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All posts for the month August, 2016

A Welcome Good Day & The Hardback Proof

Published August 17, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

The last week has been very stressful and upsetting. Martyn and I were struggling with the home loan pre-approval process for what seemed like an excessively long amount of time, only to come to the rather horrifying realization that the $12,000 or so odd savings that we have barely managed to scrape together over the past couple of years might not even cover the closing costs of our theoretical house in question, much less a down payment. Just a recap: we also spent the better part of this year battling debt that was still left over from our cross-country move in order to make our credit look as squeaky clean as possible. After a few extremely depressing conversations with our bank and our future realtor about the skyrocketing prices of houses in Portland and the greatly more monetarily endowed competition that we’re going to be up against in what is currently one of the most cutthroat markets on the West Coast, we were both about ready to give up on the dream before we even really began. It really seemed like the past decade of running the rat race, being a stickler about my credit even when I would have much rather been another irresponsible partying 20-something year old, working so hard towards moving to a state where I would want to grow up and settle down, and having the strength to decline dream jobs in order to continue working at dependable places where I no longer want to work for years and years just for the reliable job history that looks so excellent on paper had all been for nothing. We were, in a word, crushed–and literally both facedown on the bed in a sad crumpled pile in a darkened room in the middle of a beautiful sunny August afternoon.

Then, somehow…and I don’t really know how…we managed to pick ourselves up, do a little frantic research on the computer, and make the decision to try it again anyway. Maybe it’s still all pointless, but at least now I feel that we’re a little better educated on some of our other options for low or no down payment option loans. It’s almost enough to dare to hope again, and goddamnit if that’s not something!

So it was such a welcome surprise today to find out out that we have in fact been pre-qualified for $250,000! I know that might not be much for Portland anymore, but it’s at least enough to finally give it an honest shot! There are plenty of three-bedroom, rough-around-the-edges ranches and well-worn bungalows on my Redfin favorites list for under $250,000 that I know we could make shine with a little TLC if only we could be lucky enough to score one. Our real estate agent has advised us that unless we experience a miracle, it will probably take us a couple of trys…so all the reason to start our trying right now. I’m just so relieved that at long last, we can at least do that much!

In other news…THE HARDCOVER PROOF ARRIVED TODAY FROM BOOKBABY! And it’s…well, gorgeous.

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The inside is even better. I’m so incredibly happy with it!

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Even Grendel was curious why I was so excited about the little flat thing that I found inside the box on our doorstep.

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Next is the launch of the Kickstarter campaign, where I will include all of the information I know up to this point about the release of the book and the amount of fundraising that will be needed to reach that goal. I’ve never used Kickstarter before, but my understanding is you need to spend a lot of time making a very informative page complete with an awkward and embarrassing home video to plug your proposed product.  I wish I could afford to just pay for the whole thing out of pocket, but alas, I am not one of those aforementioned greatly more monetarily endowed persons…so awkward and embarrassing home video it is! Now that I’ve got my book in the mail Martyn and I will most likely try shooting a little something this weekend. I’ll let you know whenever that atrocity goes up!

 

 

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ALL THE PUBLISHERS!

Published August 5, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

The other big project I did last week was submit my book to ALL THE PUBLISHERS! Well, you know, maybe not ALL of them because most publishers don’t even take unsolicited submissions in the first place and I definitely still don’t have an agent yet…but I did submit my book to twenty publishers in total, and that is a lot!

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That’s what the living room table looked like for a good week as I scrambled to put together the best-looking submission packages that I could come up with. I got info on about probably two-thirds of the publishing houses from The Book, the official guide to children’s book publishing that the SCBWI puts out every year. For the other third I just did some research on my own and Google searched the names of the publishers that I found on the dust jackets of the children’s books that I’ve bought recently (and yes, I am a childless adult that has regularly purchased children’s books my entire life, because this has always been the sort of thing that I am into!)

