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 Lindsey Hobson!

Welcome to another exciting edition of Tuesday Debut, Everyone!

Now that everybody’s favorite groundhog (not that anyone around here is biased… 🙂 )

Punxsutawney Phyllis!!!skipping phyllis

has announced to the world that we can expect an early spring, what better Tuesday Debut could we share today than one about a flower-loving dragon?  So spring-y!  🙂 Please join me in welcoming Tuesday Debut-ess, Lindsey Hobson, as she shares her publishing journey!

Blossom’s Wish
Written by Lindsey Hobson
Illustrated by Katarina Stevanovic
Published January 2020
Fiction, ages: 3-8

cover-image 

Blossom is a flower-loving dragon living in a town full of people, who gives her flowers away in hopes of making a friend. When she catches a cold, her world is turned upside down.

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Lindsey!  Thank you so much for joining us today to share your journey to publication!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

LINDSEY: My daughter went through a phase where she required an original story before bed. This is a version of her favorite story that I would tell her. I’m so glad that I will have a physical copy of this story to share with her, and her children one day.

 

 

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

LINDSEY: Writing the story didn’t take me very long, as I already had it in my head. I just sat down and typed it all out in one evening.

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

LINDSEY: I revised it several times based on critiques I received from a critique group, then hired an editor for developmental editing. I realized that, by listening and revising from several different critiques, I had strayed too far from my original story. I scrapped the draft I was on, went back to the original, and started over with the same editor. She loved the original story better than the revision we had been working on and had some great ideas to get it to where it is today.

 

 

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

LINDSEY: After working with the editor on the development and line editing, I asked for some more critiques from an online group and was happy with the responses I received. I felt like it was ready.

writing buddies

Lindsey’s writing buddies 🙂

 

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?

LINDSEY: I decided to self-publish this book because it is so near to my heart. I wanted to have control over the content of the story, and how the illustrations looked. This is for my daughter, and I wanted to keep it that way. I did not try to submit this one to traditional publishers for that reason.

 

 

SUSANNA: How did you find an illustrator?

LINDSEY: I am a member of several Facebook groups, and I spoke to several illustrators that I found in those groups. I also joined Instagram to look for illustrators, and perused freelance websites. I ultimately found someone on Fiverr, and although I have heard negative things about that website, I really think you can find quality people that are looking to build their portfolios.

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you and the illustrator have a contract of any kind?

LINDSEY: We did not have a contract, just the specifics set forth in the gig (or package) that I purchased as far as having commercial rights, etc.

 

 

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?

LINDSEY: I had a budget, and I searched until I found someone that could work within that budget. I was able to keep it under $1000 for illustration and design.

 

 

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

LINDSEY: In working with my budget, we planned out where full page illustrations would be vs. spot illustrations. She wrote down an idea for each page before we started. Once she started, she sketched the page out then sent it to me, I would approve it or ask for slight revisions, then she would paint (she works in watercolor). Because of the time difference between where we live, I would often wake up with a new message from her in the morning. It was like Christmas every day!

page 2

 

SUSANNA: How did you format your book for publication?

LINDSEY: After the illustrator was finished, I asked her if she knew anyone who could do the formatting. She recommended someone who I hired to format the book and added the text. She also did the cover. It worked out well because if we hit a snag, she could talk directly to the illustrator.

 

 

SUSANNA: How did you select a printing service?

LINDSEY: I researched what others were doing in the Facebook groups I am in and ultimately decided to use Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon because of the ease of getting my book online and their print-on-demand service.

 

 

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?)

LINDSEY: I did not have it in my budget to do a print run, so I decided to use print-on-demand. I am also talking to a local bookstore about stocking my book in their children’s section.

 

 

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

LINDSEY: Four months from start to finish.

 

 

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

LINDSEY: I have made an author page on Facebook, and joined Twitter and Instagram to connect with the KidLit community. I have posted updates throughout the illustrating and design phases to get people interested in my project. Because my book is about a dragon that grows flowers, I have contacted local greenhouses to see if they would like to do a meet-the-author event.

 

 

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

LINDSEY: There are so many helpful people in the KidLit community. I would highly recommend joining groups on Facebook, subscribing to other writers’ blogs, and reading articles. I have also found it extremely helpful to ask questions of the people who have been doing this for a while, and rewarding to be able to help answer questions for people just starting out as well.

colorheadshot

Author Lindsey Hobson

Social media:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/lindseybhobson
Twiter: www.twitter.com/lindseybhobson
Instagram: www.instagram.com/lindseybhobson

 

SUSANNA: Lindsey, thank you again for joining us today and for sharing all your helpful insights into the world of writing and self publishing.  I can only imagine how many writers you are helping!  We all wish you the very best of success with this and future books!

