Archive for Publishing

Author Interview: DK Simoneau from the writechris

As appeared:

Helping Children Cope Through Divorce: Author Interview with DK Simoneau

What inspired you to write your debut children’s book?
My first book, We’re Having A Tuesday was a direct result of the issues I was facing at home with my two kids after a divorce. I went looking for a picture book that might help, and at the time was unsuccessful finding one. So I decided to write my own.

When did you actually start writing the first book?
Oh, it was many years ago. My kids are now in college. It probably took a day to write the first draft, as it was completely inspired from wanting to help them.

Who encouraged you along the way to complete your writing and publish it?
I have had many people who encouraged me. My Dad was a huge supporter, and always was someone who said I could do anything I wanted.

Since your book is about children of divorce, how much of it is autobiographical?
It is very much based on events in our real life.

What are your children’s reaction to the book?
They enjoyed being able to say that their Mom was an author. They didn’t enjoy having people think they were the characters in the book!

What type of research did you do in writing this book?
It is a fictional children’s story. I didn’t do any research to write it, but have since done quite a bit of research in marketing it.

Were there any specific details in that research that surprised you?
Not really…..just the staggering numbers of how many kids are in these kinds of situations.

What made you decide to go the indie route in publishing your books? Did you send your manuscripts out to other publishers or agents prior to that?
The book had been sent out (among others) and it was always receiving incredible feedback and hints that it would be published. But then it always sat. It would sit for months with nothing happening, and eventually a pass for one reason or another. Sometimes it was the timing of someone moving on to another job, or they decided to go with a different kind of book etc.

I started attending a local publishing group and learned about all of the benefits of doing myself. I decided nobody would love this story to its fruition as much as I, so off I went.

How did you go about finding an illustrator?
At the time I was a member of SCBWI, and they had a very beginning of a portfolio type discussion board. I started looking through. I found one illustrator who I was particularly interested in, but their email didn’t work. So I posted a comment directly on their board. Interestingly I never did hear back from (nor do I remember their name!) them. But, another illustrator contacted me and asked if I would be interested in looking at his work. I did. I fell in love. I asked him to do a sketch based on just the first few words of the story. He drew exactly what I had in my head without me telling him what that was, so I figured we were going to work well together, and I hired Brad Cornelius right then.

Did you input your ideas of what you wanted in the illustrations or was it more of a brainstorming session between the two of you?
I let him draw what came to his mind when he read the story. Then if I had some things that I really wanted added, like hearts put on the “very special backpack” I would ask him. But mostly it was his own inspired ideas from reading the story. We worked similarly on Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas. It has been an easy delightful experience to work with Brad.

I see you have won an award for your Santa book. With so many options to enter books for award programs, how do you make a decision as to which ones to enter?
Well we entered just a few, and so far of those that have been announced, we’ve won in each one. (Some hopefully still to come!). I purposely chose ones that I thought would bring attention to the book from an Independent Press standpoint.

So many people give independent presses such a bad rap. And…..there often times is good reason. But, that doesn’t mean books from independent publishers can’t be of high quality, and I think ours have been. We also considered what kind of publicity might come of winning such awards, as of course in the end we really just want people to find our books and enjoy or benefit from them.

What has frustrated you the most in the process of putting together your books?
The most frustrating piece is the doors that are slammed because you are a small independent press. Some won’t even consider looking at it. And I know that there are some bad ones. But when you are winning awards and going on national television I would think that there might be some consideration for that.

What has pleasantly surprised you in the process?
The most pleasant surprise is the wonderful feedback I get. I have had so many people tell me how much We’re Having A Tuesday has helped their kids etc. And for Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)Night Before Christmas we have had some very inspired reviewers. We had one really fun video posted about it, and one fan who created her own recipe for cookies to go along with it.

I love how contagious the fun has been for people sharing that book. I can’t wait to hear more ideas as this book catches on and is shared in classrooms and libraries and so on. I love silliness, and I love how that book inspires it.

What are some of the promotions that you’ve done for your books that have been the most successful?
I have loved using Pinterest to get people thinking about how this book could be used in the classroom or in starting traditions or in White elephant parties.

What advice would you give someone who wants to write children’s stories?
Just write what you love……..and don’t think because you write it and proofread it that you don’t need an editor. Everyone can use an editor!

What is the best writing advice you’ve been given?
Two things, that are similar. One was from my Dad who said to write about what you know. The other was from a publishing coach who recommended that if I decided to self-publish to choose the book that I cared the most about. That way I wouldn’t give up, and I would see it through all of the ups and downs of learning. We’re Having A Tuesday met both of those words of wisdom for me.

What do you wish you had learned sooner in the publishing process?
Marketing is a never ending job, and that once you have your book in hand, the hard part is only just beginning. That just because you get great publicity doesn’t mean people will buy your book. Being on national television gave me some credibility but did not translate to sales.

How much time daily do you have for writing?
I write when I’m inspired. I don’t ever write if I’m not inspired. So there might be a day when I write all day and night, and their might be 4 months when I don’t write a thing.

