Monday, April 25, 2011

Seeing Your Books For the First Time: Thoughts from an Author

Before I became a writer and book author, I always imagined the process of creating a picture book as the following:  coming up with an idea, sending it in, getting a call from a publishing company (who would subsequently fly me out to New York, e.g. where I would meet my editor and of, course, the illustrator), maybe make a few minor revisions, then be involved in the process of laying out the book.

I laugh today, knowing what I know from other authors' experiences and now, for myself.  That's because several of my books for toddlers and early readers were released on Friday, and the first time I got the opportunity to see them was today–along with everyone else!  And I've never met (in person) my editor/client, the illustrators, or design team.  I also didn't score a complimentary flight to anywhere...and I made many more revisions than you'd think a set of 100-word books would need (when writing for young children, every word matters!)

While I could complain about the process of traditional or write-for-hire publishing, the process is actually more mysterious and adventurous this way.  I'm invigorated as I write this.  This morning I woke up excited with the e-mail letting me know the books are "live."  Since these were downloadable books, I accessed them instantaneously.  Opening each one was like unwrapping a birthday present!  And, because these were electronic books, they come with amazing features such as auto-play, record your own voice, and words that highlight as you read.  Fun!  I'm also waiting for each additional book to come out (there are several forthcoming), so it's like a stack of presents are still waiting...

I can liken my actual processes of getting my books published to being pregnant and not knowing which gender you're expecting.  The wait continues (sometimes longer than nine months, although in my case it was slightly less)...and whatever gets handed to you at the delivery date you must take in and love–there's no returns here.  You're exhausted, but completely overwhelmed with excitement at the same time.  Your books are like your babies!

Although I would love to someday meet the photographers for my "I Like..." series, and the illustrator and translators of my forthcoming "Tales from China" book, I do admit it is a bit of a thrill to hold your breath and then finally scream, "My books have been published!" and check them out for the first time along with friends, fellow writers, and family. And, being published this way, you get the luxury of being "just the author," so if the product isn't what you hoped for, you've got others to blame :)

Luckily, I'm very happy with the way the publisher developed the first of my manuscripts in the "I Like" series.  Would I have edited, laid out, and developed them the exact same way?  Maybe not.  But that's part of the profession, and I respect and admire the creative team whose vision came together and they chose me to write these books for them.  In fact, this particular publisher has since asked for my feedback in developing new titles and ideas–so the process, I'm learning, changes as relationships develop.  Maybe I will one day meet (in person) the creative team that has turned my Word-Document manuscripts into vibrant books for toddlers!

Though they all haven't been released yet, my instant favorite is "I Like My Brother."  You can check out the entire I Like Series, published by GrasshopperApps at

Tell me what you think!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Video Every Storyteller Should Watch

If you're a writer, this is the best use of a 20-minute break today.  It is Chimamanda Adichie's 2009 speech on The Danger of a Single Story.  If you haven't seen it, it's a must–especially if you're a storyteller, travel writer, children's book author or novelist.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sneak Peek: Cover art of 'Tales from China'

Tales from China:  World Favorite Fables
Author & Adaptations By:  Hui Cui, Steve Jackson, Miranda Sibo Paul
Illustrated By:  William Guo
Contributions By:  Elaine Tang
Anticipated Release Date:  June 17, 2011
List Price:  $24.95 (Barnes & Noble)
  • Publisher: Mankind Mind, LLC
  • Format: Library Binding , 315pp 
  • Languages:  Bilingual; Mandarin Chinese and English
  • Sales Rank: 176,887
  • Age Range: 3 to 12
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