My 2nd picture book is out today, August 13th, 2019, from Tuttle Publishing. This nonfiction children's book is like it says, all about Korean festivals, holidays, and traditions with recipes, games, and crafts mixed in.
A colleague asked me which of my picture books is my favorite. I told her what most authors say--each book is like our own child. We love them all. Korean Celebrations, in particular, had a long birthing period, NINE YEARS from conception to birth!
If you want to know the backstory, keep reading.
Before we moved to Korea in 2010, I was part of a wonderful in person critique group in California headed by the awesome author, Nancy I. Sanders. She lands many contracts BEFORE she writes the book. She told us her strategy. She queries publishers with ideas that could fill a hole in their publishing line. So I tried it. I came across Tuttle Publishing in Vermont and noticed they had a book on Japanese Celebrations and Filipino Celebrations. But nothing about Korean holidays. So I came up with four book ideas, including Korean Celebrations, and sent them a query on July 29, 2011. FIVE months later, the acquisitions editor emailed and said yes, send detailed proposals, starting with Korean Celebrations.
Insert: [September 2010 our family moved to South Korea for my husband's work. I noticed that Korea had holidays almost every month. So that was another reason for writing this book. I wanted my kids to know about the holidays.]
I researched and wrote up an outline (TOC) and sent it in. FIVE months later I had heard nothing and inquired. My proposal had been passed to the children's editor, Terri Jadick. NINE months later (March 2013) Terri got back to me stating they really needed an illustrator before she could propose the book to the committee. So the illustrator search began.
Two possible illustrators made sketches for the job. But for various reasons, they turned down the project. Finally, July 2017, I signed the contract, as they had found a new illustrator, Farida Zaman, a Toronto based artist who had traveled worldwide. I love her watercolor illustrations. By this time, I had an agent, the lovely Adria Goetz, and so she handled everything for me.
October 18, 2018 I saw via pdf the inside of my book. It's always a happy day when you see your words come to life. February 5, 2018 they sent me the cover, And July 16, 2019, while at my sister's house in Iowa, I received my book copies.
And today, August 13, 2019, KOREAN CELEBRATIONS is out in the world!
The moral of this backstory: Never give up on a book idea. It might take years, but it's worth it. And YOU can come up with book ideas and query a publisher, too! It might just work!
Tina M. Cho, children's author
I'm a children's author and freelance writer for the educational market. Welcome!