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The publication journey isn’t easy, no matter how you approach it. I’m always encouraging people to be patient, persevere through the obstacles, and doggedly pursue their dream. For some people, this means persistence through years or decades.
But… is there a time when you should give up? Maybe so. I could be wrong but I think there are a few signs the publishing journey is not for you.
When people find out I’m a children’s author, I typically get this response:
“Oh, wow! You know, my sister/cousin/neighbor/son’s teacher wrote a children’s book a while back. You could probably help her/him to get it published.”
This is so common. You know the saying “everyone has a book in them”? That’s incorrect. “Everyone has a children’s book in them” is far more accurate!
In the early days, I was naive. I said, “Of course!” I gave the person my contact info, then I spent hours with their acquaintance critiquing their manuscript, teaching them about picture book structure, and ultimately causing this person great disappointment when they realized the tale they whipped out on a rainy afternoon wasn’t publishable exactly as they had written it.
It made me feel awful. It made them feel awful. It was not worth it.
Then I realized—these casual writers think having a published book would be “neat”. And it’s not neat. It’s hard work.
So now, I take a very honest approach. Instead of offering my assistance right away, I say this instead: “If they have a passion for children’s books, by all means, send them my way and I’ll do all I can to help. But if this person wrote a story on impulse and they don’t have any desire to have a career in children’s literature, they’ll find it extremely difficult to get published and end up being very frustrated and disappointed.”
This is usually followed by an “Oh. Gotcha.”
They understand. (I hope.)
I don’t know why being a children’s author is perceived as such a simple skill as opposed to something like playing in the NHL or becoming a doctor or lawyer. You never hear someone say, “You know, my sister/cousin/neighbor/son’s teacher wrapped an ace bandage around a kid’s ankle a while back. You could probably help him/her to become a doctor.” OK, I realize you don’t need a degree to become an author, but you do need several years of concentrated study and practice. You need to be dedicated. Passion for your craft is essential.
So now I let people know this. Publishing is not something to enter into partway. The industry is full of criticism, rejection and waiting…more waiting than the DMV times a thousand. It’s frustrating. It’s challenging. If you don’t love it, you won’t live through it.
Author, actress and
freelance journalist, Giovanna Fletcher is married to Tom Fletcher from McFly. She grew
up in Essex with her Italian dad Mario, mum Kim, big sister Giorgina and little
brother Mario, and spent most of her childhood talking to herself (it seems no
one wanted to listen) or reading books. Giovanna is a firm believer in the
power of magpies and positive energy. To find out more about Giovanna, view her blog or
follow her on Twitter.
Her debut novel, Billy and Me, is out this Thursday (23rd May 2013).
Anyway, over to Giovanna as she tells us about a day in her life...
Every day varies, but my writing days are a fairly consistent array of
distractions that I struggle to knock on the head before getting on with the
pressing task of writing.
I get up at a respectable eight o'clock (I'm conveniently forgetting the times
I struggle to get out of bed before ten - they’re rare!), and potter around
having breakfast with the hubby, showering, getting into a
fresh pair of PJs or comfies, and then pottering around for an hour or so. I
then like to watch the beginning of This Morning for their
quick round up of the news. Now, this can sometimes work against me as
occasionally there'll be someone being interviewed that I think will be
interesting to watch. But, let's say this is a day I prise myself away
from the telly . . .
I then go
to the office and sit at my desk in front of my laptop. First task? Checking my
Twitter, Facebook and the Mail Online (I like the pictures), and then,
before I know it, it's one o'clock and its time for lunch. Not that I've earned
the break, of course!
After lunch (usually soup in case you're wondering), I start reading what I'd
worked on the previous day to get my mind focused . . . Occasionally I feel
tired and have a nap at this point (let's blame the Italian in me - I love
a siesta), although I've tried to stop myself from doing that - grabbing a
quick cuppa is much more time effective. I'm then ready to write for the
rest of the day and late into the evening, usually getting a solid six hours
distraction-free-writing in the bag.
Yes, reading back over this, my working day is pretty disgusting really. I
promise to rid myself of a few distractions and leap over obstacles with speed
so that I can get to work a little quicker in the future . . . This is
said from my PJs while I nurse yet another cuppa. I guess with writing it's all
about finding a way that works for you and gets the creative juices flowing.
we’ve shared with you before one of our artists Priscilla Burris’s wonderful truly heart felt young characters and their special worlds. Well one of them Heidi Heckelbeck is a most popular little girl as it turns out!
Heidi won 1st place for fiction series at the New York Book Show!!!
They announced it last night at the event. Exciting! WAY TUGEAU (ooops To Go!) Little Simon and Priscilla! wow and wow!
The European Commission has approved the merger of Penguin and Random.
