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Some time last year, Erica Wagner, Publisher at Allen and Unwin, was reported as having said, in relation to graphic novels, that there was a lot to be gained by submitting a text already illustrated or mostly illustrated [Allen & Unwin publish purely commission only picture books]. Perhaps this may signal a change in direction that may even extend to those other illustrated tomes – picture books and picture book/graphic novel crossovers.
Some writers/illustrators I know have recently signed contracts for ‘print ready’ books. This is not self-publishing, nor submission to a print-on-demand house but submission to a traditional, royalty paying publisher of a book that is ‘ready to go’ in publishing terms.
What constitutes a ‘print ready’ book? It is a book that has been -
- professionally edited,
- designed to industry standards,
- professionally designed cover and,
- if illustrated, has all images appropriately set.
This is a great way to go for authors who are able to pay illustrators and book designers up front. Most authors are not able to do this. This then means all creators involved in a book project agreeing to royalty share and working between paid projects to collaborate on their book.
What have I gleaned about such ‘print ready’ deals? One company, smaller and reasonably new, offered a small advance and a good contract, by industry standards, with higher than regular royalty share for creators. An offer of help with promotion was also part of the deal. Another company, medium sized and established, offered no advance but better than average royalty shares for creators and help with promotion and marketing of the book.
How does this stack up against what is generally on offer now?
- Small and middle range publishers, in general, do not offer advances.
- Larger publishers offer advances depending on the book, depending on the author, and depending on the agent involved.
- Smaller and middle range publishers often [there are exceptions] expect the author to do it all in relation to promotion, even requiring the submission of a marketing plan.
- Larger publishers vary greatly as to how much promotion they will give a book.
- Generally, publishers will submit copies of their publishing output for major awards, such as the CBCA, and to a selection of leading review outlets.
What’s the down side for author, illustrator, book designer, [often the illustrator], to go down the ‘print ready’ publishing path?
- It IS a lot of extra work for all creators involved to ensure the book is ‘professional’ standard even before it is submitted.
- There is no money upfront.
Are the rewards worth the effort?
- If you love collaborative work, it is a big plus.
- Creators have much more project control to create the book they have collaboratively envisaged.
- A quality product, ‘print ready’, is a major bargaining point for creators/agents. ‘Print ready’ saves the publisher heaps!
The first company mentioned does small print runs, sells out their print runs, reprints and even sells out reprints and so it seems to be gradually snowballing.
It is too early to know in the second instance. [I’ll keep you posted!]
My feeling is that, if Erica Wagner was sensing a ‘trend’ and if these companies make a success of it, we will see more such deals. It’s something to think about!
My own news -
The Untangled Tales website is the best of the Summer Reading sites. Going over the site, was like being in one of the famous ‘But WAIT, there’s more!’ advertisements! At every click of the mouse, there was more and all of it FREE! There is something here for children of all ages [preschool, primary, secondary], for their parents, teachers and librarians. The site is gorgeous [literally] to look at, easy to navigate, entertaining in content and layout and engagingly informative!
The Celebrity Corner questions brought out the creative quirkiness of authors and illustrators in a very entertaining way and featured a very diverse group of creatives!
The Untangled Tales game is a blast – great fun! It challenges memory and prods research capabilities and informs about other cultures, their customs and attitudes as reflected in their fairytales and legends.
Check out the side tabs and their drop down menus – there is heaps and heaps of fun activity, fantastic tales, playful poetry and fanciful stories, arty opportunities, creative competitions in writing and art activities and painless learning along the way!!
I’m thrilled to be part of this year’s Summer Reading Club. I’m in Celebrity Corner with Kerry Brown, Christian Bocquee [with whom I am collaborating in our own Fractured Fairytales collection], Terry Denton, Lucia Masciullo and numbers of other wonderfully creative folk!
Personalising your story by J.R.Poulter
Are you seeking an additional paying outlet for you work?
A personalized version might be the answer!
Various companies take the illustrated text for children’ stories and modify them to create a ‘personalised’ version. The company will do the personalizing for you but, in my case, I chose to submit my own ‘personalised’ version’. Some of my ‘personalised’ books are coming out with Frecklebox, who have also published personalised versions of books by friends.
Having a ‘personalized’ edition does not prevent you from still seeking out publication of your original text. Contracts are non-exclusive.
If you are publishing with a small company, they might be interested in adding the option of a personalized version of your story for sale digitally.
How do you do it?
