Tuesday Debut – Presenting Amanda Davis!

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

Time to meet another amazing Tuesday Debut-ess!

It’s funny how things work out! Last week we met Ann Magee and learned about her journey to publication with BRANCHES OF HOPE: THE 9/11 SURVIVOR TREE (which actually releases today!) and today, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Amanda Davis who also has a 9/11-related book: 30,000 STITCHES: THE INSPIRING STORY OF THE NATIONAL 9/11 FLAG. How wonderful that two writers have made their debuts with books that honor the upcoming 20th Remembrance of 9/11.

Please join me in welcoming Amanda!

Title: 30,000 STITCHES
Author: Amanda Davis
Illustrator: Sally Wern Comport
Publisher: WorthyKids/Hachette Book Group
Date of Publication: May 4, 2021
Nonfiction
Ages 5-8+

Synopsis: 30,000 Stitches tells the true story of the American flag that flew over Ground Zero in the days after 9/11, becoming torn and tattered and later traveled across all 50 states to be fully restored before returning to New York as a symbol of unity and hope.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Amanda, and thank you so much for joining us today! We are so looking forward to hearing about your journey to publication with this inspiring story! Where did the idea for this book come from?

AMANDA: I first learned about the story back in 2011 when I facilitated an art lesson around the story of the flag with my art students for the tenth remembrance of 9/11. While browsing through some magazines, I came across a blurb about a torn and tattered American flag that flew over Ground Zero in the days after 9/11 and later traveled across all fifty states to be fully restored touching many hearts and many hands along the way. I knew I found my lesson. That year, students learned about the flag, and we created our own patchwork flag in remembrance. From the first moment I read and taught about the true story of the flag in 2011, I was intrigued and knew it was a special story. It stuck with me and lingered in my head, but needed time to flourish and grow. After visiting the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in 2014, and being overcome with emotion at the artifacts and the stories, it was another reminder of the importance of telling this story. Once I decided to write a children’s book on the topic of the National 9/11 Flag, I enacted my three ‘r’’s: a lot of research, countless revisions, and creating a refrain that helped me tie the narrative together.

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

AMANDA: It took about three years from writing the story to having it released into the world. Before even putting pen to paper, I spent a lot of time researching. I knew if I was going to write about this topic, I had (and wanted to) get it right.  I have a background in journalism, so it was a delight getting to research and interview primary sources for the story. From the Ground Zero Superintendent to Flag Tour Staff, the people who I spoke to about the flag were incredible. I am honored to have spoken with such selfless, kind, and generous people whose dedication to helping America heal after 9/11 was inspiring. To this day, they continue to give back and be of service to others, which is truly exceptional. I feel so honored and humbled that I’m able to tell the story of the flag and make it accessible to children so they can be inspired by the themes of strength, unity, hope, and healing, that are woven throughout the story.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

AMANDA: Yes! Countless revisions. I remember at one point I even had a version of the story that was told in the first person point of view of the flag. It took many rounds of critiques with my critique groups and several critiques from editors and published authors to polish it up and get it into shape for querying agents and editors.

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

AMANDA: I don’t think you ever know when a manuscript is ready or if it ever truly is ready but at some point, if you want it published, you need to step back, take a breath, and let it go. It’s easy to get stuck in eternal revisions but your story is never going to be perfect and then once an agent or editor signs with you, they are going to have feedback of their own. For me, I felt 30,000 STITCHES was where I needed it to be because I was getting a lot of positive feedback from those same critique groups and even the paid critiques that I received. I felt confident in the story as well so that validated those feelings for me, and I decided it was time to send it out into the world.

