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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

Business Card Whole

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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I’m Back/Recap 1: Illustration Portfolio

Published June 22, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Dang, it’s been a whole month since I last posted! Although I don’t have any particularly earth-shattering progress to share this time, I will make this one a two-parter just to cover the amount of time that’s passed since my last entry. I believe that I left off right before I went to the SCBWI Spring Conference in Wilsonville, Oregon. Up until that point I was scrambling to get my first test dummy book printed and my portfolio and up to snuff for the juried art show that I had signed up for at the conference, and also for my portfolio review with Kevan Attebery. I chose Kevan to be my reviewer because he’s a Seattle illustrator that primarily draws monsters. He also invented Clippy, that annoying paperclip dude from Microsoft Word! I thought that was pretty cool. Kevan was very supportive of my work and gave me a really thoughtful and useful critique, and he was also an all-around nice guy.

The conference itself was cool and pretty informative, although I do kind of wish it had been more geared towards children’s books and children’s book illustration…well, specifically picture books. Something that I guess I knew but never really thought about before is that the children’s book publishing world also includes novels and young adult books. It seemed to me like LOT of the panels at the conference were more helpful to authors, especially YA authors writing coming of age type stories, historical fiction/fantasy, and teen romance. It was kind of neat to hear about how the publishing process from different perspectives, but I do hope that next year there will be more offered in the realm of picture books. Since there will be multiple smaller conferences instead of one big one next time, it’s probably also within the realm of possibility.

Anyway, here’s my illustration portfolio as you see it now on my website. It’s pretty much the same as I had printed for my physical portfolio but with maybe two-three extra pieces. They were very strict about the number of pieces you included at the conference, so I was pretty ruthless with what I chucked out!

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Business Card Whole

Kris & Krampus Front Cover

Mama Kringle PortraitKris Kringle Portrait

Krampus Kringle Portrait

Cabin Interior.jpg

Searching for Krampus Blog.jpg

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cozy.jpg

Witches Castle Watercolor.jpg

Attack Of The Fearless Flyer

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Lucia Drawing

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At the conference I got the strongest reactions to the portrait of Mama Kringle, the four paneled illustration of Kris Kringle looking for Krampus in the snow, and the illustration of Lucia in the meadow. I still want to chuck a few of the older ones out and replace them with some illustrations that I have not yet finished or even started, so you’ll have that to look forward to.

I also met some really cool people at the conference, namely a fellow children’s book illustrator named Brittany Harris. Martyn and I started talking to her at the after party, and then we all decided that the party was a little too stuffy (and also over) so we decided to check out the crazy Blues band playing at the Holiday Inn bar and play some pool…badly! We were all so awful that we even had an old man wearing American flag shorts heckling us. It was hilarious, and so much fun that it made the day that much more worth it.

Brittany told us that she lived in Ashland but was about to move to Montana because her husband Josh just got a sweet new job. Ashland was one of those “places to visit in Oregon on my bucket list” so we vowed to visit them before they left…and we did! The weekend after the conference some friends of ours from Colorado were visiting Portland (Chris and Sarah Bacavis; love those guys!) We spent that weekend showing them around town, and then the weekend after that we took a day trip to Ashland to see Brittany and Josh. We had so much fun bar hopping, seeing the sights, and then dealing with our hangovers the following day by eating delicious breakfast food and floating in a scenic lake next to an old cemetery. It’s a shame that they’re moving away, but I think that we really made a lasting friendship through this conference thing so I’ve gotta give it credit for that!

So yeah, the past couple of weeks have been pretty much been spent having fun with friends, cooking out with the neighbors in the yard, celebrating everyone’s birthday (Martyn’s 29th just happened on the 14th and my 30th is coming up quick on the 30th), and celebrating the Midsummer Solstice. Work is pretty much the same as usual, with the occasional flying salad monster.

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Meanwhile, Vine Gogh is working hard as ever to open the new Tigard studio with a bang. In the not-so-distant future I’m gonna be teaching some “Twisted Tuesday” classes where we’ll get to do all the weird, fun, and more experimental art projects! Jenny wants me to come up with some new fairy-themed paintings, and she also loves my ideas to teach some watercolor and polymer clay/mixed media sculpture classes. I’m really looking forward to seeing where all of this is going just around the corner!

Well sorry if this has been just another boring recap post, but since so much time has escaped me since my last one I just felt that it was necessary. In my next post I promise that I’ll dive right into the new art stuff that I’ve been working on in all this time!