I have two new picture books out this month, published a week apart. Editors typically frown upon such proximity—better to have one book at a time in front of reviewers, bookstore buyers, and shoppers, the thinking goes—but, as an author, I have little say in the matter. In fact, a quick look at the origins of these books gives you a sense of how wacky the journey to publication can be.
I wrote Rock-a-Bye Romp (originally Rock-a-Bye Baby—the “Romp” was a last-minute inspiration from Nancy Paulsen and crew) way back in 2003. I got an offer, turned it down (due to artistic and financial differences), then accepted an offer from another publisher in 2006. And there the manuscript sat—for six long years. There were editorial changes, and—when prompted—occasional submissions to illustrators, but otherwise nothing happened. Luckily I had a clause in my contract that allowed me to get the manuscript back. My agent, Jennifer Mattson, then sold the manuscript to Nancy Paulsen in late 2013, and Nancy signed up the wonderful Italian illustrator Simona Mulazzani—a very happy ending.
Henry Wants More! also was written quite a long time ago—back in 2005. My agent at the time submitted it a few places but, after getting three declines, I decided to revise it before submitting again. Eight years later, in 2013, I finally did. By then I was working with Jennifer, who sent it out to Maria Modugno, who’d recently moved to Random House from HarperCollins. Maria signed up Brooke Boynton Hughes, another superbly talented illustrator.
SO . . . two manuscripts, written years apart, sold to two different editors many months apart, illustrated by artists continents apart, wind up being published a week apart.
By the way, if you’re a Goodreads member (it’s easy to join, if not), you can enter to win a copy of these books now through the end of January. Just follow these links: Rock-a-Bye Romp and Henry Wants More!