Tuesday Debut – Presenting Kathleen Cornell Berman!

Woo hoo!  Time for Tuesday Debut!

I am thrilled to introduce today’s debutess to you all!  She took my class way back in 2013 when it had only been running for 6 months, so she was an early graduate!  I think it’s fair to say, judging by the photo below, that I was incredibly helpful in teaching her the importance of chocolate for good writing 😊

Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Kathleen Cornell Berman and her fabulous book about Miles Davis!

BIRTH OF THE COOL: HOW JAZZ GREAT MILES DAVIS FOUND HIS SOUND
By Kathleen Cornell Berman
Illustrated by Keith Henry Brown
Page Street Kids, April 16, 2019
Non-fiction  Age 8-11

Kathy2

BIRTH OF THE COOL: HOW JAZZ GREAT MILES DAVIS FOUND HIS SOUND is a picture book biography about Miles’ journey to creating his unique sound. Readers will discover what inspired his sound and how his perseverance pushed him to new heights.

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

KATHY: I was brainstorming ideas for a Tara Lazar’s picture book month. I was anxious to write a picture book bio and my husband suggested Miles Davis. I loved the idea. I had fallen in love with Miles Davis’ music as a kid, and was eager to discover how he developed his sound on the trumpet.

I didn’t start research until almost year later. I read several books about Miles, including his autobiography and magazine articles. I listened to countless YouTube interviews, and played his music while I wrote.

 

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

KATHY: The seed for idea started in 2012, but I didn’t start the research until much later. Research plus writing and revisions took about two and half years. As I wrote the book, I continually went back and forth to check for accuracy, since some interviews contradicted others.

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

KATHY: It went through many revisions. My first draft was filled with facts, but also very boring. I had recently finished Renee LaTulippe class that had given me the audacity to write in free verse. Once I started writing in free verse, the words flowed.

Kathy3

Chocolate definitely helps with revisions. I always have an assortment on hand.

 

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

KATHY: It’s so hard to know when a manuscript is ready. That’s why it’s really important to share your work with other writers who also write in verse. I asked Tameka Brown as well as another writer in Renee’s group to read the story. Getting good feedback is essential in making the big decision.

 

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KATHY: I don’t have an agent. I submitted to about 25 agents and 6 publishers over 2 years, which isn’t a lot according to some. I had 4 agents who were interested, but alas, not interested in my other fiction picture books. I like to check out the #MSWL website to see what editors and agents are looking for. I was elated to read Charlotte Wenger’s tweet, looking for PB biographies related to the arts, music. Charlotte is the editor at Page Street Kids. So yes I submitted directly to the publisher.

 

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

KATHY: I submitted to Charlotte in May 2017 and heard back quickly.  After going through a few rounds of revisions, I signed the contract at the end of August 2017. The heart of the book is essentially the same, but with a few specifics to help clarify Miles’ journey, and more revisions process concerning word choice.

When my editor wanted to change the title to Birth of the Cool, I added more text about some details about the Birth of the Cool band.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

KATHY: I think I sang at the top of my lungs (I’m tone-deaf and have no musical ability), then toasted a glass of Proseco with my husband.

 

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

KATHY: I wasn’t sure what to expect. Fortunately I have critique partners who do have experience with contracts, so they advised me. I also contacted a lawyer for the final decisions.

My advance was standard, less than 5k and 5% royalty, with 15 author copies.

 

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

KATHY: The revision process was smooth and straightforward. The editor and I basically had the same vision. I basically made changes where the text was confusing to some. And I added more text because of the change of the title. Each time I revised I kept the audience in mind. I wanted kids to be able to relate to Miles in some way and also to be inspired by his journey.

 

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

KATHY: I was consulted every step of the way in choosing the illustrator as well as the ongoing sketches for the book. I loved Keith’s illustrations and how they’re free flowing, rhythmic, and moody. Since the book is non-fiction, I notified them of any inaccuracies in the illustrations.

 

Kathy4

Keith Henry Brown and I at Jazz Gallery

 

I think art notes are important for a non-fiction text, they help the illustrator to keep the art in line with the time period or with specific facts noted in story.

Some of my notes were used to describe the high school band or places where he played music as a young man.

 

 

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

KATHY: Yes we got to see the reviews and we were thrilled to get a starred review from Kirkus. Being a debut author and illustrator, we didn’t fully realize the significance. We were both beyond thrilled.

 

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

KATHY: I signed the contract August 31, 2017.  We had the book in our hands in less than two years. Very cool feeling.

