjoy. It’s entertaining and she has lots of interesting and helpful information to share.

Let’s start with a look at her beautiful book!

A Girl’s Bill of Rights
written by Amy B. Mucha
illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda
Beaming Books
February 2, 2021
Fiction, ages 4-8

In a world where little girls must learn to stand tall, A Girl’s Bill of Rights boldly declares the rights of every woman and girl: power, confidence, freedom, and consent. Author Amy B. Mucha and illustrator Addy Rivera Sonda present a diverse cast of characters standing up for themselves and proudly celebrating the joy and power of being a girl.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Amy! Thank you so much for joining us today! Where did the idea for this book come from?

AMY: I had written the original text years ago, purely for myself, as a pledge to help me be more assertive and confident. I had always heard that agents and editors wanted picture books with characters and plots, and that “concept books” were tough sells, so I never gave much thought to pitching it as a picture book. But when it came time for #PitMad I thought, heck, why not at least try? And go figure, the one that broke all the rules was the one that sold!

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

AMY: The first version took only ten or twenty minutes, burbling out in a single churning flow of resolution. This was one of those books that seemed to know what it wanted to be and didn’t require much kneading or pushing. It’s always nice when that happens!

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

AMY: Very few. I had the original which I wrote for myself, and it only took one or two rounds to get it into picture book form (with the right number of pages, etc.). Then, after it was signed, the editor at Beaming Books asked me to rewrite the ending to make it more positive. The last line of my original draft was, “If you don’t like it you can go eat socks!” It made me laugh, but Beaming Books was absolutely correct; the new ending works SO much better. Once I rewrote it, I took it to my wonderful critique group who helped make sure it was polished and ready. And that was it!

Amy’s workspace and one of her many work buddies 😊

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

AMY: Honestly, I didn’t give it too much thought. I had other manuscripts I was actively querying, and those I had spent plenty of time on to make sure they were submission-ready. But A Girl’s Bill of Rights was one I pitched more as a lark.

I should say that one thing I *did* do, and this was key, was hire Katie Frawley (https://katiefrawley.wordpress.com) to write the pitch. I’m dreadful at pitches, and she’s got a gift for them. Without her help I’m sure this never would have happened. I recommend her to everyone who struggles with pitching!

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

AMY: Because I’d been actively querying agents and purposefully NOT submitting directly to publishers, I always assumed my first offer would come through an agent. But because of that pitch event, it ended up happening the other way around. Thankfully I had been querying a middle grade novel at the same time that I received the offer from Beaming Books, and I was able to contact the agents who had shown interest in my work and let them know about the offer. That’s how, in what was one of the magical months of my whole life, I ended up signing with the fabulous Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown AND signing my first book contract, all within a few weeks. What a summer!

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


AMY: I was fortunate to have it all happen in a few months. The pitch event was in early-June and I sent the manuscript within days of it being “liked”. A few weeks later I was sitting in the waiting room of my daughter’s dentist when I received the email from Beaming Books that there was a “strong possibility of acquiring” my book. I did a happy dance right there in the waiting room! It took another month to get the formal offer, then maybe two weeks later I was sitting on the runway in an airplane, having just landed, when I received an offer of representation from Ginger. They had just turned off the seat-belt light and I was so excited I was having joy conniptions in the aisle. Soon three rows ahead and behind me were clapping and congratulating me — I felt like I was in a movie!

SUSANNA: What a great story!!! 😊 How did you celebrate signing your contract?

AMY: I celebrated with strangers on an airplane, lol! It was wonderful.

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

AMY: As I mentioned above, my editor at Beaming Books, Naomi Krueger, asked me to rewrite the ending to make it more positive, since the original manuscript ended with “If you don’t like it you can go eat socks!” I’ll admit I did have an initial brief pang. The sassiness of the line always made me laugh, and I had envisioned making “Go eat socks!” socks and tossing them out as prizes at school events. But as soon as I had the new ending come to me, I liked it so much better. And the socks? I decided to go ahead and make those anyway! Because who doesn’t want a pair of “Go eat socks” socks? (You can find them on my website: http://www.amybmucha.com.)

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

AMY: It’s always such a nervous moment for any picture book writer, finding out which illustrator has been assigned to their work. I had the enormous luck of being matched with Addy Rivera Sonda. She is a dream! And because my book has no plot or characters, she had a harder job than most. I hadn’t included any art notes, since I’d been taught that the writer ought to leave all of that to the artist, so the task in front of her must have felt daunting. Take this page, for example:

The text says, “I have the right to say ‘STOP!’ and even the right to SCREAM it!”

Addy could have chosen any situation at all to illustrate this line, using any sort of characters. Choosing to draw a paper airplane being thrown on a school bus was perfect! It’s so relatable, and exactly the kind of situation where we’d want girls to stand up for themselves. It would have been easy to end up with a scenario that was too heavy and serious for the book, or too frivolous. In making perfect choices like this page after page, she turned what had started as a mere pledge or a creed into a complete story. And not only that, but she created an amazing array of diverse, stereotype-busting characters to boot. I will be forever grateful to her for making this book what it is!

text copyright Amy Mucha 2021, illustration copyright Addy Rivera Sonda 2021, Beaming Books

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

AMY: I saw the advance review from Kirkus less than a week ago, and — this is funny — you made me curious so I just now looked it up on Publishers Weekly, and it appears that they’ve posted a review as well! It’s never a guarantee that you’ll get a review from either, so I’m just glad for the notice. And the fact that both were quite positive makes it all the better! Phew!

