What is it like to be an author? How does a book go from acquisition to publication? Where can I get a copy of Kate Ormand’s Dark Days? Is there an actual sky pony at the Sky Pony offices? Are these questions you ask yourself on a daily basis? Never fear, we have the answers to almost all of these questions!
Sky Pony author, Kate Ormand, steps in to tell us about her experience with Sky Pony Press. Stay tuned for a GIVEAWAY at the end—the first of many!
It all started in February 2013, when senior editor, the lovely Julie Matysik, sent an offer through to my agent for my debut YA dystopian novel, Dark Days. Things have been moving fast since then as I went on to work with Sky Pony on a further five titles, both YA and picture books.
Publishing was new to me when Dark Days sold, and I didn’t have much of a clue what to expect from that point. I reached out to fellow Sky Pony author, Rose Mannering, whose debut, Roses, was releasing about eight months before my own. She was farther along in the process and told me about her own experience. That was so reassuring, and Rose and I have stayed close friends.
When the time came for edits, I realized I didn’t really need to worry at all because Julie was so clear and helpful and guided me through every step as we got to it. There wasn’t a moment I felt like I didn’t know what was expected of me, and there was nothing I couldn’t email Julie about.
When I started writing, I knew I wanted to write young-adult fiction. I signed with my agent for a YA book and my first book deal was for that book. My second deal, however, was for a children’s picture book, and that was a whole new adventure . . .
Later in 2013, Julie sent offers through for two of my children’s picture books: Pierre the French Bulldog Recycles, illustrated by Bethany Straker, and The Upside-Down Fish, illustrated by Laura Matine. This was completely new to me. Writing picture books kind of felt like starting over again. It was scary, but exciting, too. I’m the kind of person who likes to know what’s going on, though, and, fortunately for me, Bethany had illustrated several Sky Pony titles before Pierre so I had someone to tell me what to expect again!
So 2013 was a lot of fun and filled with exciting news and projects. I learned a lot about the industry and made some great friends along the way. I chose to write under different names, so I was spending time building up profiles and my websites for both. For YA books, I’m Kate Ormand; for picture books, I’m Kate Louise. You can still discover one through the other, even though they’re mostly kept apart. My YA novels are quite dark, whereas my picture books are quite sweet and good fun. It made sense to me to write under two names as I expanded my books and my brand.
Just before the release of Dark Days (June 2014), I got the opportunity to work with another, equally wonderful, editor at Skyhorse—Nicole Frail. I’d briefly worked with Nicole on Dark Days and knew we connected well. The new project I pitched her was a YA novel called The Wanderers, about a girl traveling with a shape-shifter circus. Nicole was so enthusiastic about this project from the start and knew how much it meant to me to get this published. And soon after submission, I received an offer.
Following this, Julie sent an offer on a third picture book I wrote called Tough Cookie, about a mischievous gingerbread man, which was illustrated by Grace Sandford. Tough Cookie was such a fun project, and it was great to be working as a picture book team again.
I’m sometimes asked if I prefer one to the other: YA or PB. I don’t have a preference, really—they both have their charms, and they both have their tough moments. I’m sometimes asked how I switch between the two. I try to focus on one project at a time whenever possible, to get more involved and to be able to sink into that story without distraction from another in the back of my mind. And I’m sometimes asked how writing for one age group helps with another. I can sum it up this way: thinking more visually, working as a team, and patience!
Without Isabel (my agent), I doubt I’d have discovered the love of writing for such a young age group or would have met and became friends with illustrators Laura Matine, Bethany Straker, and Grace Sandford. And without Isabel, Julie, and Nicole, I wouldn’t be where I am now with my YA books, either. I’m very fortunate to be able to explore both genres with Sky Pony.
2015 was the “Year of Book Releases” for me. The three picture books released in February, March, and November respectively. The Wanderers came out in September. It was such an exciting year, and I got the opportunity to attend some great events associated with the books’ publications.
The first event was in February at Waterstones Birmingham for the UKYA Extravaganza. Then I visited Paris for the Teen Author Smash at the American Library in Paris, where twenty-five authors were invited for readings, Q&A hot seats, books signings, and chats with librarians, readers, and writers. In August, I went to New York City (for the first time!) for Teen Author Reading Night. Chaired by David Levithan and held at the Jefferson Market Branch of the New York Public Library, this event was comprised of eight authors who were invited for readings and a Q&A. I read from The Wanderers here for the first time, and Nicole came with some Skyhorse colleagues for support, which was so great! It was also the first time I’d met Nicole, and later that week I got to meet Julie and fab publicist, Cheryl Lew, when I visited the Skyhorse offices! I also met my agent, Isabel, for the first time as well. It was a really wonderful trip—with a lot of firsts!
Being with Skyhorse Publishing throughout its growth has been really interesting. I’ve felt encouraged and in good hands since day one, but I’m enjoying watching the team grow and move toward exciting things now that they’ve been publishing books since 2011. And I love being a part of that growth, too. The Wanderers released with really great blurbs and trade reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, and VOYA, which I hadn’t had before, and that felt amazing. In November the book was honored as “Winner” in the “Fiction: Young Adult” category of the 2015 USA Best Book Awards! Tough Cookie also released with a great review from Kirkus, and both book trailers for Tough Cookie and The Wanderers were chosen as “Book Trailer of the Day” by Shelf Awareness.
I love being a Sky Pony author and feel proud to be part of a hugely supportive team. Through writing for Sky Pony Press, I’ve met various members of the editorial and publicity team as well as fellow writers who’ve become amazing friends. We have a Team Rogue YA blog, set up by Ava Jae and Sarah Glenn Marsh, for YA and MG Sky Pony authors and now this blog, too! I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next and to working with Sky Pony again on my 2017 release, The Pack!
A Sky Pony Express Giveaway!
Enter below to win:
- A Gorillas in Our Midst poster,
- A variety of Sky Pony book postcards and bookmarks,
- A Skyhorse tote bag,
- A copy of Tough Cookie by Katie Louise, illustrated by Grace Sandford,
- A copy of Dark Days by Kate Ormand,
- A copy of The Wanderers by Kate Ormand,
- An advanced reader copy of Liars and Losers Like Us by Ami Allen-Vath,
- A copy of Canned and Crushed by Bibi Belford,
- An advanced reader copy of Camp Dork by Beth Vrabel, and
- A copy of Jokes for Minecrafters: Mobs, Creepers, Skeletons, and More by Michele C. Hollow.