Amanda’s art/writing studio



SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

AMANDA: I submitted the story to WorthyKids/Hachette Book Group on my own, unagented, through a snail mail slush pile submission. I continued to query the story to agents and other publishers that I had open submissions to from conferences, etc. I finally signed with agent Melissa Richeson (who is now at Storm Literary Agency) for 30,000 STITCHES. Melissa and I signed on solely for 30,000 STITCHES. At the time, she was not representing illustrators so she didn’t feel comfortable representing my whole body of work, which included some illustrated manuscripts. We went back and forth a few times with edits and then we sent the story out on submission to editors. Seven months later, I heard back from WorthyKids via email that they were interested in the story and asked me if it was still available. I replied with an enthusiastic YES, and connected them to Melissa. They wanted a version that was somewhere in the middle (word count wise) of what I sent through snail mail (700-word version) and what Melissa had followed up with (a 200-word version). Thankfully I had a version that was somewhere in the middle (around 500 words) and sent this along to them. This met their criteria, and the rest is history! Lesson is….keep all your versions and organize them so they’re easy to find in case you need them!    

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

AMANDA: Celebrations are something I can be better at. After (digitally) signing the contract, I cheers’ed with my partner, and printed it out as a keepsake. It really is important to celebrate each moment along the way, and I can take my own advice in this area. The other thing to note was that the actual signing of the contract came a few months after we had all verbally agreed to the deal. I had already begun working with my editor. It all still felt a little surreal, and it wasn’t until I got the physical book in my hands a couple of weeks ago that I realized this was real! I did a much better job celebrating the launch of the book on release day with cake, macaroons, and reflecting on my journey to publication. It’s been a long road but 30,000 STITCHES is finally out in the world!  

Book Launch Celebrations



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

AMANDA: I didn’t really know what to expect since it was my first time going through the process but had done my research and talked to published friends about what was standard. I’m also a member of the Author’s Guild and tapped into their resources for insights. They have a model contract you can reference and legal teams that review contracts. I of course, also leaned heavily on the expertise of my agent, Melissa. It was a pretty standard contract for a debut author with an advance between 3K-5K and royalties between 3-6%. I think we ended up negotiating for a few more author copies, too. It was extremely helpful to have Melissa on my team to navigate the whole process! Her knowledge and calm demeanor were much appreciated!

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

AMANDA: There wasn’t too much editing that happened to the main text after it was acquired. My editor recently shared with me that she felt the story was about 90% there when it landed on her desk. We did go back and forth numerous times to edit the back matter but the whole process was extremely collaborative.

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

AMANDA: My editor was extremely knowledgeable and detail-oriented. As mentioned above, the process was both collaborative and informative. It truly felt like teamwork. Since the beginning, I’ve been nervous about the weight of this topic and about getting the facts and details of the story correct in both the text and the art. My editor was great with easing these concerns and answering all of my questions along the way.  Although I never directly spoke to the illustrator, Sally Wern Comport, I was consulted throughout the process. I saw sketches and numerous revisions in between. I gave input on the art, which was routed through the art director and onto Sally. Sally’s art expands upon the text and adds additional layers of depth to the story. Overall it was a very enjoyable process that I learned and grew from. I couldn’t be happier with the result!

text copyright Amanda Davis 2021, illustration copyright Sally Wern Comport 2021, WorthyKids



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

AMANDA: Not yet…

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

AMANDA: From officially signing the contract to publication, about a year.

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

AMANDA: My marketing and promotion team has helped with outreach, organizing giveaways, reserving advertisements in educator and librarian publications, developing supplemental teacher’s guides and activities for a variety of ages, and I think there should be a trailer for the book releasing soon, too. They’ve done an awesome job helping me understand the timeline of tasks, target markets, and are always open to me sharing my own ideas along the way.    

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

AMANDA: I have done a virtual blog tour with other creators in the kidlit community, virtual event tour with bookstores throughout the launch week/month, I’ve created swag, activity sheets, and book plates, and I’ve done a lot of social media boosting and posting with graphics I’ve created for the book. I’ve also spread the news of the book through my newsletter/mailing list and reached out to schools, libraries museums, and friends and family to share. Currently, I’m looking for opportunities to speak at conferences and present with my debut picture book group 21 For the Books. With the 20th remembrance of 9/11 approaching, I’m hoping to connect with more people who have had personal experiences with the flag to see if they would be open to sharing their stories to help honor and remember. 

