'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 9 October 2015

Blog Tour: Dianne Bates shares an Awesome Project

Kids' Book Review is delighted to welcome well-known children's book author Dianne Bates to share the publishing journey of her latest books, Awesome Animals: Dogs and Awesome Animals: Cats.

Some years ago I wrote three children’s non-fiction books about cats, dogs and horses as a book series. Each contained fun facts and amazing stories about animals – a Guinness Book of Records meets Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Each book had the same format as the other two titles. For example, Awesome Dogs looked at dogs in history, dog adventures, famous dogs and famous people’s dogs, TV, stage and movie dogs; and working, lucky, and clever dogs. There were many jaw-dropping facts about dogs, stories that were amazing but true, jokes and verse featuring dogs, and for the true dog-lovers, there was a list of children’s novels featuring dogs.

I also created a marketing proposal to help any publisher make a decision to publish the series. The proposal included the demographics of the intended audience (children aged 8 to 12 years with a reading age of nine), a description of the series’ contents and approach, the main strengths of the series, any major competition (I couldn’t find any), markets to which the series would appeal and an author bio. I then found as many possible publishers for the series and began my submissions.

I submitted my book series to over 30 publishers I thought might be interested, and when I had exhausted all possibilities, I put my manuscripts in the proverbial ‘bottom drawer’. Years followed and I had more or less forgotten about my animal series. Then one day I was reviewing a beautifully designed, attractive and well-written children's non-fiction book by an Australian publisher I’d not heard of before – Big Sky Publishing, based in Sydney. When I saw on their website that Big Sky specialised in non-fiction books, I remembered my book series and made a submission.

Within a month of sending my manuscript I received an email from the publisher Diane Evans saying Big Sky was interested; all three books were contracted the following month. This was the beginning of what has turned out to be a very happy journey for me. The publisher was a total delight to work with, and when I was sent samples of the glorious artwork and page designs to approve, I was even happier.

Sharon Evans, who is responsible for book promotion, has also been a blessing in the publishing process. Big Sky Publishing also promotes their titles via schools through Redgum Book Club focusing on quality children’s books for children aged 4 to 13 years of age. Distributed nationally my book will reach so many more children than would be possible with most other publishers. On top of that, Jodie Bennett, who also works with the Evans’ sisters, has been responsible for the production and delivery of bookmarks and posters – all in full, bright colour, and like the illustrations in each of the books, beautifully designed and presented.

Each of the books feature lots of gorgeous illustrations combined with coloured photographic images of adorable dogs and cats from Best Friends Rescue and Little Legs Cat Rescue. The inclusion of real-life images and stories of the charismatic animals from these pet rescue organisations adds another level of education and inspiration.

I could not really have imagined that that the Awesome Cats, Dogs and Horses’ books would turn out as brilliantly as they have. My whole experience with Big Sky Publishing from start to finish has been an author’s dream... in fact I really couldn’t have dreamed it, only hoped for it.

Dianne Bates is an Australian author and freelance writer who has written more than 120 children's books. Her recent books include A Game of KeepsThe Girl in the Basement, and Nobody's Boy. Di is also the editor of children's publishing industry e-zine Buzzwords Magazine. Her latest books are the first two titles in a series by Big Sky PublishingAwesome Animals:Dogs and Awesome Animals: Cats. Visit Di's website, Enterprising Words, to find out more about books and writing projects.