Nancy Viau is the author of Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head (MG 2008), Look What I Can Do!(March 2013), and Storm Song (April 2013), and (Middle-Grade Novel, 2008). She is having a book signing and you are invited.
You had a book launch party when your first middle grade book, Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head, debuted. What are your “Send Off” plans for Look What I Can Do!?
There are no local bookstores in my area, but I’ve always been in love with Children’s Book World of Haverford, PA, and visit there as often as possible. So, the second I found out I would (finally) have a picture book published, I called them up and asked if they’d consider hosting my book launch. They said YES! The date/time is set for March 23rd at 1:00. Visitors will also get a sneak peek at Storm Song (release date, April 16th), and I have few copies available already! Everybody is welcome. Bring the kids! I’ve got a ton of goodies for them.
Did an agent help sell Look What I Can Do to Abrams?
I was unagented when Abrams made the offer.
What was the idea spark for Look What I Can Do!?
I live next to a forest with a field and stream nearby and one day it hit me: Those cute little creatures out my window work so hard at every thing they do, and they don’t ever give up. I pictured my own kids working equally as hard at human things—walking, talking, skipping, catching a ball, etc. and that’s when the idea really took off. The refrain says it all:
Friends of forest, field, and stream,
Keep trying on your own.
Be proud today.
Have fun and play.
In time you will be grown.
Can you tell us about the journey that you took to get Look What I Can Do picked up by Abrams?
It’s a really long story that spans almost ten years. Suffice it to say, that an editor at Abrams rejected this piece early on, but gave me personal comments. Many other editors did the same. I let the story slide into oblivion, but in 2008 I brushed it off and began revising it (for the twentieth time). Abrams bought it in 2009.
Did you have any involvement with choosing Anna Vojtech to do the illustrations for Look What I Can Do?
Abrams knew that I wanted real-life animals in the spreads, not cartoon-like ones. For a long while, award-winning illustrator Nancy Tafuri was the frontrunner for illustrator but that fell through. I had sent Abrams a few illustrators I liked and Anna was one of them. Abrams didn’t bite and they sent me others to consider. A year or so went by. Then one day, I got an email that included Anna’s name as a possibility! I guess it was meant to be. I really believe her work is exceptional and perfect for my story.
Since it takes so long to get a picture book published and I see that Robin Benjamin was the editor for Storm Song, I wonder if this book started out with Marshall Cavendish?
Yes, Storm Song was acquired by Marshall Cavendish, and I was thrilled to be associated with that house because their books have always been among my favorites. However, M.C. sold the children’s division to Amazon, and I was one of a couple hundred authors who ended up with a new publisher. At first I was concerned, but Amazon Children’s Publishing/Two Lions Imprint has been awesome. I have a team of seven marketing professionals on my side, and have had conference calls with all of them at once! Their support is incredible and the book is beautiful. What more could I ask for?!
How much interaction did you have with Robin Benjamin?
Robin has been my editor since Marshall Cavendish originally made the offer. I didn’t hear from her a bunch because she felt that only one stanza needed revision. (Whew!) They did ask me what I thought of Gynux, the illustrator (he’s amazing!), and once his sketches were done, I was even able to give feedback on one spread that I felt needed tweaking. Robin always kept me informed about the book’s progress, and it has been a pleasure working with her.
Did an agent sell this book?
It sold a few weeks after my agent and I broke up, but that agent remains the one on record for it.
Are you working with an agent now?
Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary is my wonderful agent. We celebrate a one year anniversary soon!
What things are in the pipeline?
Stay tuned! ; )
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with other children’s writers?
1. Be patient, and 2. Drink lots of wine.
Nancy, best of luck with the books. I am so sorry your party is on the same weekend as the Writer’s Retreat I am attending.
WRITERS TIP: I you live anywhere within driving distance to Children’s Book World in Haverford PA, it would be worth your while to get to know them. They are very supportive of children’s authors.
Filed under: authors and illustrators
Tagged: Abrams BFYR
, Amazon Children's Publishing
, Book launch party
, Children's Book World
, Nancy Viau
, Robin Benjamin
Happy Valentine’s Day
Illustration by Maria Bogade Maria was featured last week on Illustrator Saturday. Here is the link: http://wp.me/pss2W-68h
Amazon Launches Two Lions and Skyscape YA Imprints
Roughly a year after the Amazon Children’s Publishing division launched, it has announced two new imprints. Two Lions will be home to picture books, chapter books and middle-grade fiction, and Skyscape will be devoted to titles for young adults, encompassing works from both established authors and new voices. Margery Cuyler is editorial manager for Two Lions, and Tim Ditlow is editorial manager for Skyscape. Amazon Children’s Publishing’s general manager is Amy Hosford; Larry Kirshbaum, publisher for Amazon Publishing, oversees the editorial leadership for the company’s Seattle and New York adult imprints, as well as Amazon Children’s Publishing.
Amazon wants to take advantage of one of the hottest segments in the publishing world with these two new youth imprints, which is a great thing for all of us. They will publish established and new authors for these books.
