On october 28th, the Indiana Writers Consortium held their 2nd annual Writers' Banquet at Strongbow Inn in Valparaiso, IN. After dinner, a panel of authors moderated by Kathryn Page Camp discussed the Road to Publishing as it happened for them.
The panel consisted of: Kate Collins, mystery book author, Cynthia Echterling, science fiction author, Katherine Flotz, memoir author, Michael Poore, fiction author, and
yours truly (me), children's picture book author. (Photos are on the left).
One of the questions that we were asked was why we chose the publishing route that we did, and the pros and cons of each. I thought that I'd share this with you.
I chose to pursue children's books via traditional, or trade, publishing. I did not have any knowledge of marketing, sales or book promotion, nor did I have any interest in learning that part of it. I just wanted to write the stories. And with a growing family, I had little time or money for selling and promotion. I'm not sure what my expectations were at the time , but I decided to give it a try. I was lucky enough to find editors who liked what I wrote, and wanted to publish my books.
My first book was a Little Golden Book. After three revisions, I was offered a contract and they bought my book outright for a flat fee. I received no royalties, and was not notified when the book went out of print. It was a great experience, and validated my ability to write for children. But I decided that I wanted something more, and after that I sought out publishers who would pay an advance and royalties, and with whom I could be more involved.
Over 20 years later I sold my second book to Dial Books for Young Readers, and my third book was accepted by Candlewick Press six months later. During those 20+ years between my first and second sales, I learned to write better, and made occasional sales to children's magazines.
Some of the pros of publishing with a larger trade publisher are:
I do not pay any money to have my book published. Rather, the publisher pays me an advance, and when that advance is earned out by book sales, I receive royalty payments.
I am not required to do any marketing or sales. The publisher places my books in major bookstores, and markets them to libraries. My books are sold online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online bookstores. They are promoted on the publisher's website and in their catalogs. Pre-publication copies of my book are sent to major reviewers of children's books. Any book promotion that I do for my books is appreciated and helpful to sales, but I am not required to do any book promotion. Through my publsiher, my books have been picked up by Scholastic Book Club. They've been listed on the accelerated reading lists.
I work with an editor who makes suggestions for revisions that will improve my book. She is expereinced in publishing books for children, and that experience helps me to make good revisions.
The publisher chooses an illustrator who compliments my text. An Art Director works with the illustrator to create a book that is appealing to readers, both children and the adults reading to them.
The publisher decides when the book goes out of print. At that time I can request that the rights be returned to me.
The publisher has the final word on the illustrations for my books. I do have some input, but they make the final decision. Sometimes the pictures are not what I had imagined, but I have to trust their judgment and experience in publishing children's books. And the final result has resulted in great picture books, with the story told through words and pictures together. It's exciting to see how my words inspire what the illustrator sees.
I'm happy with the route that I've chosen. I don't have total control, but I doubt that I have the knowledge or experience necessary to make my books as successful as they have been on my own. Thanks to all of the people behind the scenes who've helped do that part for me. Read More