The Commission ruled that they were not concerned with unfair competition, “because the merged entity will continue to face several strong competitors.” This was one of the major hurdles facing the merger of the publishing companies owned by Bertelsmann and Pearson. Here’s more from the release:
The Commission assessed the impact of the transaction on the upstream markets for the acquisition of authors’ rights for English language books in the European Economic Area (EEA) and worldwide, and on the downstream markets for the sale of English language books to dealers in the EEA, in particular in the UK and Ireland. The Commission found that on both types of markets the new entity Penguin Random House will continue to face competition from several large and numerous small and medium sized publishers. As regards the sale of English language books, the merged entity will furthermore face a concentrated retail base, such as supermarkets for print books and large online retailers for e-books, like Amazon. In addition, the Commission’s investigation revealed no evidence that the transaction would lead to risks of coordination among publishers in relation to the acquisition of authors’ rights and the sale of English language books to dealers.
Brooklyn-based publisher Melville House will open a British publishing company in London called Melville House UK.
Founders Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians announced the news, hiring 4th Estate marketing executive Zeljka Marosevic as director of marketing. The company will begin with the publisher’s U.S. books, but should be acquiring new books by the end of the year. Here’s more from Johnson:
Our classics line, The Art of the Novella, has always done well in Britain, but sales of our other U.S. titles have grown explosively there over the last few years, some of the best writing we’ve published lately has been by British writers, such as Lars Iyer and Lee Rourke; we’re winning British book awards, I hear more and more from British booksellers and media about our books … And so rather than simply expand our US company’s operations here, we wanted to form a distinctly British company that would respond more particularly to that kind of welcome. It’s not a branch, nor an office. It’s a distinct, British company.
Jennifer McVeigh's debut novel The Fever Tree, the
epic tale of a British woman embarking on a new life in
nineteenth-century southern Africa, has been critically acclaimed and selected for Richard and Judy's Book Club in March. Here, she reveals her 10 Tips on How to Stay Sane as a Debut Novelist.
Don’t quit your job before you have a book deal. Very sensible advice that I spectacularly failed to follow. I left my job as a literary agent and stepped into the terrifying world of no salary, no professional support and no real hope of achieving what I was setting out to achieve. It was a very rocky ride.
Do join a writing group – they will keep you sane, help you to stay on track, and remind you that there are other people in the world crazy enough to be battling all day with words on paper.
Don’t divulge your plot, or writing problems for that matter, to friends at dinner – they’ll say very unhelpful things like: Isn’t that a bit predictable? How can you not know what’s going to happen at the end? And – most gruelling of all - hasn’t Wilbur Smith written a novel just like that?
When you’re writing sex scenes, don’t imagine your parents looking over your shoulder – a passionate kiss will quickly disintegrate into a prudish peck on the cheek.
Don’t obsess over the perfection of other novels. Read them, learn from them, but don’t let them cast your own into shadow. I always wanted my protagonist to be as dynamic and real as Cathy or Emma, but it wasn’t until I had reached the end of her story that I felt I really knew her.
Don’t let yourself imagine all the unpublished authors in the world being turned down by agents, like the millions of lost souls waiting at the gates of heaven. If you have written something good, then someone will spot it – you just need to have faith and determination.
Don’t be your own judge. After I had written my novel I shelved it in despair, convinced that it was worthless. It was only by some stroke of luck – a chance meeting with a literary agent – that I was convinced to send it out into the world. Thank goodness I did.
Don’t demonise the agents who reject you. More than likely your manuscript fell into the hands of some poor, unpaid 17 year old intern with a hangover, desperately trying to reduce the size of the slush pile. Wait a few months, and send it in again. I was offered representation by an agent who must have afterwards let my manuscript fall into the slush pile. A month later I received an earnest typed letter from the agency: “Dear Miss McVeigh, many thanks for sending in your manuscript. I’m very sorry to inform you that…”
Once you are published - in the interests of sanity – try not to check your Amazon sales rank more than twice (OK – that’s not realistic – perhaps 5 times) a day. If sales are good your publisher will tell you, and a shift from 3050 to 2095 is almost certainly meaningless.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you’ve got one novel behind you, the second will be easier. It won’t. Sweating over a novel is part of what makes it brilliant. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. I do have a very frustrating writer friend who keeps telling me that her second novel is a breeze…
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in a 6-3 opinion that “ first sale doctrine” applies to books purchased overseas.
The court decided that Supap Kirtsaeng did not violate copyright when he purchased textbooks overseas to sell to friends and families in the United States. Textbook publisher Wiley had sued Kirtsaeng for reselling these books.
First Book wanted to improve literacy for all young readers so they developed the Stories for All Project. This special initiative recognizes that children need to have books with characters and stories that are relevant to them.
“We are not the first people to complain and worry about this issue. So we knew if we were actually going to make a difference we needed a market-driven solution. In short, we needed to put our money where our mouth is.“
Stories For All would purchase $500,000 worth of books from any one publisher for books featuring characters of color. This is where I falter: First Book says the response was overwhelming. I look at the books currently available and wonder who all these publishers could be. I could name a few companies but “overwhelming?”
First Book actually found two companies that published a noteworthy amount of high quality books featuring characters of color and they decided to commit $1 million to the program.
