Author Interview, Camille Andros, Charlotte the Scientist is Squished
Camille Andros's proactive approach to finding an agent paid off, and soon she had multiple offers from big name publishers. Any aspiring author’s dream, right? So how did this children’s book author get there?
Check out her Author Interview below.
Author website: www.camilleandros.com
1. How many books have you published and when (month/year)?
Charlotte the Scientist is Squished
Released March 14, 2017
My first book (above) has a companion book that will be published in 2018.
I also have two other books coming. One Fall of 2018 and the other in 2019.
2. When did you start writing your first book? Where did the idea come from?
I’ve been writing down ideas in a little notebook for years. Long before I really started to seriously write books. I began seriously in the Fall of 2013.
I’d had the idea for a long time and it came when I went to a Tea Party at my friend’s house. The guests were all dressed up and one woman came in a pink vintage 1950’s party dress. I loved it. And the first thing I thought was, “ If this dress could talk what stories would it be able to tell us.” After that I started writing down snippets of story ideas about a dress and girl here and there whenever I had them.
3. What was the hardest part about writing your first book? What hurdles did you have to overcome?
The hardest part of writing the first book was the learning curve. There was SO much I didn’t know about writing picture books and it took a while to get just the basics. I’m still learning more every day about what it means to be a good writer.
I mentioned learning the basics. That was a big one. I didn’t know picture books were supposed to be a certain word count or that you really needed an agent if you were serious about getting your work traditionally published. So understanding the industry and how it functioned I think was the first big hurdle which I guess was comprised of lots of little ones.
4. Once your manuscript was finished, what did you do?
Before my manuscript was even finished I joined SCBWI- The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
I joined a critique group, I started querying agents and attending conferences to get feedback and learn more about what it took to get published.
5. What did you expect from the editing process? How was the experience?
I expected it to be a bit frustrating and I think it was but it’s necessary.
The editing process is hard but good. It’s how you can take a rough stone of an idea and polish it into a jewel.
6. Describe what re-writing involves and how it makes you feel. How is it different than the initial writing?
Re-writing is part of editing and is necessary to make a really good book. I think it’s important to give your work some time to sit and not work on it. Then after a period of time has passed you can come back to it with fresh eyes and it’s easier to see what’s working and what isn’t.
You aren’t creating an idea from scratch, but you are polishing and making better the idea you already have in place.
7. Did you have non-editors read your book for feedback (Alpha Readers)? What did you get out of that?
Yes, my critique group reads a lot of what I write.
They always have great input and if they all make a similar comment about something then I know they are on to something and I probably need to change it.
8. Who designed your cover? How much input did you have? How important is the cover design?
I was not involved at all in the design of the cover, so I suppose it was the same art director working with the illustrator of the book that made the cover design.
I’m sure it’s very important. It what makes someone want to pick up your book or not!
BONUS QUESTION: How did you find your agent? Was that really your breaking point as far as opening the door to the publishing houses? What advice would you give to an author searching for an agent?
To find my agent I looked up agents who were making the best and the most picture book deals in an online publication called Publisher's Marketplace. Then I looked up conferences where these agents would be at and I tried to go to them. I couldn't of course go to all of them but it is helpful to be able to meet in person.
Eventually I received an offer of representation through a Twitter pitch party and after that initial offer I had a few more agents who were interested including my current agent.
Finding a great agent was definitely the turning point for editors being able to see my work. I'm certain I wouldn't have my book deals without her.
Don't give up and don't settle for any agent. There are a lot of bad agents out there. Do you homework and make sure the agents you are querying represent what you write and have a good reputation. Then follow the submission guidelines and keep trying.
9. How did you go forward with publishing? How was that experience?
Once I acquired an agent she shopped the book around to different publishing houses and since I had multiple offers on the book I was able to talk with the offering editors and decide which publishing house I wanted to work with.
Ummm having multiple editors of major publishing houses want to publish your first book is pretty awesome.
10. How have you marketed your first book?
11. How was the initial feedback from readers?
12. How have sales been on your first book? Did they go as expected? What helps you the most to sell books?
13. Talk about print vs ebook. Do you get more sales with one than the other?
14. Did you set the prices of your print and ebooks? How do you decide how to price them?
No, the publishing house sets the price.
15. What made you decide to write more books? How were those experiences (writing/editing) compared with your first book? Did you do anything differently?
I had other stories I wanted to tell.
The learning curve wasn’t as high since I already knew the basics but each book is different so you have to figure out how to write that book.
I just kept working at it until I thought it was the best that I could make it.
16. Anything different in the publishing process for your other books?
I have two different publishers and each publishing house does things their own way which is fine.
17. When did you consider yourself a "writer"?
Getting an agent was pretty validating in feeling like I was a writer, but really, you are a writer if you write.
18. When do you write? What motivates you to write?
Whenever I can sneak it in. Right now I am writing the answers to these questions in my car in a parking lot waiting for my daughter to finish her dance class. You just do it when you can. Lots of early mornings and late nights and even lots of saying “no” to invitations that will cut into that writing time.
Wanting to create something that hasn’t existed before is pretty fun. And I love the art form of the picture book so seeing that come together to make a beautiful book is extremely satisfying and then getting to read it to the children you wrote it for in the first place is pretty amazing.
19. What do aspiring authors ask you?
Hmmm. I have six young children so I do get asked a lot how I get everything done. The answer is, I don’t. There is a lot of unfolded laundry, dirty dishes, a full inbox…etc…when I’m doing one thing it means I’m not doing something else. But I do try hard to prioritize each day what the most important things to do that day are and go from there. If you are doing the most important thing for that day then you can no (or at least fewer) regrets.
20. What advice can you offer for aspiring authors about writing, editing, publishing, and marketing?
Don’t give up. The writers who are published are the ones who didn’t give up.