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

AMANDA: NINE years!! Patience pays off 😊

Amanda and her buddy Cora on a hike



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?)

AMANDA: There is no right or wrong way to get published. Each person’s story is different. Sometimes it’s a short, smooth journey and sometimes it’s long and bumpy. Try not to compare. Instead, keep going. With every pass (which has been many), I got into the habit of sending another query out. This industry has taught me not to take anything personally. I want to work with an editor or an agent who is going to love my work wholeheartedly. The truth is, not everyone is going to. And that’s okay. Art is subjective. With that in mind, there is strength in solidarity. This can be a very isolating business if we let it, so remember to reach out for help and to connect. The children’s book industry is one of the most welcoming communities I’ve been a part of. There is so much talent and wisdom. Connect with people. Ask questions. Never stop learning from one another. We are all on this creative journey together.

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

Author Amanda Davis (photo credit Angela Wood Photography)

Amanda Davis is a teacher, artist, writer, and innovator who uses her words and pictures to light up the world with kindness. After losing her father at the age of twelve, Amanda turned to art and writing as an outlet. It became her voice. A way to cope. A way to escape. And a way to tell her story. She was thus inspired to teach art and pursue her passion for writing and illustrating children’s books. Through her work, Amanda empowers younger generations to tell their own stories and offers children and adults an entryway into a world of discovery. A world that can help them make sense of themselves, others, and the community around them. A world where they can navigate, imagine, and feel inspired—over and over again. Amanda is the recipient of the 2020 Ann Whitford Paul—Writer’s Digest Most Promising Picture Book Manuscript Grant and teaches art at a public high school in Massachusetts where she was selected as 2020 Secondary Art Educator of the Year. Amanda is the author of 30,000 STITCHES: THE INSPIRING STORY OF THE NATIONAL 9/11 FLAG and has poetry and illustrations featured in The Writers’ Loft Anthology, FRIENDS AND ANEMONES: OCEAN POEMS FOR CHILDREN. When she’s not busy creating, you can find her sipping tea, petting dogs, and exploring the natural wonders of The Bay State with her partner and her rescue pup, Cora. You can learn more about Amanda at www.amandadavisart.com and on Twitter @amandadavisart and Instagram @amandadavis_art.

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

You may purchase Amanda’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

Perfect Picture Book Friday – A Flood Of Kindness

Hurray! It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday again!

I don’t know about you, but there are so many great books out lately that it’s hard to pick just one each week!

But I had no trouble picking this one. Such a beautiful story, and so well written!

Have a look!

Title: A Flood of Kindness

Written By: Ellen Leventhal

Illustrated By: Blythe Russo

Publisher: WorthyKids, April 13, 2021, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: hardship, kindness, resilience

Opening: “The night the river jumped its banks, everything changed.”

text copyright Ellen Leventhal 2021, illustration copyright Blythe Russo 2021, WorthyKids

Brief Synopsis: When Charlotte’s home is made uninhabitable by flood waters, she must go to a shelter and rely on the kindness of others for food, clothing, and shelter. It is uncomfortable, scary, and unfamiliar, and Charlotte is assailed by a flood of emotions – fear, anger, sadness, and loss. Eventually, the kindness shown to her by others allows Charlotte to pass kindness on.

text copyright Ellen Leventhal 2021, illustration copyright Blythe Russo 2021, WorthyKids

Links To Resources: Kindness Lessons and Activities; 28 Kindness Activities for Preschoolers;

text copyright Ellen Leventhal 2021, illustration copyright Blythe Russo 2021, WorthyKids