Congratulations to HarperCollins and Lee & Low Books
And, thank you First Book for taking direct aim at addressing why more children are not readers. I hope others will follow your lead, if not in donating large sums that will make a difference, then in actually doing something.
In honor of Illustration Friday's theme, Glasses I wanted to post some sketches to finals of Beyond the Grave, the book I worked on for Magic Wagon Press. The two main (living) characters who crash the graveyard are Dylan and Michael. Dylan is the brash commander of the operation who gets the team into trouble, Michael is the timid unlikely sort-of hero. The only notes on characterizations I got from the art director were that Dylan should have hair in his eyes and Michael should have glasses. I started by doing several sketches of them. Since I knew they would mostly have conniving or terrified looks on their faces I didn't worry much about making them smile or look happy in my sketches. Not sure how this inspired the sketches, but I settled on my final designs while watching Tangled with the kids over Christmas. Maybe Dylan has a bit of Flynn Rider in him?
Then I worked on the page sketches. In this first illustration from the book, we see Dylan and Michael together in Dylan's room. I felt like this image really needed to set the tone for what was to come. You see Dylan's cemetery hobby taped all over the walls and Michaels hesitance to come into the room. Their body language tells the reader what to expect of these characters as the story unfolds.
In this second illustration from the book, the two boys hatch a plot to do Something Really Dangerous In A Graveyard. I felt like the lighting was everything in this piece. The glow from the laptop underlines the spooky subject the boys are investigating and Dylan looks more determined and sneaky.
Here are the finals fore these two pieces. Even though these appear sequentially in the book I didn't actually work on them one after the other. I have a habit of skipping all around page order when doing finals since I think it helps make the characters more uniform over the pages. More on that in the next post!
The only report of the discussion I've seen so far is that of VIDA volunteer Erin Hoover at The Nervous Breakdown (although I'm sure it was covered by Twitter when it happened). Hoover gives a good overview of the panel and the issues. I took lots of notes, so will here add some more detail to try to show how the discussion went.
After introductory remarks by moderator Jennine Capó Crucet, the first responses were made alphabetically by last name, and so two men began: Don Bogen, poetry editor of The Cincinnati Review, and Stephen Corey, editor of The Georgia Review. Bogen noted that, inspired by VIDA, he'd done a count of the poetry published by CR during his 7-year tenure and discovered to, really, his surprise that he'd achieved parity between male and female writers (or at least male and female bylines). How had he managed to do this unconsciously, he wondered? The best hypothesis he had was that he seeks real diversity of experience and point of view in poetry and has eclectic taste — indeed, the only poems he said he's not particularly interested in are ones that reflect his own experience. He noted that certainly the idea of parity depends on where one is counting from, as particular issues of the magazine would go one way or the other, and he tends to organize blocks of poems in between other genres in each issue in ways that have sometimes been balanced but also sometimes been entirely female or entirely male. Many times, too, he said, he does his best to read blind, paying little to no attention to a byline, and has often discovered that material he thought was "male" or "female" had been written by someone of another gender. Thus, the magic of literature.
Of the panelists, Stephen Corey seemed perhaps least comfortable with the discussion. His initial statement was simply a set of questions. (I think I managed to write them all down, but may have missed something.) When we talk about gender balance, he asked, are we talking about balance in submissions? In page counts? (Does a 30-page story count the same as a 1-page poem?) Should reviews be counted the same as poems, essays, or stories? Do you want an editor to read your work with gender in mind? Should a publication put out a call for more work by males or females? Should a publication put out an anti-call against one gender? When you read, do you care if what you read is by a man or a woman [audience: YES!], and should an editor care?
After Corey, E.J. Graff said so many interesting things I had trouble taking notes. Here's what I wrote down:
The count is an example of why all English majors should take a course in statistics. Graff: "I wish I had!"
The submission gap is enormous. With opinion pieces, women editors solicit women and are often turned down or need more time, whereas men often say yes and offer to get the piece done very quickly (important for current events).
Men continually send pitches after rejections, women don't.
Structural acculturation. We have to overcome our own socialization — and not just in terms of gender. The audience, for instance, was overwhelmingly white.
We must make our own choices conscious because many of our prejudices are unconcious. Graff pointed to the Implicit Association Test.
For students, there is a dramatic shift between the world of school and the world of work. It can be difficult to learn how to promote yourself. Men tend to do this more comfortably than women, because it's generally more socially acceptable for men.
Make a posse. Promote yourself and your group. Start a movement or magazine. Challenge each other, help with drafts and careers, but as a group move each other forward.
When lesbians and gay men started working together in the 1980s, there were many difficulties, suspicions, and prejudices. To overcome these difficulties, many groups decided on a shared leadership structure that required equal power sharing between a man and a woman rather than just one leader. Why not do that with more prizes, editorships, groups?
Katha Pollitt (a personal hero of mine, and one of the main reasons I went to the panel) then offered her perspective, particularly as someone who has a long career as a poet and essayist, as well as a former editor with The Nation. Because I love Katha Pollitt, I tried to write as fast as she talked, and so here are my notes from her initial statement:
Some editors are quite conscious, others not at all — and some of the latter group are women. They can be very far away from consciously considering the issue, they can be very far away from any sort of balance, and yet still think they're doing great (and thus not need to become conscious).
