Children's

Introducing: Jennifer Pereyra and her take on Tate!

Posted on March 31, 2011. Filed under: Authors, Children's, Publishing | Tags: , , , , , |

I have to apologize for not getting this out yesterday. Suffice it to say that it’s been a long week. That said, I’m posting now in the hopes that people will see this and find some good information from the interview I did with Jennifer Pereyra.

This is a part of the author interview Jennifer so graciously gave me, and I hope you’ll find her insight helpful when you consider Tate Publishing. Following today’s post, I’ll be putting up another post tomorrow featuring Jennifer’s background and history. I hope you’ll stick around to read more about this budding new children’s author.

With no further ado, here is the Q&A session I had with Jennifer concerning her experiences with Tate Publishing. She was very thorough and answered all my questions with detailed information about her experience, and I think you’ll find it as informative and helpful as I did.

What process did you go through to finally find your current publisher?

A LOT!  I did a ton of research to figure out how I wanted to go about publishing.

I looked at what the process would be to get an agent and to hook up with one of the big NYC firms.  What I found, however, is especially in the children’s book genre, unless you are a previously published author or a celebrity with built-in marketing (think Tina Fey) where people will buy the book just because it was written by you, your chances of getting out of the slush pile are slim to none.  I wanted to make sure that this book got into print during a timeframe when my daughters would still be able to enjoy it.  It was, after all, for them that the story was written.

Next I looked at the vanity presses and also read a lot about self-publishing. The vanity presses out there offer little to no marketing support, they don’t have relationships with the major bookstore chains, and they will print anything as long as you are willing to pay. One can literally be nickeled and dimed up to the point of having to buy back your own work should you choose to sever the relationship.   Going the self pub route didn’t seem realistic for me either as you are completely on your own.  To be successful going either of those routes, one would need to be able to dedicate time as if it were their full time career.  I just don’t have that luxury.

Then I came across Tate Publishing.  Being a business woman myself and always trying to find non-traditional methods for achieving good business results, I immediately understood and appreciated their business model.  By requiring an author investment, they are mitigating their risk. They want to make sure that once they have invested their time and money into your book that you are going to reciprocate and work as hard as you can to sell your books when at signings and other marketing events that they schedule for you. (By the way, I did put together an Excel spreadsheet comparing what the vanity presses would charge for the same services that Tate provides and it ended up being from $12,000-$18,000.  Knowing that, the $4K charged by Tate is quite a deal!) Dangling the carrot of the 5,000th copy sold to get your money refunded (which also results in Tate publishing subsequent works by you at no cost to you), is their “insurance policy”.  It made perfect sense to me.

Did you attempt to get other agents and/or publishers before going to Tate? What was that like?

I did have a conversation with Mill City Press, however, based on how they do business, it would have cost me a minimum of $12,000 for a full color picture book.  They seemed reputable but that price tag was just too high for me to even consider.  Beyond that, there weren’t any out there that after all of the research I had done, I would seriously consider.

How long did it take you to find a publisher who wanted to publish your book?

As with the writing, I dove into this project head first so I think I had made a decision in a few weeks.

When you first began researching Tate, what were your thoughts on the company? Did you have any initial misgivings?

Honestly, I completely understood their business model from the get-go.  However, I don’t trust anything at face value so I checked the Better Business Bureau and they had an A+ rating.  They were also listed as one of Oklahoma’s Top 100 Companies to work for.  In addition, I set up a Google Alert for Tate Publishing and followed those for a while to see if any red flags popped up.  At the end of the day, I decided that they were indeed on the up and up.

If you had any questions or concerns about Tate, what made you change your mind?

After I looked at all of the information objectively, I didn’t really have any concerns.  All of my questions were answered as a result of the research I had done.

I know Tate is fairly up-front about the cost investment for first-time authors. Did that bother you in any way?

