One Sheep, Two Sheep with Editorial Director Meredith Mundy (+giveaway)

WARNING! Brace yourselves for some barnyard ridiculousness on October 19. That’s the release date for my latest book with Troy Cummings called One Sheep, Two Sheep.

Feel free to pre-order a signed-by-yours-truly copy: Click here! Click here! Click here!

This is what Kirkus has to say about this bedtime barnyard book:

“The wide-eyed, smiling critters and the deadpan humor are a good pairing. A fine addition to the sleepy sheepy canon.”

Nice huh?

One Sheep, Two Sheep stars the same cast as Not Now, Cow. (To learn more about that book and get some great advice, I suggest you check out my interview with my pal Troy Cummings.)

Both books are brought to you by the fine folks at Abrams Appleseed.

Today, one of those fine folks–the warm and wonderful Meredith Mundy–is visiting Picture Book Builders.

TS: Welcome to Picture Book Builders, Meredith!

Back when you were with Sterling Publishing, we worked together on books including (but not limited to!) Mary Had a Little Glam, Your Alien, Your Alien Returns, But the Bear Came Back, and Caring for Your Lion. Now that you’re at Abrams, we’ve gone on to do Not Now, Cow and the soon-to-be-released One Sheep, Two Sheep. According to my calculations, that’s a lot of books.  

What was it about these manuscripts that made you say YES?

MM: You are a VERY prolific author, Tammi, and while the list above may suggest that I say YES to every one of your manuscripts, that’s not the case. (You write many more stories than I could ever publish at one house!) My reason for saying yes to all of the titles above is pretty simple: each one of them came to me with a real emotional center. Yes, these books also have big doses of humor and silliness, but at their hearts is a child-centered concern that gets resolved in the art and the storytelling. That’s what drew me to each of them, and what I think speaks to kids and their book-buying caregivers and educators, too.

TS: I love that answer! I think it’s something writers should print out and tape to their computer screens. I know I will!

Please tell us a little about the acquisitions process a manuscript goes through at Abrams.

MM: Editors take projects they are excited about to an Editorial Meeting first—attended by all the other children’s book editors. If that group is enthusiastic about the proposal, then it goes to a second meeting called “Pub Board.” At that point, we have gathered up a list of comp titles, any relevant info about the author (including their sales tracks if one exists), and we have estimated costs to see what the financial picture might look like for each project. This meeting is attended by a lot of folks: our Sales, Sub Rights, Design, Digital, Finance, Executive, and Marketing & Publicity teams. It’s a tough crowd, as it should be! It costs a LOT of time and money to create each book, and we want to be sure that the whole company is 100% on board before we make an offer for publication. It’s so exciting when we DO get that green light and are able to make an offer!

TS: Not Now, Cow and One Sheep, Two Sheep started out as two of four short chapters in a picture book. Initially, you were drawn to these chapters and thought they might work as board books. Soon afterward, Abrams encouraged me to revisit the board book manuscripts and extend them into young picture books. Troy and I brainstormed about how to go about doing this. It was a lot of fun returning to this cast of characters and extending the stories! Can you share a little bit as to why a board book submission might end up becoming a young picture book?

MM: Thank goodness for email! I was able to dive back into my 2018 inbox to see what we’d discussed. I had COMPLETELY forgotten that you initially sent in Not Now, Cow and One Sheep, Two Sheep as two “chapters” in a funny little farmyard compilation picture book. It was adorable, but the chaptered format didn’t seem quite right. I took the proposal to our editorial meeting and suggested to the group that the chapters would be lovely as two separate board books. I took those to our Pub Board meeting, and that group really liked them, too, but the financials looked ghastly. It was difficult then—and is even more difficult now—to publish original board books. The retail price for most board books is under $10, and the production costs are surprisingly high (a board book is created by gluing together many, many sheets of paper, and paper is pricey!) which means the margins are razor thin, leaving very little to work with in terms of advances for authors and illustrators. Back to the drawing board! If we could publish these books first as unjacketed picture books, and LATER as board books, we could make the numbers work. In order to make them feel just right for the 3-5 age group (as opposed to the 0-3 crowd), you very skillfully expanded the texts with more character development and more plot, and voila! Two hilarious, wildly-appealing unjacketed picture books were born!

TS: When you received Not Now, Cow and One Sheep, Two Sheep, right away you mentioned Troy Cummings would be the perfect fit illustrator-wise. I wholeheartedly agreed because, well, Troy’s a genius, he’s hilarious, AND he’s a genuinely awesome human being. He has all the good qualities! Does this happen often? That you read a manuscript and immediately envision where to take the book art-wise?

