Tuesday Debut – Presenting Patti Richards!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, my friends!

Today I’m delighted to introduce the lovely Patti Richards and her picture book, MRS. NOAH (someone whom I think we can all agree we ought to hear more about because surely she was instrumental in making sure the ark was properly packed! 😊) For all of you considering entering the upcoming Halloweensie Contest, take note of the fact that Patti’s second book, MILLIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE due out from Little Lamb books in 2022, was a direct result of the Holiday Contest entry by that name that she wrote and entered a few years ago! Isn’t that cool?

Let’s turn now to MRS. NOAH and see what Patti has to share!

Title: MRS. NOAH
Author: Patti Richards
Illustrator: Alice Pieroni
Publisher: Little Lamb Books
Release Date: October 26, 2021
Genre: Fiction
Ages: 4 to 8

Synopsis: Noah can’t wait to show his bride the enormous ark he’s just completed. As amazing as it is, Mrs. Noah knows it can be more. She sees beyond the wood and fasteners to the home it has the potential to be—and so, she gets to work! With care for each animal and its needs, Mrs. Noah hammers, gathers, knits, and schlepps this floating house into a loving home. And while she starts the project on her own, teamwork will see it through.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Patti! Thank you so much for coming to our little corner of the blogosphere today to share your journey to publication! We’re so excited to learn from you! Where did the idea for this book come from?

PATTI: I was packing my family for our first cruise—a 50th anniversary celebration for my parents. With all the stress of getting a family of five ready for a big trip plus taking care of the pets, paying bills, cleaning the house, I was stressed to say the least. In the middle of all of the preparations, I thought, “If getting us ready for a three-day cruise is this crazy, how in the world did Mrs. Noah get an entire ark ready for her family and all the animals?” I laughed out loud at the thought, and the idea for MRS. NOAH was born.

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

PATTI: I wrote the first draft of MRS. NOAH in 2018. But the story actually got its start with the idea, so from idea to first draft took about six years. I know that seems like a long time, but other projects and life kept getting in the way. But I’m a firm believer in God’s perfect timing in life and in writing, and I think MRS. NOAH needed to simmer for that long for me to be ready to write the book. 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

PATTI: I had (still have) 13 versions of MRS. NOAH before I submitted it for the first time. I say “still have,” because I never discard a version/draft! Once the contract was signed, I’ve revised a few more times plus made final edits, so the grand total now is 15 versions. In talking with other writers, I do think the way I save drafts is sort of unique to me in that even one or two small changes…a period or comma here or there, a new word or rearranged sentence…means a new draft. I know not all writers do things this way, but for me, it’s super important to see the entire evolution of a story as well as be able to go back and find passages, sentences or word order that I liked better in earlier version. If I took a look at most of my story files right now, there isn’t one that doesn’t have multiple drafts—I think my most-revised story to date has somewhere around 35 versions. I guess I’m one of those odd birds that actually enjoys revising! LOL!

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

PATTI: Sometimes I decide that a submission is ready because there’s an opportunity to submit it. Does that make sense? MRS. NOAH had been revised and tweaked with my critique group 13 times over the course of a year, so when #FaithPitch was happening, I thought, “Why not?” Because, honestly, with that many versions a writer really should be at the point of submission if for no other reason than to get feedback, even if it’s just a “No,” so you can look at your story with new eyes. That may seem contrary to popular advice or opinions, but I say this to encourage each of you to believe in your work and yourselves enough to take that next big step. Never submit your first draft. NEVER! But if you’re on draft 10 or 13, go ahead and send it out. That first submission is always the hardest, and the rejection, if it comes, will be painful, but it’s all part of the process of learning and growing as a writer. 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

PATTI: I don’t have an agent (still working on that😊). I mentioned #FaithPitch before, and even though I always thought of MRS. NOAH as a mainstream book, I thought it might also be a good fit for a faith-based publisher, so I decided to give it a try. That first go-round I didn’t get any love, so I put it away and waited. By the time #faithpitch came around again, I actually had a second story called MILLIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, ready to go and pitched both of them. But again, no love! So instead of putting my second story away, I decided to go ahead and submit it to Little Lamb Books, the sponsor of #FaithPitch, because I thought it would be a good fit for their house. That was in February of 2019 during their open submissions window. Fast forward to September, and it was time for the second #Faithpitch of the year. I decided to give MRS. NOAH another try and it got a heart from Rachel Pellegrino, publisher at Little Lamb Books. You can imagine my surprise when just a week or so later, I got an email from Rachel letting me know that they had found my submission from February as they were taking one last look at what had come in and they loved MILLIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE. In the same letter, Rachel mentioned that she had liked MRS. NOAH on #FaithPitch and could I send her that one, because if she loved it they wanted to offer me a two-book contract! I was over-the-moon excited! I sent her MRS. NOAH, and here I am in 2021 getting ready for my first fiction picture book release with a second one with Little Lamb Books coming in 2022.

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?


PATTI: I had “the call” with Rachel a few weeks after I got the initial email, and by Thanksgiving, I had the contract in my hands!

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

PATTI: I had MRS. NOAH out on submission for one year before it was picked up by Little Lamb Books. Of course, the caveat is that there are very few faith-based publishers that take unsolicited manuscripts, so MRS. NOAH went out to about three other places in total.

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

PATTI: Just a few weeks!

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

PATTI: I honestly can’t remember now, but I’m pretty sure it involved a happy dance or two and copious amounts of chocolate cake!

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

PATTI: The contract was definitely what I expected. There were no surprises, but that was primarily because I’ve been in the submission trenches for a long time and have done my homework about contracts and what to expect. Little Lamb, like many smaller independent publishing houses, does not give an advance but in turn pays higher royalties than other places. Rachel presented me with a well-crafted contract that was easy to read and understand. It also helps to have a husband who is an attorney, and we went over the contract together to make sure everything was as it should be. If you don’t have an attorney in your family and don’t have an agent, I would strongly suggest having someone who is an expert in contract language take a quick look. Contracts are always written from the perspective of the publishing house, so it helps to have someone who has your best interest at heart give it a read through.

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

PATTI: Because I had been working on MRS. NOAH consistently for a year and the arc was solid, there were no major changes to the story during the editorial process. However, because MRS. NOAH is a rhyming story, I had some work to do making sure every line matched in terms of syllable count and emphasis. When it comes to rhyming stories, there are different schools of thought about the need for equal number of syllables per line vs. equal number of beats. Poets and rhyming picture book writers with a musical background (like me) tend to listen and write for beats. Others, from a more formulaic background are sticklers for syllable count. So, there was a little back and forth about those changes, but the final product is exactly as it should be and I’m so proud of it!  

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

PATTI: All picture book writers should have a vision for what their book will ultimately look like. With that being said, all picture book writers need to hold that vision loosely. I could see Mrs. Noah as clear as day in my mind as I was writing this story, and I loved what I saw. But illustrators and editors often see things differently. So, when I got the initial sketches for the book, I was a little surprised. But a beautiful thing happened…as I looked at her and sent back my notes, got new sketches, sent back more notes, and got revised sketches, something lovely started to happen. I started being able to see my main character in a different way. She needed the changes I asked for, but she no longer needed to look like what I had envisioned from the beginning. This MRS. NOAH was just right for this book. I trusted the process, and I couldn’t be happier with the result! 

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


PATTI: Things are super slow at Ingram right now because of the pandemic, so we haven’t been able to send review copies out yet. Hoping that happens soon!

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

PATTI: Hoping to have that first copy in my hand soon! If it happens on schedule (which seems to be changing daily because of what I mentioned above) it will be almost two years to the day of when I signed my contract.

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

PATTI: Little Lamb gives writers a lot of help when it comes to marketing, which is why a small house is so nice! They produce all of the swag and the book trailer, and have featured me on their blog several times along the way. They are also responsible for getting review copies where they need to go and will be entering MRS. NOAH in some contests on my behalf. I’m so happy with all the marketing support I’ve received.

I’ve done a few blogs and am planning a Facebook Live release on the day the book comes out and I’ll be planning some events as soon as I have the book in my hands. I’ve held off planning anything live until that first copy arrives just because so much of the when is out of our hands right now.

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

PATTI: Let’s see…I sold my first picture book to a publisher called MeeGenius in 2014. That was 14 years after I’d written my first book for children. I think it’s important to note that during those 14 years, and for many years after that I was also a full-time freelance writer. So, I was constantly balancing my paying work with my children’s work. I don’t want anyone to read this and think, “14 years! But I don’t want to wait that long!” I totally get it😊. But along the way I’ve had other successes that have kept me going, like winning awards in the Writer’s Digest annual competitions, the Katherine Paterson Prize at Hunger Mountain and a few others. I’ve also done work-for-hire writing which resulted in three nonfiction chapter books that released in 2017 and 2018. I’ve had a fiction story in Highlights Magazine and a nonfiction story in Fun for Kidz Magazine and last year I sold a poem to Cricket Media for Ladybug Magazine. The important thing is to keep writing, honing your craft and submitting. Do you need an agent to do those things? No. Do you need a picture book contract to continue working to become the best writer for children you can be? No. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all these years of writing, submitting, revising and submitting again, the joy is in the journey. I wouldn’t trade the people I’ve met that have become life-long friends, the patience I’ve learned and the commitment to craft I’ve developed for anything. Book contracts are the goal, but writing for children is about so much more than that. Be grateful for your calling. Love what you do, and love the children who will read your work someday. Learn all you can, and live your writer life well. Whatever that looks like for you!

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Patti! We’ve so enjoyed and benefited from the opportunity to learn from you! I know I speak for everyone when I say we wish you all the best with this and future titles!

Author Patti Richards

Social Media Links:

Website: pattigail1.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pgwrites5
Twitter: @pattigrichards
Instagram: @pattigrichards
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pgwrites/

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

Patti’s book will be available next week from Little Lamb Books, and if it is available in other places I will update these links!

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

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

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

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

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

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

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

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Anne Appert!

Hey, Everybody! It’s Tuesday Debut time and we have such a treat today!

