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It's been a long while since I OIKed, and usually OIKing happens on Tuesdays, but this week we have a Friday Overheard in Kindergarten moment. Actually we have more than one! It's very important to maintain a sense of humor when the weeks are so irregular (our school system has not had a complete week of school since DECEMBER) and when the children are so irregular surprising. Here are gems from yesterday which are evidence, I like to think, of children learning what I'm teaching:
K.MD.A.1Describe measurable attributes of objects, such as length or weight. Describe several measurable attributes of a single object: "Miss Jenson, have you lost waist?"
4.K.B.5 With guidance and support from adults, respond to questions and suggestions from peers and add details to strengthen writing as needed:
"It took me six months not to finish this!"
It took me six months a lot of weeks at least to remember what I wrote
It took me six months since I was still five to read my old words
It took me six months and again today to add one more describing word
It took me six months not to finish this! and now tomorrow I'm finally done!
HM 2014 all rights reserved
************* I must say that this poem reflects the sorry state of Writing Workshop in my classroom this year. Something about our funky schedule and the particularities of my class has meant that many, many days our scanty writing time just gets swallowed up by difficult afternoon transitions and the need for a movement break and an unusually large number of kids who don't find a focusing joy in expressing themselves on paper. I've always taught kids that Writing Workshop is "our favorite time of the day," the most relaxed, self-differentiated activity we do, but we haven't been able muster that habit this year. " It's taken me six months not to finish this..." and it's a mighty disappointment, to tell the truth.
AND YET! How thrilling that on the same day we have finally arrived at the possibility of publishing our writing, copies of the Poetry Friday Anthology for Science also arrived at my door. I was able to open the awesome Fourth Grade Student Edition and show my "Cicada Magic" poem right there in a real book, with my name and everything! And THEY were thrilled and excited for me and for themselves, to actually reach an end point and publish their writing in a finished-looking form. Deep breath; renewed commitment.
I believe that most regular Poetry Friday participants have poems in this anthology, the delights of which I haven't yet had time to fully savor--but if somehow you haven't heard, do go and look at the riches which are now available for you, your students, your children, your scientist friends, your anybody!
The publisher is now setting up the final designs. My designer at Piccadilly sent me low-res versions of how the spreads will look with text. Now she has my finished digital illustrations, she will be fine-tuning the designs and placing all the text into position, ready for proofing. This is how the first spread is going to look:
They have also created designs for the 'extras', like the back cover and the title page, using sections from the existing illustrations. This is the title page design:
It's all perfect timing, because of course I am out of the studio most days at the moment, visiting schools. Today I am actually in a school in Sheffield, so nice and close for a change, but sadly no chance for train sketching.
Can’t get through the day without a cup of coffee? Melville House, a Brooklyn-based indie publisher, and the Brooklyn Roasting Company have collaborated to create a special blend called The Weirdness.
This limited edition concoction is inspired by Jeremy Bushnell’s debut novel which shares the same title. One of the scenes in the book features the protagonist, a writer named Billy Ridgeway, making a deal with Lucifer over freshly brewed coffee.
Michael Pollack, the owner of the Brooklyn Roasting Company, gave this statement in the press release: “We are thrilled to collaborate with one of our friends and neighbors. The relationship of coffee and reading is one of our core ideals.” Will you be trying this?
We need a full-time Associate Publisher to direct business operations, finance, and personnel at The Sun, a nonprofit, ad-free magazine in its forty-first year of publication. This position is in our editorial office in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The job requires a head for business, a heart for all that The Sun represents, and experience as a compassionate, skillful manager. We offer competitive compensation, excellent benefits, and an appealing work environment. Click here for details.
If you’re not interested in this position, will you please help us spread the word?
I began blogging as an agent in January of 2008, and it’s remarkable to look back over my past posts and notice how much has changed in six years. When I started, I didn’t even have a Kindle. Now my family owns five Kindles plus iPads and various other electronic devices, and I wouldn’t want to do this job without them.
I wrote posts back then about how there was a stigma to self-publishing and I warned writers against it— if they wanted to be taken seriously. Now self-publishing is a normal and accepted option for writers.
I wrote about how e-books were a minuscule percentage of any author’s total books sold.
I was not even on Twitter until a year after I started the blog (January, 2009). Facebook and Twitter were still optional and sort of curiosities.
What else has changed in the book business?
The closing of Borders was an epic blow to the industry, many independent bookstores have closed, and pundits frequently discuss the future of Barnes & Noble.