Why I Like This Book: As writers, we all believe that every child should have the opportunity to see him/herself in a book, to know that whatever they may be experiencing, others have experienced it too and they’re not alone. Although this story specifically relates to a flood, it’s a story that any child who has ever experienced displacement or loss will feel understood and seen by. The text is powerful in its spareness, using just the right words to tell the story so the reader can experience the emotions along with Charlotte. And the ending is poignant, sweet and hopeful, and shows that kindness multiplies. A wonderful book to show kids the importance of paying it forward.

text copyright Ellen Leventhal 2021, illustration copyright Blythe Russo 2021, WorthyKids

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 😊

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific blog links (and any other info you feel like filling out 😊) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! 😊

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Will You Be Friends With Me?

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

I have a sweet and lovely book to share with you today.  It is technically a board book, not a picture book, but its message of acceptance, tolerance, and appreciating difference  seemed so apt and so timely in the midst of current events that I wanted to share it.  We can all use a friend 😊💕

Will You Be Friends cover

Title: Will You Be Friends With Me?

Written By: Kathleen Long Bostrom

Illustrated By: Jo de Ruiter

WorthyKids, July 7, 2020, fiction

Suitable For Ages: Baby – 3

Themes/Topics: friendship, appreciating difference, acceptance

Screen Shot 2020-06-11 at 7.45.32 PM

text copyright Kathleen Bostrom 2020, illustration copyright Jo De Ruiter 2020, WorthyKids

Opening: “I wake early.
You sleep late.
My hair’s curly.
Yours is straight.
I say, “Now!”
You say, “Wait?”
Will you be friends with me?

Brief Synopsis: We’re all different but life is more fun that way! Anyone can be a friend!

Links To Resources: draw a picture of yourself and a friend doing something you both enjoy; write a poem about what makes a good friend; make friendship bracelets for your friends Easiest Friendship Bracelets; host a baking party where each child brings an ingredient and make Friendship Cookies; Friendship Keychains; Friendship Flowers

Screen Shot 2020-06-11 at 7.42.14 PM

text copyright Kathleen Bostrom 2020, illustration copyright Jo De Ruiter 2020, WorthyKids

Why I Like This Book: This book is simple and sweet and shows youngest readers that embracing difference is a good thing.  Kids can be different from each other in many ways, but that’s part of what makes life interesting and fun.  Friends are everywhere. The rhyme flows smoothly and is a pleasure to read, and the art is engaging and sweet, depicting a pleasantly diverse array of children. A lovely choice for any little one’s library, especially now.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Dawn Young!

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to another exciting installment of Tuesday Debut!

I realize of course that it’s the 22nd of October – 9 Nights Before Halloween, and 64 Nights Before Christmas – but if it’s okay for the local Stop & Shop to be putting out their holiday items already then it’s okay for us to share and enjoy today’s debut picture book!

I’m thrilled to introduce Tuesday Debut-ess Dawn Young and her fabulously fun picture book, The Night Baafore Christmas!

The Night Baafore Christmas
Written by Dawn Young
Illustrated by Pablo Pino
published by WorthyKids, Hachette Book Group
October 2019
fiction, ages 4-8

hi res for blog - jacket

It’s Christmas Eve and Bo can’t sleep, so he starts counting sheep. But when the sheep get a glimpse of the Christmas goodies, they scatter, wreaking holiday mayhem all over the house. With a house full of sheep and a mess to clean, will Bo get to sleep before Santa comes? Find out in this hilarious story of a night before Christmas gone baa-dly wrong.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Dawn!  And thank you so much for stopping by to chat with us today and share your journey to publication!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

DAWN: The idea for The Night Baafore Christmas began a long time ago, when one of my daughters was having trouble falling asleep because she kept worrying about bad things after watching the movie Barnyard. Every night I’d tell her to think good thoughts and imagine herself at fun, happy places like the circus or the zoo.

