Hello, everyone! Thanks for stopping by. Today we have a special treat - an interview with children's author Kevin McNamee.
First off, a hearty thanks to Kevin for taking the time to answer a few questions relating to the process of picture book publishing. Can you tell us a little about yourself before we get started?
Thanks Charlene. I’m a writer and poet living in Yonkers, N.Y., and I primarily write for the children’s market. I have several children’s picture books published including If I Could Be Anything, The Sister Exchange, and The Soggy Town of Hilltop.
These books are available at Guardian Angel Publishing, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble or ask your local bookstore. Autographed copies are available on my website at http://www.kevinmcnamee.com
Other titles that are coming soon, are Lightning Strikes, What Is That Thing, and My Brother, the Frog. I have two more picture books under contract, but I don’t think that any illustrative or editorial work has begun on them yet.
I’m also involved with a poetry collection that was just published by Marshall Cavendish. It’s titled An Eyeball in my Garden, and Other Spine-tingling Poems. It’s a collection of 44 poems by 14 poets and is targeted for the 8-12 year old range. I have two poems in there titled, "Our Neighborhood" and "The Gargoyle".
This collection is available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, or ask your local bookstore.
Whew! You sound a tad busy. I'm all the more grateful for your time.
I like to start everyone off with the same question (it helps get readers into a mindset while reading the interview): Which children’s book character best describes who you are and why?
Right now, I kind of feel like The Cat in the Hat when he’s balancing everything in the room including the fish bowl with the talking fish, all while standing on one leg on top of a ball.
I have a full time day job and a family, in addition to writing, promoting, revising my website and creating online games and coloring pages based on my books. It’s a challenging balancing act, but I haven’t dropped anything yet.
My publisher recently launched an online magazine called Guardian Angel Kids. When she learned that I was teaching myself how to make online games, she asked me to be the Technology Director for the magazine. I think that may be my fish bowl. But fortunately, there’s no pressure associated with my duties. Everyone understands that I’m still new at this.
Congratulations! You've done a great job with it, too. My children love the Jigsaw Puzzle and Coloring pages.
I see that you’ve worked quite a bit with Guardian Angel Publishing. Can you tell us a little about how they operate? Are they different than a traditional publisher?
Guardian Angel Publishing (GAP) is a small press operating out of St. Louis, MO. One of the advantages of being with a small press is that it’s nimble. There isn’t the bureaucracy that may exist at some of the larger houses. I deal directly with my publisher and can get a definitive answer to any of my questions right away. GAP is also a very innovative company. It will get a book to a reader in any format he/she prefers. GAP books are available in print, as ebooks, books on CD, DVD books with readings done by the author, and books downloadable to the iphone. As soon as book readers like Kindle can handle color, GAP books will be available there too. It’s very interesting to be with a publishing company that is waiting for technology to catch up with its products.
Can you tell us about the publishing process of one of your books, from idea inception to submission to acceptance…and finally to publication?
Oh boy… what a long process that is, I’ll use The Sister Exchange as an example.
I first got the idea after watching my nieces fight. One of my nieces asked my daughter if she would like a sister. Then she added, “Well you can have mine!”
So then I thought what if you could trade a brother or sister like you trade a stock? (I was connected to Wall Street for a while) And that was the basic idea for The Sister Exchange.
I belong to two online critique groups, one for prose and one for poetry.
So I… posted this story in The Prose Shop; received plenty of great feedback; did revisions; posted it again in The Prose Shop; got more great feedback; did more revisions; researched publishers who publish sibling rivalry stories and accept unsolicited submissions; submitted The Sister Exchange to these publishers; and got back form rejection letters from every single one of them.
About this time I had attended The Muse Online Conference. It’s a yearly event that takes place in cyberspace around October and has all sorts of information for writers, from beginners to professionals. GAP had a workshop there that I attended and they offered to accept manuscripts from the attendees. I submitted a rhyming picture book I had written titled The Soggy Town of Hilltop and it was accepted. (Whoo Hoo! My first contract!)
I had just received my 21st rejection letter (by my records) for The Sister Exchange, so I thought let’s see what GAP thinks of this prose story. The rest is history.
I guess the morals of this story is to keep writing, keep submitting, attend conferences and network, hone your craft, make your story the best it can be, and eventually persistence pays off.
21 rejections! I'm glad you persisted - you've been an inspiration. Dory has it right - "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."
What has the post-publication process been like?
At first I found it a little daunting and I was following a steep learning curve. After The Soggy Town of Hilltop was accepted, I started researching promotional opportunities for the book and was surprised by the amount of work that was still ahead of me. But all publishers expect authors to actively promote their books nowadays. So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. Let’s face it, what’s the point of getting published if no one knows about and/or reads your books?
I built websites, started blogs, did school visits, conducted interviews, created press kits, went on virtual book tours, joined social networking sites. It took up a lot of my writing time and it still does. I’m still trying to find an effective balance between writing and promoting.
Do you have any new works in progress that you’re excited about?
I have ideas for three mid-grade novels, and a chapter book and a rhyming picture book and have started work on all of them, although only one mid-grade novel seems to be holding my interest right now. I’m also working on poems for a new poetry collection. I need one more poem to contribute and it’s killing me. I’m not happy with anything I’m coming up with.
Free-time: Tell us anything you want us to know:
If you would like to find out more about me, I have a website at http://www.kevinmcnamee.com
I also have a blog at http://www.kevinmcnameechildrensauthor.blogspot.com
People can also find me on Facebook, Linked-In and Twitter, but I must admit that I don’t tweet much.
And last but not least, I’ve launched a website with games and activities based on my books at http://www.kevschildrensbooks.com where you can see some of my online game handiwork.
Thanks again for your time, Kevin. I wish you the very best of luck with all of your writing endeavors!