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

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

Amazon

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)

 

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Ciara O’Neal!

Hi Everyone!

Wow!  It’s been a while since we had a Tuesday Debut, hasn’t it?!

That is partly because of the writing contests and the holidays, but also partly because I only have Tuesday Debut posts when people want to share their first-ever brand new picture books.  (That said, I have a lot of availability in the coming weeks, so if you’ve got a debut picture book you’d like to get a little attention for, email me! 🙂 )

But we’ve got one today – the second self-published one we’ve had the opportunity to learn about here – so some interesting and different information.

Please help me welcome Ciara O’Neal as she shares her debut picture book Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone!

 

Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone
Written by Ciara O’Neal
Illustrated by Alicia Young
Published November 2019
Fiction, ages 6-10

Flamingo Hugs Cover Painting_font2

Hugs are hard for a clumsy flamingo. But with daring disguises, delightful dances, and a few more tricks up her feathers, this bird is determined to win a little love from zoo-goers everywhere!  

SUSANNA: Welcome, Ciara!  Thank you so much for joining us today!  We’re delighted to have you and opportunity to learn a thing or two about the self-publishing process for picture book writers!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

CIARA: Flaminga’s story arose during a very loooooong trip to the ER with my daughter. After rejecting kisses from my stuffed flamingo keychain, our star was born! My daughter and I whiled away the endless hours by brainstorming all the different ways a flamingo might try to win affection. And, voilà Flamingo Hugs came to life. I still have my daughter’s first sketch of Flaminga in her hat. Alicia drew a wonderful rendition of it in our book!

Idea generation is one of my favorite phases in the whole process of creating picture book magic. I find that I am a very visual person. So whenever I want to find inspiration, I take a walk around my corner of the world. I try to look at ordinary things from odd perspectives. Sometimes, it’s hunkering down in the grass or leaning against a tree. (There might have been that time I flipped upside down on my kids’ playground. But we won’t talk about that.)

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

CIARA: Some stories demand I tell them from beginning to end in one sitting. Flamingo Hugs and many of my other picture books materialized in a matter of hours. But that being said, NONE of those stories look anything like the original draft. Especially not once my incredible critique partners got to them. (Love my critique partners!)

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

CIARA: All of my stories go through MANY rounds of revision. But I think my favorite stage is probably my second round of revisions. (My first round always focuses on plot, stakes, and character development.)

During the second round, I research. I find picture books with similar themes, Youtube videos, and Pinterest pins to help me develop my language. I create a list of verbs, nouns, and adjectives that fit my manuscript. I begin playing with the words, generating jokes, and flushing out “the world” in my story.

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

CIARA: This question is SO difficult to answer. I’m not sure there is a right one. I feel most confident about my story when my critique partners only give me words to tweak as opposed to fixing plot holes, etc.  Once I reach that stage, I have done several paid critiques.

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?

CIARA: A little over a year ago, I decided I wanted to finally chase my dream of being an author. I wrote my first few manuscripts and began querying agents and traditional publishers. During that time, I started sharing my stories with my dad.

We had so much fun brainstorming and dreaming up what characters would do. One day, he told me he believed in my stories and wanted to help make my dream a reality.  Together, we decided my clumsy flamingo needed a little self-publishing love, and here we are!

SUSANNA: How did you find an illustrator?

CIARA: I found my first illustrator, Alicia Young, after searching the SCBWI page. I saw her illustrations and fell in love!

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

CIARA: Alicia and I did have a contract. I did a mini-interview with her before we agreed to work together. During the illustration process, we spoke often. It was important to me to find someone that I clicked with and shared my vision for the story.

SUSANNA: Are you able to give a ballpark figure of any kind about the cost of the illustrator?

CIARA: Illustrators are fabulous people! But they have to eat too! When it comes to cost, you will get what you pay for. Spot illustrations can cost anywhere from $20-$45. Elaborate full spreads can cost even more depending on the time needed to complete the page.  It’s hard to give a ballpark figure because each story calls for a different number of spot illustrations and spreads. So needless to say, self-publishing with great illustrations can be costly.

