Welcome, Julie! Congratulations on your debut picture book, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, illustrated by Pamela Baron! I love the educational quality of your book and app. Kids love animals! The app is also super fun with the playful music composed by Tim McCanna. What inspired you to write about this topic?
First of all, thank you for that amazing introduction Carrie! I'm blushing. I'm so happy to be here. Thanks for inviting me!
I came across a list of collective nouns for animals on the Internet one day and I was surprised by how few I knew. But even better than that was how clever they were! They all described the animal in some way (a "tower" of giraffes, a "caravan" of camels). Since all kids love animals, I immediately saw this as an opportunity to teach them a few facts and sophisticated vocabulary words, all while making it fun. Plus, I have yet to meet an adult who doesn't love learning the group names, too.
What was it like to start out by publishing an app before the print version?
It was exhilarating because I knew this story would work well as an app, and that interactivity would really make the animals come to "life." So in this case, it made sense to publish the app first. Plus, it's much more difficult to publish an app, so the print version seemed easy afterward! (Although Stacey, my publisher at Little Bahalia might feel differently.)
Pamela Baron’s illustrations are playful and realistic. Were you able to communicate with her during the editing stages? Tell us about the process of editing an app vs. editing a book?
I love how you picked up on the fact that Pamela's illustrations are both kid-friendly and yet are not overly anthropomorphized. It is a nonfiction book after all. Pamela's gorgeous watercolors walk that line so well.
I didn't communicate with Pamela at all during the illustration and production of the app. That was the publisher's job - much the same as traditional print publishing. However, I did collaborate a great deal with Stacey on the marketing and promotion of TROOP, and she shared many illustrations and her ideas for interactivity as we went along, which was SO fun!
Once it was accepted for publication, how long did this project take? What was the most surprising part of this process? And… were there many differences between the publishing experience of the book vs. the app?
One of the best things about publishing digitally is how fast it is compared to traditional print publishing (assuming you have a talented creative/art director like Little Bahalia does!). The manuscript was acquired in June, 2012 and the app was published in February, 2013. And the second app, A Shiver of Sharks, was published in June. So I became a twice-published author in the span of a year!
With the print book, I'd say the biggest difference is the lack of control and the WAITING! So much of the process is outside of our direct control. The printer has to finish the books and get them on the boat, Ingram needs to add the ISBN to its database so bookstores can order them, Amazon has to put it up for preorder, etc. That was difficult for me after the relative freedom and speed of publishing the apps.
Was A Troop is a Group of Monkeys the first manuscript you circulated into submission as a picture book writer? If not, how long have you actively been submitting work as a children’s writer?
Actually, TROOP was the first manuscript I submitted when I was first starting out. After it got rejected a few times, I put it aside and worked on other manuscripts. Then when apps came around, the proverbial lightbulb went off and I knew the interactivity inherent in apps could set it apart. So it's been about four years since I first started submitting, and I got published in my third year.
What do you feel was the most important thing you did that lead to publication?
Writing and not giving up. Seriously, anyone who is willing to keep writing, keep learning, keep improving and refuses to give up will get there eventually.
Tell us about your other published projects. What else can we look forward to in the future?
Well, if you come to my blog in two weeks, I'll be announcing a new picture book that will be published in 2014 using a "hybrid" publishing model. But I can't reveal the details yet. Sorry!
Also, my agent has submitted one of my manuscripts to an interested editor, so we'll see. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me!
You are so helpful to others through 12x 12. Please tell us more about why you started this community and when writers can register again.
I started 12 x 12 initially to motivate MYSELF to write more, but as is often the case when you include others, the joy of creating a community for fellow picture book writers has been even more rewarding than the personal incentive to get more writing done.
The members of 12 x 12 are the BEST people in the writing universe. Period!! :-) It never ceases to amaze me how much 12xers share and support each other. We are all better writers as a result! So I hope even more picture book writers will join us next year. Registration is open in January and February, and folks can sign up here to make sure they're notified when registration opens.
Thank you for being with us today, Julie! You are an amazing inspiration to others, and I know you will continue your plight to motivate others and publish amazing picture books of our own.
Thank YOU Carrie! It's my honor to be here and to have you in the 12 x 12 group!
To find out more about my personal testimony for 12x12, you will find my guest post on Julie’s blog and more on my blog site. Happy travels on your writing journey!!!