Book Production Delays (And How You Can Fix Them)

Whether you have a specific release date goal in mind or are just ready to get your book out into the world, you, as an author, want to ensure that your book moves through the production process smoothly. While some delays are out of your control, there are some steps you can take to work with your production editor and have your book sent off to the printer and onto bookstore shelves as quickly and efficiently as possible.

1. Deliver detailed edits to your production editor all at once.

Throughout the production process, you work closely with your designated production editor from perfecting your manuscript, adding illustrations, laying out the book design, and finally sending it off to the printer. As you move through the process, you may be tempted to send edits or preferred changes to your production editor as you go. Because the production editor serves as the liaison between you and the rest of your production team (illustrators, designers, editors, etc.), making changes here and there can ultimately slow down the process. 

Instead, try taking the time to review your manuscript, illustrations, or overall layout in detail, and send your production editor all of the edits you wish to make at the same time for clarity and reinforcement.

2. Figure out your ideas for illustration inspiration early on.

As we mentioned in our recent illustrations process blog, figuring out what illustration styles you like and do not like early on can make this component of the production process run more smoothly.

Your illustration inspiration can be a certain color scheme, a particular style (cartoony vs. realistic), or elements from an existing book that you would like to emulate. Regardless of your illustration goals, figuring out what you envision for your book and communicating that to your production editor early on in the process will help the process move more efficiently.

3. Decide on your author bio, back cover synopsis, and dedication page.

Other variables that can affect the book publication timeline are the dedication section, the author biography, and the back cover description.

Who do you want to recognize in your dedication section? What back cover text will make your book stand out against the rest? What key facts about yourself do you want to highlight in your biography?

If you are having a difficult time deciding on these pieces, do your research! By looking at other books in your genre, you can decide what you like and do not like about a book’s setup. 

4. For adult titles, be specific about what you are looking for in a front cover design.

Similar to the illustrations process, being open and transparent about what kind of cover design you are looking for will make the design process more efficient in the long run. 

Do you gravitate toward certain color schemes? Do you like a specific font? Are you inspired by any existing book covers?

5. Be honest and transparent with your production editor.

As the author, you are in the driver’s seat. You have full creative control and your input is a crucial part of the production process. Knowing what you want, communicating effectively, and being honest with your production team will help make your creative vision a reality.

While our production editors are here to offer advice and their expertise when needed, you will need to be confident about your vision and your preferences so that they can take the necessary steps to get your book out into the world.

6. Be on top of your email!

Overall, the production process as a #mascotauthor is very hands-on. As the leader of your project, being communicative with your Mascot team is imperative. Be prepared to check your email often, be open to suggestions and criticism, and most importantly, be ready to dive into the publishing journey!

Want to see more author tips like these? Visit our blog archive to learn more.

Back to Blog

5 Steps to Curating a Media Outreach List for Your Book

In our “The Dos and Don’ts of Retail Pitching” blog, we broke down the best practices for pitching your book to bookstores for events or in-store placement. In light of COVID-19 and limitations on signing events, many authors are turning to alternative forms of marketing and promotionsocial media & brand building, virtual readings, and editorial coverage. 

Deciding on which media outlets to contact and pitch to for editorial coverage can be a daunting process to a first-time author. We have outlined some key steps to building the perfect media outreach list for your book!

1. Understand the three tiers of media coverage.

Before diving into the curation of your list, you should first understand the three main tiers of media coverage. The first (and most selective tier) of media is national media, or media that is aired or distributed across the country. The second tier is syndicated media, which airs or distributes to a select group of stations and regions. Finally, you have local media, which is media that is restricted to a certain geographical area.

While everyone wants their book to be recognized on a national scale, landing coverage with national media is incredibly difficult. While national editorial coverage is not out of the question, most authors find more success with a local or niche audience. 

Focusing on local coverage (newspapers, magazines, etc.) or niche coverage (a sports podcast for your baseball book, for example) is the best way to get your book off the ground.

2. Brainstorm your connections.

Make a list of people you know who have connections in the media world or who have been the subject of a past story. Just like with the three tiers of media, you should understand the three tiers of connections: primary (someone who works for a newspaper or TV station), secondary (a family member of someone in the industry), and tertiary (friends of friends).

Journalists, editors, and other media executives receive hundreds of requests for editorial coverage. By having a personal connection and putting a face to your submission, your book will ultimately have a greater chance of being picked up by a news outlet.

3. Gather a list of local TV stations, newspapers, and radio stations.

Once you have brainstormed your connections, begin fleshing out your local media list! Start with local TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, and magazines.

When curating your local list, remember to include both “little local” (outlets in your immediate neighborhood/area) and “big local” (outlets in your town or region). 

Another thing to keep in mind is that print media has a longer lead time than online media. This means that an article in a newspaper will likely take longer to be published than an online blog.

4. Don’t be afraid of non-traditional media outlets.

Once you have gathered your local, traditional outlets, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box! Bloggers, podcasts, Instagram influencers, and other digital platforms are great ways to reach a targeted and niche audience.

For example, say you are trying to promote your book about baseball. By appearing on a sports-focused podcast or getting a baseball blogger to write a feature, your book will reach a new audience that is invested in your book’s topic.

5. Do your research!

When putting the finishing touches on your list and preparing your pitches, remember that pitches are most effective when they are sent to a specific staff member, rather than just uploading a press release.

Look for a staff directory, a masthead, or journalists that have written articles similar to your book. If you are looking for a journalist to write about your children’s book, look for an arts & culture editor; if you are writing a cookbook, look for a food writer; and if you are writing a sports book, look for a sports writer. This will not only give your book a greater chance of being recognized, but the people you reach out to will also appreciate that you have thoroughly done your research on them and their organization.

Editorial coverage is a great way to get the word out about your book, but it is not the silver bullet for achieving book sales. It should be used in conjunction with social media promotion, retail pitching, and book signing events (virtual or in-person).

Want to see more author tips like these? Visit our blog archive to read more.

Back to Blog

The Mascot Author’s Guide to the Illustration Process

In our holiday publishing timeline blog, we provided some ways in which authors can make the production process run smoother⁠—developing a writing timeline, deciding on the book dedication page and description, and most importantly to a children’s book author, figuring out illustration inspiration early. 

But what does this illustration process entail? How can you and your production editor work together to bring your vision to life? We’ve broken down our Mascot illustrations process and what you need to know as an author to ensure this process goes as smoothly as possible. 

children's book illustrations

1. Illustration descriptions

Once your manuscript has been 90-95% finalized, your production editor will ask you to submit your illustration descriptions. Illustration descriptions are short blurbs about your vision for illustrations that the illustrator may not be able to gather from the text. These descriptions can include your ideas for color schemes, specific details about the landscape, or character specifications. Illustration descriptions are also used to describe where you want to see these specifications
in a particular spot, on the left or right page, or on the entire spread (both left and right pages).

AUTHOR TIP: Figure out your ideas for illustration inspiration early! By thinking about your illustrations vision during the manuscript process. It will be much easier to write illustration descriptions when the time comes to submit them to your production editor.

2. Illustration style selection

Once your illustration descriptions have been submitted to your production editor, you will begin the illustration style selection process. Your production editor will provide you with a sample sheet of illustration styles, from which you will select your top seven or eight styles.