MM: My email trail is failing me a bit here, and I could be wrong, but I have a very strong memory of *you* suggesting Troy for these books, and *I* being the one to wholeheartedly agree that he would be perfect for these texts for all the reasons you mention above! You and I had had a ball working with Troy on Caring for Your Lion, and I think we were both eager to get the band back together.

It happens occasionally that an author will suggest an illustrator and that person gets chosen to work on the book, but the decision really lies with the art director, and more often than not, the AD will have a dozen other illustrator suggestions in the hopper to be considered. I am always amazed by the wonderful artists our designers and art directors come up with for projects I may have had very different visions for initially!

TS: Ha! Well, I’m not sure which one of us thought of Troy first, but that person is a total smartypants. 🙂 And I KNOW the three of us make a fierce team. Evidence:

Side Note: I’m guessing this book might be one of Meredith’s assistant Mina’s all-time favorites. She strikes me as a cat who recognizes quality feline literature!

TS: What do you think readers will find particularly funny about One Sheep, Two Sheep? What do you think they’ll find endearing?

MM: I think readers will completely crack up as the poor rooster becomes more and more exasperated. He just wants to count SHEEP, for crying out loud! Why is this so hard?! And I think they will find it completely endearing that the rooster’s friends really do want to help him out and decide to dress up as sheep so the poor fellow can get some sleep. The sheep costumes Troy painted for the final scene are just PRICELESS.

TS: Please pass along a piece of advice for the picture book-creating crowd.

MM: Always have several picture book ideas in your back pocket. Your first idea or manuscript may not be the one that inspires and delights an editor, but if there is interest in your tone or style or sense of humor, be ready to submit something new to see if it might hit the mark!

BIO:

Meredith Mundy (she/her) is Editorial Director of Abrams Appleseed and the Abrams preschool program. She has been editing books for young readers for more than twenty-five years and hopes to continue doing so for at least twenty-five more! She started her career at Random House as an editorial assistant and keeper of the Junie B. Jones bible. She then worked for eleven years at Dutton Children’s Books and for thirteen years at Sterling Children’s Books. She joined Abrams Books in 2018 and has been busily acquiring new projects for her target audience of 0 to 5 ever since. Meredith is looking specifically for under-represented authors and illustrators with ideas for original and unusual board books and novelty books centering around a strong concept, holiday hook, or under-published topic. She’s also seeking very young picture books with minimal word counts but plenty of humor and heart.

_________

GIVEAWAY:

Abrams Appleseed is offering up a copy of One Sheep, Two Sheep. For a chance to get your hands on this sleepy, sheepy, book, please leave a comment on this post. For an extra chance, share the post on Twitter. Be sure to tag @SauerTammi and @troycummings.

Tammi Sauer

Tammi Sauer, a former teacher and library media specialist, is a full-time children's book author who presents at schools and conferences across the country. Getting kids excited about reading and writing is Tammi's passion. Her other passion is mango tea. In addition to winning awards and garnering starred reviews, Tammi's books have gone on to do great things. Nugget & Fang was made into a musical that toured the nation. To date, the show has been performed more than 150 times. Wordy Birdy was named a Spring Kids' Indie Next pick, a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, and a Barnes & Noble Best Book of the Month. Your Alien, an NPR Best Book of the Year, was released in Italian, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and French which makes her feel extra fancy. Tammi's latest books include Nugget & Fang Go to School, The Farm that Mac Built, and Not Now, Cow. There are many more books on the way. To learn more about Tammi, visit her site at tammisauer.com.

86 Comments:

  1. This post is so great!! Thanks for bundles of insight, Meredith and Tammi!

  2. Great post! It was so interesting to get this behind-the-scenes look at your book. And thank you both for sharing such helpful tips. Congratulations on your newest book, Tammi! It looks hilarious and adorable! 🙂

  3. Adorable! I can’t wait to see it. Congrats to all!

  4. How fun…thanks for sharing!

  5. What a sheep-tacular tale! Can’t wait to add this title to my Sauer shelf.
    Congrats!

  6. This book sounds hilarious! I can’t wait to read it. I love the humorous dialogue and the great illustrations. Congratulations!

  7. Great interview, Tammi and Meredith! I loved reading how your initial PB submission morphed into something else.

  8. This was incredibly insightful! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience and expertise.

  9. Great post. I always enjoy hearing about what makes an agent say yes!

  10. Great post. I always enjoy hearing about what makes an editor say yes!

  11. Danielle Hammelef

    I enjoyed this interview and can’t wait to read and study this book as mentor text for my own writing. I enjoy this author’s work as well as the illustrator. I shared on Twitter: https://twitter.com/dhammelef/status/1443972184649736221

  12. Love reading the back story of book projects. Thank you for sharing.

  13. What an interesting interview with your editor! I enjoyed learning about the behind the scenes of acquiring a book. Congratulations on your new book! It looks like lots of fun!

