Last week I wrote about my publishing experience with educational publishing. Today, I am happy to introduce Linda Benson, author of Finding Chance and The Horse Jar, two middle-grade novels published with Mondo Publishing, http://www.mondopub.com/, a company that publishes classroom materials and books for the educational market.
Welcome, Linda! I enjoyed your books. Could you share your journey to publication with Mondo Publishing? Did you write your novels and then submit them to Mondo? Or, were you hired to write these books? If you were hired to write, how much guidance did the editors at Mondo Publishing provide?
Finding Chance and The Horse Jar were both completed novels when I began submitting to publishers. I did not have an agent at the time, so I researched publishers and made a list of those that accepted unsolicited (and unagented) manuscripts, and Mondo was one of them. I originally submitted The Horse Jar to Mondo, (and it was a “no”) and later when I finished Finding Chance, (originally titled “Welcome to California,”), I submitted that one. Almost immediately I got a letter back saying that they liked it, and would like to keep it “under consideration.” Being an unpublished writer at the time, I spent days, weeks, months scrutinizing all the possible meanings and ramifications of that phrase, but as time crept on and nothing happened, I stopped holding my breath. So imagine the happy dance I did when about one year later, I got an email offering me a contract. Then, a little over one year after Finding Chance was published, Mondo asked if I had any other manuscripts. I submitted The Horse Jar again. Timing is everything in this business, and this time they loved it, and it became my second book.
I did work with an editor on each book, which was a totally enjoyable process, and I was also allowed some input on the illustrations. It was a great experience each time.
How does the marketing end of an educational publisher such as Mondo Publishing work? How much of the marketing falls upon you?
Although they have had some trade books in the past, I believe Mondo Publishing only markets and sells to schools at the moment. Although my books are not available in bookstores, they are going directly to reading programs at schools, and perhaps in that manner they are getting into the hands of children more directly. I kind of like that idea.
How can people purchase your books?
Schools can purchase my books through Mondo and I also have my books listed on Amazon so my fans and readers can purchase individual copies directly from me.
How has publishing with Mondo benefited your career as an author, Linda? Would you recommend publishing with an educational publisher? Why or why not?
Let me just say that holding your first published book in your hand is one of the biggest thrills of a lifetime – right up there with giving birth. (Well not as good as that, but our manuscripts become so dear to our hearts that getting one published almost feels like giving birth. But all kidding aside, having a published book (and then two) was a huge confidence builder, because then I went from being a “writer” to being an “author.”
Would I recommend going with an educational publisher? Of course! As it becomes harder and harder to catch the interest of large publishers without an agent, I think educational publishers are still a great way for newcomers to break into the children’s publishing business, but you still have to follow all the rules of querying and have a polished manuscript.
Another good thing about educational publishers is that they may keep your books in print for a long time. In fact, Mondo just came out with a Spanish translation of The Horse Jar, which is a great thrill. It’s called La Alcancia De Los Suenos, which means “The Piggy Bank of Dreams.” Isn’t that a great title?
That is a great title. So, What are your plans for the future? You have these two wonderful novels with Mondo Publishing. Will you publish more with them? Do you aspire to publish elsewhere?
I have three more completed middle grade novels, and I am currently agent shopping. I’d love to have a trade novel out soon, and while we all dream of publishing the next big best seller, I take heart in the fact that children are probably turning the pages of my novels while we speak, hopefully soaking in the words and stories. And isn’t that why we write for kids in the first place?
Absolutely, Linda! Thank you so much for that perspective and sharing your journey to publication. For more information, you can visit Linda at her website:http://www.lindabenson.net/
I hope you enjoyed part two of this blog series. Next week I will introduce you to author Shannon Hitchcock. Shannon will share her experiences with magazine publishing.