“The little boy clapped his hands gleefully! The thing in the grass glittered up at him in rainbow colours. He tried to grab it! “Oh!” he exclaimed, the beautiful thing had moved, just out of reach…” [JRP]
Becomes: “Edward clapped his hands gleefully! The thing in the grass glittered up at him in rainbow colours. He tried to grab it! “Oh!” Edward exclaimed, the beautiful thing had moved, just out of reach…” [JRP]
For rhyming stories, a refrain can be added in to provide the ‘personalised’ element. An example from an upcoming ‘personalised’ version “Ten Little Heroes”, a picture book with a counting element, illustrated by UK illustrator/animator, Alex Slack:
FOUR Little Heroes flying to the moon,
One said, “I’m Space-man!
See you SOOOooon! ”
Oops a doops, a whoopsie there!
Mike to the rescue! Mike is here!
Once you have the hang of the text conversion process, you might choose to offer personalized versions of your digital books [e.g. on the App Store, Utales.com, Kindle, Nook, Adobe Digital editions, etc], or self-published children’s books from your own website/store.
Lists can be extremely useful, especially when they are constantly being updated!
Here are SIX such.
The first, compiled by the enterprising and enthusiastic Brain Grove, is a list of US publishers who are currently accepting submissions for children’s books – http://j.mp/SVbnCk – he also, very helpfully, adds links to each entry to take you straight to the site. I also recommend his ebook on query /submission letter writing.
A second list, an international one, that is regularly updated is on Lou Treleaven’s Blog:
The third, a veritable database of bloggers who interview and/or review, is continuously being updated by the very proactive authors, Delin Colon and Lisa Kalner Williams – http://bit.ly/writerinterviewopps …
Fourth – a database of legends and folktales – if you are looking for inspiration for twists on fairytales or legends, fables etc – here is a whole swag!
Fifth – oh this one is an essential! The inimitable Katie Davis’s Tool Kit is linked out under 5 ‘HEADLINE’ headings!!
If you haven’t joined www.jacketflap.com, I highly recommend it – an excellent networking site for all things related to children’s literature and books.
Latest addition, number six, Rachelle Burk has a wonderful resource site – http://www.resourcesforchildrenswriters.com/ – her awarded list of wonderfully helpful links is truly encyclopaedic!
Get busy and good luck!
Books are created from the imagination and inspiration of authors and the insightful vision of illustrators. They are then crafted. The authorial crafting may be right brain with a touch of editing or slow and laborious left brain plotting. For an illustrator, it may be inspiration flowing like rivers from brush or stylus or it may be storybook or dummy creation then rethinks, scrap some ideas, adapt others. Eventually, a book emerges that is then ‘ready for submission’. These days, that may mean adding animation and audio to make the book a digital production for app developers like Utales or Flying Books, or for YA, formatting it for Kindle or Nook e-publishers. It may mean self publishing on Createspace or Lightningsource, Smashwords or Lulu. Or it will mean the long road via submission to traditional publishers.
If the latter is chosen, the publisher will often require more editing, changes and perhaps more changes. My own book, started under contract to one publisher, was already well underway with the inimitable Sarah Davis as illustrator. We were having a ball creating our book. Then our publisher was taken over and the new publisher wanted to institute changes. At first, the major change – ‘get rid of the dead bird’ – seemed straight forward. Then we realised the book needed the bird but, to keep it, we had to make some big adjustments. An injured bird can’t just disappear in a children’s book, it has to get better and be released, which, in our picture book, meant its story had to be woven into the fabric of the main story seamlessly. No problem, a few days and Sarah and I had nailed it! As book creators, you have to be flexible and, especially if going the traditional publisher route, you can’t be too precious about your creation.
SO! This exhibition is about the journey numbers of wonderful children’s and YA books took from creation to bookshelf! Each book has a different creation story to reveal - something the public doesn’t see, it’s behind the scenes. Now the reader can take a peek backstage, behind the scenes to how it all came together!
THE SET UP
Setting up was not straight forward. The spaces has to be utilised to best advantage and the items displayed needed to be seen from as many angles as possible given I had a two shelf rectangular glass case. I didn’t end up using everything I brought with me. It would have been too cluttered. Last minute inclusion, bulldog clips, proved life-savers! They held the photographic prints in place.
I had never ‘hung’ a painting before at an exhibition and that proved ‘interesting. Sarah Davis sent up her wonderful original painting via kindly courier, Peter Taylor, but it was unframed. I had no time to find a frame. Fortunately, I had one around the house that was a good match colour-wise though not quite the perfect size.