Our debut-ess for this week is none other than the lovely and talented Anne Appert, and because she is both author and illustrator, we’re going to get to see extra art to show us how illustrations evolve! While this may seem ho-hum to people who illustrate all the time, it is a thrill for those of us who can’t draw to save our lives (*raises hand* 😊). And I think it’s helpful for all writers to get a glimpse of the illustration process.

So let’s dive right in, shall we? Presenting Anne Appert and her delightful debut, BLOB!

Blob
written and illustrated by Anne Appert
HarperCollins, September 14th 2021
Fiction, ages 4-8

A humorous picture book featuring a blob (n. a creature that can be anything they want) who finally finds out who they really are after a series of small discoveries.

Blob is a creature of indeterminate kind. Blob can be a giraffe, cotton candy, and even an octopus. Its not until a negligent (albeit well-meaning) narrator continuously calls them Bob” that Blob starts to question who they really are.

After a series of funny yet enlightening discoveries about all the possible things they can be, Blob realizes that the best thing to be is . . .

Blob.

(With the L.)

SUSANNA: Welcome, Anne! Thank you so much for coming to share your publication journey with us today! We’re so looking forward to hearing all about it! Where did the idea for this book come from?

ANNE: This book started as a joke when people kept mistaking my stylized animal drawings as animals they were not. For example, a skunk was confused for a badger, a squirrel for a cat, etc. I said to a friend, “ Nobody can tell what I’m drawing, but at least they are cute and blobby.” Then Blob popped into my head. Followers on social media responded well to this character, and I decided that I needed to write this story! Luckily for me, their story flowed easily on to the page. You never know when a random conversation will turn into a full fledged book idea.

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

ANNE: I got the idea for the book in February/March of 2019, and by June had a full dummy ready for submission. This is not normal for my process. Usually I need to let a story sit for several months before I jump into illustrations and revisions, but this book just leapt out of my head. The first 6 pages of the book haven’t changed much since that first Instagram version of Blob. For me, it’s important to write the story first, then figure out what I am trying to say.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

ANNE: I’ve realized that I keep telling people we didn’t revise Blob a lot. That’s not entirely true, it was simply an easy book to revise and thus didn’t feel like much.  By letting that first draft flow instead of writing with a message in mind, I was able to approach revisions as the way to excavate what I was trying to say, then polish the text to make that message shine. I revised two times before submission and did one major revision with my editor. While the core of the story has remained the same, my editor’s revisions helped me find another layer of the story. We went back and forth on some final word choice decisions while I worked on the art.

Anne’s work space

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

ANNE: I worked with my agent to tweak the draft until the ending felt satisfying, which involved both text and art revisions. Usually, I go through a couple round of edits with my critique groups, then send to my agent. Once my agent gives me feedback, I don’t show it to my critique group again unless it needs a major rewrite. For Blob, I skipped the critique group step, because I felt that it was already in a good place and we already had a request from a publisher to see it.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

ANNE: First my agent submitted to an editor who saw the original Blob on twitter and requested the story. At that moment, I only had a manuscript and some sample illustrations. We waited to submit more widely until I had finished a full dummy. My agent sent it to editors at various houses and we got several rejections (including from HarperCollins.) Then I went to a portfolio review in NYC through the Children’s Book Illustrator Group where I met my editor (from HarperCollins). When she reviewed my portfolio, she kept coming back to the page with Blob illustrations that I had included. She emailed my agent the next day to get the dummy.

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

ANNE: One week! After my agent sent the dummy, we found out the next day the editor wanted to take it to acquisitions. The next week they made an offer! I know this is not usually how speedy publishing is, so I was very excited.

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

ANNE: As previously mentioned, I got the call a week after finding out it was going to acquisitions. (And yes it was a call, not an email!) The dummy had been on submission for 4-5 months before that.

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

ANNE: I received the initial offer in November 2019. Then, there were some conversations with my agent and the publisher so I think it was finalized in December. I received the contract in May 2020.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

ANNE: One of my mottos is celebrate everything. I shared a bottle of bubbly with the family I live with and I bought myself some new notebooks. I was fortunate that I shared the news with friends before the pandemic hit even though I hadn’t signed the contract, so they took me out to dinner to celebrate. And since I celebrate everything, I did get to celebrate the offer with more family before the pandemic.

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

ANNE: To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I found reading the contract very confusing and was very happy that I had an agent to walk me through it. The advance was more than I expected because I forgot that as an author/illustrator I wouldn’t split it. I got 25 author copies and 10% royalties on hardcovers. Most things seemed pretty standard according to my knowledge of the publishing industry. The one thing I was worried about is that my contract has the wrong title for the book! Before I signed it, I made sure I wasn’t committing to this title, and my editor assured me that we were on the same page regarding this.

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

ANNE: We started editing the manuscript before I signed the contract. There were two significant changes to the original manuscript. The first was drawing out the name storyline. Originally, Blob didn’t insist on the narrator calling them the right name, and it was more of an afterthought. Thankfully, my editor realized that we needed to change this. We also changed the ending as the original version was vague and very open ended. We did one major round of revisions, and then did some word choice editing once we started working on the art. I feel so lucky that I had an editor who completely understood Blob, in some ways even more than I did.

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

ANNE: The illustration process was both fun and challenging.

The dummy I submitted was 32 pages (This is standard for the industry). My editor expanded it to a 40 page book, which gave us more room to explore the various themes in the story. It did mean I had to create more art.

text and illustration copyright Anne Appert 2021, HarperCollins

I worked with an incredible designer whose attention to detail really allowed Blob to pop off the page. I decided to use a limited palette for the book, so when I got to final art, I had to make some tricky decisions in order to make that work. (There are only four colors in the book plus black and white. I do use the colors transparently on some pages, which creates more colors as they overlap.)

text and illustration copyright Anne Appert 2021, HarperCollins

I drew the work digitally which meant I kept my fingers crossed that the colors would print the way I hoped. Printers vary, so it’s hard to be 100% sure. When I saw the F&Gs, I was very happy with the color. My favorite surprise was the spot gloss on the front cover! (Notice the way the painted L, e, and glasses shine)

text and illustration copyright Anne Appert 2021, HarperCollins

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

ANNE: I was very nervous about what Kirkus was going to say which made it a huge relief when they gave BLOB a good review. I also got a review from the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. Both likened Blob’s looks to sweets, which I found amusing. I didn’t get my SLJ review until after the book publication date. It was a good one as well, but a little less scary since I already saw how readers were responding to BLOB.

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

ANNE: I received the offer in November/December of 2019 and got my copies in August 2021. That was a surreal moment!

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

ANNE: HarperCollins promoted it on their social media accounts on publication day. They also did an influencer outreach campaign where they sent the book to different book influencers to review. I believe they also did outreach to educators and librarians. I’m sure there is more behind the scenes then I realize!

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

ANNE: For my own marketing, I reached out to several blogs to do a small blog tour (A Blob tour, if you will). I also created stickers and signed prints/bookplates for preorders. Because we are still in the midst of a pandemic, I didn’t do a launch event; however, I did team up with a local bookstore for signed preorders. (And you can still order signed copies from them if you would like! https://www.anneappert.com/books) In addition, I did a 10 day countdown with graphics I made for my social media accounts. Now I’m scheduling library visits. For these, I’ve created some activity sheets which I hope to add to my website soon.

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

ANNE: I went to college planning on pursuing writing for children afterwards. My degree is in illustration because, though I enjoyed making art, I felt I needed the training to be able to illustrate my books as well. I joined SCBWI soon after graduating, but it took a couple years for me to really get involved. While I was writing this entire time, I would say 2015 was when I started seriously learning and working at craft. in 2018 I signed with my first agent, and in 2019 I sold my first book. I do usually include my college years since it was always my plan to write and illustrate, which would make it 12 years from the time I started college to the time I sold my book.

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?)

ANNE: The most important thing for me was to get involved and make connections. The more people I met through organizations and groups like SCBWI, The Children’s Book Illustrator Group, 12×12, and the KidLitArt twitter chat, the more my craft grew in leaps and bounds. I quickly learned it wasn’t enough to be a part of these organizations, I had to participate and put myself out there. Through this, I was able to find critique groups, mentorship opportunities, and classes that led me to the connections that helped me sell my book. Most importantly, I found the people who are my friends. This industry has a lot of ups and downs, and having them to lean on has been the most invaluable part of this whole experience.

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

ANNE: In navigating the publishing journey, one of the best things for me has been asking a lot of questions along the way. Creating a book is a team effort, and everyone involved wants to make it the best book it can be. Don’t be afraid to ask your agent, editor, and designer (if you are an illustrator) questions!

Blob was very easy to write, and that was because there is so much of me in this character. The anxiety of having to decide what you will be when you grow up and getting called the wrong name over and over (I’m a twin) were two of the reasons I wrote this book. However, I didn’t discover this until after I had written the first draft. As Blob would say, be you, and you will find the right words to allow your message to shine, whatever that message may be.

Author/Illustrator Anne Appert

Website: https://www.anneappert.com/
twitter: https://twitter.com/Anne_Appert
instagram: https://instagram.com/anneappertillustration

Author/Illustrator Anne Appert disguised as Blob 😊

SUSANNA: So much wonderful information and advice, Anne! Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! We wish you all the best with this an future titles!

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

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

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

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

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

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

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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Karen Greenwald!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, Everyone!

Apologies for the late posting! I hope everyone will still get to read about today’s debut-ess, Karen Greenwald, and her fabulous book, A VOTE FOR SUSANNA: THE FIRST WOMAN MAYOR!

Let’s jump right in, shall we? Not another second to lose!

A Vote For Susanna, The First Woman Mayor
written by Karen Greenwald
illustrated by Sian James
Albert Whitman, October 1
Nonfiction
4-9 (and beyond!)

In 1887 the state of Kansas gave women the right to vote in municipal elections. But some men in the city of Argonia, Kansas didn’t think women should have a say in choosing their next mayor, so they put a woman on the ballot—as a joke. That woman was Susanna Salter—and soon the men would find the joke was on them! Narrated by a grandmother who remembered what happened on that election day, this is the true story of a woman who stood up for her right to vote and accomplished so much more.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Karen! Thank you so much for joining us today! We’re all looking forward to hearing about how A VOTE FOR SUSANNA came to be! Where did the idea for this book come from?