AUTHOR TIP: Start thinking about what illustrations styles you like and do not like (and what words to use to describe your vision). Do you want your illustrations to look realistic or cartoony? Do you want them to be done digitally, or would you rather they be hand-painted or drawn? Do you have a specific illustration style in mind from another children’s book?  Understanding what styles you gravitate toward and communicating these preferences to your production editor will help to speed along the selection process.

3. Illustrator portfolios

After you select your top three or four illustration styles, your production editor will send  illustrators’ portfolios based on those style preferences. These portfolios will provide you with a few examples of an illustrator’s work on other projects and give you a better idea of their overall style. After reviewing the portfolios, you will then select your top three or four for test sketches.

AUTHOR TIP: Understand what you can and cannot change about an illustrator’s style. While colors and specific objects or elements in an illustration can be changed, certain stylistic qualities cannot be changed. For example, you may ask the illustrator to change the color and look of the main character’s clothing, but you cannot ask them to adjust how they draw their characters’ eyes and mouths. 

4. Test sketches

Test sketches are draft illustrations of your main characters or a specific scene in your book and are completed by your top three or four illustrators. These sketches give you an opportunity to see how these different illustrators would portray your vision for your characters and overall theme.

AUTHOR TIP: Know that test sketches are NOT the final versions of the illustrations! Test sketches are typically done in black and white, and will not be colored in until after the storyboard step of the process has been completed. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to make edits on the storyboard before final illustrations are made.

5. Illustrator selection and storyboards

After reviewing test sketches, you will make your final selection and choose the illustrator you want to work with! From there, your production editor will serve as the liaison between you and the illustrator to develop the storyboard. The storyboard is a black and white line drawing of the entire story used to show what the illustrator intends to draw as final artwork. It is at this stage where major changes to the illustration can be made, such as adding and removing characters or elements, moving their location on the page, or changing an illustration as a whole. Once the storyboard is approved, no further drawing-related changes can be made.

AUTHOR TIP:  Be mindful of timelines. When making your final illustrator selection, please keep in mind that the time it takes for the illustrator to complete your storyboard is contingent on their illustration method and style. For example, a watercolor illustration will take longer to complete than one done digitally, just as a more realistic illustration style may take longer than a cartoony one.

6. Color!

Once the storyboard is approved, it is time to add color and finalize the illustrations! Just like the storyboard stage of the process, you are welcome to make edits and suggestions to the color scheme. Once illustrations have been finalized and approved, your book will move to the layout stage with our in-house design team.

AUTHOR TIP: Have a vision, but be open to your production editor’s advice. While you as the author are in the driver’s seat, our experienced and expert production editors are here to help you and offer their advice when needed. 

Are you ready to get started on your book publishing journey? Submit your book idea here. 

To see more author tips like these, visit our Mascot blog.

Back to Blog

Checking in with the #MascotAuthor Community

Virtual readings, Netflix-binging, and bread-bakingdue to COVID-19 and social distancing restrictions, many of us are turning to new hobbies to pass the time in quarantine. For authors, this is also a time to work on your manuscript or market your book and connect with your readers.

Last week, we took to Instagram to ask our followers what questions they had about the Mascot Books publishing process; how they are connecting with their readers in light of COVID-19; and of course, what they are currently reading!

Whether you’re looking to start your publishing journey at Mascot Books, gearing up for your book’s release, or just need a pick-me-up, our quarantine blog has got you covered!

For the aspiring #mascotauthor…

Q. What questions do you have about the Mascot Books process?

A. “How do you get started?”
Whether you have a fully developed manuscript or just have an idea, we always encourage future Mascot authors to submit their book idea through our website. From there, one of our knowledgeable acquisitions editors can talk you through our process and our offeringsfrom editing and ghostwriting services to promotion and marketing plans.

A. “Is it possible to publish a graphic novel with you all?”
Yes! While Mascot Books’ start was in children’s books, today we publish any and all genres. Whether you are looking to publish a graphic novel or a nonfiction, our wide variety of offerings can bring your idea to fruition.

For the #mascotauthor community…

Q. How do you stay connected to the book/writing community?

A. “By following book and author accounts on Instagram”
Social media is a great tool for staying connected with the writing and #mascotauthor communities. To find more accounts to follow and interact with, try searching by hashtag on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter (#mascotauthor, #mascotbooks, and #bookstagram are great places to start). Additionally, you can find more members of the #mascotauthor community by looking at photos that Mascot Books has been tagged in on Instagram.

Q. In what ways are you marketing your book and connecting with your readers?

“Virtual story times”
Last month, we posted a blog on virtual readings and Q&A sessions in light of event and school reading cancellations. To develop a successful virtual reading, be sure to first choose which platform you are going to use (Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, etc.), create an event structure, and finally develop a promotional plan.

A. “Creating coloring pages about the characters in the books I illustrate”
Whether you are an author or an illustrator, this is a great way to keep your followers engaged in your story and your characters! Alejandro Echavez (@alejoartworks on Instagram) posted coloring pages for the books he has illustrated, and Alysson Foti Borque (@thealycatseries on Instagram), author of the Alycat series, posted cut-out versions  of her characters for audience photos. These are both great examples of using your social media platform to engage and interact with your audience.

For anyone looking for their next quarantine pick-me-up…

Q. What are you currently reading?

A. The Happiness Trap

A. The Confessions of Frannie Langton: A Novel

A. “My own manuscript”
If you are reading and editing your own manuscript, check out our tips on how to write a compelling first chapter and how to incorporate stylistic variety into your writing.

A. “Way too many books at one time!”

Q. What is your favorite quarantine activity?

A. “Writing!”

A. “Puppy cuddles”

A. “Cooking”

A. “Reading, reading, and more reading!”
P.S. Check out our Mascot bookstore to find your next read!

Want to join the conversation? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Back to Blog

5 Steps to Building a Successful Social Media Book-Marketing Platform

In our recent post on social media influencers, we discussed how beneficial a strong social media platform can be for the overall success of your book. But what makes a great social media platform? Where do you begin? What are best practices for posting about your book and engaging with your followers? We’ve outlined our 5 steps for building and maintaining a strong social media presence for your book below.

social media blog

1. Decide what your marketing and branding goals are.

Branding is essential to making your book stand out in a saturated book market. The Branding Journal defines branding as “the process of giving a meaning to specific organization, company, products or services by creating and shaping a brand in consumers’ minds”. 

Before diving into social media marketing, decide what your branding goals are. Do you have future books in the pipeline and want to brand yourself as an author? Or do you want the social media account to be branded around the book itself? Whatever your brand may be, fully commit to this brand and work to make it cohesive and recognizable to your audience. 

While some of our #mascotauthors like Lori Orlinsky and Lauren Mosback successfully brand themselves as authors, others like Miranda Mittleman of the PAWS and THINK series and Nadine Haruni of the Freeda the Frog series successfully brand their book series.

2. Build or maintain your audience.

Another factor to consider when posting about your book on social media is whether you want to create a new profile specifically for book marketing, or if you want to post book content on your personal social media pages. Both of these options have their pros and cons.

