I recently came across two darling books for children by author/designer Rae Grant...Cooking Fun, 121 Simple Recipes to Make with Kids and Crafting Fun, 101 Things to Make and Do with Kids. The wire-o bound books are reminiscent of my favorite Betty Crocker Cookie Book that I had as a child.
The fun, retro design is very appealing, and sweet. The crafts are all organized by season, and are at various levels of complexity. I can imagine having great fun making some of Rae's ideas with Jake when he is a little older! Cooking Fun contains simple recipes that are appealing to children (like Emergency Soup, Rainy Day Rice Pudding, and Can't Sleep Hot Milk and Honey). I asked Rae if she would mind sharing her story with us. Here's what she has to say (my comments are in italics):
1. How did you get your first book published?
My first published book as an author/packager was an illustrated gift book called ARIAKE. It was accepted by one of my favorite publishers, Chronicle Books. It was my first collage-illustrated book and based on a little handmade letterpress book of ancient Japanese love poems that I had made for my boyfriend (now husband).
Book packagers can be individuals or companies that put a complete book "package" together to sell to a traditional publisher. Rae had the skills to do this as she is both an author AND a graphic designer. See an interesting article here.
2. What was your next big break?
My next big break was meeting and working with my editor at St. Martin’s Press, B J Berti. I had a detailed proposal for a crafting and cooking book for kids and sent her a package to consider. She made me an offer soon after seeing the proposal.
3. What is your educational background?
I have a BA from Hampshire College. After graduating, I was lucky enough to apprenticeship with Harold McGrath, the master printer for The Pennyroyal Press. It was a wonderful experience to learn about type design, paper, and limited edition bookmaking. It influenced my career direction as a book designer enormously.
4. Where do you get your inspiration for Crafting Fun and Cooking Fun?
My Grandmother Minta was my original inspiration for Crafting Fun and Cooking Fun. She was a homemaker, a wonderful cook, gardener, and seamstress. She taught me the value of making things at home and the virtue of being independent. Looking back, I now realize that my grandmother believed childhood was a magical time of freedom and enjoyment. I have tried to recapture that spirit of childhood fun in both of these books.
5. What were some of your first rejections, and what made you keep going?
I wrote my first children’s book years ago and submitted it to Houghton Mifflin. I received a very nice letter back saying they liked it but didn’t think it was right for their press but to keep writing. I’m sure I saved the letter because it was a thrill to hear back from a publisher. I filed away the story and went on to work on other things, but I still believe in that story and know that sometime I may return to it.
6. What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Social networking is important in the field of book publishing. It’s important to join publishing groups, writer’s guilds, and read books to find out how the industry works. If you want to publish material, do your homework before you try to submit a piece of work for consideration. Whether it is finding an agent to represent your work, or sending in an unsolicited manuscript, it’s best to have an introduction from someone in the business.
Many thanks to Rae for sharing her experiences with us, and congratulations on the publication of her two darling books! For more tips and info about Rae and her books, please click here.