KAREN: I believe I was researching another idea when I saw a sentence about Susanna Salter. Immediately, I was captivated. I’m a non-practicing lawyer with a background in government and politics. I was also raised in a very “girl power” environment. My parents instilled this in us. Reading this brief reference about a woman in 1887 that became the first to hold this position interested me—and the fact that her election arose as result of a prank, even more so. I had to investigate this! As kidlit writers, we are told that it is important to write the story you can tell. My passion for equality and my experiences in the political realm led me to Susanna’s history.

I did not start out writing this version. One and a half years into the research, I was introduced to members of Susanna’s city that shared pieces of the history I had not prior been able to access. Also, I “met” (virtually) her great-granddaughter who, along with her brother, entrusted me with copies of personal letters written by Susanna and other family members. Thanks to those precious documents I was able to write the version that became my debut book (and gained friendships along the way)!

As for my idea “process,” it is hard to describe. I look for certain elements in an idea, like whether it has been written about, and ask myself if I see broad appeal, if the topic child-friendly, and if I feel enthusiastic about telling this story. If I can visualize it in my head, I know I need to start researching.

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

KAREN: It took two and a half years from beginning to end, but under six months to write the version that became the book.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

KAREN: Yes! I had four different manuscript versions—three of which were based on the fact that there was only so much information I was given access to…but, once I had more access I was able to write the story I knew needed to be told.

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

KAREN: I knew it was ready when I teared up writing the final words. It was very emotional, and I felt I hit the right note to wrap it up. As I typed the ending, I left open on my screen a letter Susanna had written. I felt like I was doing for her what history should have long ago!

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KAREN: I submitted my manuscript in March and found out in April that it was going into acquisitions. But, it didn’t actually happen until August—that was one long summer of inbox refreshing! At the time of submissions, I wasn’t agented. In fact, I left my first agent a few months earlier when they switched houses and stopped representing picture books. I really didn’t enjoy the querrying process (does anyone?!), so I took a year off from it and spent that time working on this manuscript.

Karen’s writing buddy 😊

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

KAREN: I believe around four months.

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

KAREN: I got an email and then call about it going into acquisitions. I was beyond thrilled! However, it didn’t go into the meeting until the beginning of August. I quickly sent out a couple of queries to agents. Two days later, I had “the call” with my agent Liza Fleissig (Liza Royce Agency). I learned about the offer by email. What a beautiful email! Lol!

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

KAREN: One month or more.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

KAREN: Well, it was in the middle of the pandemic, so it was hard to go full out, but it did involve an impromptu dance party (so very kidlit-esque!) and the laugh-until-you-cry-until-you-laugh moment. I also held a Zoom family meeting!

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

KAREN: I had an extremely positive experience with the editorial process. I wound up having two different editors because the first changed houses I think around the time we finished the main revisions. Both editors were amazing to work with and extremely responsive. I don’t remember there being many changes to the manuscript. I felt extremely respected, listened to, and that my opinions were valued. I honestly can’t imagine having a better editor/author experience.

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

KAREN: I was able to share tons and tons (and tons—I delved deep!) of content, links to clothing styles, pictures, et al. As I mentioned, I had access to things nobody else would have since it came directly from  members of the family. This is the first and only book to tell Susanna Salter’s story, so I wanted to include as many details as possible. I studied not only Susanna and her family, but also the townspeople where she lived. I shared every one of these “swatches” of their world. I felt extremely respected in this process as well.

I included various art notes.

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

KAREN: I got a review from Kirkus and nearly cried with joy! Their verdict was, “Get it” and they called my book, “factually accurate and accessibly told.” This meant the world to me, especially because my topic involves election rules and processes unlike any we have today. The fact that they feel I made this landmark moment (that has been brushed aside by history) accessible to children feels incredible. I am extremely proud of being reviewed by Kirkus!

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

KAREN: One year!

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

KAREN: I am doing a blog tour and am being interviewed on some podcasts, too. The National Women’s History Museum hosted a launch I did with Nancy Churnin and Songju Ma Daemicke. I have an Election Day event I’m doing with them. I’m also engaged in many other avenues, but you’ll have to look around to see them! (Can’t give all my secrets away😉)

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

KAREN: It is hard to say because I’ve always been a writer in some form or function. In my “real world” job, I write articles for both print and online sources. However, picture book writing has been a focus for around five 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?)

KAREN: Write what you know, what you’re passionate about, what you feel others will connect to—and then take breaks from it and let it marinate!

Author Karen Greenwald

Twitter: @karenmgreenwald
Website: karengreenwald.com

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

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

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

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

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

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Cynthia Argentine!

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

Time for a brand new Tuesday Debut!

It’s so much fun to meet new authors, isn’t it? And see the wonderful books they’ve created? And hear about how they got from writing and hoping to PUBLISHED! 😊

I also love the opportunity to learn about the creative process involved for all different kinds of books. We’ve have authors, and illustrators, and author/illustrators, fiction and nonfiction, religious, dyslexia-friendly, self-published. . . and today, we’ve got a debut book that is “illustrated” with photographs! Something new for us to educate ourselves about!

So without further ado, I’m delighted to present today’s Tuesday Debut-ess, Cynthia Argentine, and her gorgeous book, NIGHT BECOMES DAY: CHANGES IN NATURE!

Night Becomes Day: Changes in Nature
written by Cynthia Argentine
no illustrator (illustrated with photographs)
Millbrook Press, a division of Lerner Publishing Group
10/5/2021
Nonfiction
ages 4-9

Whether sudden or gradual, change is a constant in our world. NIGHT BECOMES DAY shows the beauty and power of nature through transformations happening all around us. Pairing lyrical text with vivid photos, the book takes readers from beaches and woods to caves, canyons, glaciers, and more.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Cynthia! We are thrilled to have you here today, and so excited to learn about your journey to publication! Where did the idea for this book come from?


CYNTHIA: Thanks so much for having me, Susanna!

Three specific things came together to inspire this book:

  1. spring outside my window
  2. a class called Nonfiction Archaeology, and
  3. broccoli. (I’ll explain!)

It was March of 2017, and I was taking an online class called Nonfiction Archaeology led by Kristen Fulton. One assignment was to come up with an idea for a science-based, nonfiction picture book. Noticing the spring transformations happening right outside my window, I started listing them. I thought about how familiar some changes were and how surprising others could be. The first time I grew broccoli, for example, I discovered—lo and behold!—it could turn into a bouquet of yellow blossoms. I realized children might be interested in learning about all sorts of transformations as well.

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

CYNTHIA: Digging up the answer to this question was enlightening! I went back through old computer files, and my first document related to this project was dated March 20, 2017 and titled “Nature Changing Cycling Surprising Picture Book Compass.” I was clearly just brainstorming at that point! But in that document, I worked out my central nugget and theme. Key phrases included “nature is constantly changing” and “this view of nature brings awe, wonder, beauty, and interconnectedness to our world.” Those statements guided my writing from initial idea to publication.

As for the actual timing…. I looked back at my file history and discovered this:

  • I spent ten hours, spread over three evenings, writing my first draft, which is strikingly similar to the published text.
  • Before starting that first draft, I spent five days pre-writing. This included jotting down ideas. Tapping into childhood memories. Categorizing changes by scientific discipline. Playing with pairs of opposites. Reading other nonfiction mentor texts. Developing a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. Organizing an outline. And mocking up a 32-page dummy.

SUSANNA: Wow! Not only are you way more organized than I am in your pre-writing, you know how many days and hours you spent! What amazing record-keeping! Did you go through many revisions?

CYNTHIA: Yes! I revised the initial manuscript off and on for about a year, putting it away for days or weeks at a time. During that period, I also did a lot of research to support and expand the scientific aspects of the book. Some of that research became part of the back matter.

My wonderful critique partners played a part in the revision process, too. We read each other’s work individually and then meet to discuss it. This helps me identify both the strong and weak points in a manuscript.

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

CYNTHIA: When I faced a deadline! 😉 There is nothing like a deadline for motivation. The deadline for this submission came in the form of a blog post written by Carol Hinz at Millbrook Press (a division of Lerner Publishing). I knew that Lerner published the kinds of books I was interested in writing, so I had already subscribed to their blog. In March of 2018, the blog post advertised a call for nonfiction manuscripts for grades K-3 that could be illustrated with photographs. (Learn more about that here.) I had read and admired several books published by Millbrook and edited by Hinz, so I was excited to have an opportunity to submit to them.


SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

CYNTHIA: On April 30, 2018, I emailed Lerner my manuscript. I don’t have an agent, so I recognized this as an important opportunity. I had developed a list of other houses that accepted nonfiction from un-agented authors, but I never submitted this manuscript elsewhere.

SUSANNA: How long after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

CYNTHIA: In August, four months after my submission, I got an email from Carol Hinz saying it was “a strong manuscript” and she’d like some more time to consider it. Four months after that, in December, Carol said yes—she wanted to take it to acquisitions! YAY! That was a wonderful Christmas present.

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

CYNTHIA: Less than a month later, on January 11, 2019, Carol emailed to say that Lerner wanted to acquire it! Happy New Year!

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

CYNTHIA: Less than two months. Lerner and I both signed shortly after that. The contracts department at Lerner was helpful and friendly.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

CYNTHIA: I strongly believe in celebrating milestones, but I honestly don’t remember whether I did anything special to commemorate signing. I do remember the night I got the “yes” from acquisitions. I ran downstairs, told everyone in my family, and had extra ice cream for dessert!

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

CYNTHIA: I was working on a middle-grade, work-for-hire book around this same time, and I will say that my payment for that book and the advance on this book were in the same ballpark. Lerner isn’t a big-five house, and I was a first-time author with them, so the advance wasn’t large. Nonetheless, there were benefits. I felt it was a great place for this manuscript, and I was excited to work with Carol Hinz based on the excellence of the other K-3 photo nonfiction Millbrook Press had recently produced. I was able to negotiate for an escalation clause on royalties and for additional author copies (25).

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


CYNTHIA: The book was slated for publication two years out (2021), so we didn’t begin the editorial process right away. In February of 2020, a member of the editorial staff contacted me and recommended a few minor line edits. Then that editor left, and the pandemic spread, and we learned that Lerner was pushing back publication from Spring to Fall 2021.