In the next four months there will be a number of launch titles being issued. According to Publishers Weekly, Two Lions is slatted to release Gandhi: A March to the Sea by Alice B. McGinty, a biography written in free-verse; and Poco Loco, a debut picture book about a mouse inventor by J.R. Krause. Titles under the Skyscape umbrella include You Know What You Have to Do by Bonnie Shimko, about a 15-year-old girl who hears voices in her head telling her to kill people; and Reason to Breathe, the first book in the Breathing Series trilogy by Rebecca Donovan, an initially self-published title that has already earned a dedicated readership.
These new imprints will play into the new Kindle Freetime Unlimited program that allows parents to subscribe to the new Amazon service, and get as many kids books they want a month. It is very likely that a number of these titles will appear between Freetime and Amazon Prime. Have you taken advantage of this new program? Don’t miss out.
Nobrow Press to Launch Children’s Imprint in 2013
U.K.-based indie graphic novel publisher Nobrow Press is launching Flying Eye Books, a children’s book imprint that will debut in the U.K. in February and in March in the U.S. Flying Eye Books will release 12 titles in the first year including comics, picture books, activity books, fiction, and nonfiction for kids aged 4-11 years old.
Speeding Star is a new trade imprint from Enslow Publishers, Inc., esteemed for its high-quality nonfiction and fiction materials for the educational market. Beginning in the Fall 2013, Speeding Star will release easy-to-read fiction and informational titles. This content will be suitable for boys and young men from third grade to high school. Each title will be either 48, 64 or 96 pages, on topics ranging from zombie mysteries to profiles of today’s greatest sports stars. Available in both hardcover trade and paperback bindings, as well as through all major e-book outlets, our titles will keep boys reading!
Capstone Publishing Group, which has been aggressively expanding beyond the school and library markets with the launch six months ago of its Capstone Young Readers trade imprint, is adding picture books to the list this spring. Thirteen picture books in print format will be released initially under the CYR imprint; after the first list, the imprint will release four to six picture books each year.
Capstone Publishing Group has previously published picture books for the educational and trade markets under its Picture Window imprint and will continue to do so; this is the first time the company is publishing picture books under the CYR imprint. Thus far, board books, chapter books, and hobbies and crafts books have been published under the CYR imprint, which is overseen by senior product manager John Rahm and editorial directors Michael Dahl and Nick Healy.
In May Capstone will launch a Web site to promote its new CYR line, www.capstoneyoungreaders.com. CYR titles will be available in digital formats as well as in print. While only select Capstone Publishing titles for the educational market are available in digital formats, beginning in fall 2012, all of Capstone’s trade titles will be available in both print and e-book formats.
Valentine’s Illustration by Barbara Eveleth Barbara was featured on Illustrator Saturday, Nove. 11th, 2010. Here’s the link: http://wp.me/pss2W-1ZX
This Valentine’s Day illustration was sent in by Michelle Kogan. Michelle is a Chicago illustrator, instructor, painter and writer. She’s working on a picture book called Through A Sunflower. You can view some of the illustrations for this book and read more about Michelle in the article: Journey with an Illustrator, Painter and Writer, in the January 2013 The Prairie Wind, the Newsletter of the Illinois Chapter of the SCBWI, where Michelle is the Illustrator in the Spotlight, http://www.scbwi-illinois.org/pdf/PrairieWind-Winter2013.pdf
View more of Michelle’s work at her website http://www.michellekogan.com
Filed under: authors and illustrators
, New Imprint
, Places to sumit
Tagged: Amazon Children's Publishing
, Capstone Young Readers Trade Imprint
, Enslow Publishers
, Flying Eye Books
, Speeding Star
, Two Lions
Today we bring you our weekly sampler of cool youth media and marketing gigs. If your company has an open position in the youth media or marketing space, we encourage you to join the Ypulse LinkedIn group, if you haven’t yet, and post there for... Read the rest of this post
This week author Sarah Lynn is celebrating the release of her third picture book -- 1-2-3 Va-Va-Vroom! She's here today to talk about writing and her experiences with different types of publishers. Sarah's second picture book, Tip-Tap Pop, has a tap dance theme, so I was also curious about her background in dance. Congratulations, Sarah, and thanks for joining us today!
It seems that you are a very busy woman -- filling your days as a clinical social worker, school counselor, owner of a small private practice, and mom. Yet you still have three picture books under your belt. How do you find the time to write?
I have to be honest and say that I do struggle with finding time to write. I’ve always used the precious time after my children are in bed as my writing time, but I am finding it harder as they get older. They have later bedtimes now, and I find myself more emotionally, physically, and intellectually depleted in the evenings.
I actually think it’s not just about finding “time.” It’s about finding time when my mind is clear. My brain has to be fresh and open for me to create. I’m finding this more difficult as time goes on, but writing is important to me, and so I am determined to find a way to make it happen. I try to jot down notes when I have ideas. I bring these notes to soccer practice or outside when my kids are playing in the backyard. Most of the time I don’t even glance at the notes, but I know I have them there in case another idea presents itself.