The other night, I asked Twitter what I should write about for my post this month, and someone said she wanted to hear about the pressures and problems of being a published author — as opposed to tips on how to get published.
It’s a good topic, but before I get to the real meat of the discussion, I’d like to preface it with what looks like it’s going to be part one of ???:
This is something I talk about frequently, but in private, in small, safe places with people who I know won’t say, “I’d give anything to have your problems” or, “Well, at least you’re published.” As if that makes the struggles any less challenging or real. Believe me, I remember what it’s like to want someone else’s problems–what I saw as desierable problems–and I know how blessed and fortunate I am to be able to have writing as a career! It’s very rarely an easy career, though.
And the truth is, it’s a lot simpler to talk about challenges I’ve been through, like hundreds of rejections, or writing seventeen novels before INCARNATE was picked up. It’s not always comfortable talking about those things, because I remember the anguish and struggle of being in the middle of all that. But I believe it’s important to talk about them, especially now that I’ve come out on the other side of them, because they’re encouraging stories for others in those same places. It shows them that I survived, and they can, too.
Now that I’m published, it’s a bit different. After all, this is something I want to keep doing, struggles and all. This is the career I wanted. There’s not really another side where I talk about the difficulties but tell people I made it through. And looking at publishing as if it’s one huge thing that will (hopefully) last the rest of my life, that’s pretty overwhelming. It’s much more manageable to break problems into smaller bits and look at them individually.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of good things about being published. Too many to name. (This is probably another reason why authors rarely talk about how difficult it can be — they don’t want to come off as ungrateful. I certainly don’t!) But it’s not all sunshine and flowers once that first contract is signed. For me, writing actually got a lot more difficult.
Which, at this point, is another post, because this one will soon get unwieldy . . .
(But, with that in mind, I want you to know something: I am surviving. And you can, too.)
Jodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen). *A Kippy is a cat.
I often get emails from people looking to break into children’s publishing. I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some general advice I find myself giving again and again. Below are three steps, in order of importance, that I think writers should focus on:
1) Write a Really Good Book First time writers don’t sell books based on partial drafts or outlines. They sell finished manuscripts. And there are a lot of finished manuscripts in the world. That means the first step is completing a book and revising it until it is airtight. Don’t expect an agent or editor to look at a sloppy manuscript and see the potential–that same agent or manager has hundreds (not an exaggeration) of other manuscripts to consider, and they’ll take the one that demonstrates the greatest professionalism and craft. Taking an example from my first book, Peter Nimble, I did about 15 complete re-writes before showing it to an agent … and then did another 3 drafts before the book went to an editor. I have yet to talk to a professional author who didn’t go through the same level of revision before finding a publisher.
2) Join SCBWI The “Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators” (SCBWI) is a national organization with local chapters all over the country. This group is a fantastic place for both professional and aspiring writers and illustrators to gather and discuss craft and business of children’s publishing. The annual conferences are often attended by agents and editors who are looking for new books. I have a number of author friends whose careers were launched when they met an editor at an SCBWI event who requested to see their really good manuscripts (see above point).
3) Query Agents If a lot of industries, the “it’s who you know” rule applies. Not so in publishing! Book agents read and consider manuscript submissions from unknown writers all the time–that’s their job. Nearly every writer I’ve ever met was pulled out of the “slush pile” from an agent who discovered them. Your job is to query agents who will best understand your work and be in a position to sell it. This means doing a bit of homework, by reading the Writer’s Market and finding agents who are looking for material like your book. The internet is awash with resources about how to approach agents. A good place to start might be Kidlit.com, a website run by children’s book agent Mary Kole. She answers questions about the dos and don’ts of querying better than anyone!
The above steps aren’t a guarantee of any success, but they are a good place to start! Also, I might as well link to this brief but eloquent video of Neil Gaiman talking about step one (which is really the only step that matters):
Today we’re lucky to have Peggy Robbins Janousky visiting to share highlights from SCBWI FL’s Picture Book Intensive. Take it away, Peggy!
I have attended many picture book intensives over the years, but this one topped them all. Participants were treated to an all-star panel that included: agent Deborah Warren of East West Literary, editor Laura Whitaker of Bloomsbury, author and editor Andrea Davis Pinkney and author Toni Buzzeo.
The presentations were practical, but powerful:
Always bring your “A” game.
Rhyme is not taboo, but bad rhyme is.