 

 

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

KATHY: They use social media to promote the book. We’re also in contact with the publicist who has contacted booksellers as well event venues for book signings. They also made gorgeous bookmarks and provided us with a curriculum guide that is downloadable on my website.

 

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

KATHY: Keith made a booktrailer and is also creating a coloring book. I’ve created the swag bag along with a wordsearch and goodies. There will be activities added to my website as time goes on.

I have done a number of blog tours and a podcast. Both Keith and I appeared on Jazz 88 WBGO radio show. We were asked interesting questions and it was amazing to hear ourselves on the radio.

 

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

KATHY: It took seven years of reading, writing, reading, classes, conferences, and of course being in a critique group is essential to getting published

 

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

KATHY: I totally enjoyed the research and the revisions. I never felt overly frustrated. It always brought me joy in hopes that my book would inspire kids to find their own voice and be inspired by Miles’ tenacity to reach his goal. Obviously many kids will not become musicians, but I hope they find their own voice in what ever they attempt.

 

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for joining us today, Kathy, and for taking the time to participate in this series and pay it forward to other writers!  We all so appreciate the knowledge and experience you shared with us today, and who knows how many writers you may have helped toward publication?! 😊

 

Kathy1

Author Kathleen Cornell Berman

Website: kathleencornellberman.com

Twitter: @bermankathy

Instagram: kcornellb

 

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

You may purchase Kathy’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

 

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Annie Romano!

Good Morning, Everyone!

It’s time to BYOC (Bring Your Own Coffee, Bring Your Own Chocolate, Bring Your Own Chair 🙂 ) and settle in among friends for today’s exciting edition of Tuesday Debuts!!!

I am thrilled to introduce to you for the first time in Picture Book Authorship, Annie Romano and her debut picture book, BEFORE YOU SLEEP: A BEDTIME BOOK OF GRATITUDE.

Welcome, Annie, and congratulations!!!

Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude
by Annie Cronin Romano
Illustrated by Ioana Hobao
Page Street Kids
October 16, 2018
Fiction
ages 3-7

Final Cover BEFORE YOU SLEEP

Synopsis:
This winsome bedtime book has the makings to become a classic and an important part of families’ nightly rituals. Reflecting on various activities through each of the five senses, detailed poetic text and illustrations show memorable scenes.

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for joining us today, Annie!  We are excited for you and thrilled to have you here to tell us about your journey to publication!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

 

ANNIE: I worked for nearly 15 years as a speech-language pathologist. One exercise I would do with some of my students involved describing items using the five senses. One night I was having difficulty sleeping. The phrase “before you sleep, before you dream” popped up in my mind (probably because sleep was eluding me), and I wrote it down as a potential refrain for a story. The next day, I played around with the phrase and eventually linked it with the five senses exercise I used with my students. It blossomed from there and became a lyrical bedtime story with a theme of gratitude structured around the five senses.

 

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

ANNIE: Once I had the idea for BEFORE YOU SLEEP in mind, I wrote the extremely rough draft in one weekend. It was by no means finished. I sent it off to my critique group and let them sink their editorial teeth into it.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

ANNIE: Yes, I tend to use a combination of critiques and time when revising. Once I’ve reviewed the feedback I receive from my critique group and incorporated what makes the story stronger, I put the manuscript in a drawer for a while I work on other projects. This could be a few weeks or many months, depending on the project. I find this “let it sit” technique helpful as I can look at the story with a fresh perspective after not reading it for a while. For BEFORE YOU SLEEP, I also drafted a non-rhyming version while the rhyming version was in the drawer. My critique group critiqued that one, too, but ultimately it didn’t come together as well and I returned to the original version. I expanded the verse manuscript based on additional feedback. All in all, the manuscript went through about six drafts over two years. This doesn’t include the revisions I did for the publisher once I sold it.

 

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

ANNIE: Once I’d gone through several passes with my critique group and have let the manuscript sit so I could get that “fresh eyes” perspective several times, then I started submitting.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

ANNIE: Despite loving this manuscript, I was hesitant to query BEFORE YOU SLEEP because I thought it was far too quiet for the current market. But I researched agents who were open to queries and ultimately sent it to five agents I thought would be a good fit. I received three positive personalized rejections with helpful feedback, which is unusual, so I felt something was definitely working. I revised it based on some of the feedback. I then posted a pitch for it in February 2017’s #PBPitch Twitter event. I got a “like” from Kristen Nobles, an editor at an independent publishing company named Page Street that was adding a children’s division. Because I don’t have an agent, I communicated directly with Kristen.