Here are links if you’d like to read the reviews:

Publishers Weekly review: https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-5064-6452-7

Kirkus Review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/amy-b-mucha/a-girls-bill-of-rights/

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

AMY: Let’s see… the offer came in July 2019 and I got my author copies on the last day of 2020. That’s not really fair, though, since my original pub date was delayed five months thanks to Covid. Without that it would have been only a year, which is quite fast in the publishing world.

Amy upon receiving her author copies 2nd week of January 2021

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

AMY: First, I created my website, adding activity guides for parents and teachers created by Debbie Gonzales (http://www.debbiegonzales.com). Then I created a line of merchandise (t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, etc.) with the goal of donating my portion of the sales to girl power organizations. I’m also donating a portion of my book earnings, though I haven’t figured out how to publicize any of this yet, so most people don’t know unless they happen to stumble across it on my website.

Probably where I’ve put most of my marketing energy so far is in reaching out to reviewers and interviewers. I made a huge spreadsheet of bloggers, reviewers, Twitter ARC-sharing groups, Instagrammers, YouTubers, local media, etc., then spent days sending emails, thankfully with great response so far. I’m also planning several book giveaways soon, including a “StoryGram” Instagram tour set for the first week of February.

Next on my list is to figure out how to contact independent bookstores and libraries to see if they’d be willing to stock my book. One advantage for those with a big-name publisher (one of the “big five”) is that bookstores and libraries are more likely to automatically stock their book, whereas with a smaller publisher you have to do more of the outreach yourself. I made postcards to mail and will be looking more into that next week.

Among the very wisest choices I made was joining a fabulous debut group (https://oneforthebooks.wixsite.com/2021). A good debut group isn’t just about boosting your book; it’s about sharing wisdom and creating community. I suggest to all writers that they start looking for one immediately after signing their first contract, since good groups fill up fast. They can be tricky to find, too. The best way is to be active on social media and start asking around.

There are a couple common marketing strategies I have NOT done yet. One is plan a book launch party, another is schedule school visits. Thanks, Covid! <eyeroll> Some authors are moving their school visits online, and I do have a couple of those lined up. If those go well and the kids seem to like them, I may add a “Author Visits” section to my website and give it a go.

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

AMY: Twelve years, but that was by choice. I spent the first ten in an amazing critique group, learning the craft, learning the industry, and making connections. I didn’t begin querying in earnest until a couple of years ago. From then to signing the offer was only around a year, I think.

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?)

AMY: Instead of the most important piece of advice, here are several smaller bits:

  • Join a critique group! Lots of critique groups have moved online. I recommend one of Susie Wilde’s groups if they’re not all filled. (http://ignitingwriting.com)
  • Join SCBWI and once Covid lets up, go to some of the conferences in person.
  • Don’t query a picture book until you have at least three polished and ready to submit.
  • If you’re serious about getting published, get active on Twitter and Instagram, following your favorite writers, agents, and editors. Also join the KIDLIT411 and Sub It Club groups on Facebook.

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! It’s such a valuable opportunity for all of us to get a chance to learn from you, and I know I speak for everyone when I say THANK YOU and wish you the best of luck with this and future titles!

AMY: Thank you Susanna! I really enjoyed this interview!

Author Amy Mucha

Website: http://www.amybmucha.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmyMucha
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amybmucha
Facebook: facebook.com/AmyBMuchaAuthor

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

You may purchase Amy’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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Janie Emaus!

Welcome to another exciting installment of Tuesday Debut!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

JANIE: Yes, dozens, if not hundreds!

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

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

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

Janie’s work space

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

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

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

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

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?

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

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

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate?

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

SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yum! Latkes 😊

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: What is the most important thing you learned?

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

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

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

Thanks for reading.  And good luck with your writing.

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

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

Author Janie Emaus

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Illustrator Julie Rowan-Zoch!

Howdy, y’all!

Get ready for something special!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[dummy sketch – the final is quite different]

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

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

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

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

[pangram image]

SUSANNA: What about book dimensions and paper choices?

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

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

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

SUSANNA: How does contract payment work for illustrators?

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

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JULIE: I believe it’s 40K. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Jolene Gutiérrez!

Hi Everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

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

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

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

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

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

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

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

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up and coming writers?)

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

Author Jolene Gutierrez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Nancy Roe Pimm!

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

It means that today is the first day of Autumn!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

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

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

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

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

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


SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

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

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”? 

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

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract? 

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


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

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

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

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

Shaesta Waiz and Nancy Pimm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Nancy Roe Pimm


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

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

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

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Lindsay H. Metcalf!

Hi there, Everyone!

Long time no see!

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

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

Beatrix Potter

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

SUSANNA:  Did you go through many revisions?

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

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

thumbnail_workspace

Lindsay’s workspace and writing buddy, Meeko 😊

 

 

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

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

 

 

SUSANNA:  When and how did you submit?

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

 

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

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

 

SUSANNA:  How did you celebrate signing your contract?

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

Screen Shot 2020-08-31 at 8.25.13 PM

credit © 2020 Albert Whitman and Company

 

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

Screen Shot 2020-08-31 at 8.27.18 PM

credit © 2020 Albert Whitman and Company

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

Here’s how I wrote one scene:

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

Lindsay Metcalf

Author Lindsay Metcalf (photo credit Anna Jackson)

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

https://www.lindsayhmetcalf.com/

 

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

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

 

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day