No…well, don’t get me wrong, of course I would have loved for them to have taken on my book without having to invest any money into it but that isn’t how they work.  It is exactly that model which allows them to take a risk on first time authors.

What is Tate’s process for vetting books from first-time authors? Can you tell us how the process worked for you from submitting your manuscript to getting the go-ahead for publishing?

In terms of the review process they go through, well, you’re going to have to ask them about that.  I wish I could tell you but once I hit the submit button on their website, my manuscript was off and I don’t know what they did with it from there.  All I know is I received an e-mail, about 6-7 weeks after submitting it asking me to respond to some questions about my motivation for writing the book.  I replied to that message and within 7-10 days, a contract had arrived via UPS at my house.  I remember because I had been taking an afternoon nap and when I came downstairs my husband had the package in hand.  It was very exciting!

How involved have the people at Tate been in getting your book from the manuscript stage to the final published format?

They have been extremely involved in getting it to this point!  I started off working with my editor, Hannah.  She was great and handled making sure all of the commas, quotation marks, etc. were in the right places.  She also made recommendations to me as to where she felt the story could be enhanced a bit more and even in some cases where she felt that something just didn’t flow properly.  I was very pleased with all of her feedback and my manuscript is definitely better because of it.

From there I worked with Liz, my illustrator.  Liz read the story and then contacted me to set up time to speak with me about the main characters in the book.  After going back and forth several times, we came to agreement on the character reference sketches (which can be seen in the photos section of my Facebook Fan Page).  A few days later, Liz contacted me so she could talk with me about her ideas for the storyboard.  She told me how she envisioned the illustrations and I was able to comment on some things that I thought should be included.  I will say, however, that I am a firm believer in letting the experts do what they do best so while I would share with her what I was thinking, I also made it clear to her to push back on me if anything I was saying wouldn’t have the desired effect…and she did in a couple of circumstances.

After the illustrations were complete, my file was passed on to Chris, in layout who was responsible for the cover design of the book.  Chris looked at the illustrations that Hannah had done and provided me with a few different options (they can also be seen in the photos section of my FB Fan Page) and this is where I decided to do something a little bit different.  I reached out to as many people as I could via e-mail and through Facebook and asked them to vote on their favorite.  In addition to voting, many people provided ideas for minor tweaks here and there that ended up getting incorporated into the final choice.

From there, Chris (not my layout designer, Chris…another Chris) my marketing representative contacted me to set up time to talk about the pre-release marketing plan for my book.  I told him what I had in mind and what I was already doing and he also provided me with some additional suggestions.  Chris has been great about getting review copies out to those that have expressed interest in writing a review on the book.  He is also in the process of coordinating the development of my media kit which will be ready by the official release date of the book which is April 5th.

Do you feel that Tate was the right choice for you in getting your book published?

I do.  Thus far, they have done everything that they said they would and there has not been one bump in the road.  Considering that the book was just printed, I am sure there is still much to write in terms of our relationship, however, for now, I have no complaints.

What were your experiences working with the people at Tate?

So far all of the interactions have been great!  My e-mails are always answered and my phone calls are always returned.

What would you say to those people who are curious about the claims that Tate is a vanity publisher?

I guess that I would say they are trying to stick a square peg into a round hole.  The fact is that as human beings, we like things to fit nice and neatly into predetermined definitions and whenever something is outside of the norm of how we understand things to work, we get uncomfortable.  I think that thus far, the publishing world has been defined by three means of publishing; traditional, vanity, and self-pub.  Tate doesn’t fit neatly into any of those and as opposed to creating a new “bucket,” folks would rather try to make Tate fit where they feel appropriate.

Do you believe the author investment is a fair one to make in order to get your book printed? And is Tate making good on their promise to invest a far heftier amount in publishing, advertising, and placing your book?