 

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

ANNIE: Just three days after I sent Kristen Nobles my manuscript, she emailed me to ask about discussing the possibility of publication. That turnaround time is highly unusual, but because Page Street was just launching its children’s division, they didn’t have a backlog of projects. By early April, I had a signed contract.

SUSANNA: That is amazing!  You must have been over the moon!

 

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

ANNIE: My husband and kids actually planned a surprise celebration for me and took me for a getaway in Boston. We live about 45 minutes from the city and it’s one of our favorite places to explore, so it was wonderful to spend some quality time with my family in the city we enjoy so much. We went to the Museum of Fine Arts, which I love visiting!

 

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

 

ANNIE: Because it was my first book contract, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I did a lot of research online and asked a few friends who were already published for some guidance. Then I had a lawyer who specialized in publishing review the contract. She made a few suggestions and adjustments, but overall she reported that it was an honest and straightforward contract, so once a few items were revised, I felt confident moving forward. I recommend having a lawyer with experience in publishing review your contract. She had a much better idea of what was a solid offer in terms of royalty percentages and author copies than I did as a debut author.

I don’t have many contracts of my own to define “normal,” but based on the feedback my attorney gave me and what I’ve learned via research, my contract was fairly standard. From speaking with other debut picture book authors working with small to mid-size publishers, most seem to get an advance ranging from $1000 to $5,000, and mine was in that range. You want a decent advance, but you also want to be able to earn out in a reasonable amount of time. Standard royalties hover around 5% on hardcover. And most debut authors I know received between 10-20 author copies of their books.

 

SUSANNA: Tell us about the editorial process…

ANNIE: Most of my revisions took place after the initial sketches were done, and there were no major revisions. We changed a few words and phrases for pacing and flow, and a few minor changes were made to keep the text timely and to reflect an illustration choice.

 

SUSANNA: Tell us about your experience of the illustration process…

ANNIE: Page Street allowed me to have a say in who would illustrate my book, which was a terrific experience! They sent me several portfolios to consider and invited me to put forth names of illustrators whose work I thought might be a good match. When I received the portfolios, I knew from the styles that the publisher’s vision for the book was in line with mine. I was kept in the loop throughout the process, from initial sketches to final proofs, and they asked for my feedback. I adore Ioana Hobai’s illustrations. She captured the essence of BEFORE YOU SLEEP beautifully, and I couldn’t be happier with how the artwork came together with the text!

BeforeYouSleep_3

 

SUSANNA: Did you include any art notes with your manuscript?

ANNIE: For BEFORE YOU SLEEP, I didn’t include any illustration notes because they weren’t necessary for that text. I do have some manuscripts that contain minimal (one to two) illustration notes, but in general I try to avoid using them unless that note is necessary to the plot and can’t be inferred from the text.

 

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

ANNIE: It was about 18 months. I think that’s fast, but again, my book was on Page Street Kids’ first list, so there wasn’t a backlog of projects. I think it would be longer now.
AnnieCR with book

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

ANNIE: I am fortunate to be on Page Street’s inaugural children’s list, so they’ve been doing a good amount of marketing for a small publisher. My publisher has sent out introductory mailings and F&G’s (folded and gathered) to reviewers, librarians, and key industry professionals. They also featured their titles at the New England Independent Booksellers Association conference in September, and they’ve had some events to introduce their children’s line to booksellers and librarians. They’re doing social media publicity as well.

 

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

ANNIE: My marketing consisted mainly of social media posts and scheduling signings and story time events. I didn’t make a book trailer. I created book plates to hand out at my launch and signings, and I did a Facebook event page for my book launch. I plan to run some giveaways on Goodreads and Twitter once the book is released, and I am doing guest blogs and interviews.

 

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

ANNIE: It was about fifteen years, but I also had three young children during the early years, so my writing productivity was definitely slower during that time.

 

SUSANNA: How many copies did your house do for first printing (if you know… and care to share)? The differences between large and small houses can be interesting.

 

ANNIE: My initial print run was under 10,000, which I think is to be expected for a debut author and a smaller publishing house launching its first children’s list. I hope my book finds its way into many people’s hands and we’ll need a second printing! Fingers crossed!

AnnieCroninRomano-head shot

Thanks so much for having me, Susanna! My website is www.anniecroninromano.com. I can be found on Twitter at @AnnieCRomano and Instagram at anniecroninromano.books.

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Annie!  We are all very grateful for your time and expertise and wish you the very best success with your book!

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

You may purchase Annie’s book at:

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

– 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