I mentioned in my blog a while back that I’d discuss how to find an illustrator for your book idea. Well, this is what I tell folks that have a book idea – write the book first. Then go to a bookstore (you could go to a library, but many of the publishers are already merged or no longer exist, so a bookstore with new books is better) and then find books that are similar to yours. Look up those publishers on-line and look for “For Authors” or “Submissions” on their web site, and follow their guidelines for submitting a manuscript. If they say “not taking any at this time” don’t send it to them. They mean it. If they like your idea, you may get a book deal. They will find the illustrator for you, or you can look at other books and have an idea who you would like to use, but the publisher has the final say since they are the ones putting all that money into the book. (One of my publishers doesn’t even allow me talk with the illustrator until the book is in print as they want and need to have full control. Afterall, like I said, its their money.) However, another way to get your foot in the door is to go to small local publishers that publish books like yours (it has to be like yours – don’t expect a publisher that publishes western books to publish your book on the middle ages.) and let them meet you. To them, you are an advertisement for their books. You have to be able to promote the book and meet the public well, so if you have an expertise in a subject and you present yourself well, they will help you write the book even if you’ve never done it before. So, happy publisher hunting! Next time we could talk about agents.
In addition, I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about my upcoming books. I’ve had the opportunity to once again work with some great publishers and some great illustrators. Here’s the run-down on my up coming titles: The Totally Out There Guide to Glacier National Park, which is a book about (duh!) Glacier National Park. We only live 90 miles south of the park and we’ve visited there on many occasions each time learning a little bit more about it. I especially loved going there when our three children (boy, girl, boy) were young. The mountains are so huge and the wildlife so abundant. In fact, for six years we lived on the east side of the park on the Rocky Mountain Front in Choteau where the Great Plains meet the Great Mountains!, and for the past 14 we’ve lived on the west side of the park. So, it was great fun to research and write about. My illustrator for the book was once again the delightful, Joyce Turley, and the publisher is Mountain Press Publishing in Missoula, MT who also published my first books Loons, Diving Birds of the North, and Awesome Ospreys, Fishing Birds of the World. Look for this book in the fall of 2010.
Another of my new books resulted from my first Glacier book. It’s called The Glaciers Are Melting!, a Henny Penny story penned when I was researching the Glacier book. Every time I heard “The glaciers are melting,” I thought of “The sky is falling,” except I changed it up. For my book, I used critters that live high in the mountains and rely on glaciers – critters like Tammy Ptarmigan and Peter Pika. There’s a surprise ending, but, well, the glaciers really are melting. In Glacier National Park they are expected to be gone or return to ice fields that don’t move by the year 2030 or sooner. Some scientists think the glaciers melting is human caused, others think it is nature and still others, both. Whichever it is, our nation and future generations need to be prepared for the changes warmer temperatures will mean (just like if we were getting colder they would have to prepare for it). For one thing, water is so important, and food production in the North American Continent relies heavily on snow that falls in winter and melts in summer that it can’t be stated strongly enough that we need to understand the changes a warmer climate will bring. The Glaciers Are Melting is being illustrated by Shennen Bersani a fabulous illustrator from Massachusetts, and is being published by the incredibly progressive Sylvan Dell Publishing in North Carolina ( a teacher’s publishing company!) who published my Henry the Impatient Heron. Look for The Glaciers Are Melting! in February of 2011.
Finally, I’m also pleased to announce Wild Wapiti , An Elk’s Life (working title – it may change to Walk With Wapiti) a children’s book about elk being published by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Oh what a fun book to write! We’ve had elk right in our backyard and we live just 15 minutes from an elk range that supports 1000 head of elk each winter. What fun to dive into the world of elk and learn more about them. This book is scheduled to be out in November or December of this year. It’s a new thing for me – a contract book where I wrote the book for them and they print and sell it. For this book I’m pairing up with illustrator, Christina Wald, again because RMEF loved her deer in Henry the Impatient Heron, which she also illustrated.
Well, that enough for this time. Hope everyone is surviving the recession – remember, kids need to be read to even if you go to second hand stores to buy the books. (Which brings up the point – how do I feel about books on-line? Hey, it’s the way of the future and someone still has to write the books!) So, keep reading, and remember to read to a child today. Happy Reading,