I mostly submitted to publishing houses in the USA, but I also submitted to a couple of UK publishers that I really admire. Every publisher has their own set of rules and preferences for how they would like their materials submitted. Luckily all of the UK houses that I submitted to were ok with email submissions, so I didn’t have to worry about figuring out international postage. As for the US publishers that required a physical submission in regular snail mail post, which were eight in total, I made sure to send them a couple of copies of my cards:

Postcard Front and Back

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Also a printed dummy book, as pictured below with my first run of five submissions:

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The first round looked similar to my initial test print copy that I made for the SCBWI Spring Conference, except the colors have since been tweaked a little by my editor, graphic designer, and husband Martyn Cooper to print brighter and truer to my original artwork. We also decided to opt for a clear covering on the back of the book that was just like the covering on the front, instead of just sticking to the default black back cover of the original print. It seems as though every time I get this dummy book reprinted it evolves in some positive way, because for the print round after this one I discovered that you can even get a clear plastic spiral binding instead of what I had thought to be the default black. The clear cover and clear spiral bound books looked so excellent that I still wish I had kept a copy for myself, especially since I don’t even have a picture of them because I had to mail them out while they were literally still hot off the press! Anyway, here’s that super exciting, shining moment when I was done packaging up that first round of five submissions at Office Depot:

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Of course I remembered to include in every submission the full printed manuscript of my story and a personalized query or cover letter. Apparently query letters are meant to be really difficult and intimidating to write. Almost like you’re supposed to feel so threatened by this theoretical publisher that you are just crouched down in the fetal position, fearfully handing them this impossibly formal and clean document with a trembling hand while you defensively hold your other arm over your eyes. I dunno…although I do definitely understand wanting to follow certain guidelines to not come off as an ignorant tool and sabotage your chances, I also think that with such a wealth of completely contradicting information about “how to write the most perfect query letter” that can be found on the internet or otherwise, you probably gotta take all of this hullabaloo with a grain of salt. I did a lot of research on the subject, figured that I’m at least pretty ok at communicating with people in words, and that, come on, THEY’RE JUST PEOPLE…it’s not exactly like we’re dealing with those Sphinxes from The NeverEnding Story here! Life is too short for that level of anxiety. I just picked out what parts made the most sense to me out of a mountain of other example queries that I found online and came up with this basic format for my own query letter:

(Name and address of publisher.)                                                          (My name, address, contact                                                                                                        info, portfolio website, and this blog.)                                                                        

Proposal for Picture Book:

KRIS & KRAMPUS KRINGLE

Please find enclosed the complete manuscript and illustrated dummy for my children’s picture book entitled, “Kris & Krampus Kringle,” which I would like you to consider for publication.

Kris Kringle just wanted a normal little brother. Instead he ended up with the hairiest, smelliest, messiest, clumsiest, weirdest, rudest, and worst little brother in the whole wide world! If all of those things weren’t bad enough, Kris’s brother doesn’t even understand the most wonderful time of the year. Will Kris be able to stop him from ruining Christmas, or will his favorite holiday be wrecked forever?

“Kris & Krampus Kringle” is a 32 pages, 829 words, winter holiday tale about sibling relationships and tolerance. It is also a unique spin on age-old Christmas mythology from around the world. The character of Krampus was inspired by the yuletide monster from Alpine folklore, however my story is a re-imagining of both Krampus and Kris Kringle as brothers. The majority of the story takes place when Kris Kringle is about eight years old and Krampus Kringle is about five years old. Kris and Krampus Kringle’s mother, Mama Kringle, is the third and final character in the book and is also the only parent figure who is present in the story. “Kris & Krampus Kringle” was written to appeal to children of all ages as well as adults who may have a special affinity for Kris Kringle, Krampus, and stories about familial love and diversity.

I am both the author and the illustrator of “Kris & Krampus Kringle.” This is a simultaneous submission to see if this story garners any interest from traditional publishers, but if not I plan to move forward with a self-­publishing company in the late Fall/Winter of 2016. I even have some ideas for a future sequel story, which would take place about three years after the first book and include some other characters based on Christmas folklore from Alpine and Nordic mythology. I am an active member of the SCBWI and I also enjoy illustrating other stories besides my own. I am submitting to you as an author/illustrator for this book in particular, but also as just an illustrator for future projects. Thank you so much for your time and consideration!

Sincerely, Bailey Quillin Cooper (Except this was my actual signature signed in black ink.)