  14. Tammi and Meredith, congratulations!!! I really enjoyed your conversation. Her books are some of our favorites in our home and this one promises to bring just as many laughs as her others. Thank you for this wonderful look at your acquisitions.

  15. What a fun conversation to go along with another of Tammi’s humorous books! Congratulations!

  16. Looking forward to reading this one. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  17. This looks like another winner–congrats, Tammy! Love hearing the behind-the-scenes info about acquisitions meetings & learning about board book costs/issues, and how the two of you collaborated to make things just right.

  18. I love the “You are a chicken…You are a cow…You are a pig” spread.

    Also, it was interesting to hear about the economics of board books. Thanks.

  19. This was wonderfully, Tammi! I loved learning about the process with these two books and how you revised them to work! Excited to read!

  20. Loved this interview! Such a great behind-the-scenes look…especially the decision that took this book from a picture book with chapters to board books to individual picture books. So interesting! Congrats, Tammi! Looking forward to reading it!

  21. Debra Kempf Shumaker

    What a fantastic post! And the book sounds hilarious. Can’t wait to read it!

  22. Congratulations, Tammi! I can’t wait to read this book. Wonderful interview, too.

  23. I always love hearing the backstory!

  24. Loved this interview. Congratulations, Tammi and Troy on this delightful-looking book! I look forward to reading it.

  25. Informative and this book sounds lovely!

  26. So much insight in this interview. Thanks for the interview and congratulations on your book.

  27. Another darling book! Tammi, I wish you could bottle your energy and creativity and sell it. I’d be first in line!

  28. I love this interview! Hearing all the behind the scenes stuff is so enlightening! Congrats Tammi and Meredith. These books sound fabulous!

  29. Great post! Thanks for sharing insight on the behind the scene process. I can’t wait to order!

  30. This book looks great! Count me in!

  31. A fresh, fun spin on counting sheep–love it! Great interview, Tammi. Thank you!

  32. Love Tammi’s books. Great interview.

  33. I learned some things about publishing – I always figured board books might be more expensive to publish and your explanation was helpful. Great idea to first go for the 3-5 year olds. I look forward to reading this whole story…..

  34. Congrats, Tammi and Troy! I loved Not Now, Cow! I can’t wait to read One Sheep, Two Sheep. Wonderful advice from Meredith about having several PB ideas in one’s pocket.

    I shared on Twitter.
    https://twitter.com/PicBkBuilders/status/1443992770977439745?s=20

  35. So pleased to see this silly cast of characters once again. I look forward to reading ONE SHEEP, TWO SHEEP.

  36. Love the fabulous advice and look forward to another AMAZING SAUER/CUMMINGS COLAB. Can’t wait!

  37. Tammi, as always, it looks hilarious! Congratulations on another winner!

  38. Congratulations, Tammi and Troy, on what is sure to be another hilarious collaboration! Loved how we got a behind-the-scenes look from Meredith, and how this interview showed the transformation from chaptered pb to board book to pb. Kudos!

  39. Great interview. Can’t wait to see One Sheep, Two Sheep 🙂

  40. Love this post! Can’t wait to read this book to my kindergartners, as we loved Not Now, Cow! Just from the preview here, I can see how I can use it in a future phonics lesson 🙂 I just shared this on Twitter!

  41. Terrific post. Learned so much about the editorial process. Great advice to have a store of picture books ready to go!

  42. So interesting to hear how the initial format of the stories changed from their initial ideation through final jacketless picture book and board book products. Congrats on another successful book launch and looking forward to checking it out!

  43. What a great interview! I loved hearing about Meredith’s/Abrams’ process. “[E]ach one of them came to me with a real emotional center.” We talk all the time about this, but somehow this interview brought this idea home to me, and I’m not giving the side-eye to many mss that haven’t sold yet. Thank you, and can’t wait to read this new book!

  44. Oh my! That looks like a fun book!

  45. So cute! Congratulations, Tammi!

  46. Fun post, Tammy and Meredith! Thanks for the behind-the-scenes look at One Sheep, Two Sheep – I can’t wait to check it out. I appreciate all of the helpful tips sprinkled in with the humor from both of you!🙂

  47. As always, you hit it out of the park or should I say barn! Can’t wait to read this one to my grands. Great advice also. Thank you!

  48. I just happen to be reading this post on the book’s birthday! Congratulations! I can’t wait to read it.

  49. I just happen to be reading this post on the book’s birthday! Congratulations! I can’t wait to read it. It’s so great that you could partner with the same illustrator again.

  50. Not sure how I missed this fascinating post, but happy book birthday today! Can’t wait to read it!

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