WINNER: Tina Cho has won the book giveaway for a copy of RUPERT’S PARCHMENT written by Eileen Cameron and illustrated by Doris Ettlinger. Congratulations Tina! Please send me you address, so Eileen can mail you your book.
I wanted to do a post about the journey of Rupert’s Parachment, because it is an example of a perfect self-published book. So I asked Eileen Cameron who wrote the book and Doris Ettlinger who illustrated the book, if they wanted to be featured. Eileen said she would be willing to do a book giveaway and share Rupert with one lucky winner. Just leave a comment here and share the news on Twitter or Facebook for additional chances.
One of the things that Eileen did right was find a subject that was having an anniversary and would interest schools and children with the celebrating of 800 years of liberties enshrined in Magna Carta.
RUPERT’S PARCHMENT, STORY OF MAGNA CARTA gives Rupert, son of a local parchment maker, a ring side seat at the historic sealing of the great document, Magna Carta, at Runnymede meadow in England in the year 1215. This historical fiction picture book tells the exciting story of the fight for the principles of freedom while readers live through this momentous time through the eyes of young Rupert. Included is a section explaining the history of Magna Carta, a glossary and comparison of Magna Carta and the U.S. Bill of Rights which will interest parents and teachers.
She also, knew a great illustrator and had work with her before. Next she found someone who could provide a high quality book and distribute the book for her. Good story, good art, high quality paper and printing = Great book and great opportunity for success.
Below are the answers to some of the questions I had that I thought might help you if you were considering going the self-published route in the future.
What spurred the idea for Rupert? When did that idea hit you?
EILEEN: I have always been fascinated by Magna Carta since I was in college, majoring in government and studying the major documents of our country and the other great events and documents that helped shape our democracy. There are many books for children about the republics of Greece and Rome but not many on the influence of English law and the history of the rule of law that we Americans inherited from England as English colonies.
RUPERT’SPARCHMENT is about a young boy named Rupert who lives a long time ago in England when they had a terrible king and Magna Carta which is an old piece of paper. Why would kids want to read about this? Sometimes kids think history is just a dull subject, but if you make it a story – and an exciting and interesting story – where the child reader gets invested in the main character’s plight, then they will love the story, and also learn some important history of one of the reasons they live in a free country.
What type of research did you do for the book? How long did that take?
EILEEN: I have worked on this manuscript on and off for probably twenty years, of course changing ideas, main characters, and presentations as time went by and as I picked up the manuscript again. I read many of the interesting books on the subject of Magna Cart and the evil King John and also of the times and way of life during the early 1300’s. In the past few years I had researched the idea again and queried the curators at the British Library which holds two of the original 1215 copies for advice. They were most helpful.
Your book G is for Garden State was illustrated by Doris Ettlinger and published by Running Bear Press. What made you decide to self-publish this book?
EILEEN: Doris is an outstanding and award winning illustrator. She did a wonderful job portraying New Jersey and our many assets, beautiful natural sites and history in G IS FOR THE GARDEN STATE. I naturally thought of her when deciding to self publish RUPERT.
I very much wanted to have RUPERT’S PARCHMENT released in spring of 2015 in time for the celebration of the 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta, and by self publishing an author can move the book on their schedule and also control the layout and design, of course along with the advice of the illustrator and the editors at the publisher.
When did you talk to Doris about illustrating the book? Was she immediately interested?
EILEEN: I was thrilled when Doris said that she was interested in doing Rupert. Illustrators are very busy people and are scheduled far in advance so I was glad Doris fit me into her schedule. Doris just happened to have a trip planned to England last year and was able to include Runnymede Meadow on the Thames River in her itinerary. So, she was lucky to have time to photo and sketch the actual site of this historic event. She was a great team member.
DORIS: I have always turned down self-publishing authors in the past. But because I’d illustrated Eileen’s work before (G is for Garden State, Sleeping Bear Press), because she was determined to produce a quality product, and because Eileen wrote a great story, I was willing to illustrate Rupert’s Parchment.