I do think it is a fair amount.  Like I had said previously, of course I would have preferred to not pay anything up front.  With that said, it’s the nature of the beast.  I am fairly confident that with the genre of my book and the fact that it appeals to a niche market, I would not have even gotten a first look from a traditional press.  They are looking for books that appeal to the market where everyone is a target reader.  There are few examples out there of a traditional press taking on a children’s picture book that was written by a first time author.  Also, I mentioned earlier that I had priced out what it would have cost me to go with a vanity press and get the same services that Tate offers and it was pretty astronomical.  Finally, if I had chosen to go the self-pub route, it would have cost me more than the author investment to hire an illustrator and layout designer.  On production alone, the investment has paid for itself.  I am, of course, definitely working towards selling the 5,000 copies to get the investment refunded altogether!

Since it is fairly early in the marketing phase, I can’t fully speak to all aspects of marketing yet as there is still much to be done once the official release date hits.  Perhaps we can touch base again in 6-9 months to follow up on that topic.

Overall, have you had a positive experience getting your first book published?

Yes, I can honestly say that I have had a very positive experience.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers who are considering getting a book published?

Do your homework.  Don’t try to tackle something that’s been done a hundred times before unless you really believe that you have a truly unique way of telling the story.  Also, start making your own connections, even before you have been accepted for publication.  Of course the writing has to be good, however, never…never…never forget that books make it on “best-sellers” lists, not “best-written” lists so good writing is never enough!  Finally, do your own research on what method of publication is best for you.  Read everything that is out there and look at both the positive and the negative.

Then take all of that information into consideration when deciding what will work for you.  I believe that ultimately, when provided with all of the necessary information, people will make the right decision for themselves.

And there you have it! Jennifer Pereyra is the author of “Mommy and Daddy Work To Make Some Dough,” which will be coming out in stores on April 5, 2011. She has already agreed to speak with people who have questions about her experiences with Tate, and she was gracious enough to offer her thoughts to me for the purposes of my blog.

Check out her Facebook page for more information about the book and her writing! And check back here tomorrow for more information about Jennifer, her book, and my review of the book before it hits shelves! Feel free to leave a comment as well!

– Rae


 

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What is it about magic…

Posted on January 14, 2011. Filed under: Books, Children's, Fantasy, Musings | Tags: , , , , , |

…that makes me feel like a child again?

There’s something about children’s stories that always awaken the child in me regardless of how old I am. I hope I never lose the sense of wonder and awe that I feel when I see movies where magic happens or read books that tell tall tales of dragons and hobbits and elves.

Tonight was another magical night.

Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

My parents and I went to see The Voyage of the Dawn Treader at the theater. I was amazed it was still out in theaters, and we went to the non-3D version of the movie. I think because we saw the regular version, which might contribute to the graphics looking a little off. In fact, I was a bit disappointed in the graphic quality of this Narnia adventure as compared to the first two.

Never mind that I finally realized they’re making the movies out of order.

I imagine it’s because they needed to have the children close to the correct ages to fit into their respective books, but I also suspect it’s because they never intended on making the entire series into movies. But then again, maybe I’m wrong about the order the novels are supposed to go in. I was looking at my old, ratty copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe tonight and realized it listed the books in a different order from some of the newer copies I purchased last year. So if anyone can link me to the proper order or simply fill me in, that would be great. Is there even an official reading order? I’m not sure.

But if there’s one thing I love about Narnia it’s the story. The story always captivated me as a child. I think I’ve said this before, but I always, always wanted to be Lucy. I would spend hours playing make-believe games and going into the bedroom in my granny’s house, opening double doors on closets and whatever else I could find and pretending they were wardrobes taking me to a frozen Narnia wonderland.

I love Lucy because her faith is so simple and pure. I think she’s always inspired me to achieve some of the same kind of belief in something so amazing that it seems incredible. I don’t think I have her faith yet, but I do think I have her awe at the way things happen.

And as it happens, I’m on a children’s theme today. I’ve been reading through A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh today and found it delightful. Truthfully, I was always a Winnie-the-Pooh girl. My childhood blanket was a Pooh themed blanket that I still have. I have a Pooh picture framed in my room and a Russian Pooh nested doll that features five of the characters.