The editorial process resumed in earnest in December of 2020. Carol Hinz completely understood my vision for the book, and it was great to work with her on it. She had ideas for strengthening the manuscript and particularly encouraged me to carefully consider the opposite pairs. (The book is structured around opposite types of change.) We also exchanged many emails about details in the back matter, making sure the science was as clear and accurate as possible. Her editorial work definitely improved the book.

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

CYNTHIA: One of the interesting things about this project is that it is illustrated with photographs. I did not envision it that way when I wrote it—I pictured drawings and paintings. But when Lerner’s open call requested books that could be photo-illustrated, I realized mine had that potential. In the end, it worked out beautifully! The vibrancy of the photos invites readers to take a closer look.

interior spread – text copyright Cynthia Argentine 2021 Millbrook Press

Lerner’s art department handled the photo selection and permissions. Mary Ross at Lerner did the design. In most cases, the initial photos they selected were exactly what I was describing. The beaches, caves, glaciers, and mountains were stunning! In a couple cases, the initial photo choices had to be adjusted. For example, I wanted a photo to show an additional stage in the transformation from flower to fruit. They added one to accomplish that. In another case, they could not find a photo to exactly match what I had described in the text, so I revised the text to match the photo they suggested. It was definitely a collaborative process, and I’m grateful for that.

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

CYNTHIA: One has come in so far! Kirkus praised the book, saying it

  • “leads readers to notice and seek out the many changes that are taking place in their world,”
  • “simultaneously folds in a lesson in opposites,” and
  • “will hold readers’ interest.”

Lerner put an advance digital copy on NetGalley.com as well. It received great reviews from teachers, parents, and librarians there. It’s so rewarding to see the book connect with and inspire readers. Thank you, advance reviewers!

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

CYNTHIA: My author copies should be arriving any day! It will have been two years and eight months.

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

CYNTHIA: In addition to submitting the book to major review journals and putting it on NetGalley.com, Lerner mailed hard copies to several media outlets. They helped me make a promo video of the book and posted it online here. They are actively promoting the book on social media and their website as well. And they sent me a packet a few months ago with information about what I could do.

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

CYNTHIA: There has been so much to learn in this area! I have lined up several local in-person events, including a book-birthday bash with my local library and our nature center. My town is featuring Night Becomes Day in its StoryWalk installation during the month of October. And I’m doing a virtual book launch with SK Wenger through The Writing Barn in Austin, Texas on October 9. (It’s free! Come join us!)

I’m also part of two co-marking groups—21forthebooks and STEAMTeam2021—both of which have been so valuable. I highly recommend having partners to help you climb the learning curve! I made bookmarks and stickers using Canva and Vistaprint online. I partnered with Deb Gonzales to build Pinterest pins and a teacher’s guide related to my book. And I’m appearing on several blogs in October in addition to this one. I also have prepared presentations with ties to my book. In August, I gave a webinar called “Science—An Open Door to Creativity” for the Montessori Family Alliance. In November, I’m presenting a webinar called “Nonfiction: A Vast, Vibrant Genre from Board Books to Middle Grade.” It’s hosted by Indiana SCBWI and you can learn more here!

example of Pinterest pin created by Deb Gonzales

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

CYNTHIA: I started writing for children in 2007 with a course through the Institute for Children’s Literature. I discovered I loved writing nonfiction articles and began regularly contributing to children’s magazines such as Odyssey: Adventures in Science and ChemMatters. Then, in 2016, I found a subject that deserved more than an article. This woman needed to be the focus of a picture book biography. At that point, I shifted my energy into learning how to write picture books, which are very different from magazine articles. So, if I count back to that point in 2016, it took three years. If I count back to that first course in 2007, it took twelve 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?)

CYNTHIA: For most of us, writing is a calling. It’s something we do despite the fact that some stories may never sell and our books may not yield significant financial gain. We do it because we have felt something in this world that moved us, and we want to share that experience and emotion with someone else. We see that writing forges connections—connections between us and our subjects, between us and our critique partners, between us and our readers.

Writing for children is an art form. Like all art, it has the capacity to be beautiful, resonant, and unique. Good books for children develop through the accumulated insights of years. Invest the time, and recognize that creating books is a worthy calling.

Author Cynthia Argentine

Website
Pinterest @CynthiaArgentine
Twitter @CindyArgentine
Instagram @argentine_writer

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

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

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

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

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

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Rebecca Mullin!

Welcome, Everyone!

Today’s installment of Tuesday Debut will be of special interest to those of you who want to write for youngest audiences. Although we usually feature picture books, today’s debut is a board book. I thought we might all learn a thing or two from debut-ess Rebecca Mullin about first-time publishing in this fun and wonderful format.

Rebecca has generously provided a copy of her book as a giveaway, so one lucky commenter will be randomly chosen to win the book! Please comment on this post by Sunday September 19 at 9PM Eastern to qualify for the random drawing!

And now, without further ado, please join me in welcoming Rebecca Mullin as she kindly shares her journey to publication of ONE TOMATO – a book she wrote for her daughter and which was illustrated by her niece!

One Tomato
Written by Rebecca Mullin
Illustrated by Anna Mullin
Rubber Ducky Press, May 1, 2021
Counting board book for 2-6 year olds

Count the vegetables as you harvest the garden beginning with one ripe tomato!  Ants, moles, bees and other garden friends join in the fun. Watch for the sneaky yellow dandelion. Learn about growing healthy foods while counting to ten in One Tomato! 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Rebecca! Thank you so much for joining us today. We’re all excited to hear about publishing a board book. Where did the idea for this book come from?

REBECCA: One night while cooking dinner I asked my daughter to pick a zucchini from our garden. She came back with a cucumber! We needed some help with vegetable identification! So, I contacted my niece, Anna Mullin, to make a poster of the vegetables we grew in our garden.  At the time, Anna was a senior biology major at Earlham College and had a side-hustle doing commission artwork from her website, ANNAEM.com. She created several beautiful posters which I hung in my kitchen. Now that would be the end of the story except that my mom, who owns Kids Ink Children’s Bookstores in Indianapolis saw the posters and said  “that looks like a board book.” 

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book? And how long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your book?

REBECCA: The initial writing of One Tomato took a couple of weeks.  But in reality I spent my whole life working on One Tomato. I’ve been an avid gardener and reader my whole life.  I began working in my mom’s bookstore in 8th grade and have since logged thousands of hours buying books for the store, selling books to customers, reading at storytimes, hosting author events, writing book reviews, and of course packing, unpacking, and lifting lots and lots of boxes of books (not sure how the manual labor piece helped in writing – but I sure do remember the back aches!)

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

REBECCA: Honestly, I never thought it was truly ready for submission.  At some point I just couldn’t see how to make any improvements so decided I’d just give it a try!

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

REBECCA: I submitted directly to Rubber Ducky Press without an agent or query. 

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?  When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”? 😊

REBECCA: The “yes” came slowly.  I submitted by email and got a reply within days that the publisher was “interested.” We spoke on the phone a few weeks later at which point I understood that my book needed some significant changes to fit within the Rubber Ducky brand. I submitted a revised edition several months later and was subsequently invited to visit the publishing house. (Covid delayed this visit by 3 months.) The “yes” came when I met with the publisher, distributor, editor, sales manager and probably a few others…it was such an exciting blur! 

The book launch

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

REBECCA: Three weeks. 

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

REBECCA: Standard royalty contract and 10 copies of the book included. 

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

REBECCA: After signing the contract I thought the book was finished….rookie mistake!  The editor asked for several major changes that required re-writing and re-illustrating.  Honestly I thought the changes were outrageous. You want to substitute corn for spinach? You want pumpkins instead of dandelions? But once the changes were made it undeniably made the book better.

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

REBECCA: Of course, my experience with the illustration process was unusual because I worked with my niece!  We met several times and layed out all the pages of the book across a table to see the flow of the story.  Anna sees color and composition in an entirely different way, I learned so much working with her!

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

REBECCA: The initial interest in the book was in December 2019 and the publication date of One Tomato was May 1, 2021. However, the book was delayed by shipping and customs issues and did not arrive until the end of July! Boy was that an agonizingly long wait! The print run was 3,000.

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

REBECCA: Rubber Ducky Press has an incredible sales team and marketing staff. One Tomato is now available in bookstores, libraries, Ingram warehouses, and Amazon. 

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

REBECCA: I’ve found some great gardening items to promote One Tomato! I had custom tomato seed packets printed and paired these with a child sized watering can with a One Tomato image to use as a giveaway at the book launch.  Also, I’ve printed stickers and postcards for promotional purposes and my publisher produced a really nice sell sheet for gardening and book stores. Additionally, I’ve reached out to gardening centers and seed catalogs as another avenue to sell One Tomato.

Watering an and seed packet promotion

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication?

REBECCA: Read everything available in the genre and age range for which you are writing. 

Author Rebecca Mullin

Instagram: @ReadOneTomato

Link to publisher product page:

Link to activity page

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge and expertise in board book publishing with us today, Rebecca! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from your experience! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you every success 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! And don’t forget to comment on this post by Sunday September 19 at 9PM Eastern to qualify for the random drawing! Someone will win a copy of this cute book!

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!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

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

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Karen Wyle!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, Everyone!

I’m really excited to share today’s post with you. For anyone who is interested in self-publishing, who has maybe played around with the idea but not really known where to start, or who thinks they might be interested in giving it a try at some point, I think you’ll today’s post extremely informative. I certainly learned a lot!

Please join me in welcoming Karen Wyle, who has generously shared her knowledge and experience with the process of self-publishing her first picture book, YOU CAN’T KISS A BUBBLE!

You Can’t Kiss A Bubble
Written by Karen A. Wyle
Illustrated by Siski Kalla
Published by Oblique Angles Press (Karen Wyle’s Imprint)
Publication date July 23, 2021
Fiction/Nonfiction/neither?/both? See description
Age 3+

What can and can’t you do with a bubble? Using simple words, and a mixture of silly imagined scenes and more realistic ones, this book looks at both the charm and the transitory nature of bubbles, and helps its young audience appreciate how we can take joy even in the impermanent.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Karen, and thank you so much for joining us today! We’re excited to hear about how you brought this story to life. Where did the idea for this book come from?

