By Kim Briggs
Hi everyone! It’s time our local chapter members got up close and personal with published authors and illustrators from our region. First off, we have Adam Lehrhaupt, the author of Warning: Do Not Open This Book.
So, tell me, when did you decide you wanted to be a picture book writer? I don’t think I ever made a choice to be a picture book writer.
I started out wanting to write the next great American novel. Full of war and philosophy and action. What came out was a poem about a dog. I just went with it. Now, 14+ years later, I am a PB author. It’s pretty cool.
What steps did you take to bring your story to life?
The journey for WARNING started a few years before I wrote the manuscript. I took a seminar at one of SBWI-EPA’s Pocono Retreats on out-of-the-biz picture books. Combined with a strategic family trip to Roatan Honduras, home of my crazy monkeys, this led to a 120 word manuscript that I brought to the first SCBWI-EPA CritiqueFest. My group was fantastic. But, the best part, was I made a connection with Lee Harper at the Fest. He suggested that his editor at S&S might like my MS and facilitated an introduction. The rest, as they say, is history.
How long did contract negotiations take?
Contract negotiations for my first book were fairly short. The conversation went something like:
Editor: We want to pub your book.
Editor: You’ll get this much.
Me: Cool. Editor: Any questions?
Me: Where do I sign?
What happened during the revision process? Was it difficult to hear criticism? How did you cope?
I have a 9-5 day job as an Art Director. This prepared me pretty well for the necessity of changing something I thought was pretty good to start with. But, Alex, my editor at S&S, had some great ideas. In the end, the MS became pretty awesome.
Did you collaborate much with the illustrator?
Not on WARNING, but for the sequel, PLEASE: OPEN THIS BOOK! we did collaborate a bunch. He had more say in the path of the story and I’ve had some ability to make suggestions on the art. It has been a much different process, but the end result is something that I think will top the first.
How long between signed contract to publication?
WARNING took 3 years from contract to pub date. It was a long time to wait, but now that the book is out in the world, I don’t remember any of the waiting.
Did you spend a lot of time on social media pre-publication?
I did. I spent 8 or 9 months building a presence and doing publicity type things on Twitter and Facebook. I set up a site for myself, with a blog, that I haven’t had much time for recently. Having these has been a huge help to me in getting word out about myself, my books, events, etc. It has also led to some great new friendships with authors, illustrators, librarians, and readers.
Do you spend much time on social media post-publication?
Not as much as I used to, but I still post a few things a week if not more often.
You spoke at the 2013 SCBWI EPA Fall Critique Fest. What other types of events have you participated in?
I’ve done a few author appearances at local bookshops. These are great because you get to interact with the store folks, their customers, and their kids. I have my first school visit coming up on Feb 28th. It is VERY nervous-making. I have a slideshow and some surprises planned so I think the kids will have a blast.
Who schedules events for you?
I do it all myself. The only real difficult part is finding the time to fit them in. People are usually great about working with my schedule though. The kidlit community is pretty awesome.
Do you try to stay local or are you willing to travel?
I love to travel. Actually, as I am finishing up these answers I am preparing to go to Austria for a week. Not book related, but it should be fun anyway.
What’s your event calendar looked like since your book release? Is your upcoming year just as packed?
The first few months after release were pretty busy, but things have tailed off a bit with winter and all the snow. I only have a couple more events planned right now, so I’m looking for opportunities.
Inquiring minds want to know, what projects can we expect to see in the future?
Well, there is the sequel that will be out this fall. And then, I expect some big news on one or two more projects to be coming in the next month or so. Keep your eyes and ears open for that. It’s all new, non-monkey stuff. I’m branching out.
Where can we find you?
Now for a teaser… Warning: Do Not Open This Book
What’s it about? Here’s what the publisher says:
CAUTION! This book contains monkeys, toucans, and a whole lot of silliness.
You really shouldn’t be opening this book.
Just put it back on the shelf.
You’re still reading this?
Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you…
It looks like a book, it feels like a book, and it even smells like a book. But watch out…madness and mayhem lie within! Debut author Adam Lehrhaupt urges you NOT to take a walk on the wild side in this humorous, interactive romp with inventive and engaging illustrations from Eisner Award-winning comic artist and rising star children’s book illustrator Matthew Forsythe.
This quirky, subversive creation begs to be enjoyed again and again and again.
Warning: Do Not Open This Book! is available from your local independent bookstore or one of the online retailers below:
Add Warning: Do Not Open This Book! to your shelf at these sites:
Thanks Adam! Enjoy your trip!
And SCBWI EPA friends, don’t forgot to support our local authors and illustrators. My kids fight over Adam’s book, and of course, the monkeys join in on the fun!