With that in mind, I wrote about a child who, struggling to fall asleep due to bad thoughts, went to those same fun, happy places. But a story about a child going from adventure to adventure felt flat and needed something more, so I had the child attempt to count sheep to fall asleep. Soon, those mischievous sheep were tagging along on the adventures. At that point, the story had some spark but things went from flat to frenzied and I knew I needed to tighten the story.

Also, I wanted the story to start on a more positive note, so instead of having the child worry about bad things, I had the excitement over an upcoming event, like the eve of a birthday or a holiday, be the reason the child couldn’t fall sleep. I played around with both, but found myself heading down the birthday path. Then, after seeing the holiday mishap contest on Susanna’s blog, I shifted to Christmas, and wrote a draft of what is now The Night Baafore Christmas.

[And now a brief message from our sponsors – enter the Halloweensie Contest (which opens in a week)! You too could write a new story or find a new angle on a work-in-progress that might be worthy of publication just like Dawn!

…aaand back to our regularly scheduled programming…! 🙂 ]

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

DAWN: Years! I began writing the story in 2008. Getting feedback from my critique partners and creating dummies were a big part of getting the book to where it is today. I love to write in rhyme, and I wanted this story to be in rhyme. Knowing that most publishers prefer prose because too often (they say) they see rhyme that is subpar, I worked on my perfecting my rhyming skills. Also, I wanted this story to be fun and funny, so I focused on wordplay and humor.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

DAWN: This story went through many, many, many revisions. Even after adding the sheep, the story went through rounds and rounds of revisions. Early drafts were written in first person, and now the story is in third person. Playing around with POV is a great exercise.

Also, originally, the sheep appeared by number randomly to mirror the craziness of the story. Then, I received feedback suggesting I number the sheep in ascending order when the action escalates and in descending order when the momentum slows down. I revised accordingly, and it worked great and gave the story a smoother flow. I’m grateful for the feedback!

For me, critique groups/partners are key to the process. We look to our critique partners for feedback to help us revise our stories, and their suggestions are invaluable. I find that I make a great deal of progress with my manuscripts when I, not only consider the feedback I get, but also the feedback I give. When I do a critique, I think my inner self is trying to speak to me through someone else’s work. Often, I find myself saying, Wait I just did that same thing!  A critique you’re doing for someone can act as a mirror, enabling you to reflect on your own writing as well.

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

DAWN: When that nagging, unsettling, “something’s missing,” “if you stop now you’re cheating,” “you can do better than that,” feeling, the one that keeps me up at night, is gone, then I know the manuscript is ready for submission.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

DAWN: Unagented at the time, I read on Kathy Temean’s blog that WorthyKids was seeking submissions for holiday stories, so I subbed the old-school way, via snail mail! Shortly after the submission, I assigned with my (now) agent and she handled the contract.

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

DAWN: Four months after I submitted, I got an email from the editor asking if the story was still available. I was ecstatic! Then around ten months later I got the offer.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

DAWN: I cried, the happiest of tears, and eventually I went out to dinner with  my very supportive husband.

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

DAWN: At the time I submitted to WorthyKids, they were a smaller publisher so I figured the advance might be on the lower side. I really liked the publisher and the timeline for publication was unreal. I signed the contract in Nov 2018 and they gave me a Fall 2019 pub date. I felt so fortunate. In the meantime, WorthyKids became part of Hachette Book Group, so my small publisher isn’t so small anymore.

SUSANNA: What was the editorial process like for you?

DAWN: They requested two minor changes and that was it.

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

DAWN: The illustration process was unlike most I’ve read about. The editor suggested that I send her names of illustrators that had a style similar to what I was envisioning for the book. One of the names I gave her was Pablo Pino. Since they had Pablo in mind as well, they asked him and he said yes. His illustrations went beyond what I could have ever hoped for. They’re are beautiful, fun and funny. I feel so fortunate that Pablo Pino is the illustrator. The Night Baafore Christmas couldn’t have been in better hands!