KAREN: I wish I could remember where the idea for this book came from. I don’t, in fact, remember the origins of most of my (not yet published) picture books — but I do remember the first. I was sitting on my front deck, pregnant with my older daughter, enjoying the oak trees in the front yard and scouting around my chair for acorns. The eventual title sums up where that moment led: Mommy Calls Me Acorn.

I would guess that another of my books, Catching Mommy’s Shadow, came from walks I took with one of my daughters.

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

KAREN: It’s been some years since I first wrote the text, but I believe it came quickly. This may also be the text for which the original draft is closest — very close — to the final version. I suspect those two facts may be related.

More often, I reread a picture book manuscript at intervals of anything from weeks to years, tweaking a word here and line order there. I try to remember to save multiple versions, so it’s easier to compare the latest changes with what had contented me the time before. I sometimes revert to an earlier version.

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

KAREN: I haven’t used professional critiques or editorial services. I did have an agent for my picture books many years ago, and discussed which books had most promise and what edits might be needed. For my novels, I typically recruit beta readers, and send them a list of questions as well as soliciting miscellaneous comments. I may do this for future picture books. For this book, I more or less held my breath and jumped into talking to illustrators. I felt somewhat  more confident when all three illustrators from whom I requested (paid) samples had nice things to say about the text.

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

KAREN: As I mentioned above, I did try the agent route for my picture books, with no result. By the time I started writing novels in 2010, I spent most of the year between rough draft and publication researching agents, publishers, and the traditional publishing process. By the end of that time, I had decided self-publishing offered me more: control over every aspect of the process, shorter pre-publication times, and more flexibility. (The fact that I’ve published novels in three different genres, short stories in two, and now am publishing picture books demonstrates that flexibility.)

I waited to publish a picture book until I thought the technology available to indie authors at reasonable cost had become suitable for that purpose.

SUSANNA: How did you find an illustrator?

KAREN: I  joined several Facebook groups for children’s book authors and/or illustrators, and looked through the many portfolios and Instagram accounts listed in response to other authors’ posts there. I also looked through portfolios on Behance (and possibly another site whose name I’ve forgotten).  I had so much fun immersing myself in all that creativity!

Then I contacted a few illustrators to ask whether they would provide paid samples, and if so, what they’d charge. I paid three illustrators for samples: I sent them the text and asked them to pick a line to illustrate, one that would give me a feel for how the bubble(s) and the child would look. Of those three, I decided Siski Kalla’s style was just right for this book. (I hired one of the others, Barbara Dessi, to illustrate the picture book I plan to publish next, When It’s Winter.)

FOLLOW-UP FROM SUSANNA: I asked Karen if she would be kind enough to share the FB groups that had been helpful to her and she replied:

KAREN: I spend the most time in “Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators: Publishing, Marketing and Selling.” The other I visit frequently is “Children’s Book Illustrators.” I am also a member of “Children’s Book Author Community” and “Children’s Book Author Social Media Marketing.”

SUSANNA:  Did you and the illustrator have a contract of any kind?  What types of items did it address (if you can share a little – doesn’t have to be too specific, but in terms of what people might want to think about if they were to do it.)

KAREN: Siski and I do have a contract. She sent me her standard contract, and I asked questions and suggested a few tweaks. The contract covers which rights Siski transferred to me and which rights she retained; the number of illustrations; the price per illustration and total price; the illustration schedule; the payment schedule; a consultation and approval process; and cancelation provisions.

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

KAREN: For twelve double-page spreads and one cover illustration, I paid 2,050 euros.

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

KAREN: It would oversimplify matters to say I “directed” the illustration process. My only previous collaborations had been with cover designers, where that description would apply — but a picture book’s illustrations are, I believe, at least as important as its text, and the process must allow for both contributors’ creative vision. (There were times I needed a gentle reminder of this principle.)

Siski was very patient with my many questions and requests. I’m embarrassed, looking back with the completed book in hand, at just how many.

Some of my lines were abstract enough that settling on the right illustration involved some back-and-forth. It was an absolute joy to see my words so richly and imaginatively realized and extended.

illustration copyright Siski Kalla 2021

SUSANNA: How did you format your book for publication?

KAREN: I had already chosen a book format (8.5”x8.5”) before hiring Siski. I did some online research about cover designers, including asking other members of the Facebook groups for suggestions, and hired Jacob Dunaway to do the interior text and turn Siski’s cover illustration into a complete cover. Jacob and I discussed title placement, title font, and interior font. He did mockups of the interior with two different fonts he recommended, and I picked one. Jacob then worked with the various printers’ cover templates.

FOLLOW-UP FROM SUSANNA: I asked Karen if she could define and detail what Jacob did for her a little further and she replied:

KAREN: I would call Jacob Dunaway a book designer. He did the text and page formatting, as well as the cover, for all three editions (hardcover, paperback, Kindle) of the book. I believe the cost of hiring him depends on the details of a particular job — and in fact, as this job evolved, I volunteered to pay more than his very reasonable initial fee. I don’t know whether he has a website.

SUSANNA:  How did you select a printing service?

KAREN: I was already familiar with Amazon/KDP and IngramSpark. I used KDP for a Kindle and a paperback edition, and IngramSpark for paperback and hardcover editions. I wanted to find a printer that offered quantity discounts for paperbacks and/or hardcovers, and I didn’t want to have dealings with companies in China, so I did some research about US printers, sent emails to some and submitted quote requests to others, and ended up going with Formax Printing for additional hardcover copies. They were very helpful throughout the process of getting the book properly formatted for their purposes

FOLLOW-UP FROM SUSANNA: I asked Karen if she could kindly share a little more information about her printer research and IngramSpark and she replied:

KAREN: US printers have requirements as far as minimum page count, minimum order size, etc. – too much to go into here, but just so readers know to check that. With that caveat, I investigated (in no particular order): Emprint/Moran Printing, based in Louisiana; Smith Printing Co., based in Minnesota; Bookmobile, also based in Minnesota; Bang Printing, also based in Minnesota; AlphaGraphics Carmel, based in Indiana; Bridgeport National Bindery, based in Massachusetts; Braintree Printing, also based in Massachusetts; Signature Book Printing, based in Maryland; Snowfall Press (base of operations not recorded); Dekker Bookbinding, based in Michigan; Versa Press, based in Illinois; and BookBaby, based in New Jersey (consulted only about printing, not their other services). (More than the “couple” of names I now see you asked for . . . .)

I first learned about IngramSpark a number of years ago. They’re the “other” POD (Print On Demand) printer, competing with Amazon’s KDP — although they apparently do some of KDP’s printing as well. They provide hardcover as well as paperback books, which KDP doesn’t (so far). They distribute to quite a few retailers, including Barnes & Noble. Their distribution arm, Ingram Group, is well known and respected enough to give additional credibility to indie authors trying to get books into bricks-and-mortar bookstores. They allow authors to select a wholesale discount of (something like) 30% to their recommended 55%, and to allow returns. Without such a discount and return policy, it’s not likely a bookstore will purchase books. For You Can’t Kiss A Bubble, I chose the 30% discount rather than 55%, as the higher discount would have required me to price the hardcover edition too high.

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

KAREN: IngramSpark’s prices for the paperback were low enough that I could order inventory for direct sales, while I relied on Formax for hardcover inventory. The book is available on Amazon and on Barnes & Noble. IngramSpark also makes the book available to many retailers and to libraries. If anyone wants to pick up a copy at a brick-and-mortar bookstore, they should be able to ask the bookstore to order it.

SUSANNA:  How long was the process from writing through publication of your book?

KAREN: After all the years where the book sat in an electronic “shelf,” the journey from first deciding to publish it until its actual release took seven months.

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

KAREN: I haven’t tried for reviews from any of those you listed. I have approached a long list of children’s book bloggers, requesting reviews or other mentions — with some success. 🙂

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

KAREN: Rupamanjari Majumder, author of Magic in Wonderland, is the woman behind the Comfy Corner podcast. She is a member of one of the Facebook groups I joined, and she told me she was starting to make videos in which she reads picture books. She offered to make one for this book, and I jumped at the chance. In the end, she decided that her four-year-old daughter should be the one reading. I love the charming result. (She also got an animator to add drifting bubbles.)

I’ve printed up flyers to pass around the neighborhood, mentioning a “neighbor discount.” I’ve also designed a bookmark and some stickers, and purchased some small bottles of bubble solution. When I find events to do, I’ll pass out some or all of these extras.

I’ve also posted advance peeks at a few illustrations on my blog (“Looking Around”), and then posted the links to the blog entries on Facebook and Twitter. On release day, I posted about the book in a few different Goodreads groups.

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

KAREN: It’s been an immensely educational process — and I’m eager to do it again!

SUSANNA: I always ask contributors to Tuesday Debut to share photos of their work space and writing buddies if they’d like to, and Karen said:

[KAREN: Alas, my work space is a pile of clutter with a desk and PC inserted in it. I share it with my husband, which I guess makes him my work buddy, but I’ll let him remain anonymous.]

SUSANNA: Hahaha! I guess we’ll just have to use our imaginations to picture it 😊

Author Karen Wyle

Website: http://www.KarenAWyle.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarenAWyle
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/KarenAWyle
Goodreads profile: https://www.goodreads.com/kawyle
Blog, “Looking Around”: http://looking-around.blogspot.com/

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Karen! It is wonderfully inspiring to hear about how you took charge of your own writing and created this beautiful book! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you all the best with this and future titles!

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

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

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Jenna Waldman!

It’s time for the first Tuesday Debut for August!

I hope you’re all enjoying it from your shady hammocks with a glass of lemonade or iced tea! If you happen to be at the beach, keep your eyes peeled for sharkbots 😊 because today’s debut-ess is the one and only Jenna Waldman who has kindly come to tell us all about how her SHARKBOT SHALOM wound up at your local bookstore! 😊

SHARKBOT SHALOM
Written by Jenna Waldman
Illustrated by Sharon Davey
Apples & Honey Press
August 1, 2021
Fiction, Ages 2-5.

