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By: Kerry Aradhya
Blog: Picture Books & Pirouettes
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, Author Interviews
, Amazon Children's Publishing
, Tip-Tap Pop
, Advice for Authors
, Tap Dance
, Sarah Lynn
, Frankie and the Big Squish
, 1-2-3 Va-Va-Vroom
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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.
Blog: Jrpoulter's Weblog
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, Family pet
, Teacher Resource
, Library resource
, Crichton Award
, iphone app
, Digital publishing
, Sarah Davis
, J R Poulter
, Jodi Magi
, Caroline Lee
, Jade Potts
, Muza Ulasowski
, Mending Lucille
, Alexandra Krasuska
, At the Beach with Bucket and Spade
, Rich Man Poor Man
, Zippitty Zoo Da
, Xengu and the Turn of Tide
, Flying Books
, Jonas Sahlstrom
, Tracy Grand
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I have found the opportunity to collaborate with illustrators something eminently rewarding, an experience that enriches both participants and results in a more vibrant and much richer work. My first picture book, “Mending Lucille” was also a result of a collaboration. Working with the amazing Sarah Davis was inspirational! I have gone on to collaborate closely with illustrators all over the world to create numbers of other picture books, some digitally published, some in process with print publishers and some I am still researching the right publishing outlet. Finding the ‘right’ outlet is very important. Not every publisher is ‘right’ for every book.
I have had the pleasure of collaborating with first time picture book illustrators, Jade Potts [USA], Jonas Sahlstrom [Sweden], Alexandra Krasuska [Sweden] and fellow Aussie, Jodi Magi [now of Abu-Dhabi] on uTales, and am about to have my latest collaboration, “Little Dragons’ Babysitter” released with Caroline Lee. Utales is non-exclusive which means creators can take advantage of other opportunities for their work as they arise. I have just signed a contract with Flying Books, Islreal, for “Rich Man, Poor Man” the book I did with Jodi Magi. My first digital collaboration is on www.istorytime, “At the Beach with Bucket and Spade” with Sarah Bash Gleeson [USA], whom I met on JacketFlap.com, a wonderful children’s literature networking site along with many other amazing and inspiring folk. Sarah is editor of magazine, “Dream Chaser” which focusses on children’s books and their creators.
Joanna Marple’s mini review of my latest digital book, “Xengu and the Turn of Tide”:
“A Tolkienesque tale, I love it!”
See a review of her first picture book in my last blog post with links to her interview with Darshana Shah Khiani on “Flowering Minds“.
0 Comments on Collaboration – an adventure to be savored! as of 1/1/1900
Thought I’d share some notes on e-publishing, especially with all the excitement generated by ipad. I have two picture books coming out myself on iphone and am looking forward to having picture books on ipad!
Most of the iphone publishers pay better [some much better] royalties than book publishers.
Though the RRP cost of books is low, volume of sales is high compared to hard copy books.
Folk buying an e-book for iphone often buy the hardcopy too if the child likes the book.
If you are publishing with an iphone company who works with the big publishers or with big children’s media companies, then it potentially brings your work to the attention of some important networks/people. It puts you book into good company!
Starts with costing you the author.
There is a setup fee or the set up cost is taken out of your royalties.
You have to make your own audio and ensure it is of ‘professional’ quality or pay to have the iphone publisher produce it for you. American iphone book producers like to use American accents [sorry Aussies].
If they format the text into the images for you that is a cost as well.
You have to submit the completed book upfront [not such a hassle for the author/illustrator] as a pdf. For author working with illustrator it means either you pay the illustrator upfront or they work with you with royalties in mind. If it is accepted you may find you have to then submit each frame [individual jpeg image] resized to iphone format . This can mean force sizing, which can distort the image slightly. If you do not do this yourself, there is a cost for them to do it.
Like all publishers, they are selective.
I have books soon to come out with PicPocket Books and istorytime. [See my website for updates www.jenniferrpoulter.weebly.com - more excitement!]
Good format for b&w and has growing audience.
Is all the buzz – is touted as new direction in children’s publishing [most recently at CAL seminar in Brisbane recently]. Not seen as replacing hard copy but as important new outlet.
Penguin are already there, are going for interactive stories on ipad. Exciting! [see UTube and www.engadget.com/.../penguins-ipad-formatted-books-shown-off-making- waves/ ] All the same pluses for iphone also apply here and more.
Same companies doing iphone are now doing ipad as well so the cost structure may still apply – may change too as ipad is much more flexible than iphone and is beautifully suited to picbooks. Because of this, there may not [note may not] be the same need for audio.
If your book is already in hardcopy, it is ‘free’ [yep that’s right] to load your book onto Ripple Reader and free to join the company. Ripple Reader pays royalties! It is an exciting innovation that makes your published book accessible much, much more widely.
Your book must exist in a published version first, so that the editing process it has gone through ensures production quality.
Latest SCBWI Newsletter [March/April 2010] page 22 – article by Elizabeth O. Dulemba titled, “My 1st iPhone Picture Book App”. Elizabeth was published with a company called Rhodesoft.com [“Reading Rhino”]. I don’t know as much about them, but they do also require a set up fee.
Interview: Joanna Marple on uTales.
Darshana Shah Khiani‘s interview on her Children’s Book Review site, “Flowering Minds”, with new children’s picture book author, Joanna Marple, is revealing on lots lof levels.
Joanna and Darshana met on children’s writer and illustrator FaceBook site, 12 x 12 , a very lively, supportive, share and learn community set up by Julie Hedlund. When Joanna released her very first picture book, a collaboration with the very talented Maja Sereda, Darshana jumped in with the interview offer.
“Snow Games” is a fun tumble and rumpus in winter’s wonderland aimed at 3 to 7 year olds. Maja’s wonderfully endearing little animal characterisations beautifully complement the story.
Joanna shares what it was like to collaborate with Maja to create “Snow Games”. Close collaboration between author and illustrator is a circumstance largely [and sadly] foreign to most traditional print publishing. For Joanna and Maja it was a fun and very rewarding experince. But the interview goes beyond the creation of ”Snow Games”. It also details Joanna’s experience of the uTales website and her thoughts on traditional and digital publishing.
Joanna mentions my collaboration with noted animal and wildlife illustrator, Muza Ulasowski, a story about surviving change, “The Sea Cat Dreams”. Muza was one of many wonderful illustrators I met on the uTales Facebook group and have since worked with to create a varied range of children’s books.
I have found the opportunity to collaborate with illustrators something eminently rewarding, an experience that enriches both participants and results in a more vibrant and much richer work. My first picture book, “Mending Lucille” was also a result of a collaboration. Working with the amazing Sarah Davis was inspirational! I have gone on to collaborate closely with illustrators all over the world to create numbers of other picture books, some digitally published**, some in process with p