As VIDA has shown, raising the issue can, sometimes, make change.
At The Nation, the front and back of the magazine are totally separate. In front, the subject areas (politics, news, current events) and speed of weekly publishing means the editors have settled on "go-to" people who they know are very reliable — maybe not the best writers, but they turn in clean copy on time. These editors would need to make the time to seek out new, female experts who are reliable. Some places have made such an effort — Alternet and Mother Jones, for instance.
You have to think about it (make the issue conscious) because we have to compensate for elements in the culture.
There are too many women trying to write in too few subject areas. Look at how many women are writing about Girls! Women should try to cultivate interest and knowledge in areas outside those seen as "feminine" or "women's issues".
If you're not getting submissions from women, you have to ask why. Why would a woman throw herself at your wall?
Most op-eds are solicited. Most slush piles aren't even read by an editor. Slush is not where the problem lies.
Things are fairer at newspapers. They have unions and must follow anti-discrimination policies.
Then the discussion moved on to questions and comments from the audience. Again, from notes, which may distort some things simply because I couldn't write fast enough. (I'll offer some summary and response at the end.)
Q: Is gender-identified subject matter more or less appealing? Also, racially-identified? Etc.
Don Bogen: An experience can be gendered, but not to the writer. Surprised plenty of times to discover the gender of a writer whose byline was indeterminate. The otherness of the imagination is important.
Q: 99% of news is what is seen to be traditionally male. Much of human life is dismissed as female.
E.J. Graff: It's worse than you know! The Global Media Monitoring Project statistics are horrifying. Women in the news are usually victims or family members ("the wife of", "the mother of", etc.). These create our implicit biases. Though, as Katha Pollitt said, there may be a good amount of female bylines in newspapers, the top editors and the columnists tend to be male.
Q: Wal-Mart has a huge effect on the economy because it is so large, and so getting Wal-Mart to change practices can have a massive ripple effect. Is there a Wal-Mart of the literary world that we should focus on trying to change?
[Some laughter, cross-talk]
Another audience member: The Wal-Mart is in the room. Unsubscribe from magazines you don't like the numbers for, and let them know. Let Harper's know. Let The New Yorker know. Don't let your subscription lapse silently — it's important that the magazines know why you are leaving them, and what it would take to get you back.
Q: Why is the literary world so obsessed with dudes from Brooklyn?! I don't want "women's literature", I want literature. Even when women are put forward, though, they become invisible.
Pollitt: Yes, why when Jonathan Franzen writes a book is everybody else suddenly invisible? Can Karen Russell get the same amount of notice? She should, but does she? It's a problem of publicity. Some women get attention. But does the attention last? Will it last? Can we make it last? The writers are there, the quality is there, the publicity is not.
VIDA volunteer: Feel empowered. Email magazines. Use knowledge to use your money and time well. VIDA is 10 volunteers. You are many. Vote with your dollars.
VIDA co-founder Erin Belieu: Most of the media reports on the count frame the story as, "It still sucks." And it does. But there's more to it than that. Many places say they need a comment from people such as New Yorker editor David Remnick if they're going to run a big story, but the editors of the highest-profile magazines won't talk, and so the story is not seen as journalistically significant. Behind the scenes, though, there is concern. One well-known female fiction writer gots calls from multiple editors when the count was released this year — the publications were embarrassed, and they wanted this writer to contribute. She didn't have any short fiction available and also didn't want to be the token female, so she gave the editors the names of 5 other writers who might be able to give them something.
Q for Katha Pollitt: Is there a perception among editors that there are female and male subject matter? Is more male subject matter being covered?
Pollitt: War, politics, etc. — these are not "male" subjects! More women are killed by war than men. Women's lives are deeply, intimately, and constantly affected by politics. These are human subjects. The New York Times has two male columnists who started out as food writers, a subject often associated with women. Get to know a lot about something interesting in a less crowded field and you will have an easier time getting published.
And then time ran out.
The take-away message was, as Erin Hoover wrote, consciousness. The world we live in is structurally biased against equality, and as people who live in this world, if we don't consciously work toward increasing equality, we will unconsciously contribute to inequality.
I love the idea that we could follow Don Bogen's lead and try to read and publish eclectically, seeking experiences and representations outside of our own, and thus achieve equality. But I don't think it would work. I expect he's an outlier and his example would be difficult, even impossible, to replicate. Worse, a stated interest in diversity might be used as cover. I think too many publishers and editors could just say to themselves, "Hey, we're nice, tolerant, liberal people who sorta like, you know, value that diversity thing. Yeah. We'll be equal," and then go right on reinforcing the status quo. I actually would prefer that someone just say, "I couldn't care less about equality," and not pretend.