Time is running out before Shabbat, and so is Sharkbot’s charge. He’s already at charge level TEN . . . NINE . . . EIGHT. . . . Count down with this cheerful shark robot as he sets the table, stirs the seaweed soup, and braids kelp into challah loaves. A Shabbat recharge is just what Sharkbot needs. But will he be ready in time?

SUSANNA: Hi, Jenna! So great to have you with us today!

JENNA: Hi, Susanna, It’s fantastic to be visiting with you!

SUSANNA: Let’s start at the beginning. Where did the idea for this book come from?

JENNA: The idea for Sharkbot Shalom came from my pun loving mind one morning while herding my two boys in the car for school. “Shabbat shalom” is the typical Shabbat greeting (it’s also a song), but my kids loved sharks and robots—so the title was born. And yes, I did sing it to them, much to their dismay… I torture them with a lot of silly songs, it helps me brainstorm ideas!

I recently looked back at the original brainstorm I had for the book. I had Sharkbot rushing back home for Shabbat from a space adventure before his charge ran out. But I prefered the idea of Sharkbot preparing the meal himself, and using other ocean imagery and characters—it felt more natural.

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

JENNA: After coming up with the concept, it came together pretty quickly! I wrote a brief plot at the top of the document to keep me focused, and made a long list of ocean words for reference. I knew I had to move the countdown from 10-1, and conclude with the Shabbat meal. So, I wrote out the numbers (10-1) and paired them with potential rhymes. Then I filled in the couplets while making sure the story moved along. In the end, I didn’t want every couplet to end with the number, so I used the numbers to refer to things other than his charge: “The starfish waves five arms, “hello””, “Two candlesticks of coral pink”, etc. For this book, it really helped to create a “skeleton” and fill in the “meat”.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

JENNA: Sharkbot Shalom was unusual in that it didn’t take many revisions. But! It’s also not a typical PB structure, the plot is simple, and it relies heavily on the counting hook. So, while there are many layers, it was fairly fully formed early on. Larry’s Latkes, on the other hand, took A LOT of revisions!

Speaking of revisions, I am forever grateful for my CP’s help—having your CP’s eyes on your work is invaluable. I’m also a member of Poet’s Garage, a group of incredibly talented poets. If you rhyme, working with people who do it better than you helps you to grow, and makes your work stronger.

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

JENNA: Remember those CP’s I mentioned? They will often let you know when your manuscript is ready! I also had a gut feeling, and felt like the hooks helped make it a solid, and marketable piece.

But sometimes, your CP’s and gut will tell you your manuscript is ready, and you still get rejections! It can take a lot of revisions and submissions until the right pair of eyes reads your work—keep chocolate handy (for the rejections…and maybe your gut is just telling you you’re hungry!)

SUSANNA: Really there is no moment when chocolate isn’t helpful for something 😊 When and how did you submit?

JENNA: I sent it to Apples & Honey Press, who had recently bought Larry’s Latkes. I sent them Sharkbot Shalom in January, and received the offer in February. This is an unusually fast turnaround!  Originally, Larry’s Latkes was going to be my debut, but Sharkbot stole its spot. (I hope they’re still friends!) Larry’s Latkes had done a lot of the work for Sharkbot. I had the connection to editors at Apples & Honey Press already, and that’s why I decided to send it to them first—and you know the rest!

I didn’t have an agent when I sold Larry’s Latkes or Sharkbot Shalom. I was a very reluctant query-er! It felt overwhelming to make a spreadsheet (shudder) and I kept feeling like my best work was still yet to come, and I should wait. True story—when I finally put together a spreadsheet of agents/publishers, I was approached by my now agent (Joyce Sweeney) through my participation in the #PBChat Mentorship Showcase. So maybe, just maybe, tackling that spreadsheet let the universe know I was ready.

SUSANNA: Maybe so! It sounds very possible to me. When did you get “the call”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

JENNA: It went like this: manuscript sent, 1/12/20; received email with interest, 2/20/20; phone call with offer, 2/26/20; contract signed, 3/15/20. Again, it was super fast, and super unusual. Larry’s Latkes went through more of the typical publishing acrobatics, and then had its debut glory stolen!


SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

JENNA: Well, we all remember what was happening in the beginning of 2020? Two days before I signed the contract for Sharkbot, my boys’ schools were shut down. To be honest, I don’t remember celebrating. We were too deep in survival mode. I looked back at the emails my editor and I exchanged at the time, and we were checking in with each other, and asking about family. There were a lot of mixed emotions, that’s for sure. But if you look back at all the chocolate and cookies I ate during 2020, maybe I was celebrating all year! (Oy vey…) I’ll be making up for the missed celebration on Sharkbot’s Book Birthday with a day at the beach, and a nice meal.

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

JENNA: The contract was the same terms as Larry’s Latkes, so it wasn’t much of a surprise. My editor also shared the terms when we had the phone call, so I knew what to expect. I had my husband, who is an attorney, review the contracts. He made some suggested changes, but luckily, they were minor.

Apples & Honey Press is a small publisher, so I wasn’t expecting a large advance, and they have the typical 5% royalties. The contract included 10 author copies, but I wish I had asked for more. I have a third book coming out in ‘23 and I asked for 20 author copies, which they approved. You can always ask!

The final “work” deadline was written in the contract as well, but my editor has always been flexible with deadlines on edits when it’s been necessary (ie I’m going out of town, or another conflict) although I usually end up finishing edits early. It’s a good idea to have open communication with your editor, and ask if you need something, they’re people too!

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

JENNA: I adore my editor at Apples & Honey Press! It’s been a lot of fun to work with her on our (now three) books. There were several rounds of revisions for Sharkbot. The story stayed the same, but there wording was refined. For example—how did I not realize I said “ocean” in the first two stanzas?! Thank you, editor, for catching that!

The Shabbat meal included wine, and I was wondering if they would ask me to change it to, I dunno, underwater-grape juice? But thankfully we were in agreement that Sharkbot and his buddies were most definitely of legal drinking age.

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

JENNA: I feel lucky that Apples & Honey shared illustrations with me at several different stages. They shared the illustrator’s name before signing her (although I’m unsure what would have happened if I had said “no”—luckily, I loved her work!). I was able to share any comments I had with my editor, but there weren’t many.

The vision I had of sharkbot was nothing like Sharon Davey’s interpretation. (Her’s is FAR better!) I had visualized him as an upright robot (for Dr Who fans, think “dalek”, but not a diabolical murdering machine). Sharon also made the most gorgeous home for her endearing sharkbot character and his friends. I love the color palette, and his eyebrows!

text copyright Jenna Waldman 2021, illustration copyright Sharon Davey 2021, Apples & Honey Press

Sharon lives in the UK,  and we did not communicate directly about our book. We worked with the editors as our go-between. But we’ve connected on social media, and she is lovely.

I really didn’t have any artnotes for this manuscript, other than that Sharkbot’s charge visibly decreases with each number (10-1). I was very curious about how Sharon was going to illustrate this, and she resolved it really well.

text copyright Jenna Waldman 2021, illustration copyright Sharon Davey 2021, Apples & Honey Press

In my two other Apples & Honey books, I was actually asked for more art notes so they had a better sense of my vision. After everything I’ve heard, this really surprised me. I don’t know if the notes were shared with the illustrator, or if the editors merely passed my thoughts along verbally—or not at all. 

Here’s a little secret fact in the Sharkbot illustration: Sharkbot lives at “55 Sandy Drive”. My childhood home was number 55. A little shout out to my youth!

SUSANNA: I love that little personal touch! So fun! Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?

JENNA: So far, I’ve only seen a review from Kirkus, and—I still don’t understand what they are saying. Not that I argue they made a misjudgment, I just didn’t understand: “A guidebook for those who believe “think like a Jewish robotic shark” is good advice.” But it probably makes as much sense as a robotic shark celebrating Shabbat with his ocean friends! I’ll just shrug and keep on writing.

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

JENNA: Oh goodness! Well, 2/20/20 was the phone call offer, and on 4/8/21 I received an early copy my editor sent me. (See my stop motion video on Twitter showing the opening of the package). But I didn’t receive my author copies until this July.

I don’t know the print run from Apples & Honey, I should ask! But PJ Library will be sending out 30,400 copies of Sharkbot this Fall, I’m so excited!

PJ Library sends children, ages 0-9, free age appropriate books that speak to Jewish values, and traditions. We’ve received PJ Library books since my youngest was in preschool, about 6 years. Apples & Honey Press submits all of their picture books for consideration to PJ Library. I am so honored that they decided to include both Sharkbot Shalom and Larry’s Latkes in their program. Both books will be sent to five year olds this fall. The acceptance to the program happened before the initial print run at Apples & Honey Press. I actually had sent Larry’s Latkes directly to PJ Library (they are open for unsolicited submissions) at the same time I had sent it to Apples & Honey. They initially rejected it, but A&H said that they will often change their minds once they see it come together with the art—I’m so happy they did! 

SUSANNA: That is really fabulous! How wonderful that your books will go out to so many kids this fall! What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?

JENNA: Again, it’s a small publisher, and they don’t do a lot of marketing/publicity. But they submit books for reviews, and advertise via their own website and social media, and get the book situated on Amazon and in local indies. They offered to host a virtual event, but I don’t have anything planned with them as of yet. They also send bookmarks and bookplates.

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

JENNA: I’m in a fantastic promo group called Picture Book Playground. It’s a group of 22 picture book creators, and their support has been invaluable! From helping to publicize our books on social media, to advice on a variety of topics, to emotional support for the ups and downs of publishing—I really appreciate them.

I have also created promotional stop motion videos for Sharkbot. You can find them on Twitter: @SarafinaDesign (my handle is a remnant of my old greeting card business). They were so much fun to make! I invited kids to draw what they imagined a “sharkbot” to look like, and it culminated in the cover reveal.

On August 1st with the PJ Library of Silicon Valley, we’ll be meeting at Natural Bridges Beach in Santa Cruz for songs, playing in the sun, learning about tidepools, and….the debut reading of Sharkbot Shalom! For the event I’ve made Sharkbot party hats, and little swag bags. Before I even signed my first book contract I was already looking up swag!

Along with more blog visits, I also have some bookstore visits in the future.

