Congratulations to Charlotte Bennardo for her second book in the Evolution Revolution series – Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans. Charlotte has agreed to give do a book giveaway. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.
After leading the battle against the construction machines to save his woods, Jack the squirrel continues visiting his human friend, Collin. He brings Sister, and Bird, who can copy Collin’s words. This allows Jack to ‘talk’ to Collin. When Jack shares what he learns with the other woodland animals, Fox wants no part of learning anything human. Rat is too busy teasing the humans who spy on the animals. When Rat gets tagged and caged, Jack has to figure out how to save him while avoiding the humans who want most to capture him–and won’t stop until they do.
I wrote this series over ten years ago. Most people know the basic story: my middle son came home from school with science homework about simple machines; the wheel and axle, lever, inclined plane, etc. And we had this fearless squirrel I’d feed. (He loved frozen bananas!) When I watched a TV special about how smart squirrels were and that they not only shared what they learned, but that they never gave up until they solved a puzzle that involved food, Click! All three things came together.
Unfortunately, no editors and most agents weren’t as enthused. It happens. Doesn’t mean they’re right- look at the break out successes of any number of Indie authors. But this book was my heart- it was the story. I can look on these books and be proud if everyone remembers me just for these. Maybe it’s because they are connected to my children, but they’ve been reviewed by agents, editors, critique partners, and myself so many times that they truly are polished as well as I think they can be.
After a “No thanks” from so many editors that my agent and I subbed to, I decided to go indie. When I discussed it with my agent, she warned me of the work it would take. She was going to format at least the first book. After the initial format though, she terminated my contract and I struggled to get the book done. There are some pages that don’t have enough lines, and the chapters don’t always start in the same place. I had to pay to fix some mistakes, but not all of them got caught. The only way to completely fix everything was to pay-AGAIN. Beware if you think of going indie- it’s difficult to format when illustrations are involved, and after one pass, any extra changes to be made will cost you. I found out just how much they can add up with this second book. Ouch! That hurts!
I used CreateSpace so I can’t speak for other publishing programs. They may say only $X to format. Beware! That may be for the initial format; illustrations are extra, cover is extra, ISBN is extra. In the end, they’re probably all pretty much evenly priced. One aspect I liked about CreateSpace was the ‘Member Dashboard.’ This is a step-by-step program which brings you through the process; taking you through formatting (if you wish to do it yourself, they have guides.), uploading, choosing marketing and sales options, getting an ISBN, etc. But that doesn’t mean it’s foolproof. For this second and the final book (I’ve reduced it from 4 books to 3 because of the cost and work involved and I have other projects that demand my attention), I bought the ISBN numbers so that I can list the publisher as Poolside Press (that’s me!). Schools, libraries, bookstores, etc. turn up a nose when you have a CreateSpace assigned ISBN. It’s a very complicated process and it requires more study than I can put here.
But they created the bar code and it didn’t match. (They weren’t supposed to but they did and didn’t tell me.) When I called to get that corrected, it took 45 minutes and insisting, whining and a little anger to get them to correct the bar code–and not charge me for their mistake. I have to say that they are very good about correcting things, and they have tried to keep me happy, but indie publishing, if you want to do it right and make a professional product, is expensive, time consuming and for me, frustrating at times. (I think I have a few more gray hairs.) Maybe because this book is so important to me and I want it perfect that it’s been such a long and winding road. If you’re more laid back about a few mistakes, it’ll be smoother, but I caution you on putting out a sloppy project. Don’t get a bad rep.
The last hurdle with indie publishing (‘we’ don’t call it self publishing), is getting PR. Frankly, I get shunned by bookstores, schools, libraries and many book festivals. When my local Barnes and Noble asked me at the last minute to do a Make-A- Wish event to help a young woman choose books and talk about writing, I jumped in. I do a number of charitable/volunteer activities for the homeless, animal shelters, and through my church, so this was just another chance to give back. As a thank you, Barnes and Noble allowed me to have the book launch for Simple Machines. Some book festivals, where you can bring and sell your own books, and events where I speak or present, give me the chance to hand sell. From there it gets tougher. Luckily I’ve found a few blogs that were open to reviewing or featuring Simple Machines and the response has been wonderful; they are really liking the book. I’ve hired a publicist for a few months to help me, Rebecca Grose of So Cal Public Relations. She’s getting Jack’s story on the radio, in other states, etc. It’s expensive, which is why I’m doing only a few months, but I’m hoping that I can build up momentum for these last two books. Another boost has come from the book being nominated for both the Cybil and Spark awards. But the best possible PR comes from readers who recommend it, so help a girl and a squirrel out!
Until Hollywood calls, Charlotte lives in NJ with her husband, three children, two needy cats and sometimes a deranged squirrel. Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans is book 2 of the Evolution Revolution series, Evolution Revolution:Simple Machines was her first solo novel. She is also the co-author of Blonde Ops (St. Martin’s/Dunne) and the Sirenz series (Sirenz,Sirenz Back In Fashion, Flux), and one of 13 authors in the anthology,Beware the Little White Rabbit (Leap). She’s written for magazines and newspapers, and has given presentations and workshops at NJ SCBWI conferences. Currently she’s working on sci fi, historical, fantasy, and time travel novels and loves to hear from fans on Twitter (charbennardo) or through her blog. http://charlotteebennardo.blogspot.com/
ILLUSTRATOR CATHLEEN DANIELS BIO:
Cathleen Daniels has been a published illustrator since 1990. Her clients include Simon & Schuster, Barnes & Noble, PlayStation, Sega Genesis, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Legend Entertainment, Fleer Trading Card Co, Topps Trading Card Co. Her professional awards include Best Logo Design NJ-SCBWI 2009, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Visual Artist Fellowship Award 2008, Fantasy/Sci-Fi Illustrators & Writers Of The Future Contest, Honorable Mention 1992. Cathleen was also a N.J. State certified Commercial Art educator from 2002-2014. Her educator awards include N.J. Governor’s Award in Arts Education 2006, Outstanding Educator in the Arts Award, VSA Arts of New Jersey 2006. VSA is an affiliate of the JFK Center for Performing Arts. Cathleen now spends her time illustrating for kids, playing with her cats and bugging her husband, daughter and neighborhood squirrels to pose for photo reference! You can find her work at cathleendaniels.com
Thank you Charlotte for sharing your journey with us and offering one lucky winner your second book, Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans.
Also, Congratulations to Cathleen Daniels for creating the gorgeous cover and wonderful interior illustrations.