While posting to your personal social media pages guarantees a built-in audience, you may not want to bombard your existing followers with book content. Additionally, mixing your personal content with book or author content may dilute your brand. 

Creating and posting from a new social media page dedicated to your book will guarantee a more cohesive book or author brand. However, you will need to build the audience for this account from scratch. 

If you do decide to create new social media profiles specifically for book marketing, there are a few steps you can take to build an audience:

  • Invite your current social media friends to like your Facebook page or use the Discover People feature on your new Instagram page to find accounts to follow.
  • Follow and interact with other Mascot authors! Joining the Mascot authors social media community is a great way to network and gain more followers in the book industry. Start by following the accounts that interact with Mascot Book’s posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and look at accounts that tag Mascot Books in photos on Instagram. Additionally, search for the #mascotbooks and #mascotauthor hashtags to find more author posts!
  • Use industry-specific hashtags in your posts to reach a larger audience! By using strategic and relevant hashtags in your posts, you can reach other accounts that may not be already following you. For example, if you have published a children’s book about bullying, the hashtags #childrensbooks and #stopbullying may give your post some more traction. Do be wary about the amount of hashtags you use–too many can make your post look cluttered and busy.
3. Curate your content and establish your voice. 

    Once you have decided on your branding goals and are proactively growing your audience, it is time to curate your social media content and establish your voice. 

    Before posting your content, ask yourself the following question: Why will my followers care about what I am about to post? 

    Empathizing with your audience is a great way to ensure that your posts are keeping readers engaged and interested. Although it is sometimes necessary to show off a little (posting event photos, sharing a great review you received, etc.), keeping your audience in mind when you post is essential to maintaining their attention. You want to post content that keeps readers informed, but more importantly, content that satisfies their needs and goals.

    Social media should be a conversation between you and your followers, rather than a one-sided broadcast. Initiate contact with your audience and listen to their opinions. By doing so, you not only will learn to curate better content, but you will also build a relationship of trust with these followers. This relationship is important to establishing a strong social media presence and a distinctive brand.

    You will also want to establish a voice in your posts. Are you excited, upbeat, and casual? Or are you knowledgeable, polite, and matter-of-fact? Developing a voice for your book or author profile will strengthen your brand in the long run.

    4. Create a social media calendar or tentative schedule.

    While it is important to be spontaneous and be able to post on the fly, you will want to set a tentative posting schedule or posting goals for yourself to keep yourself organized.

    When it comes to the question of how frequently you post, quality is better than quantity. You want to keep your followers engaged and up-to-date on important information teaser content, where the book can be purchased, upcoming book signing events or media appearancesbut you do not want to over-saturate your followers with the same content over and over. Which brings us to our next point…

    5. Be creative!

    In addition to posting quality content over a high quantity of content, think outside of the box! Here are our suggestions for some creative content you can incorporate into your posts:
    • Get outside and take some scenic photos of the book!
    • Listen to your followers, and post content that they want to see. For example, if you seem to receive more feedback and engagements with your posts about school readings, post more content about school readings.
    • Share followers’ photos or posts. If a follower has sent you a photo of them with your book, don’t be afraid to share that photo (with their permission, of course)! This not only strengthens your relationship with that follower, but it shows your audience that you care about your followers, and that your book is getting some traction. 
    • Set up a book giveaway! This is a great way to get your followers engaged and it allows you to reach a larger audience.

    Our final thoughts:

    Social media is a great tool for marketing and branding your bookbut it is not the silver bullet for achieving book sales. It should be used in conjunction with retail pitching for events and in-store placement, editorial coverage, and outreach to book reviewers and bloggers.

    For more author tips like these, visit our blog archive! Have questions? Leave a comment below. 

    Back to Blog

    The Dos and Don’ts of Pitching Your Book to Retailers

    Pitching your book to retailers for in-store placement consideration and events is essential for book promotion and sales. To a first-time author, this process can be difficult to navigate. We’ve outlined our dos and don’ts for pitching to retailers below to make things a little easier!


    • DO know what your retail pitching goals are.
      • Is your goal to secure a book signing and reading event? Do you want the store to carry and sell your book? Do you want both? It is important to know what your goals are before reaching out to retailers. Oftentimes bookstores will have one contact for event inquiries, and one contact for book buying and in-store placement consideration. Additionally, it is sometimes easier to secure in-store placement after you have already had an eventthis gives the bookstore an opportunity to see how popular the book is amongst their customers.
      • DO make your pitch email clear, concise, and to the point.
        • While it can be tempting to dive into the book’s details, it is better to keep your pitch as concise as possible. Bookstore and event managers are very busy, and they are more likely to pay attention if the information is presented to them in a clear, simple way.
        • DO include the book title, 13-digit ISBN number, and retail price in the subject line.
          • In addition to keeping the pitch email concise, be sure to include the key information about the book in the subject line. This again will make bookstore and event managers more likely to open your email.
          • DO follow a loose email template, but be sure to tailor your pitch based on where you are sending it.
            • While it is important to include necessary components of your pitch emailgreeting, brief book synopsis, distribution and buying informationit is also important to tailor your pitch based on where you are sending it. Bookstores will like to see that you have done your research and are interested in their particular store. 
                • First, begin with a greeting. If you do not have the contact’s name, use a blanket term, such as “event manager”.
                • Then, include a sentence explaining why you are writing (whether that be for in-store placement consideration or an event).
                • Write an explanation as to why this book would be a good fit for their store. This is where you can tailor the release, and show the store that you have done your research on what kinds of books they carry and events they host.
                • Include a brief synopsis of your book. Be sure to cover the important components of your story, but keep it succinct.
                • End with a  closing statement explaining where the book can be purchased (Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Mascot Books, etc.) and what documents you have attached for more information (one-pager, press release, etc.)
          • DO include relevant media hits, in-store placements, and events.
            • Don’t be afraid to brag a little bit! By mentioning other media hits, events, or in-store placement opportunities you have had, the bookstore will see that your book is getting traction and attention with other outlets.
            • DO be prepared to provide the bookstore with event logistics.
              • About how many people do you think you would be able to guarantee at the event? How will you market the event to your family, friends, and followers? Do you have an up-to-date author headshot? 
              • DO go in person if the store is close by.
                • If you live close to the bookstore that you are pitching to, it is always beneficial to pitch your book in person! Be sure to bring a hardcopy of the book, along with any other information that may help the bookstore move toward a positive decision.


              • DON’T follow up every day.
                • If you do not receive a response immediately after reaching out to the store, don’t be discouraged! With the sheer volume of emails bookstores receive, it may take them a while to get back to you. The best strategy is to reach out about once every two weeks, rather than every day.
              • DON’T take rejections personally.
                • Every bookstore has their own policies, preferences, and book-buying specifications. If your book is not chosen for in-store placement or an event, do not take it personally! There are many other bookstores out there that may be better fits for your book in the long run.
                • DON’T commit to an event before you are 100% certain that you will be able to participate. 
                  • So you have secured an event with a bookstorefantastic! Triple check your schedule to ensure that you are available before committing to the bookstore. 

                • DON’T begin pitching to bookstores until the books have arrived at Mascot’s warehouse and have been registered with distributors.
                  • Until your books have arrived at the Mascot warehouse and have been registered with major distributors (Ingram, Baker & Taylor, etc.), bookstores will not be able to place orders of the book. It is better to wait until these steps have been taken to ensure that the retail pitching and ordering process runs smoothly.

