Wednesday, May 22, 2013

From Idea to Print: One Series' Tale, Part Three (It's a long story)

Part Three of the Three-Part Series: I told you it was a long story...

Anyway, before I was finished with the first four books in the series, a couple of things happened. Mark Friedman left Grolier, Inc., so I no longer had any contact with him. And, since things were progressing so well with the first four books, I was offered a contract for another for books. Woot! That was in April 2000. The contact was for EGG CARTON MANIA, PAPER CUP MANIA, PIPE CLEANER MANIA, and PIE PAN MANIA.

I can't find the records, so I don't know the actual dates, but a couple of other things happened before all of the books were done. As mentioned before, my original idea was for a series of craft books for 6-to-12-year-olds using ordinary, household items for each craft. Sometime after the series was approved, Grolier Publishing was taken over by Scholastic, Inc. Sometimes when things like this happen, contracts that have been signed by the previous publisher become null and void. The publisher still has to pay the writer the agreed-upon advance royalties, but the books will not be published. That's a real bummer and I was afraid that would happen to me. It didn't, but Scholastic wanted to make some changes. They decided the series should be for 2nd-4th graders, and the books should be suitable for classroom use. And, they wanted to emphasize recycling in the series.

So, even though I was relieved my series hadn't been cancelled, I had additional work to do. First, I had to change the age level for the projects in the books, so some of the ideas I had come up with wouldn't work for the newly-chosen age group. I had already finished one book in the series, and was starting on the second one when the changes were made. I had to throw out some of the activities I had already written up for the first two books, and adjusting my ideas for the rest of the series meant a fair amount of re-writing was involved to bring all the activities into line with the new guidelines.

And, my original idea was to use more than one type of material to make the same type of craft project. For instance, I had ideas for making different types of flowers using different materials like egg cartons, paper plates, and paper cups. But the publisher didn't want the same type of project repeated in any of the books, even if the materials used were different. That meant I could include ONE flower project, but I had to choose whether to have it for the egg carton, paper plate or paper cup book. I couldn't use the idea in all three books. What this really meant was by the time I got down to the last two books in the series, I was having a hard time coming up with ideas for making things that I hadn't already used.

Oh, and the publisher also decided that instead of having four books come out at one time and then four more books a year or so later, they would launch the series with all eight books. Because of all the changes that were made along the way, the books weren’t actually published for nearly four years after I signed the original contract! Four years!

There were times when I questioned whether or not the books would ever make it into print, but they did. They came out first in hard cover editions, in 2002, and then in paperback, in 2006.

It was a long journey (and a long story!) from idea to the finished product. I learned a lot. Now, I’m ready to do it again!!

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