Here is the second half of Heather's fascinating journey. And a huge congrats to her on the release of her debut picture book, BEDTIME MONSTER.
Guest Post- Heather Ayris Burnell
Bedtime Monster was illustrated and put into the Spring 2009 catalog. Unfortunately, there was still more waiting to come. Raven Tree Press sent the illustrated book out on an initial test and the results came back negative.
WHAT? Publishing houses run focus groups??? (I've always said they should, but never knew they actually DID!)
Readers found the illustrations too dark and scary. Luckily, they liked the story, and Raven Tree Press believed in it, so they set out to find a new illustrator with an eye towards Spring 2010 publication. I was a bit shocked.
Holy cow! Wouldn't it make sense to do some initial tests earlier? Like... before an entire book is illustrated?
I didn’t know these sorts of things were done, but I was also pretty glad about it. I hadn’t taken a real liking to the initial illustrations myself. I mean, they were good. The monster was monstrous. But it was certainly not a sweet rendition of a bedtime monster as I had imagined. It was more of a big kid scary type of monster, and Bedtime Monster is a story for younger children in the learning to go to bed period of their life. I didn’t want them to be afraid of the monster, I wanted them to relate to him.
So, here we are in October of 2008, and I decided to take the opportunity to speak up about how I saw the illustrations, soft and having a sweet and innocent appearance. They listened. In March ‘09 I found out that Bonnie Adamson was illustrating Bedtime Monster when I received the cover illustration. I was thrilled. The color palate was soft and colorful. The shadow was mysterious. I looked up Bonnie’s website. Her illustrations were adorable. I couldn’t wait to see what Paul looked like.
In January 2010 I interviewed Bonnie for my Illustrator of the Month feature on my blog. She sent some sketches of Paul the boy and Paul the monster. I was delighted because he was adorable! Bonnie told me the illustrations would be completed by the end of February. In the interim, I was sent edits on the manuscript. A few things had been cut so I suggested some additional changes. We also developed activities to go along with the book and those extra sorts of things needed for promotion.
April 9th brought a new surprise. My editor stepped down from her position. I was told I was going to be left in capable hands, but wasn’t specifically told that my book was still going to be published so, as a natural-born worrier, I worried! Luckily it wasn’t too long before I was reassured that Bedtime Monster was still a go.
April 22nd I was emailed my proofs. June 9th I received my galleys to proof. June 14th they were approved and sent to the printer. I received my glorious box full of Bedtime Monster books on September 8th. Bedtime Monster releases on September 16, 2010.
That's today, folks! I'm off to order it right now!!!
Phew. It’s been an interesting ride. Hopefully I’ll get to go on another one soon.