                Want to see more author tips like these ? Visit our blog archive for more information.

                Back to Blog

                Why the Mascot Books Model Works for Social Media Influencers

                It’s a tale as old as time: as an author, it’s always important to have some sort of platform to promote your book. Whether this is a Facebook page geared toward friends and family, or a large Twitter account with thousands of followers, having an audience to post about your book to is a great way to help the title succeed. With social media influencers, that platform is already built in, which can make them a more likely candidate for traditional publishing. However, that route isn’t always what’s best for the influencer in the long run.

                Influencers like working with us for many reasons, but here are the most popular ones:

                Our authors own all their copyright

                By owning their copyright, authors not only own the manuscript, but they own anything we produce for them, like a cover design. This allows them to use those materials in any social media posts, have a say in how the book is marketed, and even use any characters they created in different stories.

                Owning the copyright gives authors control over any future variations of the book, like film or foreign rights. For example, our author Jason Khalipa was able to negotiate rights to a German version of his title As Many Reps As Possible. If he had not owned that copyright, the publisher would have assumed full control over the rights without Jason having a say in where his book was published.

                Higher royalties

                In order to work with traditional publishers, authors must get a literary agent to pitch the book to those publishers on their behalf. As long as the book is in print, the agent then assumes a percentage of all of the author’s profits. By going the hybrid route, the author cuts out the agent and works directly with the publisher to bring the book to life, and thus earns higher profit margins.

                First off, keep in mind that according to the industry publication Publisher’s Weekly, the average book sells about 3,o00 copies in its lifetime.

                So, for example (and this is purely speculative), if a publisher offers $10,000 as an advance for an author’s book, the agent will usually take 15% (before taxes and higher for foreign rights) or $1,500. The author is now down to $8,500 (before taxes). After that, the agent will also take a percentage of royalty sales. Most authors earn about 4 to 5% of every book sold, with some earning as high as 13% depending on the traditional publishing agreement. Therefore, if a book sells for $19.95, and a bookstore purchases it (at a wholesale discount) for $10.97, the author would earn about $0.44 to $1.43 for each book sold. 

                Now, keep in mind that before an author with a traditional publishing deal earns any profit from book sales, the advance they received needs to be recouped by the publisher. 

                With our model, because we’re cutting out the agent and don’t offer authors advances, our authors receive higher royalty rates (between 85 to 100% depending on where the book is sold). Say it costs $10,000 to produce the book, and with the $19.95 retail price and $10.97 wholesale purchase price, the author would earn $9.32 per book. They would only need to sell 1,072 copies, something an influencer could easily do, to earn back the upfront production cost. And if they do more direct-to-reader sales like an author signing, they would only need to sell 500 copies because authors receive 100% of the retail price when they sell books directly to consumers. That gives the influencer much more profit over the course of a book’s lifetime.

                More creative control over the process

                Giving up copyright means giving up creative control. When an author has a brand to uphold and monetize, having a say in what the cover looks like is very important. They would also approve any edits to make sure the content is exactly what they want to give their audience.

                When working with influencers who are producing children’s books (like Ashley and Jared from Bachelor in Paradise) and Instagram famous pets, having illustration control is a huge part of this. It’s important to get Darcy & Daisy exactly right or create Pip the Beach Cat in a fun way that represents their brand. The authors get to pick out their own illustrator and provide direction for what they would like to see. This makes it much more collaborative and gives the author confidence in their project.

                Working with influencers is a fun process for both the author and us. We love helping them bring their project to life and get the book out to current fans and new readers everywhere. Hybrid is a unique method for any author, but when the author could potentially get a traditional deal, this model works best for them in the long run.

                Back to Blog

                5 Tips for Publishing a Book in Time for the Holidays

                The holiday season can be a great time to release a book, but it requires some planning! Check out our 5 tips below on how to publish a book in time for the holidays.

                1. Determine if your book has a significant tie to the holidays.

                Before you settle on publishing a book during the holiday season, stop and think. Will your book directly relate to the holidays? Is this a significant time of year to you as an author? Do you think that your book could be sold just as successfully in the spring?

                While many of our books like The Christmas Blanket and The House on Christmas Street are perfect holiday releases, others like Go Down the Mountain and Kit n’ Kat: The Nose Knows are better suited for the spring. Before you begin your manuscript, be sure to decide what time of year would be the best publication season for your book.

                2. Develop a writing timeline.

                Once you determine that your book is an ideal fit for the holiday season, you’ll want to make sure you can accomplish your goal in time! Craft a timeline that ensures your book is fully edited and written by the time you are ready to move forward with a publisher. Ideally, the text of your book should be completed and polished by springtime (flowers are blooming, and so can your writing ideas!).

                3. Figure out illustration inspiration early.

                Illustrations and artwork are one of the biggest variables when it comes to any timeline for book publication. Knowing what you want to see early on in the process is key. What color palettes interest you the most? What can you express in the art that you can’t express with words? What illustration styles do you admireand, more crucially, which styles don’t you like? Being able to figure out these elements before you get to the production process will save you a lot of time, which is crucial when it comes to getting books out on a tight timeline.

                4. Decide on your dedication, author biography, and back cover synopsis. 

                Other variables that can affect the book publication timeline are the dedication section, the author biography, and the back cover description. By preparing these pieces early, you are more likely to move through the timeline faster and ultimately achieve your holiday publication goal!

                So to get started, who do you want to recognize in your dedication section? What back cover text will make your book stand out against the rest? What key facts about yourself do you want to highlight in your biography?

                If you are having a difficult time deciding on these pieces, do your research! By looking at other books in your genre, you can decide what you like and do not like about a book’s setup. 

                5. Make your holiday book stand out from the crowd and decide on your target market.

                The end-of-year holiday madness is a peak time for book releaseseveryone wants their book to be on shopping lists! Because the market can get a little crowded, think about what makes your book stand apart. And, like deciding on your illustration ideas early, brainstorming these market differentiators at the beginning of the process can be helpful down the line. There are all kinds of fun “extras” that can be added to your book: coloring pages, digital content, punch-out ornaments or bookmarks, and other supplemental materials can give your book an advantage in the holiday market.

                You will also want to decide who your target market is. Will your book be geared toward children, or adults? Do you want to focus your marketing efforts on local bookstores and media outlets, or do you want to expand your reach nationally? By deciding on your target market early, you will be more prepared for marketing efforts leading up to the book’s launch!

                Now that the 2019 holiday season is here, if you’re looking at 2020, time to get started!

                Back to Blog

                Celebrating National Author’s Day

                It’s National Author’s Day, and we’re showcasing some of our outstanding #mascotauthors! From adult financial and self-help titles to whimsical and humorous children’s books, our eclectic mix of genres and authors have something for every reader.

                We’re kicking off this blog with our adult title authors, who’s wise words and impressive achievements are rippling through the book industry. 

                Josh Bernoff, Co-Author of The Age of Intent and Marketing to the Entitled Consumer

                About Josh

                Josh has worked with authors on more than 30 non-fiction books. His contributions include developing ideas and titles, coaching, editing, and ghostwriting.

