Rochelle Groskreutz released her debut picture book, Easter Elf, just in time for Easter. After featuring her book as one of the Best Picture Books to Gather for Easter, I had the pleasure of interviewing her about her journey.
Here’s what Rochelle Groskreutz had to say about her book and what it took to get it published!
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Interview with Rochelle Groskreutz on her Debut Picture Book:
1. You have your debut picture book, Easter Elf that came out this month. Tell us a little bit about the book?
Easter Elf is a sweet (but sugar-free) treat for young readers this Easter. In the book bearing his name, Easter Elf (the awkward but determined main character), is warming up for Easter Elf Spring Training when in crashes Christmas Elf on a sleigh drawn by inexperienced reindeer-in-training.
Christmas Elf promptly joins the spring training fun, and unfortunately for Easter Elf, steals the spotlight—hopping higher, weaving better baskets, and shredding more grass than Easter Elf. But, when the training activities break for lunch, Easter Elf discovers something even more important than being the best—the opportunity to help a friend.
With a free, downloadable activity kit that parallels Easter Elf’s activities at spring training, the book offers young readers and their families hours of interactive holiday fun.
2. Where did your inspiration come from for this book?
I got the idea about five years ago in late November when it was almost time for our family’s annual visit from our Elf on the Shelf.™ It got me thinking about other holidays, and realizing that surely the Easter Bunny couldn’t fill all those baskets, hide eggs, and do other Easter-time tasks alone!
3. Walk us through the process you went through from idea to publication:
My original Easter Elf character was snarky and thought Christmas elves had it easy compared to Easter elves. It started as an interactive book that I pitched to my critique group about readers helping Easter Elf with Eastery tasks.
I played around with several drafts and approaches before I was fortunate to have Abby Nies-Janowiec, editor and founder of KWiL Publishing, make me an offer in the fall of 2017. Abby was actually an original member of my PB critique group, so she knew of the story and felt drawn to something about it from the onset.
Abby’s feedback always resonated with me from our critique group days, so it was really fun to work with her on Easter Elf. The story morphed into more of a holiday mash-up once Abby and I started collaborating on it.
4. Are you agented? If not yet, do you plan to be?
I did sign with an agent in April 2016, but we, unfortunately, were not an ideal match and parted ways after 16 months. Yes, I would love to have an agent, but it took me nearly a year to get the guts to start the process of finding one over again. I plan to pursue my search more intently after the Easter Elf excitement subsides.
5. Do you have any new books in the works?
I do! I’ve been shopping around a creative STEM nonfiction manuscript about small-as-a-crumb termites that are blind, never sleep, belong to a family of one million, and build mounds as tall as a multi-story home…who says insects aren’t fascinating☺?!
I also have other nonfiction and fiction PB manuscripts and one MG novel in the works, but haven’t found the right agent or editorial home for them yet.
6. What’s the most challenging part of publishing?
Containing your excitement for the book’s release day, but also preparing yourself for the marketing side of being an author. Also, it’s not fun when you get a crummy
Our first review was from Kirkus and it stunk, but then I got a positive one from Publishers Weekly, so it all worked out.
7. What was the biggest obstacle you ran into?
Trying to secure school visits was challenging for me. I solicited at least 30 schools and ended up with just three visits. Plus the challenge of this being a holiday book, I knew I had just seven weeks to promote it before the Easter season was over.
But I found creative ways to do that, such as partnering with a local mall to have a pop-up “Easter fun” family table with crafts, snacks and my book next to the area where children visit the Easter Bunny.
8. What was your favorite part of the process?
Because KWiL is an independent publisher, I got to be involved in the process of seeing the Easter Elf character that the talented Leah DiPasquale developed and watch her illustrations really bring the story to life.
9. What was one thing you learned?
That having a book published is about so much more than the book being published…You really have to be willing to put yourself out there and think of creative ways to promote and market your work to build visibility, connect with your readers, and ultimately boost sales.
10. What would be your best advice for someone hoping to get their book published?
BE PATIENT and PERSISTENT. If you think long-term success happens overnight, you picked the wrong industry. From rock stars to famous painters, real progress in any creative-based profession like ours is not about “making it” but about how many times you dust yourself off and forge on after rejection and setback.
If in your heart you love doing it, you’ll have more of that death-grip mentality to hold on until you succeed and persevere despite your next inevitable disappointment.
You can pick up Easter Elf by Rochelle Groskreutz on Amazon. It’s the perfect addition to your Easter basket this year!
Also be sure to check out Rochelle’s website, for local events where you can meet her and have her sign your copy.
And for more tips, read the interview with Connie Dow about her debut picture book here.