Paper People: Annie Silvestro

I don’t know about you, but it seems like everywhere I turn lately Annie Silvestro is there!  Her debut picture book, BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB is an adorably charming read. (If you love libraries and little bits of nostalgia as much as I do, you have to check out the end pages!) But that wasn’t even the only book she released in 2017, and she’s starting 2018 with a bang! Read on for the wonderful nuggets of wisdom she shared and keep an eye out for the links to her other wonderful posts! AnnieSilvestro-2

Annie, thanks for being here! As always, in honor of my southern roots, “Can I get you something to drink?”  I’d love a hot tea, thank you!

Perfect! One of my resolutions for 2018 is to learn to love hot tea.  I’ll have whatever she’s having, probably with a little extra sugar and cream. (Do you drink cream in tea? Or is that just coffee? I have a lot to learn.)  So this might be a bit of an understatement, but 2017 was a good year for you- BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB was released and then a short ten months later you introduced MICE SKATING to the world.  It seems you’re carrying that momentum over into 2018 too! For starters, you had a guest post as a part of the Storystorm challenge (one of my favorites so far), you’re a mentor for Writing With The Stars, you have a book-iversary coming up, and then in the fall is release of your third picture book!  More on all of that a little later. Would you mind telling us a little about yourself, and how you started writing for children?  Thank you so much – it was a surreal and exciting year for sure! I have always been passionate about all things Kid Lit related. Though I got my start in magazine publishing, my heart was always in Kid Lit. Once I went to my first National SCBWI conference in NYC, I knew I had to make the leap. So I started writing, reading as much as I could, then I joined a critique group and became active in my local SCBWI chapter.

I hope it’s okay if I start off asking you about Picture the Books!  Almost the entire list of authors I hope to interview here on Paper People this year (2018) comes from Picture the Books. It’s a wonderful, incredibly talented group (they have a blog, go check it out!).  Can you tell us about the groups inception? How did you become a member? Julie Segal-Walters, author of the hilarious THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK, came up with the initial idea and then enlisted Katey Howes and Ariel Bernstein to co-found Picture the Books. I knew Julie, Katey, and Ariel through the NJ SCBWI. Through that connection, along with a shout out from Twitter about 2017 debuts, I learned about PTB and jumped aboard. I am so grateful I did! The support, advice, and friendship from this amazing group of authors and illustrators has been invaluable throughout this whole process. I have no doubt the bonds we built this year will carry on for years to come.

Everyone that I’ve ‘met’ (electronically speaking) so far, which includes you, Anna Forrester (she’ll be here next month) and Katey Howes have been incredibly kind and generous with your time and wisdom.  Was there a person that acted as a mentor for you when you started your journey? My person is definitely Beth Ferry, the hugely talented author of STICK AND STONE, A SMALL BLUE WHALE, and many other titles. She’s my most trusted writing partner, advice-giver, and has become one of my very best friends to boot. I don’t know what I would do without her!

And you’re planning paying it forward! I mentioned earlier that you’re a 2018 WWTS Mentor.  Can you talk a little about what you hope to achieve as a mentor?  What do you envision those three months looking like for you and the writer you select? (If you hurry you can still apply- deadline is Jan 13!) I am so excited and honored to be a WWTS Mentor! I truly hope I can offer my mentee a fresh perspective on his or her manuscripts and solid advice about every aspect of publishing I’ve learned about so far.  I’d love to make a positive impact on an emerging author, and I’m sure I will learn a lot as well!

Okay, back to BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB, because that’s really where it all started for you.  Was that your first picture book manuscript?  How long was it a ‘work in progress’? Bunny was not my first manuscript, but it’s definitely where it all started for me as it was the manuscript that helped me find my agent Liza Voges, the first story Liza sold, and then the first of my stories out in the world. It was a long road filled with many revisions both major and minor. I found some first sentences about it in my 2011 Storystorm journal!

How great that it all came full circle for you! I’m having a blast with Storystorm this year. I know that I stumble upon ideas every day, but holding myself accountable and writing them down is wonderfully energizing.  As I read BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB, I was a little envious and wanted to run out and find one of my own! Have you ever been a part of a book club, like Bunny’s? What’s your favorite thing to read for pleasure?  Yes! I was in a great neighborhood book club for years. I loved it because I would end up reading books I never would have chosen on my own. I mainly read fiction and most often Middle Grade and YA – I’m a huge Maggie Stiefvater fan, and I just finished & loved THE WAR I FINALLY WON by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, DEAR MARTIN by Nic Stone, and THE INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS by Dusti Bowling. In non-kidlit I laughed out loud at CLASS MOM by Laurie Gelman.

 On February 7 you’ll have been a published author for one whole year! Happy early Book-iversary!  Thank you! It has been such a joy and a gift to have Bunny out in the world and to have gotten such a lovely response from readers. It has absolutely been surreal! And wonderful! A celebration sounds good to me.

Do you remember the first time you saw BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB? on a bookstore shelf? Definitely! I went to the B&N where my critique group meets – it was very special to see it on that store’s shelf after having originally revised it sitting in the same place. It was also awesome taking my boys to my local independent bookstore, River Road Books, and seeing it on display!

I’m curious about marketing strategies. What worked well for you when it was released? How did you get it on those shelves? I had an excellent partner in Penguin Random House/Doubleday and I’m so grateful for all they have done to market the book. They helped get it distributed far and wide and featured Tatjana Mai-Wyss’s adorable artwork in many places as well. I had such fun visiting lots of local bookstores, libraries, and schools. I’m a big fan of Twitter. And as we talked about earlier, Picture The Books was another awesome boost in getting the word out. Try to have some fun swag for your book, like bookmarks or buttons, but don’t break the bank.

What’s been the most surprising thing about making it to the published side of the industry? Was there anything different about your experience with MICE SKATING that surprised/enlightened you? It’s fascinating to learn how things work with different publishing houses and editors every step of the way. I was more relaxed about the debut of MICE SKATING and had some relationships already established which made some of the promotion a bit easier. Getting to meet Teagan White, the incredible illustrator of MICE SKATING, and to participate in the NY Times Facebook Live where Teagan did a live drawing session, was a huge surprise and delight.

MICE+SKATING+COVER

 Like I said earlier, your third book, THE CHRISTMAS TREE WHO LOVED TRAINS,   is due out next fall.  Can you tell us a little about it?!?  Do you have anything else coming down the pipe, awaiting publication?  Where can we find and follow you on social media?  Yes! This story is near and dear to my heart because my oldest son is such a train-lover. It’s a unique friendship story at its core, and a story about how the spirit of Christmas can last well longer than the holiday season.  I’m also excited about the sequel to BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB – BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB GOES TO SCHOOL, out in Summer of 2019!

 

You can find me on Twitter and Instagram, @anniesilvestro, or on my website: http://www.anniesilvestro.com

Oh, a sequel!! That’s fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing your time and energy with us. I can’t wait to see what else 2018 has in store for you!

Thanks so much for having me!

Stay tuned next month, I’ll be talking with Anna Forrester about her inspiring and enlightening debut picture book, BAT COUNT. I also have a few guest posts by some of my pre-published friends lined up in the coming months (not to mention I have to start blogging more consistently, myself.)  I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thanks for reading, come back anytime!

-JP

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