One way in which illustrator’s vision departed from mine was that I envisioned the sheep’s numbers to be on their bodies, but Pablo put their numbers on tags around their necks, and I’m so glad he did because they’re visible but subtle. Having big ole numbers on their backs may have overpowered the page.

I saw digital files of the entire book before it went to print and I was blown away! The editor asked for feedback. Other than saying Wow more times than I can count, I think I had only two (minor) comments.

I did have art notes. Looking back I can see that they weren’t necessary.

hi res for blog dancing

text copyright Dawn Young 2019, illustration copyright Pablo Pino 2019 WorthyKids/Hachette

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

DAWN: No, not yet.

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

DAWN: Ten months.

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

DAWN: It just released on Oct 1st.

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

DAWN: My publisher has been amazing. They made the most lively, fun, festive trailer, and they’re contacting book reviewers, making memes, and doing a great deal of promotion.

 

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

DAWN: I had flyers, bookmarks, stickers and a banner made. I reached out to bloggers asking them I could be featured on their blogs to share my journey and the book’s journey. I will be featured at bookstores in November and December and I’m booking other events as well.

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

DAWN: I started writing in 2007, but at the time, my kids were small, and I was busy with toddlers and very involved at their school, so I’d say I was more of a part-time writer. Around 2010, I got really serious about writing and began attending conferences and writing retreats, taking classes, joining critique groups and writing ALL the time. Strictly a rhymer, I thought it would be best to branch out and be more diverse with my style, so around that time, I started writing in prose as well. In 2018, I sold my first picture book, Counting Elephants, which releases in March 2020 and sold The Night Baafore Christmas shortly after.

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

DAWN: Way back when, I submitted the very early versions of this story and they got their share of rejections, as they should have. Those versions were nowhere near ready and should not have been out in the world ‒ much like a 13 year old behind the wheel of a car! The rejections I received were a blessing. As much as I dreaded them and resented them, they made me work harder, thinker deeper and get more ingenious. I learned to welcome them. I have a quote I like to remember when things aren’t going as expected: “Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

I learned that getting published requires more patience and persistence than I ever thought I had.

I also learned to celebrate the positive things. Back in 2013, I submitted this story to an editor who spoke at a conference I attended. Shortly after I received a rejection letter from her, but this time, I also got positive feedback. The editor called the story “fun and engaging” and she called my writing “fresh” and had other nice things to say.  Even though it was a rejection, I celebrated her encouraging feedback, and to this day I still have her letter on my desk.

I feel very fortunate to be a part of such a fabulously generous and thoughtful kidlit community. The support and encouragement is incredible. No one knows a writer’s life like a writer does.

SUSANNA: Wow, Dawn!  Such a lot of wonderful, helpful insights you shared with us today!  I especially enjoyed your thoughts on critique groups/partners, when you know your manuscript is ready, and what it’s like to be a writer and part of the writing community.  I’m sure our readers will all have their favorite parts as well 🙂 Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers!

Young headshot

Author Dawn Young

Dawn Young bio:

Dawn graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, and later with an MBA.  For years, Dawn worked as an engineer and, later, manager at a large aerospace company, until her creative side called her to pursue her dream of writing children’s books. After reading and writing hundreds of corporate documents, none of which were titled The Little Engineer Who Could or Don’t Let the Pigeon Fly the Airbus, Dawn is thrilled to now be reading and writing picture books instead.

Dawn is also a math enthusiast. When she’s not busy writing and reading, she can be found doing math problems, sometimes just because… In high school, Dawn’s dream was to have a math equation named after her, but now, she believes having her name on the cover of books is a million times better! Dawn lives with her husband, three children and golden retriever in sunny Arizona.

https://www.facebook.com/dawn.young.1865

https://twitter.com/dawnyoungPB

https://www.instagram.com/dawnyoungbooks/

www.dawnyoungbooks.com

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

You may purchase Dawn’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

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