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

CIARA: The illustration process was thrilling. Each email from Alicia was like Christmas morning. She is so creative and such a joy to work with. That’s not to say we didn’t do our fair share of revision, both my words and her illustrations. But it was one of my favorite parts of this journey!

SUSANNA: How did you format your book for publication?

CIARA: My beautiful illustrator formatted my story. Most illustrators I’ve had contact with an offer this as part of their services.

SUSANNA: How did you select a printing service?

CIARA: Alicia also helped me find our printing service. She had published with them previously. We were both impressed by the price, quality, and turn around time.

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?)

CIARA: I did a print run.  My book is also available on Amazon and through my personal website. I have it for sale in a few indie bookstores. I also tote around a few copies to sell at fairs, schools, etc. I even had it for sale at Christmas Tree farm. 🙂

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

CIARA: For Flamingo Hugs, the whole process took about eight months.

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

CIARA: I have a book trailer that I created. Here is the link, https://ciaraoneal.weebly.com/flamingo-hugs-arent-for-everyone.html

I also created an educational guide to accompany my book. It is on the link above as well. Feel free to check it out. In my guide, there are coloring pages, word searches, stationery, and lesson ideas.

Aside from the trailer and guide, I have visited several blogs, sent out postcards to schools, and visited fairs. Near Valentine’s Day, I will be having a little giveaway. It’s all very exciting.

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

CIARA: I would love to definitely thank you. Last October, I found your “Would You Read It?” It was my first foray into the “critiquing” world. Your supportive community gave me the confidence to keep writing and dreaming!

Ciara Logo_yellow swirl background

Social Media-
Twitter- @ciaraoneal2
Instagram- authorciaraoneal
Personal Website- ciaraoneal.weebly.com

 

 

SUSANNA: That is really wonderful to hear, Ciara – that Would You Read It helped you in your writing pursuits!  Thank you to all our generous, helpful readers for their part in that.  And to anyone who is considering submitting a pitch to Would You Read It, maybe this will give you a little incentive 🙂  Thank you so much for joining us today, Ciara, and for sharing all your helpful advice!  We so appreciate it and wish you all the best with this and future books!

Readers, if you have questions for Ciara, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond! (And if you’re interested in the other self published Tuesday Debut, please see HERE)

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

 

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, 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 Published)

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

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Jill Mangel Weisfeld!

Hey there, folks!

It’s time for another edge-of-your-seat episode of Tuesday Debut! 😊

Today, we have something very special in store.

To date, in this series, we have focused on the journey to publication for traditionally published authors, because that is what the majority of pre-published writers are striving for.  And for the most part, that will continue to be the focus of the series.  But some authors choose a different route for their own reasons, and I thought you might enjoy hearing at least once about a different kind of publication journey because I think there’s a lot we can learn and apply to our own situations.

So I now have the pleasure of introducing you to Jill Mangel Weisfeld and her adorable book, Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job!

Title: Riley the Retriever Wants a New Job
Author: Jill Mangel Weisfeld and Deborah Mangel
Illustrator: Shirley Ng-Benitez
Publishing house: Peek-a-Bear Press
Published: August 2018
Fiction
Picture book for ages 4-8

SM-VSK Riley cover

Book description: The book tells the adventures of Riley who is trying to find a more meaningful job than being a Retriever. Riley begins her quest researching working dog jobs on “Doogle” to see if she can find one that is a better fit for her. The book is entertaining and educational. The colorful illustrations bring Riley’s adorable personality to life. The story is based on Jill’s own dog Riley who is a certified therapy dog with the Good Dog Foundation.

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Jill’s daughter with Riley when she was about 4 months old 😊

SUSANNA: Welcome, Jill!  Thank you so much for joining us today!  We’re looking forward to hearing about the publication process from a different angle!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

JILL: The idea of the book came to me when I was working with Riley at the library about six years ago. The idea was fully formed when I first came up with it. I wanted the story to be educational so immediately I thought the idea of Riley being bored being a Retriever and having her research working dog jobs on her computer. The word “Doogle” came to me later. I began to do my own research on different kinds of working dog jobs and picked different jobs that I thought would be appealing to children.

riley head shot

Riley at the library! 💕

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

JILL: I wrote the book with my mom and it took us about 3 months for the first draft. I sent my mom all of my research about working dogs and a very rough draft of the story and then she tightened it up for me and added some of her ideas. My mom’s writing is a little more formal than I wanted it to sound so I adjusted it so it sounded more like Riley’s voice.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

JILL: The book went through many revisions. Like the Beatles song I got by with a little (actually a lot) of help from my friends. I had the librarian at the local library where Riley works read the manuscript to make sure the language was suitable for the intended age group. I had a friend who is a child psychologist read it to make sure the images were suitable for the age group as well. Two of my close friends helped me with editing the book. My husband and daughters also helped me a lot. I read the book out loud many times to make sure the sentences flowed well to the ear.