What message would you like parents and children to take away from your books?
I think that the messages are both very different. We’re Having A Tuesday has a message that no matter what a split family life is like that both parents always love their kids and that they can recall that whenever they like.

For Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas, I would like for parents and kids to stop the business of life and enjoy their time together by reading out loud and just have fun. We work hard, and we need to connect, play and enjoy time with our families.

What plans do you have for other books?
Oh I have dozens of ideas…….will have to see where I am inspired to go next. I’ve really enjoyed turning Santa into an app for kids, and I have some ideas for those that I would like to further explore. But I also have some other non-fiction types of things I would like to get moving on as well.

Thanks for taking the time to tell me about your writing experiences. If You would like to learn more about these books, here’s some options.

We’re Having a
Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before
the Santa app:…

American Library Association Youth Media Awards Caldecott and so on! #ALAYMA

American Library Association Youth Media Awards! Today was a big day in the children’s book world.  It was like the Oscars for youth books.  There was all kinds of excitement as the American Library Association presented the 2015 Youth Media Awards.  If you love children’s books, I encourage you to check out all of the  I couldn’t help but watch, as Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas had been sent in.  And well, though it tends to be only large publishers recognized, one just never knows. American Library Association Youth Media AwardsThere are a slew of books if you are interested– in just about anything.  There seemed to be an assortment of winners, ranging from diversity topics, homosexuality, and even just for fun books.  As an author of a children’s book (We’re Having A Tuesday) that helps kids with seeing their own situations and being able to relate, I was happy to see the myriad of topics addressed.  There is nothing quite like having a book help a child feel like they are not the only one who feels that way. It is even better if they are books that will work as read aloud books, as then they can go one step further, in which they can foster discussion.  I really love books that do that.  I will look forward to reading and writing about some of them here in the coming weeks.  Also, as an author of a book that is strictly for the pure pleasure of reading for fun, laughing and using our imagination Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas, I was very thrilled to see that the winner of the Caldecott Award this year appears to be just that kind of book.  I have not seen it myself yet, but The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, has moved up high on my priority list of books to read.  I love nothing more than a book that just carries kids away.  I can’t wait to read it!  There were all kinds of awards, and all kinds of books.  So I recommend if you have any interest in reading out loud to kids that you check them out. They cover picture books, chapter books, and even audio books.  You are bound to find something that your little listener will enjoy hearing.  And if you are reading out loud, maybe a family read aloud, or to an older group of kids in middle school or even high school, be sure to check out the Alex Awards, as they are books that are recognized as adult books that a teen audience is likely to enjoy.  Just check them all out on the list!  If you are like me, your library hold list, or your books to buy list might grow by leaps and bounds after reviewing it.  And if you want even a little bit more excitement, watch the replay video of the announcements here.  To me, there isn’t much more exciting than hearing a room full of people cheer about BOOKS for KIDS! I love the American Library Association Youth Media Awards.  Makes me want to buy up a pile of books!

And because I just cannot close without at least one book recommendation, today I will focus on the 2014 Newberry Medal winner, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K.G. Campbell. This is a darling chapter book complete with wonderful illustrations.  To me it is a great bridge for kids that are getting to big for picture books, but might not be quite ready for books without any pictures at all.  It is a whirlwind tale about a girl, a squirrel, and superhero type adventures.  It made me think of crazy old cartoons where the characters were getting into slapstick humorous trouble.  I loved the use of vocabulary in this book.  I think most kids would be pretty anxious to see what happens next.  The only thing I didn’t like about it was the part in which they turn the Mom into a lunatic stressball smoker, complete with an illustration.  Couldn’t she have been crazily chomping ice, or eating lollipops, or winding ringlets in her hair?  I just hate anything in kids books that makes it seem like smoking is ever ok.  Sometimes I have to overlook it when a book was written long before we knew better, but this one is not that case.  In any case, don’t let that detract you from an enjoyable ride.  And maybe use the smoking as a talking point with your kids.  I liked it!

Spread the word when you find a great book!  Write about it, Pin about it, tell your friends about it!

Spread the word when you find a great book! Write about it, Pin about it, tell your friends about it!

There is nothing better than a good book.  Except maybe a good review about a good book. Or maybe a good review about a good Christmas book. And it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  As I said earlier there are snowflakes here already today. (In Denver- hmmm, maybe it means a great ski season ahead!)  In any case, the bloggers are beginning to find out about our book, Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas.  It doesn’t seem to matter that Halloween isn’t even here yet.  Christmas is on the minds of little ones all year long.  And some of these reviews prove it! The reviews are beginning to pour in.  And we are excited to hear about kids that can’t put our purple Santa to rest and have to take him to bed!  Let us know what you and your kids think!  Kindle version is available now.  Hardcopy pre-order now for delivery October 1. If you want to write about it, blog about it, pin about it, let us know!

Here are some reviewers that just couldn’t wait.  We don’t blame them.