My artist rep – Merial Cornell of Cornell & Co. – was a big part of why this partnership worked so well. Eileen spoke with Merial first. Merial looked over the manuscript and Eileen pitched all the research she did on Mascot, etc. Then Merial discussed the project with me. With a careful contract that delineates what is expected of all parties, a self-published book can be a good experience. I worked for a fee, based on the work produced, not an advance against royalties. The contract assured me of fair compensation and I also retain the copyright to my artwork. Once I signed the contract I was totally committed to the project and enjoyed every minute of it, from research to final art. I love to illustrate moments in history from a child’s point of view.
How much research did do to find a publisher who prints self-published book?
EILEEN: When I researched self publishers, I spoke with SCBWI ( Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators). SCBWI now gives a major award, SPARK, for the best self published children’s book of the year. They suggested looking at the books that won the award. Mascot Books, my publisher, had published AL AND TEDDY which had won SPARK last year. A friend, a former navy pilot, had also published a book on aircraft carriers titled SO BIG, YET SO SMALL with Mascot. Mascot does a quality job so now I had a terrific illustrator and a terrific publisher.
Can you tell us a little bit about Mascot Books and why you chose them?
EILEEN: The quality of the book is excellent and I had put in many hours researching that too. I reviewed the children’s books that I have in my collection, and books in libraries and chain and independent stores for type of paper, color, binding and jackets. I even asked the publisher of G GARDEN STATE what weight of paper they used and they were great to tell me.
Did Mascot Books let you decide on the price of the book? How long did it take them to publish the book?
EILEEN: Mascot Books and I discussed the pricing of the book based on comparative analysis, checking books with the same value of illustrator, paper, cover, etc. The time it takes to publish a book begins with the review of the manuscript, through planning the layout, reviewing the artist’s initial sketches, final sketches, color illustrations, first and second print galleys with text and illustrations. The process usually takes at least six months.
How did Mascot Books charge to print and distribute your book?
EILEEN: In most instances, the author pays the self publishing company up front based on their individual contract for such specifics as quality of paper and cover and a specified number of books. The contract covers editorial and design direction, submission for book awards, distribution through major book distributors, and warehousing the books. The purchaser through the distributors pays for shipping for their order. Mascot editors were capable and very helpful.
Doris, did Eileen give you free reign to illustrate the book?
DORIS: Eileen offered just a few illustration notes. We had a very good working relationship. She left it to me to visualize the scenes. After I submitted my sketches to her, she had the opportunity to discuss them with Mascot. Most of the changes involved allowing more room for text.
Doris, how long did it take you to do the 16 single and double page spread, plus the spot illustrations?
DORIS: I began rough sketches in August 2014 and finished Rupert on deadline (WhooHoo!) December 5. That’s a short period of time for a picture book. Coincidentally, I vacationed in England in July. I took the opportunity to visit Runnymeade, the site of the signing of Magna Carta.
Doris, where you happy with the process and results from Mascot Books?
DORIS: I was very happy with the look of the book, especially the cover. Eileen liked my idea to use a jpg of the original document as a background for the cover. The texture was a nice foil for the colorful image of Rupert. Eileen went the extra mile to acquire the reproduction rights from the British Library. We also used it for the end papers.
Doris: What are you doing to help promote the sales of the book? I’m promoting Rupert’s Parchment on https://www.facebook.com/DorisEttlingerStudio , Instagram, and Mailchimp. Also, I will accompany Eileen to the National Archives in DC on June 6 for a 3 hour children’s event, celebrating the 800th anniversary of the signing of MC.
Doris, do you have any other ideas for book where you can work together again?
DORIS: I’m not involved in a book’s conception. We’ll have to see what Eileen comes up with next.
Check back on May 28th to see who the won Rupert’s Parchment.