Given my exhibit was about my close collaboration with Sarah, the items displayed needed to reflect the two minds working together to make a new creative whole – our book! Sources of inspiration, stages in text change, changes in images, cover and trivia relating to the characters, objects and places in the book, all combined to make a successful ( I hope you agree) exhibit!
The Exhibition, Journey of a Book, has a wide range of book journeys exhibited, from YA novel, like David McRobbie’s, to real life adventure by Prue Mason, picture books like those by Kathrine Battersby and chapter books like the one by Angela Sunde, to non fiction works on calligraphy as an illustrative art form by Peter Taylor.
Andrea has gotten it spectacularly right! The CEO of Tell Me a Story launched 10 new titles on 30th June, this year. I was privileged to be guest speaker at an event that had even seasoned politicians, Ian Rickuss, MP Lockyer, and Steve Jones, Mayor, Lockyer Valley Regional Council, commenting on attendance numbers!
Assembled authors, illustrators and guest panelists with Andrea Kwast
Muza Ulasowski [Panelist] and Guest Speaker, J.R.Poulter
The audience was rapt. I have seldom been at a publishing event where everyone’s eyes shone! Andrea has the devoted support of her very wide community of readers and growing. She also has the good fortune to have a very devoted group of assistants in administrator, Rel, and local photographer and budding author herself, Jenni Smith.
Research and innovation, preparedness to think out of the box, are hallmarks of Andrea and her team. She believes stories are lurking everywhere and it just takes the right determination, editing and dedication to bring them out. That she is succeeding over and above expetaction is more than demonstrated by the sellout and reprint, within the first few weeks since the launch, of no fewer than 3 titles!
Hearty Congratulations Andrea and Team and to all her authors – keep writing!
CHILDREN AND WAR ANTHOLOGY
This anthology, to be published by Cinco Puntos Press in
2011 or 2012, will explore all angles of children’s and
teenagers’ experiences in war. The core of the book will
be personal essays, memoirs, journalistic accounts, and
historical narratives, both previously published and
original pieces. It may also include photos, artwork,
posters, and other debris that depicts the effects of war
on children and teens. Though the book will be primarily
non-fiction, we may include some fiction, and we are willing
to consider pieces about both current and past wars. “War”
is defined liberally to include both “official” declared
wars as well as secret, unofficial wars, such as those carried
out by governments on civilians in places like Chile, Argentina,
and Zimbabwe. All submissions, queries, and suggestions should
be sent to J.L. Powers at email@example.com by June
NOTE: While the guidelines do not state the payment rate, I
spoke with Jessica Powers, editor of the anthology, and the
payment is $200 per story accepted.
I have found numbers of other interesting sites which I am actively investigating.
Story Chimes has won the PTPA Media Inc. Seal of Approval. This App Developer is in partnership with Raven Tree Press, producing their print books for iphone and ipad as well as new, never been in print, titles.
Interesting interview with Jean-Pierre Bousquet about his experience publishing his Children’s picture book , “Caroline , and the mysterious Christmas Tree” with Mobile Children’s Books [MCB]. Check out Wheezards interview LIVE radio show on 938Live The Living Room – Singapore podcast
This is a brand new venture which may work well for those not so techno flash or those with less in the way of spare cash. It is European based and the books have a definitely European look. Read about uTales and about becoming a ‘uTaler‘, publisher on this site.
The site, commendably, also support “Pencils of Promise” who built 15 schools in third world countries from donations last year.
This site is doing some innovative things – take a look -
Peter Taylor‘s update on i-publishing [thank you Peter]
Children’s Publishing Innovation Award
At last week’s NY Digital Book World Conference, this went to:
This is marketed as the first and only service where consumers can create an app by recording a video of themselves reading as they turn the pages. Children can play back the story as often as they like.
You can give it a free trial, too.
There are over 200 books in their main selection http://www.astorybeforebed.com/books When you register, you create your own bookshelf to store your recorded downloads.
Many of their selection of books are published by Chronicle, Orca and Charlesbridge. They also ask for suggestions from accomplished children’s book authors, illustrators, and publishers, as they’re always looking for more great books.
The publishers may also consider giving purchasers the option of having the book read by the author/illustrator.
This idea comes from creators at
Children’s books on ipad and iphone
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 ] For a preview of “Toofs!”, to come out with PicPocket Books, see the interview with Susan Whitfield [http://susanwhitfield.blogspot.com/search?q=Poulter ].
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 http://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.