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!
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