                Prior to becoming an author, Josh was an analyst and vice president at Forrester Research for 20 years. He created the company’s Technographics segmentation, a classification of consumers according to how they approach technology, which is still in use more than 15 years later.

                Josh is frequently quoted in publications like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and has keynoted major conferences on television, music, marketing, and technology in Barcelona, Beijing, Brussels, Cannes, London, New York, Rome, Tokyo, São Paulo, and Seoul.


                The Age of Intent and Marketing to the Entitled Consumer are available for purchase at the Mascot Bookstore. 

                Kim Campbell, Author of The Triple Crown Trilogy

                About Kim

                Kim Campbell’s love for horses and the horse racing industry began when she was a child, growing up just outside Monmouth Racetrack in New Jersey. Over the years, Kim has owned several off-the-track Thoroughbreds, her inspiration for Storm and Sarge. The involvement with her retired Thoroughbreds and her love of racing led Kim to write the Triple Crown Trilogy, not only as a work of fiction for readers to enjoy, but also to enlighten and educate them to the exciting world of horse racing. Kim’s enthusiasm behind the research of her books has led her to get more personally involved in the racing industry which she chronicles in her blog The View Behind the Starting Gate and on her Facebook page TripleCrownDreams. Kim lives in Mason Neck, Virginia with her husband and three children.


                The Calm Before the Storm and The Eye of the Storm are available for purchase at the Mascot Bookstore. The third book in Campbell’s trilogy, The Height of the Storm, will be released on December 3, 2019. 

                Ruby Silvious, Author of 363 Days of Tea and Reclaimed Canvas

                About Ruby

                Artist Ruby Silvious is internationally recognized for her miniature paintings and collages, with used tea bags as her canvas. She is the author of 363 Days of Tea: A Visual Journal on Used Tea Bags. Her paintings—some inspired by her travels around the world—have been featured in numerous publications and on multiple media channels, including CNN Travel, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Good Morning America, Headline News, and the internationally syndicated Ripley’s Believe It or Not!


                363 Days of Tea and Reclaimed Canvas are available for purchase at the Mascot Bookstore. 

                Todd Civin, Co-Author of Line Change and Beyond the Finish

                About Todd

                Todd Civin is a husband, father of five children, and grandfather to three grandchildren with a fourth on the way. His family is his reason for being and he devotes every day of his life to their happiness. He is the founder and owner of Civin Media Relations (CMR), a self-publishing company that assists authors in sharing their stories with the world. CMR focuses primarily on the publishing of stories by and about people with physical or emotional differences. Todd has written six biographies and eight children’s books to date, and he co-wrote Line Change and Beyond the Finish.


                Line Change and Beyond the Finish are available for purchase at the Mascot Bookstore.

                Merril Hoge, Author of Brainwashed

                About Merril

                Merril Hoge is a former NFL running back who worked as an analyst at ESPN for twenty-one years, helping launch ESPN2, NFL Live, and Fantasy Football.

                Hoge is chairman of the board of the Highmark Caring Foundation and on the board of the Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury Research. Active in concussion research and in the prevention and treatment of brain injuries, Hoge testified at a congressional hearing on football head injuries in 2009 and was appointed to the NFL Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee in 2010.

                In 2018, Hoge helped launch Your Call Football and is the author of Find a Way: Three Words That Changed My Life. He has another book in the works with Mascot. He lives in Fort Thomas, Kentucky.


                Brainwashed is available for purchase on the Mascot Bookstore.

                Whiskey Emerson, Author of West of Hell

                About Whiskey

                Years ago, Whiskey sat drinking a glass of scotch on her back porch when the idea for her first novel, West of Hell, sparked. As things sometimes go with personal projects, it started very small and developed to such a degree, Whiskey found that she had dreamed up an incredible story that needed to be told. And thus, the trilogy of West of Hell was born.

                When not writing or researching her next work, she is typically out hiking with her basset hound, Jolene, or in the yoga studio. She is also a world traveler, motorcycle enthusiast, skier, equestrian, and pianist. These are often the inspiration behind her blog posts, which follow both her travels and her hobbies.

                Whiskey currently resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband. Follow her on Instagram @whiskeyemerson or check out her Facebook page, Whiskey Emerson, for the latest updates.


                West of Hell is available for purchase on the Mascot Bookstore. East of Hell, Emerson’s sequel, is coming soon!

                Melissa Agnes, Author of Crisis Ready

                About Melissa

                Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis management and preparedness. Agnes is a coveted speaker, commentator, and adviser to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks.

                As a strategic adviser and keynote speaker, Agnes has worked with NATO, Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense, financial firms, technology companies, healthcare organizations, cities and municipalities, law enforcement agencies, global non-profits, universities, and many others, helping them understand risk and build invincible brands that can withstand even the most devastating of events.

                She is the editor of the Crisis Ready Blog, a contributor to Forbes, and a go-to source for the press, with recent coverage including the Wall Street Journal, VIBE Magazine, USA Today, and many others. In 2015, Agnes gave a TEDx talk in Los Angeles where she discussed the secret to successful crisis management in the 21st century.

                As a university guest lecturer, Agnes teaches crisis management in university courses around the world, including at NYU and McGill.

                Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World is available for purchase on the Mascot Bookstore.

                George Kroustalis, Author of Secrets to Becoming a Financial Badass

                About George

                George Kroustalis has been managing money and helping clients secure their futures since 1997. He is a senior vice president, financial advisor at CAPTRUST, in Charlotte, N.C., where he provides comprehensive wealth investment advisory services to high net worth families, private foundations, corporate executives and business owners.


                Secrets to Becoming a Financial Badass is available on the Mascot Bookstore. 

                A percentage of all sales of Secrets to Becoming a Financial Badass go to Project 10.10, a nonprofit George founded, that provides young people with access to basic financial education, including personal budgeting, saving and investing.

                Kris Drewry, Author of Breakup Positive: Turn Your Heartbreak Into Happiness

                About Kris

                Kris grew up on a farm in Southeastern Virginia. After graduating from Virginia Tech in 2005 with a degree in fashion marketing, she moved to New York City, where she began a career in fashion PR. After a few years in the industry, she realized fashion wasn’t the right path for her. So around 2010, she started filming online cooking and entertaining segments. These led to a television career. She has been featured on Today, Access Hollywood Live, Inside Edition, and Dr. Oz as a lifestyle contributor. She is also passionate about fitness, health, and wellness, which she documents on her blog The Fit Butler, and hopes that her experiences will inspire others to take control of their lives in a positive way.

                Kris lives in Los Angeles, California, where she is currently pursuing a career in writing, television, and motivational speaking. She spends her free time reading as many books as she can, working out, and traveling to new places.


                Breakup Positive: Turn Your Heartbreak Into Happiness is available for purchase on the Mascot Bookstore.

                While Mascot has evolved to become a multi-genre publisher, our beginnings were in children’s books. There is no better way to highlight this than to showcase our children’s authors that have found multiple success through their books.

                We chatted with some of our children’s book series authors about their inspiration behind their books and their tips for authors who are thinking about writing a book series of their own.

