Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with children’s author and publisher Kathryn Starke. We talked about her writing in February 2013. Today she’s wearing her publisher’s hat. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Welcome back, Kathryn. Can you please briefly explain the structure of your publishing house… perhaps who’s involved along the process of an acceptance to the book / story being published.
Kathryn: Creative Minds Publications is an independent company that publishes engaging and educational children’s books, all written by teachers. I choose the stories we accept, and I simply select books that teach a lesson to readers of all ages.
Morgen: You’re a writer – does this help with deciding which projects to take on?
Kathryn: Yes, I wrote and published the very first book under our imprint, Amy’s Travels. I wrote my first children’s book to provide my students with an engaging and educational story, which is exactly what I publish.
Morgen: The $64,000 question: out of all the submissions you receive, what makes a book / story stand out for all the right reasons?
Kathryn: The story has to teach a life lesson and match an objective that is taught universally in elementary schools.
Morgen: And then, without naming names, what makes a book proposal / story stand out for all the wrong reasons? 🙂
Kathryn: Believe it or not, I receive proposals that have so many grammatical errors; as an elementary school literacy specialist, I cannot take on those projects.
Morgen: What genres do you accept? What would you suggest an author do with a cross-genre piece of writing?
Kathryn: I accept children’s picture books that are engaging, educational, and written for an elementary school aged audience.
Morgen: Is there a genre that you haven’t published and would like to?
Kathryn: I would love to publish a women’s fictional novel.
Morgen: How can an author submit to you?
Kathryn: I welcome introductory cover letters that explain the author’s background and a basic summary and purpose of the book.
Morgen: Can you suggest some do’s and don’t’s when submitting to you.
Kathryn: Please do edit and proofread before submitting to anyone!
Morgen: This is a question that I ask authors but I think is just as relevant to you as a publisher: what was the first book / story you published?
Morgen: To your knowledge, have any of your published books / stories won or been shortlisted in any competitions?
Kathryn: Amy’s Travels has been released in its second edition. Turtle Without a Home received the 2012 Nature Appreciation Honor by Skpping Stones Magazine.
Morgen: Now for, in theory, a simple question: what’s your opinion of eBooks, do you publish them and do you read them?
Kathryn: Since my first position is as an elementary school literacy specialist, I am a supporter of books in print so my students have a tangible book to hold, read, and take home since so many of them don’t have any books.
Morgen: Do you have to do a lot of editing to the stories you accept or is the writing usually more or less fully-formed?
Kathryn: I prefer books that are mainly fully-formed.
Morgen: Have you had any surprising feedback about any of your published works?
Kathryn: I have learned that all feedback is valid, whether it is negative or positive. I’m always so pleased to hear that children, parents, and teachers love Amy’s Travels and use it in their classrooms on six continents.
Morgen: Is there a story, section or theme of a book that you’ve printed, or yet to print, that you’re particularly fond of? And why?
Kathryn: I love the description of all of the settings described in Amy’s Travels for the readers to make a text to world connection.
Morgen: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Kathryn: Everyone has a story to tell; do not give up until you find the right people to work with you to share your story with others.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Kathryn: Writers are never obsolete as we are always reading for entertainment, information, or educational purposes. Writers will continue to be valued into the future.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you could recommend?
Kathryn: I love the blogs and work from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (www.scbwi.org).
Morgen: Given that more emphasis these days is put on the author to market their published works or indeed themselves as a ‘brand’, how involved are you generally with your authors post-publication?
Kathryn: I stay involved with all of my authors because today the book is only as good as its marketing and widespread usage. In the children’s book industry, books become more popular the longer they have been on the market, which is what we focus on at Creative Minds Publications.
Morgen: Apart from your website, how do you market yourselves? Are your authors involved in marketing for you / themselves?
Kathryn: I love social media and as an educator, I market myself at reading conferences. I help market any author under my imprint through the same avenues.
Morgen: In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about, or distributing, your publications?
Kathryn: I am based in the USA, and I’m delighted that we are a recognized global educational publishing company with our books used and distributed on six continents.
Morgen: What do you think of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and more business-related such as LinkedIn? Do you think they’re invaluable or too time-consuming?
Kathryn: I set time each week to show my presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn because I have made great connections, sales, and opportunities from these sites.
Morgen: Apart from the stories in your publications, 🙂 what do you like to read? Any authors (including those you’ve published) that you’d like to recommend?
Kathryn: I love Emily Giffen’s novels and a fan of Eric Carle and Laura Numeroff in the children’s publishing industry.
Morgen: Are you involved in anything else writing-related?
Kathryn: I serve as a guest poster on blogs and write educational articles for magazines and journals. I’m also the author-in-residence in my elementary school, so I am charge of planning and implementing the writing curriculum within our school.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not working?
Kathryn: I love to travel and go out to new restaurants with friends.
Morgen: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Kathryn: How do you manage everything that you do in the field of writing?
Morgen: A very good Word table matrix (that I double-check alongside the relevant schedules on the blog) and less sleep than I should have, but I love what I do, especially since I’m reducing the interviews so I can do more writing. 🙂 Thank you, Kathryn.
I then invited Kathryn to include a synopsis of her book…
Amy’s Travels is a multicultural children’s book that teaches the culture, diversity, and geography of our world through the eyes of a young girl. Based on a true story, this is the first children’s picture book to teach all seven continents. Complete with lesson plans and a comprehensive book guide, Amy’s Travels is used in homes and schools on six continents.
Kathryn Starke is an elementary school literacy specialist, children’s author, public speaker, and the founder of Creative Minds Publications and Consulting, a global educational company which exemplifies quality literacy instruction for all children. Kathryn grew up in Richmond, Virginia, USA and earned a BS degree in elementary education and a MS degree in Literacy and Culture. Her first book, Amy’s Travels, has been released in its second edition and is used in schools on six continents. She travels throughout the world sharing her expertise in literacy and writing. Visit www.creativemindspublications.com for more information.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on the mixed blog but everything else (see Opportunities on the main blog) is free.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have this blog, https://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com, on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
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