The End of the Beginning

In the last three posts about the publication of my books I told how They’re Coming!, Shadows On My Wall and I Hate Picture Book! were conceived and created. Now I’ll finish the story of how all three were published. By the summer of 2011 I was feeling pretty hopeless about ever having another book published. I was doing book events with I’m Looking For A Monster! and I had begun doing school visits but I knew that would not continue forever with just one book.

I considered putting books directly on the iPad. I had made an app for the early iPhones and had learned about the formatting. I’ll have to tell the tale of “Creatures & Characters Mix-Em-Ups” sometime soon. I really should find the time to relaunch it.

images from the short-lived iPhone app Creatures & Characters Mix-Em-Ups created by Timothy Young
Screenshots from the short-lived iPhone app Creatures & Characters Mix-Em-Ups

Ronnie Herman had been trying to find homes for my books with little success. I didn’t blame her as the publishing industry was still hunkered down trying to get through the Great Recession. I was in the process of formatting the illustrations for both books around the time I had been struck with the idea for I Hate Picture Books!

Shadows On My Wall formatted for the iPad.

I wasn’t sure whether to add I Hate Picture Books! to the stack of books Ronnie had. In September I got an email from Jennifer Ginn, who I had met at a karate match that both her and my children were in. She asked if I would meet with her to discuss the possibility of illustrating her second book. We met for lunch and she showed me a copy of her first book Lobsters on the Loose which was published by a company I had not heard of, Schiffer Publishing.

It was a cute story, nicely illustrated but what really caught my attention was the quality of the book. The printing and binding and attention to detail were as good as any publisher I had ever seen. We talked about how Schiffer was interested in her manuscript for My Father Flies. The illustrator from her first book was not available and she was hoping I could work with her. At the time Schiffer did not pay an advance but they payed the same royalty rates as the major publishers. I told her I would find it difficult to illustrate a whole book for just a split of the royalties but I asked her to put me in touch with them and I could show them my book ideas and see if we could work out an arrangement if they were interested in one of my books as well.

Jennifer made the introduction and I sent them 4 books, They’re Coming!, Shadows On My Wall, I Hate Picture Books! and Do Not Open The Box, Benny! (This is one I was worked on with Ronnie’s input). I was incredibly astonished when I received a response within 2 days saying that they wanted to publish all 4 of them! As they were only a few hours north in Atglen, PA we set up a meeting and I drove up to discuss things further. Schiffer’s headquarters, know as the Book Farm, is incredible and I’ll have to write a post just about it at a later date.

The Schiffer headquarters in Atglen, PA. Surrounded by beautiful countryside and filled with hundreds of thousands of books.

I met with Pete Schiffer to go over details of how they work. I told them how They’re Coming! and Shadows On My Wall were very close to production ready and that I’d need a few months to work on I Hate Picture Books!. I suggested that they might think about putting both They’re Coming! and Shadows On My Wall out together and then following with I Hate Picture Books! shortly afterwards. Pete agreed with that plan and said if I was able to finalize the first two books within a month they could publish them for fall 2012 and then they could slate I Hate Picture Books! for spring 2013.

I was more than thrilled. The only problem was that I would not have time to work on My Father Flies for Jennifer. I called her and explained the situation and she understood. Pete said they would find someone for her, which they did. The other thing I had to do was part ways with my agent, Ronnie Herman. Ronnie was helpful to me in many ways and I had no ill feelings towards her but she had never gotten a contract for any of my books. Since I had made the deal with Schiffer directly it didn’t make sense to have an agent.

So, I worked with the Schiffer editors and designers and I got both of the first 2 books done in plenty of time. They both came out together on July 28th, 2012. I then jumped on the task of finalizing I Hate Picture Books! Once that was done it was given a launch date of March 28, 2013. So that ends the story of the publication of my second, third and fourth books. Next I’ll explain why the title of Do Not Open The Box, Benny changed and also why The Angry Little Puffin jumped ahead of it to become my fifth book.


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