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

JENNA: When I was pregnant with my first son, I used to meet a friend in coffee shops and we’d work on our own projects. She’s an amazing fantasy writer, and I was working on my greeting cards. In 2016, I was no longer feeling invested in my greeting card business (by then I had a second kid and no time). I wanted to focus on writing, and I asked my friend for advice in finding a writer’s group. On her recommendation, I joined Inked Voices for a while, and that led to 12×12 in 2017. I signed Larry’s Latkes around Thanksgiving in 2019, so it took almost exactly 3 years.

But, one of my dreams is to write AND illustrate a book…we’ll see how many years that takes…

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?)

JENNA: Oh hey, remember those CP’s I mentioned back in question 3 and 4, get yourself some of those! I’ve met them through 12×12, Twitter, my promo group, my agency, and more. They are out there, find them.

I’ve also said this on other occasions: spend time with kids! They are not only idea factories, and unfiltered commentators, but they are your target market. Well, parents are doing the buying, but are parents as much fun as a room full of 5 year olds?!

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

JENNA: It is most certainly a collaboration! From the author, to illustrator, editors, copyeditors, book designers, there are so many moving parts that work in the book making machine. Since I had an art background, it was a practice in relinquishing control, and making room for the other parts to turn. This doesn’t mean that you can’t comment on something that doesn’t feel right to you! But, perhaps, by stepping back and making space—you will end up with something amazing you never would have created on your own. For example, my editor is the one who suggested a relaxation exercise for the end of Sharkbot. It hadn’t even crossed my mind—but I love how it complements the book.

Also, I was motivated to write Sharkbot after selling Larry’s Latkes, and having the attention of Apples & Honey Press. I wouldn’t have written Larry’s Latkes if it weren’t for Susunna Hill’s Holiday contest in 2018. Contests are a fantastic way to find prompts and motivation (gotta love deadlines!), connect with the community, and another way to…find those CP’s I keep talking about ; D

Author Jenna Waldman

Jenna Waldman is the author of the forthcoming picture books, LARRY’S LATKES and SHARKBOT SHALOM. They will both be released in 2021 by Apples & Honey Press. Jenna is originally from Rhode Island, but now lives in the SF Bay Area. She shares her home with her husband, their two boys, and two felines. Jenna is represented by Joyce Sweeney of The Seymour Agency.

www.jennawaldman.com
Twitter: @sarafinadesign
Instagram: jennawaldmanauthor

JENNA: Thank you SO much Susanna!!! I wouldn’t be here without you, literally!

SUSANNA: Aw, shucks, Jenna! You’re kind to say so, but I’m quite sure your talent and dedication would have won out with or without me! 😊 Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! We so appreciate it, and wish you all the best of luck with this and future titles!

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Kate Allen Fox!

HI everyone! Welcome to today’s episode of Tuesday Debut!

I love books that introduce me to something I previously knew nothing about, and that’s what PANDO: A LIVING WONDER OF TREES has done. If you’re new to Pando as well, you’re going to love this! So I’m thrilled to welcome our debut-ess, Kate Allen Fox, who wrote this wonderful book!

Pando: A Living Wonder of Trees
written by Kate Allen Fox
illustrated by Turine Tran
Capstone Editions
August 15, 2021
Nonfiction, ages 8—11

Pando is an inspiring tribute to a Utah grove of quaking Aspen trees connected by their roots to form one of the world’s oldest and largest living things.

SUSANNA: Hi Kate! Thank you so much for joining us for a little chat today. We’re so glad you’re here, and grateful to have the opportunity to hear about your journey to publication. Where did the idea for this book come from?

KATE: I was driving home after a hike when I remembered something I had read or heard about trees connected by their roots. When I got home, I Googled it and became absolutely fascinated. Walks in nature often allow my brain to find creativity (as does driving). Both activities are supposed to activate the “default network” of your brain, allowing you to work out problems, and they definitely work for me!

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

KATE: It took about two or three months to write and revise (with a lot of feedback from critique partners and the 12×12 forum). During that time, I changed it from informational fiction to nonfiction and consulted with an expert on the topic. This is unusually fast for me, but I was very inspired and single-minded about it. I had a feeling that was the manuscript that would breakthrough for me.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

KATE: So many! I started with an anthropomorphized tree in a fictionalized version. That version just didn’t work, but somehow I couldn’t put the story down. I asked myself, what about this concept is intriguing to me? I realized it really was the nonfiction aspects of the tree.

Asking that question led me to the right structure for my story, and I still ask myself that when I’m wrestling with how to approach a manuscript.

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

KATE: People on the 12×12 forum and critique partners started saying things like “this will be a book!” I hadn’t heard that from other writers before, so I assumed it was ready to go. And, it was close!

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KATE: I was unagented, so I focused on submitting to agents. I entered contests and didn’t win, but contests helped me hone my manuscript and research agents. I saw agents looking for lyrical nonfiction, submitted, and started getting positive responses within a few weeks.

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

KATE: The acquisitions meetings at the publisher were cancelled or rescheduled a couple of times so it took about two months.

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

KATE: I got the email about 5 months after we went on sub. It went to several houses and sold without revision. I got the email while playing with my sons. It all felt pretty surreal.

Kate and her boys 😊

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

KATE: About 3 months.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

KATE: I didn’t. This is something I need to work on! I did donate a portion of my advance to the Western Aspen Alliance to support Aspen conservation, which felt like a meaningful marking of the book becoming “real.”

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

KATE: My advance was under $5,000 with royalties of 7% of net sales for hardcover and paperback, and 18 author copies. Publication was required within 24 months (though it ended up being a fair bit less than that). I didn’t have many expectations going in (I knew several people who had received no advance), and I was (and am) happy with my contract.

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

KATE: We did two rounds of edits. The text stayed mostly the same, but some things changed, particularly after illustrations started. For example, I had a spread where I compared the weight of Pando to polar bears and other creatures, but the art director noticed that it looked strange to have polar bears on the same spread as a forest. We also converted the backmatter into text boxes, added a timeline, and added some new backmatter. I absolutely love all the changes and am so grateful that a wonderful team brought this book to life. It’s so much more than I ever imagined.

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

KATE: I saw the beginning sketches and then color spreads later in the process. From the very start, I was absolutely blown away by Turine Tran’s art.

My editor shared those two rounds of illustrations with me along with her comments and comments from the art director, asking if I had anything to add. I saw my job as ensuring the illustrations were as accurate as the text, but it was already so wonderful (and accurate) that I didn’t have much to add.

I don’t think I included any art notes, and I’m so glad I didn’t. Turine and the art director came up with things I couldn’t have even imagined.

text copyright Kate Allen Fox 2021, illustration copyright Turine Tran 2021, Capstone Editions

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

KATE: I haven’t seen any yet, but hope to soon!

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

KATE: About 18 months.

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

KATE: Capstone has created marketing videos, submitted me to present at conferences, and obviously marketed it to bookstores, libraries, and schools.

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

KATE: I’m doing a blog tour, working with organizations focused on Aspen conservation, and scheduling events with bookstores. I’m also part of the wonderful promotion group, the Picture Book Scribblers, which has been a wonderful experience for me to learn with other debut authors and from more experienced authors.

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

KATE: Less than a year. I realize that’s quick. I think when I found picture books (and then lyrical nonfiction), I found a genre and form that fit my voice, and things fell together quickly.

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?)

KATE: I think it’s important to keep experimenting and finding joy in the process. If you aren’t feeling inspired, try other genres or forms until you find a “spark” that makes you want to keep going.

SUSANNA: If your book has been out for at least one statement cycle, has it earned out yet?

KATE: It’s not out yet, but I’m hoping this happens!

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

KATE: Writing is a team sport. I wouldn’t be here without the support of other writers, and I have found so much community in the process. If you don’t have a critique group, find one, even if it’s just to have someone to commiserate with when publishing is hard.

Author Kate Allen Fox

Katefoxwrites.com
Twitter/Instagram: @kateallenfox

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

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Sequeira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Ana Siqueira!

Welcome! Welcome!

Come on in, find a comfy place to sit, get a nice cup of coffee (or whatever you’d like to drink,) and let’s get ready to learn all we can from today’s Tuesday Debut, Ana Siqueira, who has come to share her journey to publication with us! Maybe learning about BELLA’S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS can help us with our quest for success! 😊

BELLA’S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
written by Ana Siqueira
illustrated by Geraldine Rodriguez
Beaming Books, 07/13/2001
Fiction PB, 4-7 years old

Bella wants to find out what she’s good at. But she quits everything she (barely) tries because she’s a desastre. She must learn it’s okay to try again or she won’t be good at anything. #growthmindset

SUSANNA: Welcome, Ana! Thank you so much for coming to chat with us today! Where did the idea for this book come from?

ANA: I got inspired by my daughter who is a gifted and perfectionist girl. She would quit if she was not the best. I also studied growth mindset and I wanted to write a book to show kids making mistakes is not only okay but important for the process.      

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

ANA: It took me about 10 months. My first version had a girl in a writing competition. Maybe this story is also a little bit about me and all writers out there – Don’t Quit is the message, right? I got help from my amazing critique partners and two professional editors.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

ANA: As I mentioned before, this book went through many revisions. I am a true believer in revisions and trying new suggestions and feedback. But this was the second book I wrote (after my 20-year hiatus when I moved here).  So I got a professional critique and that helped me a lot. I decided to change the writing aspect to baking. Then, it was a competition. I removed the competition and add the Abuela. So, this new version went through a complete transformation, but I learned a lot from this manuscript.

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

ANA: After 10 months of working hard on it, I got a like at a pitmad event. I revised it a few more times and even though I was not 100% it was ready, I decided to submit it to Beaming Books. And I got an offer.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

ANA: I submitted it directly to the publisher – Beaming Books- on October 22nd, 2019. And a few hours later my mom died. I truly believe my mom has helped me to make this decision to submit it.

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

ANA: After two weeks, I got an email from Naomi Krueger letting me know the book was going to acquisitions. Wow. I was so excited. Two weeks later I got an offer.

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days are more likely to be “the email”?  (Best moment ever! ☺)

ANA: After the offer, I queried some agents with an offer of publication e-mail. And my agent Andrea Walker replied in hours. Then, we had the call. We clicked and I wanted to accept it right away. I asked for a few days, but I couldn’t wait too long and I told her YES! I got another offer after that. Oops. But I am very happy with Andrea Walker and her efficiency. After getting the agent, it took about a month to sign the contract.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

ANA: I went to dinner with my family. We went to my favorite Thai restaurant.