I customized this basic query letter format for each publisher that I wrote to, because odds are, the reason that I chose to submit my book to them in the first place was because I liked how they were doing things. I made sure to mention if they had published a specific book that I liked, or if they had ever published any books that contained similar general themes to mine: non-religious Christmas holiday, monsters and mythology, family, new sibling or sibling relationships, unusual friendships, diversity, tolerance, and acceptance. I know that it might be kind of a long shot to imagine that my very “out there” story might fit in enough with the subject matter in most traditional publishing houses that they would be interested in picking it up, but why not give it my best try anyway? At the very least, the publishers will hopefully see my book and remember my artwork and maybe, just maybe, even decide that they want me to illustrate for them on another project someday down the line. We can only hope!

So now that I’ve submitted my book to enough publishers that I can legitimately cause a flood of rejection letters (even though most people don’t even send those anymore), you might want to know what’s next on the agenda for Kris & Krampus Kringle. Well, I’m totally stoked to report that a couple of days ago we placed an order for the first hardcover proof of my book from the self-publishing company, bookbaby! Let’s just say that I’ve been waiting for this moment for…quite a while!

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Hell yes!

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It was such a good feeling to finally get the ball rolling on after nearly a year and a half of working on this! Once I receive and approve of the hardback copy from bookbaby in two weeks, I will be setting up a Kickstarter page to fund the publication, ISBN number and print on demand/online distribution service, and printing of the first run of 100 books! I’m going to have to raise a lot of money to fund this…maybe something in the neighborhood of $2,500 to start with, but fingers crossed everything will continue to run smoothly and my book will be ready to purchase by November-something of this year! I will continue to keep all of you guys posted on the fundraising and publishing process on this blog, so be sure to check back in every week or so!

Edit: To follow up with my last post, Sarah got the Advance Reader’s Copies of Beyond The Bramble back from Lulu and they turned out amazing!

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And they even match her nails…CUTE!

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Beyond The Bramble: Advance Reader’s Copy Cover Art

Published August 2, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Since the last time I wrote on here I have been working on two very different projects, so I figured that it would make the most sense to just write two separate posts. You can expect the second post to show up sometime early in this week, so keep checking! The first project that I did over the past two weeks was the cover art for my friend Sarah Marie Bacavis’s children’s fantasy adventure book, Beyond The Bramble. I probably mentioned before that this was just the cover for the Advance Reader’s Copy; that first run that she will be sending to her early readers to get some feedback before she starts shopping the book to any literary agents or publishers. At a later date I will be designing a more detailed cover that will be used for the final print when it is ready for submission. During the second half of of July I started designing some of the characters from her story to use in the artwork, which was mostly what my last blog post was about. After I got the go-ahead on the character sketches, I began to sketch out a layout for the cover. I used her original sketch as my main source of reference.

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Also, this picture of her actual dachshund, Annette.

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I changed the layout of the cover a bit, and I made sure to incorporate “Advanced Reader’s Copy” into the design. Here is what I came up with:

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I made sure to leave plenty of “bleed zone” this time, because now that I’ve learned so much about the online printing process through my own book (much to my husband and layout artist Martyn’s chagrin), I now know that most printers require a bleed area about as wide as my wrist on all sides. Sarah really liked the sketch, but later decided that the word “Advanced” should actually be “Advance.” Luckily, I hadn’t inked it yet at that point, so this was a very easy fix.

Here’s some point during the inking process:

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Here’s the inking completed:

Beyond The Bramble Advance Reader LineworkAt some point while I was inking this, I washed my hands and got some soapy water trapped under my big scary Medusa biker ring. I discovered this as I was drawing some perfectly clean little detail lines with a micron pen when SUDDENLY EVERYTHING WAS ALL WET AND SMUDGING MY INK EVERYWHERE!!! Not to be melodramatic or anything, because in the long run this is never too big of a problem. Minor smudges like the ones you can see around the goblin Wilden’s right ear and hat always seem to disappear once I add the many layers of overlying color. Still, I really hate it when that happens and I need to remember to not wear any clunky jewelry while I’m working!

To prove how not a big deal that smudge was though, here’s what the drawing looked like after color:

Advance Reader Cover

Since the final design will be a cropped version of this image minus all the bleed zone on the outside, here is how I imagine it will probably look on the cover of the book:

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Or something like that. Sarah seemed really psyched about the finished cover art and recently ordered the first run of books from Lulu. I can’t wait to see how they come out!

So yeah, more about that other project in my next post!