Chitchat with Editor Jackie Kruzie of Blue Whale Press, plus a Giveaway and an Exclusive Submission Opportunity!
Jackie, congratulations on your new editor position at Blue Whale Press! This is such happy news and the beginning of an exciting journey! I am thrilled for you, and honored to have the exclusive interview with you as an editor — thank you for being my guest!
Please tell us a bit about your background and how you stepped into the editor position. What led to this new role, how did you get the news, and what was your initial reaction?
JK: I served as the Regional Advisor for my chapter of SCBWI from 2016-2019. During this time I met incredible kitlit creatives including Blue Whale Press editor Alayne Kay Christian. We became fast friends and attended many SCBWI events together. I was nervous to submit my work to a friend as I didn't want our friendship to seem contingent on career advancement. I ultimately chose not to submit.
We were out to lunch one day when she asked, "why haven't you submitted to me?" I confessed my apprehension and she assured me she knew I was not angling for a contract. She also told me one would only be offered if my work was up to par and not because we are friends. I decided she was exactly the type of no-nonsense editor I wanted to work with, so I sent in a project I had been working on for a few years. After a couple of revise and resubmit rounds she offered a contract for my upcoming picture book Mixed-Up Menagerie.
When Alayne decided to retire from BWP she suggested me as her replacement to our parent publisher Clear Fork Publishing. I was honored, elated, speechless, and a million other adjectives! I had a Zoom interview with Callie Metler, whom I had also met during my time as SCBWI Regional Advisor, and now here I am being interviewed as an editor. Life is certainly unpredictable.
Life certainly is unpredictable! And I'm glad that you and I have been friends for many years and I can say I knew you back when... Okay, so what comes next? What are your duties at Blue Whale Press? What does your day-to-day look like?
JK: My responsibilities at BWP is to read and review picture book manuscripts before presenting potential acquisitions to the Clear Fork Publishing advisory board. I am also a participating member of the advisor board which means I get to review manuscripts and proposals from other imprints. I love this part of my job! I get to read excellent works and discuss marketing strategies for upcoming releases.
Once a manuscript is acquired for BWP it is time to find an illustrator, create a story board, and ensure the final product is polished to perfection.
As far as my day-to-day, I like to read submissions in the morning over a cup of coffee. Once my editor duties are done then I can focus on my personal projects and fun stuff like a blog interview with my good friend Rosie.
Ah, glad to be contributing to the fun stuff of your day, my friend, as I wouldn't want to add more work or chores to it ;)!
On a broader scale, what is the Imprint's mission overall with the books they publish? Do you anticipate any changes now that you've taken over?
JK: My predecessor, Alayne Kay Christian, had a wonderful eye for quality writing and a passion for projects that were informative and timeless. I mirror her vision and will focus on fiction and nonfiction for mass market distribution.
It is my goal to see BWP books in every library, store, and gift shop as well as featured on blogs, podcasts, and other social media outlets. I want to help jump start careers and smile with pride as our amazing authors and illustrators find success in the literary world.
Are you actively acquiring new books at this time and are you currently open to submissions? Who can submit -- authors, illustrator or both? Do you take agented, unsolicited, or both? Do you reply to all submissions or only if interested, and what is the timeframe for a reply?
I will be open to submission for the month of March (with a few exclusive opportunities...wink wink). I will then be closed for a few months as I ease into my new role, but plan to open again later this year. Follow me on Twitter @JackieKruzie and like Blue Whale Press on Facebook to stay informed.
Wink wink back -- I am honored, Jackie, and thank you for your generous offer to my readers! (See below for details.)
What kinds of books will Blue Whale be publishing? How many per year? What would be the focus of your titles? And more personally, what appeals to you? What types of stories are you looking for? Where can we find the complete submission guidelines?
JK: The BWP imprint acquires picture books with a STEM focus. A few of our current titles include Randall and Randall, Who Will? Will You?, The Weed that Woke Christmas, and An Old Man and His Penguin all which have STEM related storylines. I will continue to search for books that are entertaining and informative. Though picture books will be my focus I would love to see a short chapter book in inbox.
I personally love books that are fun to read out loud. As a former librarian I understand which books make wonderful storytime reads and which do not. As an author I know that I want my books read to as many young readers as possible, so for me having a book featured in a library storytime is the ultimate compliment. I am looking for books that librarians and teachers will be excited to share with eager young minds.
What should writers not submit to you?
