A new year of new experiences

SOPHIE'S SQUASH artwork by Anne WilsdorfIt’s now 2013.  And that means many of the folks at EMU’s Debuts can say something they’ve been waiting quite a while to say:

“My book comes out this year.”

I’m one of those people, and it still seems a bit surreal that my first picture book, SOPHIE’S SQUASH, will be coming out Aug. 6 from Schwartz & Wade.

People who don’t write books are often surprised at how long it can take for a book to be published. (And don’t get me started on how long it can take to sell a book. That’s a separate post.) So I’ve developed a little speech that I trot out whenever people ask me, “So, is your book out yet?” and I respond, “No. It won’t be out until the fall of 2013.”

It goes like this:

Well, it takes a lot of time to publish a book. First, I had to make some changes to the text and then the book had to be copy-edited and there were a few more changes to make. Then, the publisher had to find an illustrator, and it can take a year or more for the artist to draw all the pictures. Then, the book has to be designed and printed, which often happens overseas, and most publishers only release new books two or three times a year, so anyway …

I find myself talking faster and faster while I explain this and when I’m done the person is usually looking at me like I’ve made the whole thing up and perhaps I don’t have a book coming out at all.

Fortunately, a few things happen during the long path to publication that remind you a book really is being made. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Seeing the art for the first time. For a picture book writer, this might be the coolest milestone. It’s great to see how someone who is totally objective envisions your story. Some picture book writers I know say they see scenes in their heads when they write. I usually don’t, so I was very excited to see how illustrator Anne Wilsdorf pictured Sophie, Bernice and their family. When I got the illustrations attached to an email, I smiled for three days straight. Plus, seeing the illustrations with the text made the whole thing really look like a book. As a side note, the most second-most common question people ask me after “Is your book out yet?” is “Did you get to pick who did the illustrations?” The answer is “No, and I’m glad.” I have a lot of skills but evaluating artists and styles is not one of them. I was happy to leave that in the capable hands of Schwartz & Wade. Check out the sample of Anne’s wonderful art to the upper right!
  • Seeing the book listed online. I was passing time one evening Googling myself. (Don’t judge, I know I need to get a hobby.) And to my surprise, a listing popped up for SOPHIE’S SQUASH on amazon.com. There it was with an ISBN number, page count, release date and a lovely summary written by the Schwartz & Wade folks.  (They called me a “creative force,” which is the sort of thing you could never say about yourself, but you can blush modestly if others say it.) It was even available for pre-order! I did some more digging and found SOPHIE was also listed on IndieBound, GoodReads, Barnes and Noble and Powells.com. Be still my beating heart.
  • Hearing people talk about it. SOPHIE’S SQUASH is far from an Internet sensation like, say, “Gangnam Style,” but recently I was Googling again and found an interview with Lee Wade, who is half of Schwartz & Wade. She was answering questions about her career, and she listed SOPHIE’S SQUASH as one of the books she’s most looking forward to have coming out. Very exciting.

And there are more milestones to come. I haven’t seen the cover yet, which I’m really looking forward to. I haven’t gotten any F&Gs, a sort of advance reading copy for picture books. My new website hasn’t rolled out yet either. So there’s lots of fun to come.

The amazing Jeannie Mobley, whose book KATERINA’S WISH has been out for several months now, recently blogged about the top 10 lessons she learned as a debut author. I plan to apply as many of them as I can during the year ahead. And I look forward to sharing the experience with all the other EMU’s Debuts authors who have 2013 books coming out. (And if you want a look at even more 2013 releases by first-time authors, check out the Lucky 13s. I think you’ll agree, there’s a lot of good literature coming our way!)

But for now, I’m just going to take a moment to revel in saying:

“My book comes out this year!”



Filed under Celebrations, Happiness, Thankfulness

14 responses to “A new year of new experiences

  1. I can only imagine that seeing the art for your book must have been amazing. Good luck in your debut year. I hope you can enjoy every minute. I look forward to hearing about it! 🙂


  2. Thanks for this post, Pat! The bit between contract and debut can get so boggy, it’s great to be reminded to admire the wonderful sparks that happen on the way. Can’t wait for SOPHIE’S SQUASH!


  3. Joshua McCune

    I’m loving that picture (and all it portends). Mine still has more than a year before release, but when my editor showed me the mockup for my cover, it definitely made the wait-time-blues go away.


  4. I went a little nuts while waiting at times, and I didn’t have to wait for an artist to make his or her major contributions to the process. I don’t know how you picture book people do it! I love the illustration though, and I don’t see any reason we can’t all be doing something Sophie Style all over the internet any day now.

    (By the way, my book has only been out for four months. But I can see how it feels like it’s been out for much longer. With the ARCs circulating, reviews coming in and a cover reveal, etc. all months before the actual release, it gets to be a little abstract what the actual release date really is. Mine was Aug. 28th.)


  5. I LOVE the illustration and just can’t wait to read this foodie-themed picture book! 🙂 I’ve been feeling pretty thrilled this week to finally be able to say “my book comes out next year,” so I can only imagine how much better it is if you’re a 2013 release.


  6. I love this post, Pat. It’s so informative and heartfelt and funny, all at once. So glad you’re an EMU!


  7. Laurie Boyle Crompton

    Wonderful post and BEAUTIFUL artwork!! So excited to see the completed book – and YAY that it comes out this year!!


  8. Congrats on having your book come out this year! It’s amazing how long it takes a picture book to be written, edited, illustrated, printed and finally released. I wish you the best that 2013 has to offer.
    A2Z Mommy and What’s In Between


  9. Pat, I’m so looking forward to “meeting” Sophie. She sounds charming and fun and absolutely adorable!


  10. YAY YAY YAY! I love this post. I love that you tell it like it is- no need to hide the fact that you’re so excited. Now I am too! I look forward to reading SOPHIE’S SQUASH.


  11. storyquill

    Congratulations, Pat! I’m thrilled for you.
    An easy way to see what is being said about your book or you as the author is to set up a Google Alert or two. Then you don’t have to search the web for the comments or mentions. They’ll pop up in your email. Just google “Google Alerts” and follow the easy directions. You won’t miss any rave reviews that way.


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