Picture books are getting shorter and are being targeted for younger audiences.
Show, don’t tell.
Hook me and keep me hooked.
Be passionate about your book and be able to pitch in just a few sentences.
One of the best things that was presented was the HOT list. These are the topics that editors and Barnes and Noble want now:
Moments of the day
Holidays (MLK, Valentine’s Day, 4th of July, St. Patrick’s Day)
Friends and family biographies
Original stories that every kid will love
Interactive picture books
Finding the new in the old
If you haven’t taken an intensive before, I strongly urge you to consider it. Intensives are exactly that, intense. They give you the opportunity to delve in deeper and they also give you the opportunity to get to know the presenters on a more intimate level. I came away from this intensive with a new sense of purpose and drive. I also came away with a few good friends. All in all, it was money worth spending.
I have to admit, I almost did not attend the Miami conference. I was having a pity party and I wasn’t really up for the company. I had broken my leg in three places. Needless to say, getting around was a wee bit difficult. I was ready to bail. I am glad I didn’t. The first page of my manuscript was read during “first page reads”. Much to my surprise, the panel loved it. One editor wanted to know who wrote it, an agent wanted to read more, and another editor wanted to acquire it. I have to admit, I was in shock. By the end of the weekend, thanks to the help of a good friend, I had signed with that agent. Just one month later… My bio and picture are up on the East West Literary website. The editor that I mentioned is considering three of my manuscripts. And I am still pinching myself.
I will tell you that this was not an overnight success. I have attended many conferences and taken copious notes. I have revised, cut, and revised some more. I have also had moments where I was so rejected that I thought I would never put myself through another critique again. So what’s the moral of the story? Never give up. Never let pity or self-doubt get the upper hand. Believe with all your heart that your day will come. Then get off your butt and get to that conference. Your happily ever after is waiting for you to show up!
Peggy Robbins Janousky uses her offbeat sense of humor to write offbeat picture books. When she is not writing, Peggy uses her time to rescue stray animals. Much to her family’s dismay, she keeps them all.
And thanks to Kristen Fulton for adding this summary of Andrea Pinkney’s workshop: The Write Stuff.
Writers write every day, whether it be a holiday or vacation.
Find your “twinkle”—what makes you sparkle around others?
Establish immediacy—using voice, characterization, mystery and drama.
Ask yourself, “Why does the reader want to come on this journey and what makes the reader stay on this journey?”
Writing is fun—and hard work.
Writing is re-writing at least 10 times.
Just get started and keep going.
Read every day, whether it be a holiday or vacation.
Kristen Fulton writes non-fiction picture books and is running an amazing non-fiction picture book retreat with loads of agents, editors, and authors on July 7-12. Check out her website for details!
HUGE thanks to the wonderful people at YA Highway, who not only hosted my cover reveal, but managed to put it together in, like, two freaking hours. If that's not a superpower, I don't know what is. And also to the amazing, AMAZING team at Greenwillow who designed this breathtaking cover. Can we just sit here for a minute and marvel at how amazeballs they are? Because HOLY CRAP THAT COVER.
AND ALSO ginormous thanks to my agent, who played fairy godmother/therapist/shoulder-to-whine-on/superhero/buttsaver this week (and every other week).
NOW GO LOOK AT THAT COVER. GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO!!!!!!!! ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH IT'S SO PRETTY I'M GONNA DIE!!!!!
Seriously, though. I love everything about it. I love the physics equations in the background, even though I've spent the last few weeks staring at them and realizing that I forgot everything I learned in physics. I love the car falling and the road and the words. I love my name (DO YOU SEE MY NAME IN THE CORNER THERE BECAUSE OH MY GOD MY NAME IS ON A BOOK). And I love love love love LOVE the hand, because it's THE IMAGINARY FRIEND'S HAND!!!! AHHHHHHHH!!!!
Okay. Okay. So it's actually kind of funny that I'm having my reveal today, because it's exactly one day after the anniversary of my book. That's right. FALLING INTO PLACE sold on February 28, 2013. And in another one hundred and ninety-three days (that's ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY-THREE, 19FREAKING3) days, you'll be able to go to your bookstore and, like, TOUCH IT. AND HOLD IT. AND READ IT.
The life-changing, panic-inducing, holy-hell-it's-happening text from my agent.