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

ANA: To be honest, I didn’t have a clue, so I didn’t know what to expect. Since my first contract was with a small publisher, the advance was smaller than the ones I got with my new deals with Simon and Schuster, and HarperCollins. But I was very happy to get a nice deal. The royalty percentage was negotiated by my agent and they’re standard.

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

ANA: I loved working with Naomi Krueger. We did work on a few, small changes, nothing big.

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

ANA: I loved the illustrator chosen from the beginning. Geraldine Rodriguez is fabulosa. Naomi Krueger consulted me about the main character and other details I would like to have included. I saw some sketches and the cover right away. I’m still in love with Bella and I know I’ll have to get a Bella doll.

text copyright Ana Siqueira 2021, illustration copyright Geraldine Rodriguez 2021, Beaming Books

I did include some art notes. For example, when she says her frosting was like cocodrilo skin, I included a note to let them know it was burnt. But for this story, I did not need that many art notes. For my second book about the Bruja, I needed a lot of art notes, since the girl is an unreliable narrator. She says, for example, she is in a cauldron with starving cocodrilos, and she’s really in a bathtub with toys.  So I’m in favor of using art notes when needed.

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

ANA: Not yet. I hope I will get some good reviews. Crossing my fingers.

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

ANA: I got an ARC copy by the end of May 2021. The offer was November 2019. So one year and a half. So exciting!

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

ANA: Social Media Campaign, National trade and library advertising, publicity campaign, special promotions to schools and public libraries, and more.

en la escuela en India

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

ANA: I have been trying to participate in events such as Panels, Conferences, NerdCamps, etc. I also did a giveaway campaign with Las Musas. I am in two debut groups – Story Jammers and 21fortheBooks. I will have a blog tour during July. My virtual book launch with Tombolo Books and The Writing Barn will be on July 17th at 11:00 Central Time.

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

ANA: After my long 20-year hiatus (I had books published in Brazil), it took me one year. I restarted writing in January of 2019 and I sold my book in January of 2020.

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?)

ANA: Learn as much as you can before trying to submit and query. You wouldn’t expect to learn how to be a talented pianist in a few months, the same happens with writing. If you can pay for professional critiques, they can help not only with the story being critiqued but by teaching you a lot. Some affordable editors are fabulous such as Lynne Marie and Angela Burke Kunkel.

Author Ana Siqueira

website: https://anafiction.com/


SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Ana! We so appreciate you giving us the benefit of your experience and wish you the best of luck with this and future titles!

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Darshana Khiani!

Welcome to another chock-full-of-information, super-informative, wildly-inspirational episode of Tuesday Debut!

I’m so glad you’re taking a few minutes out of your beach time to join us today (or maybe you’re joining us from the beach – even better! 😊) This is definitely a must-read because today our debut-ess, Darshana Khiani, mom, dog-lover, engineer, Making Picture Book Magic graduate, writer, and fashion consultant, is going to teach us all, HOW TO WEAR A SARI!

How to Wear a Sari
Written by Darshana Khiani
Illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Versify, June 22, 2021
Fiction Ages 4-7

A spirited young girl is tired of being seen as “little” by her family. She decides the best way to do this is to teach herself how to wear a sari: then she’ll make her grand entrance … and everyone will have to notice how grown-up she’s become.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Darshana! Thank you so much for coming to chat with us today. We are all very excited to hear about your journey to publication! Where did the idea for this book come from?

DARSHANA: In the Fall of 2016, I was planning my outfits for the upcoming Indian holiday season. I love the elegance and sophistication of saris but unfortunately have never fully got the hang of draping one. I began wondering what it would be like if a young girl tried to wear one. If I had so much difficulty surely it would be even harder, possibly comical for a kid to wear one. The bulk of the story, the middle and the climax, came fairly quickly. I drafted it in a 2nd POV. This is interesting since that summer I had been studying 2nd POV picture books for another story. And while I didn’t get anywhere with the other story, the 2nd POV seeped into the sari story.

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

DARSHANA: From first draft to going on submission about ten months. This is quite fast for me. Most of my stories usually take 18 months or longer. My usual process is to hand write the first crappy draft and put it away for at least six months before coming back to it. When I pull the story back out, I’ll do another 1-2 drafts before sending it to my critique group. And then it’s the revision cycle until I feel it’s ready for my agent.



Darshana’s work space

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

DARSHANA: This story went through 11 revisions before going on submission. While it was on submission for about 9 months, I also drafted two other versions that were in 3rd POV for an R&R from an editor. An R&R is a revise and resubmit, which can happen if an editor likes the story but is asking for major changes. In this case, my agent felt the original version in 2nd POV was stronger, so we didn’t submit the alternative versions to the R&R editor.

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

DARSHANA: I don’t ever feel like I know for sure when my manuscript is ready, at least not until I hear my agent say it’s ready to go. 😊 However, before I send my story to my agent, I make sure there are no big picture issues, pacing is good, language it tight, and there is enough to illustrate on each spread. I also rely on feedback from my critique group. We’ve been together for years.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

DARSHANA: I have an agent, so I sent it to her.

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

DARSHANA: The story went on submission in July of 2017 and 9 months later in March 2018 it sold. It went to a total of ten houses over that time. Again, this is fast for me. My two other books that sold took two years each. One which sat with an editor for an entire year (in fairness it was during COVID). When the story sold, I got a call from my agent, but at the time I was at work talking to a colleague, so it went to voicemail. (I still have that voicemail on my cell). I called her back and was floored to hear the story had sold. I couldn’t believe it! I had been with her 18 months and had received plenty of rejections on three other stories before this one sold.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

DARSHANA: I honestly don’t remember as it was kind of delayed. In the beginning I kept worrying that the publisher would change their mind or something, so I didn’t tell many people. Also, I didn’t realize it could take months before you actually get your contract. The publishing world is so different from the business world I know, where a person doesn’t even start working until they’ve signed a contract. Eventually, I think I celebrated with some champagne, cheese, and crackers with my hubby. I remember my critique group gave me a potted plant and some chocolate.

Reading to Nala – everyone enjoys a good story!

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


DARSHANA: My contract was in line with what’s expected for a debut author at a larger house. If you are interested in the money aspect of picture book writing I would recommend Hannah Holt’s survey from 2017.  My agent was happy with the offer, so I was too. I did ask for author consultation on the art in case the illustrator didn’t have a South Asian background. The publication timeline did change a few times. Initially, the editor said they were targeting a release for Fall 2019, which would’ve been super-fast. However, it took several months before getting an illustrator on board, hence the book was pushed to Fall 2020. Then there were some internal company deadlines that were pulled in, so the book was pushed to Summer 2021.

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

DARSHANA: We did a few rounds of revision, but it was mainly on clarifying “why” the main character was choosing to wear a sari. I was happy the editor and I had the same vision so not much else changed.

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

DARSHANA: I did see a full dummy sketch, which was wonderful. The art was gorgeous with so much energy and expression. I had a few culturally related comments. I explained my concerns to the editor, and later the art was adjusted. In my manuscript, I had some illustration notes such as indicating the “friend” in two of the lines meant a pet, but I didn’t specify what type of pet. The climax is a wordless spread, so I did have an art note there and for the end spread.

Climax Art Note: (illo: wordless spread – MC falls in a colossal way. Family members taking notice. Older sibling taking photos.)

End Spread:

You now have a spot in the hall of fame album, along with the rest of them. (illo: MC is snuggling with a grandparent while looking at the family album. Album contains pictures of mishaps by family members from their youth.)

text copyright Darshana Khiani 2021, illustration copyright Joanne Lew-Vriethoff 2021, Versify

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

DARSHANA: Nope, I didn’t know you could get that. I saw the reviews once they were posted.

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

DARSHANA: Offer to book in hand, 3 years and 3 months.

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


DARSHANA: I believe most of it has been the usual of what they do for their front list books, in terms of promoting the list to their educator list and media outlets. I will say I did get an author spot at a recent ILA conference and a guest blog spot on an educational website through the publisher, so that was nice.

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

DARSHANA: My illustrator recently created some printable activity sheets and I am currently working with an outside marketing person to develop a library kit. I did setup a blog tour that spans two months, of which this interview is a part of. Another thing that I did was build my network of booksellers, librarians, and influencers. Since 2016 I had been publishing South Asian Kidlit lists containing the upcoming season’s books on my blog. In Summer 2019, I realized this information would be useful to book buyers for stores and libraries. I started a South Asian Kidlit Newsletter and began reaching out to booksellers and librarians. This way when it was time for my book to launch, I already had a small install base that would know about my book. Along those lines, I would encourage everyone whether you are published or not to think about what your strengths are and how you can help others. What kind of service can you provide? 

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

DARSHANA: Seven 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?)

DARSHANA: Try to find something about writing or the community that you can hold on to, such that it can keep you going through the hard times. My journey started 11 years ago and there were many ups and downs. What kept me going was the kidlit community. It was so different from the “work” environments I had been in and brought me such joy. I couldn’t imagine not having the kidlit community it in my life; it helped keep me going. Several years ago, I realized how much I had grown as a person through the conversations happening in the ether on diversity and inclusion, through learning about human behavior via Story Genius class and countless other topics just by following my curiosity. I don’t see how I could be the person I am today had it not been for my entering the writing world. I’m excited to think about how much I’ll grow as a person or what I’ll learn over the next ten years.

SUSANNA: If your book has been out for at least one statement cycle, has it earned out yet?

DARSHANA: Too early to tell, but fingers crossed that it does. 😊

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

Author Darshana Khiani

Darshana Khiani is a second-generation Indian American who grew up in rural Pennsylvania and now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family and a furry pooch. She is an author, engineer, and a South Asian Kidlit Blogger. Her picture book debut HOW TO WEAR A SARI released in June 2021. When she isn’t working or writing she can be found hiking, solving jigsaw puzzles, or traveling. You can find her online at the following places:

Website: www.darshanakhiani.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/darshanakhiani
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/darshanakhiani/
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@darshanakhiani

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!