Friday, February 28, 2014

Submission #2: I'm On Track!

It's In The Mail!

The Memorial Post Office at Watchung Plaza closes at 3:00 p.m. At 2:50, after dodging a car that was in as much of a hurry as I, I walked in the door with my new proposal and its accompanying papers, ready to mail. I had to buy one more envelope for the SASE to enclose, but there it was. Ready to mail on February 28th, as planned! I am feeling really good!!!

When I received the first rejection last month, I pledged to get the proposal out to another publisher by the end of this month. I have worked diligently to research publishers, as well as to improve my project. I have a new set of thumbnail sketches which enabled me to consider the overall design more clearly. I have several new "finished" illustrations. I have revised the text a bit and have created a more polished dummy. I have also carefully chosen to whom to submit it.

As I wrote on a Post-It© on the dummy, the dummy is not only a model of my proposed book, but it is a window on the process of creating my book. It includes some near-final art work and the near-final text and back matter. There may be more to add, if National Wildlife Federation agrees to let me use their Backyard Wildlife Habitat logo in my illustrations. I need to get the non-disclosure agreement off to them next week.

While walking the dog with my husband this morning, I mentioned that I am really pleased with all the changes that I have made since my first version. He was kind of surprised, as he didn't think I'd really changed the story. Well, the basic story remains intact, but dozens of small changes have created smoother language, more inviting page turns and more a more compelling overall design and message. The new version is a far better informed piece of work, both artistically and technically.

The Old Dummy
My earlier dummy was little changed from my original text and dummy. I have now added several pages as well as revising  the language on other pages. I have been able to address the issue that one editor brought up last summer regarding point of view. She seemed to think this made the book a non-starter after the first two lines. I think she underestimated readers, but I have now shown the reader who is speaking, through a new  illustration.

The new dummy (version 3) has color on every page and even the rough sketches are more finished. Thought has been given to text placement.  I have not yet settled on a preferred font. That is the kind of thing on which I am sure the publisher or editor will provide guidance. I wish I had better technical skills with PhotoShop© so the dummy looked even better, but a dummy is not supposed to be a finished product, so I am not stressing about that.

It has been a busy week, bouncing from sketching, to drawing, to scanning, to cut and paste, to editing the proposal and accompanying papers. The final product is so worth it. Reading through the dummy before I put the finishing touches on it, felt like I was reading a real book. Hard cover and end papers help, but this version is just so much more "finished".

Author/Illustrator at work
The cover letter, along with the dummy, the proposal, the text and background materials were all proofread carefully more than once.  SO glad I did this, as I caught one typo in the cover letter, three space glitches in my profile and a wrong date for my M.S.  Hopefully I caught all the errors.

If you are following me and my journey, please cross your fingers for me, and send up prayers to St. Francis de Sales, who I just discovered is the patron saint of authors and writers. My book deals more with the creatures beloved by the other St. Francis, but maybe with both of them on my side, this exclusive submission will find its way out of the slush pile and into print.

I'll leave you with this hopeful quote from one of my favorite children's authors.

“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
Shel Silverstein

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Picking a Publisher: The next step in the journey

Too long since I've blogged, but I have not been idle. Nor have I been immersing myself in depression. Maybe a bit too much chocolate has passed my lips, but much good has come of the time as well. I spent a long day at the Montclair Public Library in the children's section.

This charming sculpture greets patrons just outside the Children's reading room. Like this odd couple, I spent a thoughtful day. I spent it  reading and analyzing children's picture books and counting books, and researching publishing companies. I had gotten leads through SCBWI and had checked out several companies on the net.

I now have a new target in my sights. The next company is one which prides itself on publishing "new voices." I read every picture book they published that was in our collection and sent for about ten more on inter-library loan. The books are coming in and I am making great strides in getting to know this company and it's authors and illustrators. I have linked to several on LinkedIn and have checked out many websites and FaceBook pages. What a treasure we have in the Internet, to enable us to "meet" and get know the works of other writers and artists.

I feel that I will now be able to write a well crafted, well informed letter to submit with my proposal by the end of this month. I know something of the authors and illustrators, their media, their background and experience as well as how my chosen company puts books together. I was thrilled, this morning, to find the first of their picture books with illustrated end papers. This is one thing I am hoping for, as folks have reacted very positively to the illustrated end papers in my dummy. Here is another plus: my chosen company is willing to accept a dummy, which many companies are not willing to do. I have a very nice dummy, but...

If you read my previous blog, you know that I had just received Writing With Pictures in the mail, and was expecting that it would provide some guidance. I can't recommend this book too highly to any hopeful author/illustrators. As Bonnie Ferrante wrote in the Children's Books Authors and Illustrators Group on LinkedIn, "Uri Shulevitz's book could be a text for a university class." As a result, I have redone my thumbnail sketches and am revising my dummy. So far, I like the new version a lot. It flows more smoothly, and I think the page turns will work more effectively as well.

My goal is to get the new dummy completed, and perhaps one more "finished" drawing, so I can submit the new proposal by the end of February. It's a short month, but I believe it is doable.
Of course, if Mother Nature would send less snow in the coming weeks, so I didn't have so much shoveling of snow, chopping of ice and feeding of birds and bunnies, I would have more time.

 I have used snow days, when it was too inclement to venture out, to create a new website with some of my art work. I invite you to visit it at

As always, I welcome comments, suggestions or just a simple "Hello."

Hopefully there will be more art on the website and more progress to report on the dummy in the next week.