                Nadine Haruni, Author of the Freeda the Frog Series

                About Nadine

                Nadine Haruni is the author of the Freeda the Frog™ series of books and mother of five kids in a blended family. Nadine wrote this series to help young children cope with difficult changes in life, recognize that they are not alone and that families come in all colors, shapes and sizes.


                1. What was your inspiration behind this book series?
                  The inspiration behind the series was my mom, Frieda (spelled differently than the Freeda in my book, whose name is spelled that way to have a connotation of kids being ‘FREE’ to express their feelings, thoughts and concerns).  While taking a course on writing & illustrating children’s books at a local college, I wrote the original draft of the first book of the series, “Freeda the Frog Gets a Divorce” when my own mom was getting a divorce (in an effort to cheer her up).  I didn’t move forward to trying to get it published until after I went through my own divorce, and then each of the subsequent books have been somewhat loosely based upon my own personal situation. My own children inspired me to get the books published since I felt that if they were going through all of the mixed emotions that came about with each of the topics I wrote about, there were plenty of other children who were & could be helped by these books as well.
                2. How far apart did you release the books in your series?
                  Approximately one year apart.
                3. What advice would you give to authors who are thinking about writing a book series?
                  It really helps if you can write from the heart –about a topic that inspires you or that you can draw from personal experience upon.  The words seem to just flow on the paper more easily when it’s something that is relatable & sort of ‘hits a nerve’ with you.


                Freeda the Frog Gets a Divorce, Freeda the Frog and Her New Blue Family, Freeda the Frog is on the Move, and Freeda the Frog Says Farewell to Her Fish are all available in a bundle on the Mascot Bookstore. 

                Bob Cameron, Author of the Tuckey the Nantucket Whale Series

                About Bob

                Robert Cameron and his wife owned a summer home on Nantucket Island for over two decades. He and his family love this special island. Early on in his career, Robert was a ships captain traveling all around the world. He had the opportunity to see numerous whales from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, and the California Coast. But none were as spectacular as the ones in the Nantucket waters especially Tuckey, Nantuckets friendly whale.

                1. What was your inspiration behind this book series?
                  Firstly, I wanted to help keep my mind active, as I struggle and deal with a very serious medical issue dealing with my brain. This issue causes hardened blood on my brain that shuts down my complete nervous system and my short term memory. Secondly, I wanted to take my grandkids and kids all over away from iPads and electronics and provide them with interesting and fun stories about a whale- Tuckey the Nantucket Whale. 
                2. How far apart did you release the books in your series?
                  My first release was 2015 “A Day with Tuckey the Nantucket Whale”. And each year after, wrote a new Tuckey book:
                  2016- “Kiteboarding with Tuckey the Nantucket Whale”
                  2017- “All the Colors of the Rainbow with Tuckey the Nantucket Whale”
                  2018- “Tuckey the Nantucket Whale Travels the World”
                  2019- “Flag Football with Tuckey the Nantucket Whale”
                3. What advice would you give to authors who are thinking about writing their own series?
                  My advice would be to draft the outlines for books 5 and 6 in the series first. Secondly, establish yourself with a great publisher & team. Naren & the Mascot Books team will help guide you through the process. It is a very rewarding undertaking….seeing it all come together in a super finished product! Each new book is a super thrill!  So much joy and happiness seeing your new children’s book series being read & loved by so many. 


                A Day with Tuckey the Nantucket Whale, Tuckey the Nantucket Whale Travels the World, All the Colors of the Rainbow with Tuckey the Nantucket Whale, and Kiteboarding with Tuckey the Nantucket Whale are all available on the Mascot Bookstore. Flag Football with Tuckey the Nantucket Whale is coming soon! 

                Marnie Schneider, Author of the Football Freddie and Fumble the Dog Series

                About Marnie

                A Philadelphia native now living in the Carolinas, Marnie’s life has been driven by sports. Her grandfather, Leonard Tose, was a longtime member of the “club” as the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles. He was also the founder of the Ronald McDonald House and helped build NFL Films. From him, Marnie learned the importance of family, sports, and charity. Her series, Football Freddie and Fumble the Dog is her way of giving back to the many great football communities across the nation.


                1. What was your inspiration behind your book series?
                  Football Freddie and Fumble the Dog Game Day is the story of my life me growing up with a Grandfather who owned a pro football team and my mom who ran the team
                  Life on the road learning about different cities and history and traditions and of course football
                2. How far apart did you release the books in your series?
                  I’ve written 6 Football Freddie books in 2 years. I’m doing everything football city, then I’m moving on to:
                  Baseball Billie and Bunt 
                  Basketball Bobbie and buzzer 
                  Soccer Sammie and Score
                  Hockey Henrie and Hanson
                3. What advice would you give to authors who are thinking about writing their own series?
                  If you’re thinking of writing then just do it!!!


                Football Freddie and Fumble the Dog: Gameday in Chicago, Gameday in Pittsburgh, Gameday in Atlanta, Gameday in the Carolinas, and Gameday in Philadelphia are all available for purchase on the Mascot Bookstore. (link)

                Howard Eisenberg, Author of the Guess Who and WRITE YOUR OWN ENDING Series

                About Howard

                Howard Eisenberg now 93, began his writing career at 18. It was in a US-occupied SS barracks at the end of WWII as editor of his unit’s mimeographed Company K Rifleman.  Over the years he has written six books, a musical, and hundreds of major magazine articles, often with his late wife, Arlene, who later co-wrote What to Expect When You’re Expecting. More recently he has turned to children’s books and has been working on the Guess Who Series and the WRITE YOUR OWN ENDING series with Mascot. Asked why, he explains: “It keeps me young.”


                1. What inspired your two series?  
                  I’m the lucky guy who married the late Arlene Eisenberg. She and I shared magazine bylines for 45 years, but then our daughter, Heidi Murkoff, became pregnant, and Arlene was kidnapped to co-author the original What to Expect When You’re Expecting — that as well as several books in the series that followed. (I’ve done pretty well on my own, but nowhere near the 00 million books in 00 languages Expect books have continued to dance off bookstore shelves since.) 

                  In our 50 wonderful years together, my late wife and I co-authored hundreds of magazine articles, a half-dozen books, and, one might say, six grandchildren. But it was observing Arlene read poetry to —  and with — them that inspired my Guess Who light verse series — Guess Who Zoo, Farm, and Neighborhood.

                  Arlene was a born teacher. She would read a verse and stop just before the end to let our kids guess the final rhyme. Presto! I researched a bunch of animals for Guess Who Zoo, injected a clue into every line, and left the last word blank for young readers to shout out the animal’s name.  

                  In a way (I think of it as kind of a gift from Heaven) Arlene helped inspire my newest series:  Write Your Own Ending books. In The Amazing Adventures of Super Dreidel, young readers are invited to press their Imagination Buttons and, yes, become my co-authors — writing their own endings on two blank pages Mascot bound into the book near the denouement.  They’ll be offered the same opportunity with The Dinosaur in the Elevator which debuts in March. In most books, That’s a little more advanced than filling in one word at the end of a Guess Who book, but of course these books are for older readers. In both books as well, the Write Your Own Ending concept proudly wears some of Arlene’s gone-but-not-forgotten DNA. I’m proud that it’s there.
                2. How far apart did you release your series books?
                  We simply released Guess Who Books as I wrote them —  when they were ready.  It was easy to pick a date for the first Write Your Own Ending book. The Amazing Adventures of Super Dreidel was written for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. That usually falls near Christmas, so the choice of December was pre-ordained. The choice of March for The Dinosaur in the Elevator was simple. My editor, Daniel Wheatley, who knows more about such things than I do, chose it for me.
                3. What advice would you give authors who are thinking about writing their own series? 
                  Most series share “stars” — characters who continue appearing book after book — and that makes sense. My two series choose to feature a style or technique instead. Readers can choose direct interaction with the author. In effect, they become co-authors themselves. They helping me solve problems their way.  How? By filling in my blanks — with single words in Guess Who books and entire pages of their own  in Dinosaur and Super Dreidel.