Let's go back to Stephen Corey's questions. They're good for discussion, but I think they're problematic overall. With regard to page lengths and genres, etc., it's really not that hard to compare like to like, and VIDA, for instance, offers statistics in various breakdowns (books reviewed, reviewers, etc). The "overall" stats that VIDA provides are useful as a way to view the problem generally, but yes, there's a difference between a 200-word review and a 10,000-word article. The general view is useful, though. We're not to the point where distinctions necessarily say a lot. The trends are so bad that getting too specific is pretty much a waste of time. Maybe in the future it would be an interesting exercise, but right now the information is pretty damn unambiguous and shameful. As Don Bogen showed, there's plenty of reasons for an individual magazine issue or section of an issue to be dominated by women or men, but once you step back from individual issues and sections, once you increase the data set, then consistent, significant inequality speaks for itself.
Do we want editors to read our work with our gender in mind? I've never assumed they wouldn't. I'd love to live in a world where my gender presentation was irrelevant, but I don't live in that world, and pretending I do just reinforces a status quo I loathe. My name is Matthew and I physically present as male; that affects people's perceptions of me consciously and, especially, unconsciously. How much does that matter to any one editor? I assume a bit (at least), unless they want to give me multiple results from the Implicit Association Test showing that they are utterly unaffected by gender ... at which point I might assume they don't entirely care about my apparent maleness. Otherwise, I'm going to assume they're living in the same swamp of associations that I am.
Should there be a call made for more of one gender, or against another? Oh, please. This is a question better left to concern trolls. I can just imagine the sort of call that would go out: "Dear Womens: We don't know any female scribblers. Please submit to us so we can see if you know how to write. Thanks!" Or, even better, "Hey guys! These feminazis are doing their thing and we're afraid it might hurt our reputation in this politically correct environment, so please cut it out with the submissions for a while. Once we've published some girls, then we can get back to the real work."
More interesting to me is the question: Do you care about the gender of a writer you read, and should an editor care? The audience loudly affirmed that they care about the gender of writers they read. For me, this is a similar sort of problem to whether I care about if an editor knows my gender when I submit writing to them. In an ideal world where gender is as meaningful as handedness or eye color, a writer's gender for me would be an interesting and inconsequential detail. But I don't ever expect to live in such a world. Human culture has been and continues to be meaningfully and significantly affected by gender. To not care about a writer's gender in such a world is to not care about something that meaningfully and significantly affects that writer. So yes, I notice the gender of writers I read. I care about it. The world does not just naturally drop a nicely balanced group of male, female, and genderqueer writers on my readerly doorstep. The world makes it easiest for me to read white male writers who use the English language and publish with major publishers. I make the conscious effort to seek out others. (Among the books I'm currently reading: Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin; The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates; The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde;Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde by Alexis De Veaux.) If I want to know about the world outside of my own experiences — and that really is why I read — then I have to pay attention to some of the categories the writers I read fall into. It's why I got interested in African literatures, even before I ever traveled to Africa. I can't imagine not reading such work now. Not for reasons of political correctness or some other overloaded scare term, but for purely selfish reasons: my life is richer and more interesting with such writings in it than not.
So it's probably not surprising that I think editors should notice and care, because otherwise the structures of our culture are going to notice and care for them, and will replicate the dominant status quo.
The most important thing to come out of the VIDA count, though, is a desire from editors, writers, and readers to actively fix the problem. This, it seems to me, is VIDA's real message and value. Here are the stats. If you don't care about them, then don't care about them. (You're an asshole, but maybe you're okay with that.) If these numbers shock, dismay, annoy, or even just vaguely bother you, then do something. If you're an editor, seek out female writers and work to make sure your venue is not one that posts various signs saying, "GIRLZ KEEP OUT!" (Hint: If you publish mostly male writers and seriously wonder why non-males don't submit more to you, you're behaving like an oblivious dunderhead.) Be conscious, put forth some effort, and don't start whining for cookies because you did what you should have been doing all along. If you're a reader, let the VIDA count guide you. Tin House, Poetry, and Threepenny Review are three magazines that have deliberately tried to get their numbers to be better, and they're three great magazines well worth your support. There are others, too, and will, I expect (I hope!), be more. If it matters to you, speak up with your voice and your writing, with where you submit work, and with where you spend money. We can be proactive.
And remember E.J. Graff's advice: Make a posse. Promote yourself and your group. Start a movement or magazine. Challenge each other, help with drafts and careers, but as a group move each other forward.
I’ve noticed that FUN is contagious! One of my artists is a real wiz at doing constant and adorable ‘little ditties’…. little “moments” in a single image that tell a bigger story. She can not stop herself…they jump out of her head at any time, and require her to draw them. Or so she tells me!
Well I wish all of my artists did this…and it’s a wonderful promotional idea for all artists, thus my sharing this phenomena. In fact, I was prompted because she has been offered a couple of book jobs lately (and other publishing interest as well) due to one or more of these ‘little ditties.’ And that pleases us no end! The artist is Priscilla Burris and many of you know her…. if not through SCBWI, then through her blog and well, her ‘ditties!’ And yes, she is just like her loveable characters. Priscilla hasn’t always done this, but in recent times she has been taken over it would seem….and it’s a good thing! Think about it all…. let those characters and their stories OUT! it’s spring…let them bloom.
