In the November 2020 edition of Children’s Book Insider, the Children’s Writing Monthly, Lynne Marie interviews Eileen Robinson, executive editor and consultant to the publisher at Reycraft Books (reycraftbooks.com), a new children’s trade imprint of Benchmark Education/Newmark Learning that she helped build.
She’s also the Publisher of Move Books (featured in the August 2020 edition of CBI). Eileen brings over 20 years experience to these roles, both independently and in-house at Scholastic and Harcourt. In addition to helping authors individually, she partners with Harold Underdown via kidsbookrevisions.com for a yearly retreat at Highlights, and workshops and webinars.
Eileen shares a tremendous amount of wisdom in the piece (and also provides CBI subscribers with one of our famous Above the Slushpile Submission Codes to submit their work directly). If you’re a CBI subscriber, go to https://cbiclubhouse.com/clubhouse/download-cbi/ to get the issue and check out the entire interview.
Here’s a sampling from this month’s CBI Editor Spotlight:
LYNNE MARIE: I’m so excited to have more time with you! Your contributions to the KidLit Community are immense and I’m thrilled to be able to share some of your valuable insights. First, please tell us a little bit about how you helped launch and brand Reycraft Books. How would you describe the Reycraft brand? What is its publishing goal?
EILEEN ROBINSON: Starting with brilliant editors Sunita Apte (Executive Editor), Wiley Blevins (Editorial Director), and Reycraft’s Publisher, Sera Reycraft, we discussed the kinds of books we wanted to publish and how those books would fit into Sera’s mission for all children to be able to see themselves in literature, and to have their culture and lives represented authentically.
The editorial staff expanded within months, and though we weren’t sure what markets we wanted to tackle at the time, we were excited to bring in more books with #OwnVoices, by both underrepresented authors and illustrators, and this is the important thing that I believe makes us unique.
As a young girl, Sera Reycraft yearned to see herself in literature and worked toward the day she could create an imprint like this for children.
“I remember turning to books, searching for characters that looked like me, characters that mirrored my feelings and experiences. I remember not finding any.”—Sera Reycraft.
This is at the heart of the mission.
LM: Please explain how books geared toward the trade, school and library, and mass market might be different from one another?
ER: There are lots of differences but to be brief—trade normally refers to the bookstore market, but can include other areas as well. School and library publishing refers to your libraries, both school and public. Then you also have educational publishing for books that go into the classroom. Mass market is more geared to your large retailers, like Target, Walmart, etc, and these are more often just paperbacks.
LM: What market does Reycraft books primarily target, or what percentage do you say is the focus for each market?
ER: We are a very young imprint, only a year old. We are focusing on both the school/library and trade markets. But many of our books also go into classroom collections which is one of the fantastic things about how we publish. It is an opportunity for authors to have their books read in classrooms and used as supplemental text to the curriculum or in special initiatives and activities teachers might be planning.
LM: You originally started in Fall, 2019 with 24 titles. How many titles do you currently have under this imprint? What are your future plans? Has the direction changed at all?
ER: We currently have 71 titles as of Fall 2020. We are looking to publish more middle grade and graphic novels and would love to see more contemporary fiction!
BONUS FROM THE INTERVIEW: EILEEN ROBINSON’S FOUR STEPS TOWARD A BOOK MARKETING PROGRAM
- Create a website your potential audience can find. If websites are not your thing, that’s OK. Do something that fires you up and keeps you visible. Perhaps it’s a blog—if you have the time to maintain one.
- Join online writer’s discussions like Kidlit.com’s Facebook group to communicate with other writers. If you are stuck, this may give you some ideas.
- Find one social media platform that you enjoy working on where you can maintain connections with and engage with people. Don’t make every post about your book. Build connections. Show interest in and support for other people, retweeting and liking posts that resonate with you.
- Connect with local booksellers and librarians. Let them know you are a writer. Spend time there writing when you can or looking at other’s books. They will love being a part of your success story. It helps to build those relationships in the community because it is one of the first places you begin build your readership when your book is published—book signings and readings etc.
These are no-cost or low-cost things that any writer can do. It is the very beginning of branding, marketing, and PR. And as the book gets closer to being published, your publisher will involve you in other plans as well. Sales will come.
VISIT REYCRAFT BOOKS:
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