                Guess Who Zoo, Guess Who Farm, and Guess Who Neighborhood are available in a bundle on the Mascot Bookstore. The Amazing Adventures of Super Dreidel (a WRITE YOUR OWN ENDING book), and Adorable Scoundrels are also available for purchase. 

                Katie Porterfield, Author of the A to Z Series

                About Katie

                A writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, Katie Hines Porterfield holds a B.A. in American Studies from the University of the South and an M.A. in journalism from the University of Alabama. Her first book, Sewanee A to Z, which was published in 2014, launched her business, A to Z Children’s Books. Today, her growing brand of books includes Find Your Heart in Lake Martin: An A to Z Book, The Homestead A to Z, and The Sewanee Night Before Christmas. She and her husband, Forrest, are the proud parents of twin boys, Hines and Shep, who inspire her everyday.

                1. What was your inspiration behind your book series?
                  My A to Z book series started a bit by accident. I graduated from Sewanee: The University of The South, a small school in Tennessee. My cousin also attended Sewanee, and shortly after he and his wife had their first child, they recognized the need for a children’s book about the college we all loved so much. They told me I could run with their idea, and so I did, writing Sewanee A to Z, a rhyming book about the buildings, events and traditions that make Sewanee so special to its alumni.

                  By the time I found an illustrator and Mascot Books, which published Sewanee A to Z  in 2014, I had 4-year-old twin boys. I felt compelled to continue to write books for them about the places that are special to my husband Forrest and me. I wrote the next A to Z book about Alabama’s Lake Martin, where I grew up going every summer and where Forrest and I got married, and the next one about Virginia’s Omni Homestead Resort, where Forrest spent time as a child and where we got engaged. Then, something really cool happened— someone saw my Lake Martin book and approached me about writing a book about their special place, and Smith Lake A to Z  was born. I have several potential books in the pipeline, both on paper and in my head, and some, like Cape Charles A to Z (which is currently being printed), are about other people’s special places, and others, like Seaside A to Z (which is being illustrated), are about places that are becoming special to my boys as they get older.

                2. How far apart did you release the books in your series?As I mentioned, Sewanee A to Z was released in 2014. I didn’t release my second book, Find Your Heart in Lake Martin: An A to Z Book, until 2016. The Homestead A to Z and Smith Lake A to Z came out in 2018. Cape Charles A to Z  will come out in 2019, and Seaside A to Z will be released in 2020. So, although release dates were all over the place in the beginning, I’ve worked hard since 2018 to publish at least one book a year.

                3. What advice would you give authors who are thinking about writing their own series?
                  If you’ve found a formula or character you love, stick with it! And if possible, try to find something that distinguishes your series or “brand” from others. Although there are countless A to Z books out there, my brand is different because 1. I write about small, niche markets, rather than large universities, cities or states. 2. I find an illustrator for each book that is either local or has a strong connection to the place about which I’m writing, which gives each book a style that’s as unique as the place itself. 3. All my books rhyme, which isn’t necessarily unique, but it’s part of that “formula” and gives the books a little extra “oomph.” Finally, I’d advise authors to work with Mascot to find a release schedule that works for their brand and genre. Since my books are about different places and aren’t a continuation of a story, it’s not vital that I stick to a schedule. But in other genres, a well-thought out release plan can impact the success of the series.


                Sewanee A to Z, Find Your Heart in Lake Martin: An A to Z Book, The Homestead A to Z, and the Sewanee Night Before Christmas are available for purchase on the Mascot Bookstore. 

                Alysson Bourque, Author of the Alycat Series

                About Alysson

                Alysson Foti Bourque is the author of the Rhyme or Reason Travel series and the multi-award-winning Alycat series. Alysson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a Juris Doctor degree from the Southern University Law Center.

                After practicing law for six years, she traded in writing trial briefs for writing children’s books. Alysson enjoys public speaking opportunities at schools, conferences, and festivals nationwide. She hopes to inspire people of all ages to follow their dreams and believe in themselves wholeheartedly.


                1. What was your inspiration behind your book series?
                  I was inspired to write the Alycat series after taking a year off of practicing law. One evening, after reading our children a bedtime story, my children started begging for more books for our overflowing bookshelf. There wasn’t any room on the bookshelf for more books, so I simply told them that I would write a story for tomorrow night’s reading. They were excited and cheered. Because they believed in me, I believed in me. Funny how children can inspire us with big things.

                  I wrote and wrote that evening and the next day as the story unfolded. Unfinished and unedited, I read it to the kids before bedtime. They loved it!  The laughs, squeals, and bouncing on the bed at the end of the story made my heart full. It was then that I knew that this was a journey that I needed to take in my life. Writing.

                  The Alycat series is a week-based series that has a different Alycat adventure each day of the week. The purpose of the series is to teach children that they can fix any problem that they encounter using imagination, creativity, and their friendships. I use cats as the characters because they are unpredictable, fearless, hasty, and resourceful— like most kids. As a child, I would daydream during class lessons and one teacher yelled, “Alycat, focus and come back to Earth.” I was inspired to call the cat character, Alycat, as, to me, that name represented someone who is a big dreamer and has a vivid imagination.

                2. How far apart did you release the books in your series?
                  My goal with the Alycat series is to release a new Alycat book every 1-2 years. Alycat and the Thursday Dessert Day was released in 2016, Alycat and the Monday Blues was released in 2017, Alycat and the Friendship Friday was released in 2018, and Alycat and the Tournament Tuesday will be released March 17, 2020.
                3. What advice would you give to authors who are thinking about writing their own series?
                  My advice to those authors wanting to write a series is to think long-term. Everything you do with the first book affects the subsequent books. The key to having a successful series is to develop a lasting relationship with the main character and reader and keep the personality and traits of the main character consistent throughout the stories. Readers should feel comfortable with the main character—like he/she is family.

                Alycat and the Friendship Friday, Alycat and the Monday Blues, Alycat and the Monday Blues Plush Toy, Alycat and the Thursday Dessert Day, and Alycat and the Thursday Dessert Day Plush Toy are available on the Mascot Bookstore. 

                Trace Wilson, Author of the Uniquely Series

                About Trace

                Trace Wilson is a children’s author who has made it his mission to help children understand, accept, and love their unique differences. Having been born without a right hand, Trace struggled with his disability throughout his childhood. Over the years, with the support of loving individuals and organizations like The Ability Experience and Lucky Fin Project, he has come to love his differences and now seeks to help children do the same. Trace wrote the Uniquely series with the hope that it will help not only those with disabilities but any child who worries about being different.