The novel is about a young London boy who is hit by a large truck while attempting to save a stray cat. When he comes to he realizes that he has been transformed into a feline himself, and with the help of a savvy stray, Jennie, learns to navigate the tough city of London on four paws.
The latest publisher of the book is The New York Review of Books, and I got a
chance to ask their publishing Editor, Edwin Frank, why he decided to bring the
book back into print after so many years.
“When I was a kid I had a friend who
loved Gallico, and remembering that I read "The Abandoned" around the
time we started the kids book series. I didn't acquire it right then,
but it stuck in mind--it's a memorable book--and it kept coming up in
surprising ways in conversations with different people, always an interesting
indication. So I bought it....”
Got this question in the comments yesterday, and since it’s an inquiry I get often, I thought I’d pull it up into a post here:
“Why have the Martha, Charlotte, Caroline and Rose books gone out of print? As a huge fan of Laura’s books I read all the books and the books about her family. Now being older I want to purchase them all for my own collection as the libraries are getting rid of them. It does not help that I am Canadian and have a hell of a time of even finding them! Do you know of any places that still carries them?”
When a publisher allows a book to go out of print, it pretty much always means one thing: the book isn’t selling very well anymore. Warehouse space is extremely expensive, and there’s a certain point when it becomes more costly for a publisher to store books that are selling slowly than to just remainder them.
The decision to shutter the Little House prequels and sequels happened before social media took off, so if HarperCollins ever decides to bring them back (particularly as ebooks, which has been discussed but doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon), we’d be able to give them a nice big push and I think they’d do very well.
You can sometimes find used copies on eBay or Amazon Marketplace, but they tend to be extremely expensive in those outlets. (I don’t get royalties on used book sales, so please know those crazy prices don’t have anything to do with me!)
The Association of American Publishers criticized Amazon’s bid for “closed generic Top-Level Domains” (gTLD), an attempt for “exclusive” control of the new .book domain name.
Nine different companies have applied to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for the undoubtedly useful Internet domain name extension, including Amazon and R.R. Bowker.
AAP general counsel Allan Adler explained in a letter to ICANN:
In short, Amazon makes clear that it seeks exclusive control of the “.book” string solely for its own business purposes, notwithstanding the broad range of other companies, organizations and individuals that have diverse interests in the use of this gTLD or its second-level domains by others or themselves. AAP believes that ICANN approval of such an application would not be in the public interest.
Some time last year, Erica Wagner, Publisher at Allen and Unwin, is reported as having said that there was a lot to be gained by having a text already illustrated [not that Allen & Unwin published picture books]. This is seemingly a change in direction.
Some writers/illustrators I know have recently signed contracts for ‘print ready’ books. This is not self-publishing, but submission to a royalty paying publisher of a book that is ‘ready to go’ in publishing terms.
What constitutes a ‘print ready’ book? It is a book that has been -
proofread, has been
designed to industry standards,
professionally designed cover and,
if illustrated, has all images appropriately set.
This is a great way to go for authors who are able to pay illustrators and book designers up front. Most authors are not able to do this. This then means all creators involved in a book project agreeing to royalty share and working between paid projects to collaborate on their book.
What have I gleaned about such ‘print ready’ deals? One company, smaller and reasonably new, offered a small advance and a good contract, by industry standards, with higher than regular royalty share for creators. An offer of help with promotion was also part of the deal. Another company, medium sized and established, offered no advance but better than average royalty shares for creators and help with promotion and marketing of the book.
How does this stack up against what is generally on offer now?
Small and middle range publishers, in general, do not offer advances.
Larger publishers offer advances depending on the book, depending on the author, and depending on the agent involved.
Smaller and middle range publishers often [there are exceptions] expect the author to do it all in relation to promotion, even requiring the submission of a marketing plan.
Larger publishers vary greatly as to how much promotion they will give a book.
Generally, publishers will submit copies of their publishing output for major awards, such as the CBCA, and to a selection of leading review outlets.
What’s the down side for author, illustrator, book designer, [often the illustrator], to go down the ‘print ready’ publishing path?
It IS a lot of extra work for all creators involved to ensure the book is ‘professional’ standard even before it is submitted.
There is no money upfront.
Are the rewards worth the effort?
If you love collaborative work, it is a big plus.
Creators have much more project control to create the book they have collaboratively envisaged.
A quality product, ‘print ready’, is a major bargaining point for creators/agents. ‘Print ready’ saves the publisher heaps!
The first company mentioned does small print runs, sells out their print runs, reprints and even sells out reprints and so it seems to be gradually snowballing.
It is too early to know in the second instance. [I’ll keep you posted!]
My feeling is that, if Erica Wagner was sensing a ‘trend’ and if these companies make a success of it, we will see more such deals. It’s something to think about!