I know people always love Tigger for his energy. I love Pooh for his simplicity and adventurous nature. Instead of a silly old bear, as Christopher Robin always put it, I find Pooh to have a certain charm that makes him one of my favorite childhood characters.

Pooh Bear and Christopher Robin

Milne’s story is one I’ve never actually read; I always watched my old-school Disney VHS versions of Pooh Bear. Or I’d watch “The New Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh” with that snappy theme song that started something like, “Gotta get up, gotta get movin’, ready for a brand new day…”

And, in case you were wondering, yes, I am such a Pooh fan I can sing the original Disney song.

From the beginning now…

“Deep in the Hundred Acres Wood, where Christopher Robin plays,

you’ll find the enchanted neighborhood… of Christopher’s childhood days…

a donkey named Eeyore is his friend, and Kanga and little Roo,

there’s Rabbit and Piglet, and there’s Owl, but most of all Winnie-the-Pooh.

Winnie-the-Pooh, Winnie-the-Pooh, tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff,

he’s Winnie-the-Pooh, Winnie-the-Pooh, willy, nilly, silly old bear.”

So how much of a nerd am I?

I can still remember the sound of the narrator’s voice reading the book and the look of the pages as they magically turned and you saw Pooh Bear climbing along letters and commenting back to the narrator. It was always one of my favorite images as a child. And I find myself still appreciating the simplicity of Milne’s book, even down to the amusement I feel that Pooh’s name always starts as “Edward Bear.”

I’ve also got Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner on my list to read and am equally looking forward to that one. And I’ll finally finish reading Benjamin Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh as well.

I’ll eventually go back and review the other two books that I’ve not reviewed yet. I still have about two chapters left of Pooh Bear to go, and I plan to finish that tonight. It makes for a nice, light read.

I hope you have something magical in your life as well! Share it with me?

Rae

P.S. Is it hypocritical to join a number of challenges based on books already on my to-be-read-2011 list? Just curious!

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Why Haven’t I Seen These Before?

Posted on April 26, 2010. Filed under: Books, Children's, Uncategorized | Tags: , |

The title might be a bit misleading, so I’ll explain. I’m referring to books on tape or CD. It’s not to say I haven’t seen them before, but in all my years of being a book aficionado, I’ve never enjoyed a book on tape or CD before today.

Why did I listen to a book on CD? Well, I was coming home from a weekend away. I went to my best friend’s apartment for the weekend to get away from all the craziness of home. It’s going to be the last splurge I can really make till August when I go to Indiana, but that’s another topic altogether, and I’m certain to bore you with all those details closer to time.

That said, my best friend lives about three hours away from me, so I had plenty of time on the drive to get about halfway through a book. Normally I would have said it would be better to read the book before I listen to it on tape. Why? Because I’m weird that way. But this was not a book I’d read before. It was, however, a book I’d seen in the movie form, and I’m pleased to report that screenwriters still deviate from book’s plots.

I listened to the book How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell. This book is billed for children ages 9 to 12, but I figure it’s okay to listen to a book like this since I watched the movie. Besides, I got copies of the CDs from a coworker after we discussed the differences between the books and movie one night.

To begin, I’ll admit that this is definitely the right kind of audiobook for me. First of all, it’s a children’s book, so the reading is very expressive. In fact, the person they got to read the book is David Tennant, who I’ve heard is on the popular TV show Dr. Who. I’ve never seen Dr. Who, so I had no idea who David Tennant was until I looked him up; apparently I know him as Barty Crouch Jr. from the movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It’s good to know who he is because I absolutely love this man’s voice!

What’s great about this audiobook is that Tennant does a fabulous job making the characters come alive. I’m not sure if Tennant himself is British, but he does have a lovely, pleasant accent that makes me smile. And he switches things up when going from Hiccup’s quiet voice to Gober’s booming one.