                1. What was the inspiration behind this book series?
                  My books are written to help kids with disabilities learn to love their unique differences. I was born with one hand, and when I was growing up I worried a lot about being different. I wrote my books to help others overcome some of the same challenges I faced when I was younger!
                2. How far apart did you release the books in your series?
                  My books were released about a year and a half apart, and it has been two years since my second book was released. I am hoping to continue the series over the next few years!
                3. What advice would you give to authors who are thinking about writing their own series?
                  My advice would be to focus first on the theme or what you want your readers to take away from the story you plan to tell. That will make it much easier to decide how you can break that theme into different pieces that will translate into a series. Writing with that goal in mind will allow you to better organize your thoughts and the different parts of your story!

                Uniquely Me and Uniquely Brave are available for purchase on the Mascot Bookstore. 

                Scott McBride and Rodger Thompson, Authors of The Adventures of Connor and the Courageous Cutter Series

                About Rod and Scott

                Rod Thompson is a Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy. Beyond mind melding with Scott to create Connor the Cutter and his pals in Serendipity Sound, Rod is an award-winning screenwriter and public speaker. His greatest loves in life are the God who never fails him, the wife who continually lifts him up, and the sons who remind him that being a great dad is the pinnacle of success.

                #FaithHumilityHardWork A native of McLean, Virginia, Scott McBride became inspired to write children’s books while attending graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a husband and father of two boys, he felt called to share fun and exciting morality-based stories with positive messages to both adults and children. His stories focus on things he truly loves: the Lord, boats, and the sea. He hopes both kids and parents alike find joy and happiness as they share in the adventures that wait for Connor and his friends in Serendipity Sound. Scott is a 1998 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, and holds a masters degree in mass communication from the UNC School of Media and Journalism. Scott is a Navy veteran and currently serves on active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard. Welcome aboard!


                1. What was your inspiration behind this book series?
                  Honestly, life lessons. There are so many books out there that teach kids manners, or good citizenship – and they’re all great books in their own right. We just wanted to offer children a smooth look at some of the obstacles they may be forced to deal with in their lives, and offer a lesson on how to respond to those events.
                  Both of us are active-duty military dads with sons named Connor. We wanted to share children’s stories that teach important moral lessons, while bringing a little joy to this world. The idea for a character named “Connor the Cutter” came to Scott after a fateful conversation with a professor during grad school, and a few years later he met Rod, who was a film major with a focus on screenwriting.

                  We quickly outlined the first book, and understood that we weren’t going for a “one and done.” There were so many great lessons that we could build stories upon, and the outlook for a series seemed never-ending. Honestly, it still does! After all, Scott is in the Coast Guard and Rod is in the Navy, so writing stories about boats and the sea is right up our channel (seafaring pun), plus we both love the Ward Cleaver “teach life through lessons” aspect of raising our children.
                  Thus the heart of our books lie within the lessons and morals we infuse into every page. C.S. Lewis once said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest,” and we never write a story without that quote in mind. At every book store signing or school event, we’ll have parents or teachers who pull us aside and emote to us how much they relate to one of our characters, or one of our themes, and it’s humbling to know that we’re hitting those marks that we aimed for when we first started this journey.
                2. How far apart did you release the books in your series?
                  Our initial aim was one book a year, but we have spaced them to an average of eighteen months. This gives families time to enjoy each book, and for us to do promotional events with a little bit of lag time between releases. That’s not to say that we’re not always cooking up the next adventure!
                3. What advice would you give to authors who are thinking about writing their own series?
                  Just write it! Don’t wait. Don’t make excuses or prioritize writing below everything else in your life. If you have time to eat a sandwich at lunch, you have time to crush a few hundred words. Everyone, and we mean everyone, has a story rattling around in their head, and we always hear friends, family, and fans say, “One day I’m going to write it,” but few ever do. Louis L’Amour said, “Start writing no matter what. The water doesn’t flow until the faucet is turned on.”

                  Specifically for series writers, first and foremost, decide if your story is going to be serial or a collection of standalone stories in the same world. Connor the Courageous Cutter is a blend of the two, but we’d still say that our series falls into the standalone category. In our series, Connor has a separate adventure in each book, but there is an overall character growth that comes with the lessons learned in each book. So in each book, Connor is a little wiser and braver than before, but the books don’t connect from one story to the next. Conversely, if you look at Harry Potter, that’s one long serial storyline with a steady momentum and arcs that lead towards an eventual end. Knowing the pathway for your characters right out the gate will help in planning the future of your series.
                  Again, most importantly – just write it!


                The Adventures of Connor the Courageous Cutter: Saving Sarah, Caution at Calamity Canal, and Mystery of the Baffling Blackout are all available on the Mascot Bookstore. 

                Back to Blog

                Writer’s Tip: How To Make Compelling First Chapters

                By Acquisitions Editor Jess Cohn

                Everyone has had a favorite book that when they cracked open the spine, smoothed out the first page, and starting reading, they just couldn’t stop. The first chapter sucked them in and carried them all the way to the last snap of closing the book. And I bet they wondered “How?” How did the first chapter make them keep reading? There’s no formula for writing a compelling first chapter, but there are tricks you can use to captivate your readers and get them to crave more.

                The function of a first chapter is to draw the reader in and get them to continue on to chapter two, chapter three, and so on. If the book is fiction, you need to establish who the main character is, the point of view, give snippets of the conflict, and establish the setting—all without an overload of exposition. Easy, right? Not always. So here’s a tip: don’t have your character wake up at the beginning of the chapter. Instead, show them doing a normal task like washing dishes, chatting with a friend, or eating breakfast with the family. That way you’re not immediately launched into the conflict of the book, but you’re introduced to the character(s) and have a chance to establish a good sense of voice. If your book is in an abnormal world where monsters rule the streets, well, what’s their normal?

                For nonfiction titles, a compelling first chapter is even harder to write. Depending on the subgenre, first decide on what point of view the book will be in. First person doesn’t always work for business books, just like third person isn’t great for memoirs. Once you have that, establish the why of the book. Why do the readers need to continue reading? What are you planning on teaching them or helping them with? Making sure readers know this right off the bat sets up the rest of the book for them. Don’t overload it with statistics, but instead open the book as if you’re going to have a conversation with a friend. This works for almost every subgenre except memoir. For that, follow rules more aligned with fiction.

                As an Acquisitions Editor, there are three main things I look for in a first chapter:

                1. Originality
                2. How the author established voice, and
                3. The ultimate question: Do I want to keep reading?

                If the book is a concept that’s been done before (like zombies, for example), what’s the author’s take on it? If it’s a nonfiction topic that has a lot of books published on it (like politics), how does the author make the book different? The author’s voice needs to come across clearly and their style should be evident on the first page. I should realize that I want to read this book—or better yet, that I need to read it. My job is to find books that readers are going to love, and that always starts with the first chapter.

                My best advice to you, dear writer, is to ask for opinions on your first chapter. Whether it’s from family, friends, or strangers you meet on the Internet, they’ll tell you if they want to keep reading. No matter what area of publishing you decide to pursue (hybrid, traditional, or self), a compelling first chapter will do your book a world of good.

                Back to Blog