To be launched end of June – “Toofs!” a collaboration between J.R. and Estelle A.Poulter an illustrators Monica Rondino and Andrea Pucci. More to come on what was a ‘print ready’ deal.
TOOFS by J.R.Poulter & Estelle A. Poulter, illustrated by Monica Rondino & Andrea Pucci
Well hello, there is still a world out there. A few months ago over the course of about 2 weeks I was contacted by three new clients about doing some projects all due during February. The first was an educational publisher who had seen my work at the SCBWI LA conference in 2011. Their project was a fun little picture book about a girl having a bad day. The typical 16 illustrations plus cover were needed. Then came a call from a school and library publisher with a middle grade adventure novel needing 8 interior illustrations plus cover. How exciting! I'd never worked on a chapter book before and I loved the idea of working in black and white. Now about this time I already had in the mix some projects from the Most Awesome Art Director Ever a.k.a. my friend Keith - about 15 illustrations for various VBS books. Finally just after the first of the year, I got an email from Carus Publishing asking me to do my very first project for Ladybug magazine. That was really special, because it came after years of submission as I mentioned in this post.
Now did anyone do the math on all those projects? Let's see, 16 + 9 + 10 + 1 = one mind boggled illustrator and 2 months of super human time management.
December and January were awash with doing sketches and getting approvals. By January 31st all the sketches were approved and the deadlines lined up like this: Feb 8, 15, 22, 28, and March 1st. This photo represents how many cups of coffee I consumed on a daily basis, the kitchen counter in the background represents the state of my house cleaning. Fortunately there's no photographable evidence of how many frozen pizzas my kids ate for dinner.
To any budding illustrator readers out there sometimes this is what the blessings of diligence look like. Creating an illustration is not the same as filling out a spread sheet so the hardest part was keeping the creative well flowing every time I sat down to work (the excesses of caffeine and lots of 80s music helped.) Often I felt like the sketch above, a carhop twirling and zigging between customers. Instead of carrying a plain old hotdog to each one, I was carrying meticulously crafted wedding cakes.
Even though it was a blur of work, I'm intensely grateful for each project as they all represent a new step in my career. Each one is turned in now and I'll post finals and details as they are all approved. For the moment I'm looking forward to a bit of a night off.
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Illustration For Kids just put out a group postcard promotional--With a Valentine's Day theme, of course! Below is the postcard with our joint venture to offer our fun & whimsical illustrations to the world.
Why do books get published on Tuesdays? I have a book coming out in June, The Boy Who Loved Math, and yes, it's June 25th, a Tuesday. I looked back to when my novel Intentions pubbed--August 14th, a Tuesday. I didn't always know this; in fact I just found it out this past year. I wish I could remember who told me. But the other day I was talking to Ziki, the man who sticks needles in me to make my back and leg pain go away. We made an appointment for the next week (tomorrow) and I told him that afterwards I would be going to a book party for my friend Marguerite's new book:
"But it's not a Tuesday," he said. I told him a book party doesn't have to be on the release date--but wait, how did he know that? He wasn't sure, he just did. He said that albums always had a day to release (he thought Fridays, and maybe it used to be so, but now it seems CDs and DVDs of movies release on Tuesdays, too).
I asked a few people, and no one seemed to know. I posted my question on twitter and got these answers:
Tradition based on coverage in Sunday papers and getting books on shelves is my understanding. I asked: Are they reviewed the Sunday before or after. The answer: Before. So that booksellers get to spend Monday explaining why people can't buy the books they just heard about. Hah.
I read all of those (you don't have to) and it still seems to me that no one knows for sure... I asked some friends who are publishers and editors: nope. They didn't know.
And so I started thinking two things:
1. In the old days, I would have called a reference librarian. My old friend from the Doylestown library (where I used to live) would have found out for me, I know that for sure. So I decided to call the New York Public Library. Oops. I waited too long. It's Presidents' Day. Library closed. But it took me almost a week to remember that I used to talk to reference librarians for this sort of thing. Yes, kids, before the Internet. I used to go to the library, go up to the desk and say, "Jan, how do I find out the answer to this question?" And sometimes Jan would just find out for me, and sometimes she would teach me how to fish. I did this for a long time, even after there was The Internet, until it became more or less part of my right hand.
2.Will this change? Whatever is the cause, will Tuesdays as pub dates change if there are more ebooks and fewer bricks and mortar bookstores? Then will people release books willy nilly? Do people who self-publish books follow the Tuesday rule?
I'm really hoping that someone will post here and tell me... Why do books publish on Tuesday? I've just spent so much time on this... as so often happens when one (me) gets stuck on a research treadmill. I just want to know the answer!
Uh oh. Wait a minute. I just looked up Marguerite's book and it officially published YESTERDAY. Which was Monday. According to Amazon. And B & N. Her publisher just says February. Okay, now I'm really confused.
