This whole children’s book pursuit escalated from a phone call. I had what I thought to be a final draft of my manuscript and started calling publishers. It was naïve in a way to call them directly but I was new at the game. By the third call, I was talking to a real person. She was a receptionist at Brown Books in Dallas, Texas and asked me what type of book I will be submitting. “Uh Children’s”, I responded most eloquently. She forwarded me to the head of the children’s book division. After ten nervous rings, I left a nervous voicemail. Over the course of the next few days, I replayed that message over and over in my head wondering if I lost the moment. Then, on a frosty Denver morning, that number appears on my phone. I was just about to walk in to work but quickly shot down the stair well to answer her call. After an awkward introduction, we talked about my book and she gave me the spiel on Brown Books. It’s different than most publishers because the author obtains all the rights. The author pays up front for all the costs of creating the book, however they are still very selective in who they choose to publish. It kind of ended there and she said I should submit my book to her via email. I was too excited to think of anything else as I walked back to work. This is awesome.
I heard back from her after a week. She laid out both the good and the bad. She told me I needed to work on character development but the rhythm of the story works. One minute I was the next Mother Goose, the next just another first draft. I furiously took notes and, after all the pros and cons, it was time for the haymaker. “With all that said,” she replied ending with a subtle yet dramatic pause, ” We want to publish your book.” I was pumped. This was my first submission and it’s going to be published by a seemingly legit publisher. No way universe. She asked if I was interested, I said yes, and then she told me the number. This was the number that traditional publishers invest prior to making a profit, the number that reflects the cost of publishing a book, and the reason why the author only receives a percentage of the sales after publishing a manuscript. A total of 24,000 dollars was to be paid in two installments over the course of 6 months to create a completed, illustrated children’s book. Well there goes that one. I tired to talk about it further but ended the conversation that I needed to think about it. Not that I could generate 24 grand in a week, but I was starting to get a little frustrated on the phone. After I hung up, I went from anger to despondent as this runaway train came to a grinding stop. But then, after some time to think, I realized that this isn’t so bad. It was my first submission and it could have been published. Twenty-four thousand dollars is a lot of money and I can’t be frustrated that I don’t have that lying around to pursue this dream of mine. There are other ways to do this, and after talking with her, those are the ways that must be pursued. With a little editing and a heavy dose of persistence, there has to be someone else out there who wants to publish it. There has to be and maybe they have a lower down payment.
It has been a while since I thought of this conversation but last night, I received a follow up email from the head of the Children’s Department at Brown Books. I was nice to feel wanted again, as I have yet to hear back from any agents on my current manuscript. It was a morale boost as well to exchange emails with a publisher, even if I have to pay for the service. She was checking in to see if I was still interested in publishing my book. Yes, ma’am I am still highly motivated to publish my book. Did you lower the price? We’ll see what she says.