I honestly didn’t think I’d like something that was all spoken. I’m more of a reader than a listener, but this made me feel like I was a part of the story as I drove down the interstate. It was nice to grab some breakfast from McDonald’s, pop the first CD into the player, and adjust the volume accordingly. I drove for a good 2.5 hours listening to the first two CDs.

The only downside to audiobooks? Not being in the car long enough to finish the story. I realized I was back in town when the second CD ended, and I still had two left! So I haven’t finished listening to the story.

That said, I think I’m a newly converted fan of audiobooks. It’s heresy, I know, but I’m allowed an indulgence every once in a while. What about you? Are you a fan of audiobooks or not? Let me know!

-Rae-

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The Melancholy of Alice

Posted on March 20, 2010. Filed under: Books, Children's, Historical Fiction | Tags: , , , , |

I keep posting later and later, but it’s only because things have been busy taking care of the house and my mother. In any event, I won’t harp on it. Today I wanted to review Alice I Have Been as I finished reading it last night.

Melanie Benjamin’s Alice I Have Been is a haunting book. Perhaps my view on it won’t be the same as those who have read it, but it just seemed a very tragic story. I read the author’s notes on the book, and Benjamin explains that while it is only a novel she did use as much of the remaining documented materials of Alice Liddell Hargreaves’s life to reconstruct this tale.

Looking at it from that point of view, I almost pity poor Alice.

That’s not to say, however, that the story was poorly written. Benjamin’s book is a delight to read, full of witty repartee and turns of phrase common to the Victorian era when Alice was born. The pacing is excellent, and the story draws the reader in with little effort and keeps you gripped in the questions it presents throughout.

The tale starts with a portrait of an aged Alice, famous for her experience in Wonderland and virtually unknown for her more scandalous exploits. At 81, she’s growing older and tired of being known as Alice in Wonderland. It’s been years since she has spoken to anyone who was even familiar with Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, the man the rest of the world knows as Lewis Carroll. And no one even remembers the circumstances under which 11-year-old Alice was forced to part with Charles Dodgson. Even Alice herself is quite fuzzy on the scandal.

As she rereads a particular letter from her deceased older sister Ina, Alice’s memories flood her mind–and the book’s pages–as she begins to relive those formative younger years. What’s so fascinating is not the story of Alice in Wonderland as so many believe but rather the background of this woman who survived many of her family to live out her days, widowed with only one, somewhat irresponsible, son for comfort.

But Alice I Have Been reveals the shocking and scandalous events of Alice Liddell’s life in a splash of vibrant fiction. From the recollection of Dodgson’s photo of her as a ‘gypsy girl’ clothed in rags to the events leading to a dangerous kiss on a train, Alice retraces her childhood, recalling how boldly she took what she wanted–from Ina, her mother, and Mr. Dodgson himself.

The book is divided into three parts, and the story of Alice and Dodgson ends with the first part. In the second, we read of her romance with Prince Leopold, son to Queen Victoria. Leopold, or Leo as we know Alice addresses him, is infatuated with the Alice from Lewis Carroll’s tales, which by now have sold well in Britain. Pursuing the second daughter of the Liddell family, he wins her heart and brings in help in the form of old Liddell family friends to try and persuade the queen to approve the match.

When the queen receives word of the scandal with Mr. Dodgson, however, she’s most displeased. In one of the greatest tragedies of her life, Alice loses the two people closest to her. Concluding the second portion of the novel, we read in the third about her marriage to Reginald Hargreaves, who, according to Alice, has plucked her after she ripened too much and fell off the tree. It’s a poor description to be sure, and Alice spares little love for the husband she wouldn’t have chosen for herself.

What I find most interesting in this novel is how Alice is portrayed. Certainly there are other authors out there who have documented her life, and Benjamin’s work is only fiction after all. But the Alice in the story is such a dramatic contrast from the Alice in Carroll’s work. Instead of being the constant, logical, happy-go-lucky child, Alice is a tired, broken-hearted, depressed woman whose life has simply passed her by.