I have a post up at PubSmart today. In case you haven’t heard, PubSmart is a new writers’ conference debuting this April in Charleston, SC, with the goal of bringing together self publishing, traditional, small press and hybrid. PubSmart is about introducing new models that lead to smart decisions about how to seize opportunities in today’s transformed book marketplace. I’m thrilled to be on the faculty of this terrific new conference! Keynote speakers are Hugh Howey and Jane Friedman, and the faculty includes heavy hitters from all walks of today’s expanded publishing world.Learn more on the PubSmartCon website.
Here’s a preview of my post:
What’s Your Book About?
Everyone attends conference for their own reasons—to learn, to network, to get a break from home. One of the primary advantages of a conference is the opportunity to talk to people, including fellow writers and others in the industry. Naturally, one thing you’ll want to talk about is your work, whether you’re in a formal pitch session or just hanging out having drinks. But talking about our work is sometimes challenging! So here are seven tips for discussing your book(s) effectively.
1. Be prepared. You never know when you’re going to come across someone who will ask, “So what’s your book about?” Mealtimes, hallway chatting, elevator rides, and designated pitch sessions. Prepare ahead of time so you’ll never be caught stammering, “Well, it’s um… it’s kind of an… uh…”
2. While preparing, remember that you’re going to be talking to someone. There are differences between verbal and written pitches. Your speaking voice is different from your writing voice. Make sure you don’t prepare something that sounds too “canned” i.e. written.
“Like a cool high school classroom that prefers a sweat lodge to the traditional classroom, this book will expand your mind through participation, dehydrate you to a state of emotional rawness, then linger in the corners your bare soul,” explains the book’s description. Activities involved in the book include, “How to Crowdfund Your Baby,” “Punk Paint By Numbers,” and “Terrarium Foraging.”
Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal has a new travel edition coming out called Wreck This Journal Everywhere.
The guidebook has sold more than two million copies in print and has been released in numerous formats including app form. The book encourages “creativity through destruction” with a series of exercises designed to stir imagination by messing things up.
The new travel edition includes a section in which travelers can collect names, autographs, other people’s dreams, as well as an activity to fill an entire page with words spotted on an adventure. The journal also encourages readers to hang the book in a public place and invite others to draw on it. Another exercise suggests that the user takes a walk, then stands on a page. The book also instructs a user to collect a napkin from a restaurant, write a secret on it, and glue it to a page.
Do you like burps, slurps, snores or sneezes? How about monsters? What about monsters that burp, slurp, snore or sneeze (and fart)? Well, then, here's the book for you- Ten Monsters in a Bed!
A fun, colorful, noisy picture book- perfect to read before bedtime! It's published by Templar Publishing, the same wonderful UK publisher that I illustrate the shark series- Harry Hammer for!
In this play on '10 in a bed', 10 monsters are very squished on a bunk bed. On each spread, a monster gets pushed out on to the floor, where readers can press them to hear the fun sounds they make, for example: snoring, scratching, burping, slurping, sniffing and farting.
In each spread, a different noisy monster is kicked out of the top bunk bed by his fellow monsters, where the reader can press a button to activate that monster's noise.
Here are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. There is some exceptionally good stuff in the Growing Bookworms section this week.
Also, in my quest to make it easy for people to keep up on these sorts of children's book and literacy-themed stories, I have a question for readers. Do any of you use Flipboard (app for reading news stories on tablets - lets you set up your own customized set of topics and shows stories magazine-style)? At the suggestion of Sheila Ruth, I've been dabbling in Flipboard a bit, and I am wondering if people would find some sort of Literacy Links Magazine there useful. But on to the links!
In the Fall 2013 issue, Mary Baldwin College’s literary magazine, Outrageous Fortune, published an excerpt of my novel, Damned if They Don’t. So many thanks to them for enjoying my work, and here’s to 2014 – a new year of inspiration and publication.
Novel Excerpt: Damned if They Don’t
by Sara Dobie Bauer
After their early morning dance practice for the College of Charleston’s presentation of Cabaret, Cleo and Alessa stepped into the October sun.
“Ah.” Cleo sang the word like the first note in Act Two. “Now, this is what I’m talking about. Crisp and cool.”
They were both chorus members, which had at first been a blow to Alessa’s experienced ego. Then, as the graduate school workload steadily increased, she saw the casting snafu as a blessing in disguise.
“Where are we meeting Emily for brunch?”