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In 2010, Aaron Swartz, a 26-year-old computer programmer and founder of Reddit, downloaded thousands of scholarly articles from the online journal archive JSTOR. He had legal access to the database through his research fellowship at Harvard University; he also, however, had a history of dramatic activism against pay-for-content online services, having previously downloaded and released roughly 100,000,000 documents from the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) database, which charges eight cents per page to access public files. Given his status as a prominent “hacktivist” and the sheer quantity of files involved, law enforcement agents concluded that Swartz planned to distribute the cache of articles and indicted him on multiple felony counts carrying a possible sentence of $1 million in fines and 35 years in prison.
Swartz was slated to go to trial this year but committed suicide in early January, prompting a public outcry against the prosecution in his case. Swartz was a prominent voice in the heated debate surrounding modern copyright law and public access and use (see his 2008 “Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto”). New York’s current issue contains a great feature from Wesley Yang discussing Swartz’s activism, his life, and the controversy in which he was embroiled.
In the ongoing debate over Swartz’s prosecution, we’ve pulled together a brief reading list on the issues surrounding American copyright in the digital age from OUP’s stable:
A Senior Copyright Counsel at Google takes a look at the changing economic realities of the globalizing, digitizing world and concludes that our government must “remake our copyright laws to fit our times.”
An overview of music piracy stretching back to the advent of recorded sound. The RIAA made headlines throughout the last decade by litigating against users who shared music online, but musicians, record companies, songwriters, and fans were navigating this territory for nearly a century before the Internet became a factor.
The story of one early 20th century musician who spent decades conducting high-profile lawsuits against the leading pop icons of the day. Though he never won a single case, Ira Arnstein managed to have a significant impact on the shape of music copyright through the decisions in his numerous cases.
Spoo homes in on the contested publication of Ulysses to reveal the impact on copyright of literary modernism (and vice versa). Characters such as Ezra Pound, the infamous publisher Samuel Roth, and of course James Joyce flesh out a revealing story about artists grappling with free speech and authorship.
Oxford University Press is committed to developing outstanding resources to support students, scholars, and practitioners in all areas of the law. Our practitioner programme continues to grow, with key texts in commercial law, arbitration and private international law, plus the innovative new ebook version of Blackstone’s Criminal Practice. We are also delighted to announce the new edition of the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, one of the most trusted reference resources in international law. In addition to the books you can find on this page, OUP publishes a wide range of law journals and online products.
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Last week I took the train to London and spent a whole day in meetings with various publishers, showing them the stories I have been working on recently.
I have worked with quite a few of the larger publishers over the years, although my new book, Swap!, is being published by Gullane, who also published my very first book The Show at Rickety Barn. We've produced 12 books together in as many years, including the first one I also wrote myself: When You're Not Looking!.
But I didn't show this latest batch of new stories to them because, at the end of last year, Gullane were put on ice by the company who owns them. The staff were made redundant and many ongoing projects were cancelled (luckily not mine - phew). Gullane won't be commissioning any books for the foreseeable future and my back-list with them is being handled by another publisher.
This is very sad as I have built up some great working relationships with the team at Gullane. Mine does sound like a dream job from the outside but, like all work, it's not always easy. From time to time you do get clashes of personality, break-downs in communication and frustrations that make you grind your teeth. But I can honestly say that the editors, art directors and designers at Gullane have always been an absolute joy to work with. Thanks guys.
Anyway, this is one of the reasons why I've been working so hard to put together my presentations. Not only am I looking for a home for some of the exciting new story ideas John and I have been working on together, but I am also on the lookout for a new publisher to fill Gullane's boots.
It all seemed to go very well at my various meetings last week, though you can never really tell for sure. One thing I've learned about publishing is that you mustn't count your chickens, even when they are hatched and squawking. In the world of children's books, there are still plenty of things which can go wrong!
I'll let you know if I have any good news, but it's Bologna Children's Book Fair in a few weeks, one of the most important events on the picture book calendar, so everything else will be put on hold until that's out of the way. Luckily it's also World Book Day coming up, so all my school visits will keep me well occupied in the meantime.
Another anthology of the strange, bizarre, and just plain weird.
Unicorns, zombies, devils, dark whispers, teddy bears, and …fireflies? Try a taste of writing from two very different fantasy authors. Flash fiction stories are super short and perfect for when you ‘just have a minute’. This anthology contains 15 stories (both flash and longer short stories) from authors Sean Hayden and Jen Wylie. Run the rampart of emotions in this exciting mix of tales. From humor to horror, sweet to twisted, there is something for everyone.
One of the things I learned early on is that writers need other writers. Writing is a tough business. We face rejections on so many levels, whether it's from agents, editors, or readers. I've come to think that the only way to survive in this industry is by connecting with other writers. I joined YALitChat, She Writes, the blue boards, and the Writer's Retreat. All online communities for writers. I also have a critique group, participate in twitter chats such as #YALitChat and #KidLitChat, and I recently joined Scene13, which is a group of writers with books coming out in 2013. My discovery? Writers are the greatest people. We support each other. We cheer each other on. We're there to lend a shoulder. This is such an amazing community to be a part of. So I just want to say how thankful I am to be a writer and to have met so many other amazing writers over the past few years. How has the writing community helped you?