It’s truly haunting because of the opportunities she seemed to miss, either through her own doing or by the actions and interference of others. I both sympathized with and chastised Alice as she made decisions and tried to accomplish things that were beyond her reach. I wonder if Benjamin’s tale is accurate enough to fill in the blanks of this remarkable woman’s life.

Overall, this is definitely a keeper. I really enjoyed the story. Alice enthralled and entertained me, but she also challenged and intrigued me. I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be a joy to sit down with her (were that possible) and hear her story from her own lips.

But the intriguing thing about Alice? Of those few possessions remaining, none truly tell her story. What remains, then? Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And as Benjamin suggests in the end of the book: that might be exactly as Alice Liddell Hargreaves intended it.

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A Few Of My Favorite Things Kiddie Style

Posted on March 15, 2010. Filed under: Books, Children's | Tags: , , |

I’m feeling rather sentimental today. It’s been such a long day, really. My mom’s surgery went very well, and I really appreciate everyone’s comments! It was such an encouragement to me.

So I thought today’s theme would be childhood. It only seems fitting after feeling very young as I saw my mother lying in the hospital bed and after reading the Alice tales. It’s always a good idea to remember those things that brought us joy in childhood, don’t you think? For some reason, as children, we’re pleased by the simplest things.

The same is true for books.

A Few Of My Favorite Things

Today’s favorites will be a run down of some of my favorite childhood books.

We’ll begin with one of my all time favorites.

The Monkey and the Crocodile was one of the most adorable stories I read as a kid. Unlike the fable of the same title, this particular book was much longer, had it’s own morals to teach, and featured two fabulous main characters.

The story begins with the king of the jungle, a goodhearted lion, gathering all his kingdom together to pay their taxes. From the greatest to the least, they gathered where he lounged with his lionesses to pay their dues. It’s there that we meet the monkey, a sweet, curious, sneaky, cute little thing who brings two coins and manages to drop one between the king’s toes.

“Oopsie, your Majesty, I woopsied on your tootsie,” cries the monkey in a high-pitched voice. It was always one of my favorite lines. The monkey is a rather loud and talkative sort, you know.

We also meet the crocodile, a nasty sort who sneers at everyone. “Naddle-addle-addle-argh,” he grumbles to anyone who will listen as he tells the king he hasn’t got the money to pay his taxes. The king, a generous sort, offers him time to get the money together.

Being a cunning sort of creature, the crocodile goes directly to the monkey, who happens to owe him money. He demands the monkey pay immediately, which, of course, the monkey cannot due to having just paid his own taxes. After a dangerous ride on the creepy crocodile’s back, the monkey determines the best course of action would be to trick the cruel croc.

It’s really a delightful story, and as the monkey sings at the end of the day (when the crocodile has been rightfully put in prison), the moral to the story is simple: “Forgive and forget, forget and forgive, it’s the best way to love, it’s the best way to live.”

Aside from that story, I also fell in love with Adventures in the Big Thicket by Ken Gire, a book about a group of animals in the big thicket of Texas. It featured some awesome characters, including Hamhock the wild cat and The Bean, a small field mouse of great wisdom.

The book was divided into different stories featuring the various characters, and each story had a Proverb at the end to illustrate the moral. It’s a Christian book, but you can easily lose track of that by the adventures the animals get into.

I remember using this particular book as a speech in high school. We were required to memorize a short story or speech to recite in class. I’m not sure what that taught us about public speaking to be honest as I’ve been memorizing lines to plays and whatnot for years, but either way, I chose one of the tales out of Big Thicket. It was a lot of fun.

Anyway, I’m pretty zonked. I got almost no sleep last night, so while this has been a rather unsatisfying post, I did try.

What enduring children’s tales make your favorites lists?

-Rae-

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