Evaluate Career, Market: Result is a New Book


Career Evaluations and Study of the Market

I rarely post personal things, but good news is made to be shared. This story begins a couple years ago when I was looking at what I was writing and realized I’d like to also write something about nature. I started looking for picture book ideas on nature and looking a possible publishers. I found an innovative company, Sylvan Dell Publishing.

Sylvan Dell is innovative in several ways. They developed an online ebook reader and have a grant program to make their entire bilingual catalog available to a school for a year. It’s a great public relations and marketing idea, which puts their science and math literature books in front of kids across the U.S.

Besides great marketing to the education market, they also market well to trade, especially the gift and specialty bookstores of parks and museums. Last year, I went to Sanibel Island, Florida and the local bookstore there stocked many of their ocean/beach related books. There is a wilderness area on the island to preserve the mangrove islands and various wildlife and the bookstore at the park also carried SD books.

So, I wrote a story for them and the editor, Donna German liked it. Here’s another place they are innovative. Instead of acquiring books throughout the year, they hold manuscripts until near the end of the year. German does regular culling of mss every month or so, but winds up with about 50 manuscripts she likes. Then, the company goes through a rigorous decision process before acquiring the ten manuscripts which will comprise their next list. This process allows them to balance a year’s list in many ways. Realizing that this is a different way of deciding on manuscripts, SD accommodates the author’s needs: if your mss is being held for the annual acquisition meeting, you are still free to submit elsewhere. If you are interested in submitting, you MUST read their guidelines, as they are also unique. Expect a fast reply.

I decided that I liked their innovations in marketing to both education and trade markets, in both English and Spanish, in both hardcover and paperback. I submitted!

New Picture Book: Prairie Storms, August, 2011

My picture book, PRAIRIE STORMS, has been accepted by Sylvan Dell for a August, 2011 release. It is the story of how animals survive a year of storms on the prairie.

The illustrator will be Kathleen Rietz. I LOVE this picture, “Symphony in a Pond,” and can’t wait to see how this talented artist does the various storms and animals in the book.

Symphony in the Pond

Picture Book = Adventure

This picture book is already an adventure. My research on the prairies ranged far and wide, and mostly it was about those places in Kansas and farther north. But SD asked for an author’s photo, preferably something related to the topic of the book. That’s easy for someone writing about a dog. But the prairie ecosystem has dwindled so much that authentic prairie is hard to find.

Still, I took a look around and found an option. In Arkansas, the eastern alluvial plains covered a swath of land from the Mississippi River west toward the Ozarks. This delta area once held 300,000 acres of tall grass prairie. Today, less than 1% is left. Fortunately the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission has bought up land to preserve and an hour’s drive from my house is the Konency Prairie Natural Area. Yesterday, we took a drive out to see this 70 acre tract of prairie.

It is located almost in the city limits of of Slovak, Arkansas, and just south of a Russian Orthodox Cemetery. I was hoping we’d get some good photos on the prairie. Instead, it had recently been burned off (a good conservation practice for prairies) and was almost featureless.

Photos from Konency Natural Prairie Area: Click to see large image

Well, at first glance, it might be featureless, but walking across the prairie, we saw several things. Most surprising was the green tree frog; but after getting home and reading more, green tree frogs like damp areas and parts of this land was damp. My husband spotted the brown frog (not sure of species yet), and I found the bleached white turtle shell. As you can tell, he’s better at spotting camouflaged creatures; he’s also the whiz with the camera. You can bet, we’ll revisit this prairie area several times this year for more pictures.

Want to write something new?

  • Evaluate. What have you been writing? Is there a topic you’re passionate about or a genre you’ve longed to write in?
  • Challenge Yourself. Take a risk. Challenge yourself and go for it.
  • Research the Market. Part of my challenge was that I wanted to see what innovative marketing can do for a book. I went looking for a company that was doing innovative things.
  • Write and Submit. Follow through. Do it!

Once a book is published, it takes on a life of its own. I’m excited about the journey that Prairie Storms will take without me and excited about where it will take me that I never expected.

  • Mary Nida Smith
    April 12, 2010

    Darcy, great information, Thanks. Congradulations on your nature book. Can’t wait to read it
    Mary Nida

  • Kristin Wolden Nitz
    April 12, 2010

    Congratulations, Darcy! Thanks for sharing the journey behind this book!

  • Kimberley Griffiths Little
    April 12, 2010

    GREAT article, Darcy. And big congrats!!! You got me suddenly thinking about a topic Sylvan Dell might be interested in . . . and I LOVE how innovative they are.

  • Scotti Cohn
    April 12, 2010

    Congratulations, Darcy and welcome to “the Sylvan Dell family”! My second book for Sylvan Dell — Big Cat, Little Kitty — is scheduled to be published in spring 2011 (Feb.-Mar.)

  • Darcy Pattison
    April 13, 2010

    Scotti: Good luck on your new Sylvan Dell book!
    Kimberley: Yes, Sylvan Dell is innovative. In today’s business climate, it’s refreshing.
    Kristin and Mary Nida: Thanks for the congratulations. Nice to have supportive friends.


  • C
    April 15, 2010

    Congratulations on your book!!1