Of course, Cleo and Emily were practically in love. As soon as they met over drinks at Social Wine Bar on East Bay, the friendship was cemented. Together they bemoaned the dating scene in Charleston, because although there were plenty of eligible bachelors, most of them turned out to be untrustworthy asshats. They thoroughly disagreed on the topic of Graydon. Emily still found his persona deplorable, while Cleo was charmed down to her toes by the tall, brooding musician. Alessa, of course, fell somewhere in between.
She reached for her phone. “Emily was going to text me when she woke up.” She looked at the screen. “Why do I have three missed calls from Graydon?”
“It’s ten AM on a Saturday. Shouldn’t he be hung-over somewhere?”
“One would think.” Just as she was about to call him back, her phone rang again. “Graydon?”
“Hello.” He sounded out of breath.
“Are you okay?”
“No. Yes. Where are you?”
“Just leaving the theater.”
“I’ll be there in five minutes.”
“Wait. Cleo and I are going to …” She held the phone away from her ear and stared. “He hung up on me.” Alessa looked back at her phone. “Emily says to meet her at Virginia’s on King. Apparently they have a mimosa special today.”
“Well, what are you going to do?”
“Graydon said he’d be here in five minutes.” She shrugged.
“What, is he gonna propose or something?”
“I’m waiting until he gets here.”
“You don’t have to. Emily is probably already at Virginia’s.”
“No. I want to see what’s going on.”
The stern look on Cleo’s face told Alessa not to press any further. It wouldn’t have mattered. Graydon showed up across the street in three minutes flat.
Cleo scoffed. “Does his hair always look that perfect?”
“Yes. It’s disgusting.”
“He’s carrying red roses.”
“I can see that.”
He almost got hit by a car crossing the street, which made both the girls scream at him, and of course, he took a moment to cuss out the driver. He arrived on the sidewalk, and despite their hours of dance practice, he was actually covered in more sweat than either of the two women. Alessa pulled a hand towel from her gym bag and dabbed at his forehead and cheeks.
“Thank you.” He nodded.
“Flowers?” Cleo smirked. “What’d you do now?”
He gave his familiar glare, complete with lowered brows and strong set jaw.
“Cleo, why don’t I just meet you and Emily at Virginia’s?” Alessa opened her eyes wide, giving the expressive equivalent of, “Get the hell out of here. Please.”
“Fine.” She winked at Graydon. “You look sexy covered in sweat.”
Alessa agreed, but she wasn’t going to say it—not with the way he was behaving. Obviously he had screwed up, but what was there to screw up anyway? After four months of dating, they still didn’t use titles, no boyfriend-girlfriend. He still slept with other women, and sometimes they didn’t speak for days at a time, despite the fact that they worked in the same restaurant. She’d given up on anything normal with Graydon a month earlier, when another woman kissed him right in front of her. Now this? What, had he gotten someone pregnant?
“Graydon. What’s going on?”
He cleared his throat. “These are for you.”
She took the extended roses. “Thank you.”
“I woke up this morning in the bed of another woman.”
Higgins says of an advance, "it's an advance on royalties you will make from your portion of the book sales, so when the book goes on sale you have to pay all of that advance BACK before you start getting paychecks." Some books never sell enough copies to earn back the advance. Many authors will never make any more on a book than that original advance. Books go out of print because they're no longer selling enough copies to justify warehouse space with the publisher never having made enough money on them to cover the advance it paid the author.
Higgins also says, " Publishers take a big chunk because they have a lot of employees to pay, and print costs are not cheap." The employees they pay are providing a lot of service for traditionally published authors, too. Developmental and copy editing, page design, cover art, cover design, marketing and sales, access to print reviewers, and distribution to booksellers are all part of what a publisher does for writers. Even though there's no guarantee that the print reviewers will review the book (or review it favorably) or the booksellers will stock it, without a traditional publisher behind you, it's difficult for an author to even have a chance of getting either of those things. Yes, self-published writers can do these things for themselves, but someone still has to pay. I've read of self-published authors putting up $3,000 to $10,000 or more to pay for these kinds of services. And they often don't make the money back, either.
Higgins: "Publishing houses do not provide swag for authors. Some might, but mine doesn't. All bookmarks and buttons, even launch parties, etc, are paid for out of pocket by the author." I've heard of authors planning a $1,000 to $2,000 marketing/promotion budget for each book. Definitely cuts into authors' income from each book, particularly since it's extremely difficult to tell which marketing efforts had an impact and thus paid for themselves.