 

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

JILL: I was never 100% sure the book was completely ready for publication. Grammar can be very subjective, one person would tell me to add a coma and another person would tell me to remove the same comma. I hired a children’s book editor who was very helpful but the book still went through many grammatical revisions after he edited it.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

JILL: I started my own publishing company called Peek-a-Bear press when I published my first book titled: “Take a peek with Peek-a-Bear. I like self publishing because you have creative freedom with the end product such as the illustrations and design of the book.

 

SUSANNA: How did you go about creating your book?

JILL: I searched for illustrators on the internet who used the style I was looking for. I also posted the job on Guru but in the end I found my illustrator on Instagram.

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Before I sent manuscript to the illustrator I had her sign a non disclosure form. The illustrator is represented by an agency and I did sign a contract. I didn’t want to pay an illustrator a royalty every time I sold the book so the contract stated that I was paying a flat fee for the art.

The fee is based on the page count of the book and the number of illustrations. I spoke to many illustrators and the fees ranged from 1,500-15,000.

I am a graphics designer so I designed the book with clip art that represented what I wanted the illustrations to look like. The illustrator, Shirley, first sent me sample art of Riley, once I approved those she sent me black and white sketches of the rest of the book.
Shirley moved on to color after the black and white sketches were approved. I really enjoyed seeing Shirley bring the book to life with her color illustrations. Shirley lives on the west coast so everything was done over email. The entire process went well and Shirley completed the book in about 9 months which is fast.

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I designed the book on Quark which is the design program that I use. I exported the book to the printer who is in Hong Kong.

My husband is an exporter and he works with agents in Hong Kong who helped me find the printer. They also printed my first book and since they were competitively priced and nice to work with I hired them again.

 

SUSANNA: How did you handle print run and distribution?

JILL: I printed 2,000 copies of my book and I am distributing it through Amazon Advantage, local bookstores and my website. I just had a book signing at FAO Schwarz in Manhattan. I am going to approach toy stores and pet stores as well.

 

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to have the first copy in your hand?

JILL: The total process writing to publication took at least three to four years.

 

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

JILL: I did not submit my book yet to be reviewed by Kirkus or Booklist but maybe I will after reading this question.

 

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

JILL: Book Marketing has been a challenge for me, it’s hard to know what is going to generate sales. Riley has an Instagram account. I just decided I am going to donate 100% of my proceeds to The Guiding Eyes For The Blind in Yorktown, NY. I have socialized guide dog puppies from this wonderful organization. When I do a book event I bring a coloring page of Riley to give to the children. I have not done a book trailer or sent out flyers.

I have hired a PR person, Valerie Kerr, to send out a press release to print and media when I have an event. Valerie has gotten me write ups in local newspapers and web sites, podcast interviews and a guest spot on a local radio show.
My first book won five awards but I wasn’t able to enter this book because the copyright date was for 2015 and it has to be the same as the publication date

 

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

 

JILL: One thing I would like to share is that sadly my mom passed away almost two years ago while we were still working on the book. My father who is suffering from dementia moved in with me and I was not able to work on the book for for a long time afterwards. Part of the reason was it was too painful for me and for a while I didn’t think I would be able to complete it. I knew my mom would be really upset with me if I didn’t finish the book so this gave me the motivation to do so.

granny

Jill’s mom with Riley

SUSANNA: So sorry to hear about your mom, Jill, and that she never got to see the finished book.  I’m sure she’d be proud of you, though, and really pleased with how it came out.  And it’s clear from the photo how much Riley meant to her.  Thank you so much for joining us today.  I think I can speak for everyone when I say it was really interesting to hear about publishing a book from a new perspective.  We can all learn a lot from you! Best of luck with this and future books! 😊

 

jill and riley headshot

Author Jill Weisfeld with Riley

Instagram: @workingdogtales

 

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

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

Bronx River Books in Scarsdale, NY and other Independent Bookstores
Amazon
Jill’s Website

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