I have two confessions, though. I’ll admit that my aforementioned jobs are all part time -- about 32 hours total for the week. It’s my grand attempt at being as involved in my own children’s lives as possible, while still bringing in an income. My second confession is that my laundry piles up awfully high. Writing is a great way to procrastinate household chores!
No worries. My laundry piles are always way too high, too! Aside from your many jobs, you also seem to have a strong and eclectic background in dance. Can you tell us a little more about that? And is dance still a part of your life? For much of my childhood, dance was the source of my passion. I felt a love for dance that enlivened me. My primary love was ballet, but I also did hip hop, tap, modern, and jazz. I trained hard and long, I went away for the summers to train in Texas and Pennsylvania. When I graduated from high school, I felt as if I needed to make a decision -- to be a professional ballet dancer or to go to college? Looking back, it might not have had to be so cut and dry, but in my mind I had to make a choice. I decided to go to college and stop dancing. At that time I completely stopped dancing. I’d loved it so much and had been so dedicated that I felt it would be painful to just do it for fun. I knew I wouldn’t be as strong or my technique as good. After about five years, I did go back and take some adult classes for fun. I caught the eye of the studio owner, and she asked me to teach “baby ballet” on Saturdays and adult classes in the evenings after work. Once I had my own children, though, I stopped that as well. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. I miss it. I can really see your love of dance shining through in your writing. Tip-Tap Pop has such a beautiful rhythmic quality, even though it is not written in rhyme. Do you think your dance training contributes to the rhythm in your writing? Yes! My tap dance teacher always spoke our tap dance steps in perfect tap dance rhythm. I can still hear her voice in my head. My ballet teachers always used their hands to demonstrate the ballet moves, I can still see that in my head as well. When I listen to music, I can visualize choreography.
Are there any other ways that dance has influenced your writing?
I love the way dance tells a story. I love the way movements and facial expressions can convey emotion. Dancing is the epitome of “show, don’t tell.” Beautiful language and the imagery of words can be equally lyrical. Your first two books were published in two very different ways. Frankie and the BigSquish was published as an iPhone App by iStoryTime, and Tip-Tap Popwas published by the traditional trade publisher Marshall Cavendish. What were some of the differences in these two publication experiences? The experiences were very different. I had gotten a couple revision requests for Frankie and the Big Squish from a mainstream publisher. Despite my revisions, they decided not to publish. When I heard about iStoryTime company, I thought it would be fun to submit this story, since I didn’t feel I’d find a traditional house to publish it. They accepted my story but told me I needed to find my own illustrator. There was no advance for this endeavor. The contract states that once the story sold enough copies, I would begin to earn royalties. However, this has never happened. I look at this option as another way of sharing a story with the world, but for me, at least, it did not bring in any income. With Tip Tap Pop, I was paid an advance. I will earn royalties if the book earns out my advance. They found the illustrator for me and helped me with editing. This was a fabulous experience. I love the illustrations in this story. I think the editor was brilliant in her choice of an illustrator, because the pictures add a light quirkiness to the mood of the book. This shows the benefit of traditional publishing, because this story would not have been the same without Valeria’s art work.
Were there any similarities between the two experiences?
There wasn’t much similar in the experiences, to be honest. The only main similarity is the feeling of excitement in seeing my words brought to life by an illustrator. That is amazing.
Your third book -- 1-2-3 Va-Va-Vroom! -- was just published by Amazon Children's Publishing. Since this is a fairly new publisher, I am guessing this experience was also unique? Could you tell us more about it?
Actually, I sold the book to Marshall Cavendish, to the same editor who’d purchased Tip-Tap Pop. Shortly after I sold the book, the Cavendish company was purchased by Amazon. My interactions with Amazon have been entirely positive. My editor is still with the company, and she’s lovely to work with. There have been some fun additions, though, like an “author relations manager,” who is my first contact when I have questions. She responds very quickly to emails (within the day), and that’s so nice.
Despite the fact that this is a very difficult time to break into the picture book market, you seem to have had a lot of success in different formats over the last couple of years. Any advice for all those aspiring authors out there?
Yes. It is difficult to break in, and it’s also difficult to publish again (even if you’ve already been published). This is a loving business, because people who create children’s books are accepting and wonderful and friendly and encouraging. However, it’s also a tough business because there’s so much rejection. This is the advice I try to give myself. I try to remind myself that I write for myself. I enjoy it as an outlet, as a project, as a way to share experiences. I know that most of what I write will not be published. So if I’m only writing with the end goal of publication, I’ll be disappointed more often than not. If I’m writing with the goal of creating, having an outlet, enjoying the actual process of writing, then it’s a win-win. Of course I am thrilled when something winds up being published, but I try to make my motivation about more than that. The other advice I have is to be open to feedback. Revise like it’s going out of style. Read in your genre as much as you can. Remember, it’s not just about writing something good. It has to be something marketable and different from what is already out there.
Thanks again, Sarah, for joining us and offering such wonderful insight and advice about the writing process!
For more information about Sarah and her work, you can visit her website at http://www.sarahlynnbooks.com. To read my earlier review of Tip-Tap Pop, click here. Maria Hanley from Maria's Movers has also written a beautiful feature on Tip-Tap Pop here.