This week, I’m participating in Nancy I. Sander’s Book Launch Party for her new picture book, Frederick Douglass for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities. Here, she shares insight about working with her fabulous publisher, Chicago Review Press. Hop on over to her site for more book launch fun!
Frederick Douglass for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities, by Nancy I. Sanders
Few Americans have had as much impact on this nation as Frederick Douglass. Born on a plantation, he later escaped slavery and helped others to freedom via the Underground Railroad. In time he became a bestselling author, an outspoken newspaper editor, a brilliant orator, a tireless abolitionist, and a brave civil rights leader. He was famous on both sides of the Atlantic in the years leading up to the Civil War, and when war broke out, Abraham Lincoln invited him to the White House for counsel and advice.
Frederick Douglass for Kids follows the footsteps of this American hero, from his birth into slavery to his becoming a friend and confidant of presidents and the leading African American of his day. And to better appreciate Frederick Douglass and his times, readers will form a debating club, cook a meal similar to the one Douglass shared with John Brown, make a civil war haversack, participate in a microlending program, and more. This valuable resource also includes a time line of significant events, a list of historic sites to visit or explore online, and web resources for further study.
You can purchase Frederick Douglass for Kids here.
How did you hear about Chicago Review Press?
When our sons Dan and Ben were in elementary school, their teachers and the librarians at our local library had these great children’s nonfiction books they were using chock full of activities and great information! I fell in love with books like Westward Ho! and Colonial Kids by Laurie Carlson and had fun making the crafts and activities with my sons. As I became more familiar with these books, I started to think, “Hey! I could try to write a book like this.” So I wrote a proposal and submitted it to them along with my resume.
They rejected my proposal. But I got a letter back from the editor along with the rejection saying that they saw on my resume that I write for the Christian market. They asked me to submit a proposal to them on the history of the Bible. That’s how my very first book with Chicago Review Press was born: Old Testament Days: An Activity Guide.
What sets this publisher apart from others in the industry?
There are two things that make Chicago Review Press children’s nonfiction books unique.
First, there are plenty of craft and activity books out there for kids. But Chicago Review Press’s activity books for kids include a phenomenal amount of interesting historical information. These activity books read like exciting history books!
The second thing is that there is plenty of great nonfiction out there for kids. But Chicago Review Press’s history books are famous for their activities that are included. These aren’t just crafts or busy work, however. These are historical based activities, the kind you’ll find at a museum for kids to do to get an authentic feel for what life was like during that era.
Can you tell us a little about your experience working with this publisher?
I love working with Chicago Review Press…this is my fourth book with them! My other titles with them include:
Here’s a timeline of the process my newest book, Frederick Douglass for Kids, just went through.
- I received the publisher’s catalog of new releases in the mail. I studied the list of new releases and looked for a “hole” in their product line. I realized that in their “For Kids” series of famous Americans, they didn’t yet have a title on Frederick Douglass, the greatest African American leader during the Civil War era.
- I e-mailed a query to my editor to ask if he’d be interested in a proposal for a book on Frederick Douglass to fit into the “For Kids” series. He e-mailed back within a few days to say, “Sure!”
- April 16, 2010: I submitted the proposal. (To view the actual proposal that I submitted to Chicago Review Press, visit my blog and scroll down to the middle of that post to download the file by clicking on “Frederick Douglass for Kids.”)
- Within a few weeks, my editor replied and asked me to make some changes to the proposal. I did and resubmitted it on June 2, 2010.
- June 22, 2012: The editorial team met to discuss my proposal. After the meeting, my editor called on the phone to offer me the contract to write the book! I asked for a one year deadline, especially since I planned to travel back east and take photographs to include in the book. Usually it takes 6-9 months to write one of these books, but I knew I’d need a full year for all the intense research, travel, and photo gathering.
- June 6, 2011: I finished the book a little before my deadline and mailed/e-mailed it in to the publisher.
- July 7, 2011: I received the first view of the cover. They were working on it right away to start marketing the book in the new catalogs, etc. I loved it!
- August, 2011: My acquisitions editor sent me line by line editing revision suggestions and I worked on revising accordingly.
- September through November 2011: A new editor, my project editor, sent me revision suggestions she wanted to see and proofs I needed to review.
- January, 2012: My Author Questionnaire was requested to send to the publisher’s publicist so he could start working on contacting people for sales and marketing. This was a lengthy form of potential endorsements and sales contacts I filled out to suggest for the book. The publicist contacted me around this time and I started working with him as well to set up potential reviewers and interviews. I started working to prepare ideas for hosting a Book Launch Party in June to celebrate the release of my book.
- January, 2012: The marketing person at the publisher prepared full color bookmarks to send to me so I could start promoting the book at events I attended. She also started working on preparing a list of places she planned to submit my book to for awards.
- March, 2012: Plans were made for me to attend ALA (American Library Association) in June for a book signing since it will be held in the Los Angeles area near my home. I was also sent the proofs for the index to check so the book could be sent to the printer.
- April, 2012: The publisher put a digital copy of my book on NetGalley for professional reviewers to download and read to generate reviews.
- May, 2012: I received 1 copy of the book in the mail! It went live on Amazon. Frederick Douglass for Kids was born!
Do you have any suggestions for other children’s book authors who are searching for the right publisher for their manuscript?
My best success has been in first finding published book series I love that are open to multiple authors. Then I study that series and look for a hole, or title that hasn’t yet been published in that series but that would fit well in it. Then I contact that editor with a query to ask if they’d like to see a proposal on that topic to fit into their series. I explain in more detail how I do this in my book for writers, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career. This is the process I took to land the contract for Frederick Douglass for Kids and it’s worked for landing contracts for most of my other books, too.
What are you doing to celebrate the release of your book, Frederick Douglass for Kids?
I’m hosting a two-week virtual Book Launch Party! There are prizes to win, fun facts to learn, and lots of inside peeks and helpful tips about how a book is born. Stop by my site today to join in the party!
Nancy I. Sanders is the bestselling and award-winning author of over 80 books including D Is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet, illustrated by E. B. Lewis. She teaches workshops for writers on how to launch their career to the next level based on material found in her groundbreaking book for writers, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career. Nancy and her husband, Jeff, live in southern California.