JK: I am not the right fit for novelty/board books or graphic novels. I am also not looking for middle grade or young adult novels, however our parent publisher, Clear Fork Publishing, has other imprints that focus on these books. You can learn more about them on the Clear Fork website https://www.clearforkpublishing.com/copy-of-our-imprints
What projects are you working on right now for Blue Whale's list? I know that your own book , Mixed-Up Menagerie, was previously acquired by Blue Whale, could you give us an update on that? Where is the book in the process and could you share any behind-the-scene tidbits? What else are you excited about from the upcoming list and why? Any other Blue Whale titles in the pipeline you could share with us?
JK: My book Mixed-Up Menagerie is scheduled for release in Spring 2022. Nicole Allin is an amazing artist and is currently working on illustrations. I am so excited for this book and cannot wait to share it with the world.
As for other projects, Alayne will continue to work on the manuscripts that she has acquired seeing them through to completion. I will be observing every step of the way absorbing all I can from Alayne.
Any advice to authors/illustrators who plan to submit to you, beyond following the submission guidelines, of course, and targeting their submissions to your wish list?
JK: I love one sentence tag lines. I am always impressed with authors who can hook me with a few short words. Often the pitch you create will be used on the back cover of the finished book so it must be flawless. My favorite one-line hooks are from Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levin and Princess in Training by Tammi Sauer.
Author Susanna Hill has a feature on her website called Would You Read it Wednesday where authors submit their pitches for review. This is a wonderful resource to learn the art of creating a seamless pitch.
Also, take advantage of your local library or bookstore and read the back covers of picture books to hone this invaluable skill.
Are there any events/workshops/conferences you'd be a part of?
JK: Not yet but hopefully soon!
Thank you, Jackie, for spending time with me and my readers and for giving us the scoop! I wish you all the best on your journey, both as an author and an editor, and I can't wait to celebrate the many exciting milestones with you as we continue to nurture our wonderful friendship! We've been supporting each other over the years and we've grown together as writers, and I am very thankful to have you in my life!
Also, thank you kindly for the generous offers of a picture book critique that you're giving away to one lucky reader of KidLit Oasis, and an exclusive submission opportunity window for all of my readers!!!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Special offers from Jackie Kruzie to KidLIt Oasis readers:
PB critique giveaway
>Subscribe to KidLit Oasis (via the pop-up or the upper right corner form)
>Leave a comment for this post
>Share this post on Facebook or Twitter (don't forget to tag me @RosiePOV)
Exclusive Submission Opportunity Window for KidLit Oasis Readers 4/20 to 4/30
>Come back to this post between April 20th and April 30th and see this space for the special link to Jackie's submission form (she will be otherwise closed to unsolicited submissions!)
Jackie Kruzie is the Acquisitions Editor at Blue Whale Press, an imprint of Clear Fork Publishing, and author of MIXED-UP MENAGERIE, a STEM picture book introducing fascinating animals and their unique traits. It is scheduled for release in Spring 2022.
Jackie has master’s degree in Library Science and is a contributing author to a sensitivity and inclusivity training textbook published through the American Library Association. Her contribution educates and informs librarians on how to better serve library users who use AAC devices to communicate. As a parent of an AAC device user this project is near and dear to her heart.
When not sharing stories or writing her own, Jackie enjoys farm life on a 60-acre farm with her husband where they raise a mess of kids, horses, cows, longhorns, sheep, goats, and a cacophony of chickens, roosters, ducks, and turkeys.
Find Jackie’s Storytime Picks and Book Talk videos on her website at jackiekruzie.com and follow her on Twitter @JackieKruzie
In other news. . .
Check out my upcoming Picture Book Writing class, pictures from a "princess model" photo shoot for Sunday Rain, and the parent review that almost made me cry tears of joy.
"My kiddo is obsessed!
Sunday Rain is intelligent, beautiful, and age appropriate! My daughter has requested we read it together at least one hundred times. A must buy for the little readers in the family!" --Amazon Customer
About Rosie J. Pova
Rosie J. Pova is a
award-winning children's author, speaker, and writing coach on a mission to inspire children not only to read and write more, but to use their creativity, follow their passions, dream big and believe in themselves.
Rosie visits schools and shares her inspirational journey as an immigrant from Bulgaria and how she became a published author, encouraging kids to persist, push through rejections, and hold a high vision for themselves.
Rosie's upcoming picture book, Sunday Rain, will be released in March 2021. It's a story that celebrates imagination, the love of books, and new friendships.
Check out her Critique Services here, her Workshops here, and her school visits page here.
Rosie is represented by Jessica Schmeilder of Golden Wheat Literary.