The authors who get a lot of press are the ones with big bestsellers. There have been a number of them since, maybe, the 1980's, but they're still a very small percentage of the entire writing group. The public doesn't hear about the rest of us, though. The public hears about the Stephen Kings, the Danielle Steels, the J.K. Rowlings.
All those people have earned their success. But their success doesn't mean that writing is a field that masses of people should rush to, hoping to duplicate them. Since you're not going to make much money, you really have to like the lifestyle. Messing with manuscripts...tinkering with your computer...reading...studying up on what you've been doing wrong... I live for this stuff. If people don't, ...
Note: Between the time I wrote this piece and posted it, the blog post referred to disappeared.
Is your book too long? Does it feel a bit wordy, perhaps slightly bloated?
Or . . . does it feel perfect but it’s a little high in word count?
There comes a time in every writer’s life when the need arises to shorten a manuscript. Ack! Not my precious words! Even if your word count is fine, most writers would benefit from tightening up their manuscripts before submission. (I, for one, would appreciate it.) But how do you do this?
(For example, in the previous sentence, I’d cut the words “simply” and “anyway,” and I might even cut “significantly.” The writing is cleaner and I’m down by three words.)
If you cut 12 words per page in a 350-page manuscript, you’ve already shortened it by 4,200 (unnecessary) words. Easy peasy.
So how do we do this? Here’s a checklist of things to consider cutting.
I think most of us like to be in control. I mean, that's a big reason why so many people are self-publishing. They want control over their stories, their release dates, their blog tours, etc. But...there are some things we just can't control, whether we are traditionally published or self-published. First, you can't control sales. You can't. We can write the best book (in our minds) and we still can't make people buy it. Even if you offer it for free, you can't force people to download it so you can have a great rank on Amazon. Second, you can't control reviews/readers' opinions. We love our books. Of course we do, or we wouldn't have written them. But not every reader is going to "get" our books or even like them. Third, you can't control your release date. Publishers have to adjust release dates for a lot of reasons, and honestly this doesn't bother me much at all because they are doing what's in the best interest of the book and author. One of my 2014 titles was pushed back a few months, and I'm fine with it. The book will be better for it. But if you are traditionally published or if you self-publish, Amazon likes to do what it wants. They are known to release books early. We can't do anything about that. Fourth, we can't always control our characters, nor do I think we should. I take it as a great sign when my characters throw my planning out the window and run with the story. It's their story, so I'm happy to let them tell it. I could go on, but I'd rather hear from you. What are somethings we just can't control in this industry? And how do you handle them?
After a red-hot August of publishing news and impressive numbers, we wondered what was next for the WordPress.com community. Here’s a snapshot of September: You blew up the internet. Again. Month after month, we’re blown away by what you publish. Talk show host Matt Walsh‘s post, “Dear parents, you need …
Here are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. There are a large number of Cybils links (because Cybils nominations end early next week), so I have moved those to the end of the post.
Henry Bushkin, attorney and former right-hand man to Johnny Carson, has written a book about what life was really like with his famous friend. It’s a deeply personal account filled with scandalous details, including the real story on why his relationship with Carson ended.
Yet despite the book’s obvious potential, Bushkin actually had a hard time getting it published. In Mediabistro’s latest installment of So What Do You Do?, Bushkin talks about the media’s reaction to his writing, his thoughts on the proposed NBC miniseries and the process of publishing:
In the book’s acknowledgments, you explain how the impetus for the book came in 2008 from fellow (and subsequent) Carson attorney Ed Hookstratten. Can you explain a bit how you got from there to here?
Some time ago, I was about to self-publish the book. The book that has come out this week is essentially the same book. Frankly, when I was going to do it on my own with a small staff, it became apparent that Carson wasn’t relevant in the eyes of New York publishers vis-a-vis New York editors. They thought he was just irrelevant.
When I had the manuscript in polished form, I sent it to a friend of mine in New York. She then immediately sent it to a friend of hers at Vanity Fair, and then she asked if she could send it to a friend of hers, an agent in New York. I said yes. And all of a sudden, there were five publishers bidding for it. So it had quite an evolution that took quite some time, with the book going through several gestation periods.
You know the Piña Colada song, right? Getting caught in the rain?
Well, imagine that song in a picture book for kids (without the dunes of the cape, of course). Two besties have great times together, but they get stuck in a rut and go off to seek other adventures…only to rediscover each other.
That’s the premise of Tiffany Strelitz Haber‘s charming OLLIE AND CLAIRE. The light and cheery watercolors by Matthew Cordell feature sketchy lines that suggest fun and frolic. A delight to read aloud, your voice just skips along like the two friends do. Tiffany’s a master of rhyme and one of the two ladies behind The Meter Maids.
Besides having two successful picture books to her credit (the other is THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN), Tiffany has branched out into ebooks. She recently released HUNGRY HARRY with StoryPanda and MORE CHEESE, PLEASE with KiteReaders. I interviewed her to find out about the ebook process and this emerging opportunity for children’s book writers.
Tiffany, what attracted you to ebooks?
To me, ebooks are just another way for kids to experience reading. In some cases there are interactive aspects to the ebook that can really help them learn, and in other cases it might just be a nice opportunity for a more reluctant reader to enjoy stories and story time in general.
Did you write HARRY and CHEESE specifically for an ebook format, or were these traditional picture book manuscripts first?
I have this sort of arsenal of completed picture books. Some have been subbed out widely. Others to just a couple places, and others have never actually seen the light of day! I picked two stories that I liked a lot and just rolled with those. Not sure CHEESE was ever subbed out anywhere and HARRY went to one place, actually got to editorial, but didn’t make it through. Wait. Does that even answer your question? Kind of, right?!
How did you go about researching ebook publishers and in what format did you submit?
Oh, I googled the bejesus out of ebook publishers and chose to submit to ones that I felt the most comfortable with. There’s a lot of communication available with the actual publishers and marketing directors etc., so you can really get a feel for who you would be working with before you actually work with them.
I hired illustrators (after exhaustive searches on freelance websites) and submitted completed manuscripts (text and art) to the ebook publishers. The illustrators I chose were those willing to accept a flat fee for the work, and OK with the fact that I would retain the rights to the images as well. Hopefully it is some good publicity for them, and also additional work to add to their portfolio when searching for agents, etc. There are so many wonderful artists out there!
How was the ebook editorial process different from a traditional picture book process?
Um…it’s different in that it’s ALL YOU. Period.
Care to expand upon that?
It’s basically self-publishing your picture book online. You need to edit it, and make all the art decisions, and check the spelling and punctuation, etc. There isn’t an editor or an art director to do that with you—although with HARRY I did work with someone at StoryPanda to create the interactive elements of the story.
The sounds all the crazy stuff HARRY eats sure are fun!
What recommendations and cautions do you have for other picture book writers about delving into the world of ebooks?
I think it’s too soon for me to make any cautionary statements OR recommendations about ebooks yet. It’s something I am experimenting with, and really enjoying so far…but definitely too soon to say much more than that!
How have you gone about marketing your ebooks?
Well, again—this is all very new to me, but I’ve started sending them out for reviews and of course there’s social media. And on a larger scale, I am trying to work with schools to get the books on their computers, etc. Defintiely a very entrepeneurial endeavor; but I think if you’re up for the challenge, it’s also lots of fun with somewhat limitless possibilities!
So you’ve now published two traditional picture books and two ebooks. What’s next for you?
Hmmm…I’m working on a middle grade novel right now, which is taking up most of my writing time—but still juggling a bunch of picture book works in “progress”, although I use the term “progress” loosely, as they seem to be at a dead stop for the time being!
Well, jump back into it because you’re a perfect rhymer and the world needs more great rhyming books!
Thanks for stopping by to let us in on the ebook process!
Blog readers, don’t go yet. Tiffany has a copy of HUNGRY HARRY and MORE CHEESE, PLEASE to give away. Just leave a comment below to enter the giveaway. Two winners will be chosen one week from today. Good luck!
Several years ago I read an article on the two writing worlds, one that is focused around traditional publishing and one that is focused around academic publishing. (This was before the self-published entrepreneurial e-writer appeared on the scene. That seems to me to be a third writing world.) According to this article, traditional publishing involved publishing in order to support a writing career, and academic publishing involved publishing to support a teaching career.
In addition to the information she covers from the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, Dreifus adds this "...unlike other disciplines, creative writing essentially mandates that a new assistant professor bring a published book to the table as a job applicant; moreover, it can take a very long time to see one’s first book published." (Imagine another expression of shock.)
On a more positive note, she suggests taking "a broad view of “nonacademic jobs” and search more diligently for writing-intensive jobs in universities, publishing houses, cultural organizations, and so forth (not to mention non-writing jobs, such as accountancy positions, within writing organizations and centers)..."