Today I’d like to introduce a new blog feature called “Ask a Capstoner!” In order for our blog readers to get a better understanding of the people at Capstone who dedicate their working life to making the best possible reading products we can, I’d like to start an interview series with the creative staff in Capstone Nonfiction. However, to do it justice, I need some good questions! What would you all like to know about our editorial, design, photo studio, and media research staff?
I’ll be the guinea pig for today, so ask me anything—about my job as a senior editor, my family, my shoe size, what it’s like to live in Mankato, etc. Just don’t ask me about my outtie belly button. That’s where I draw the line.
I’ll post the questions and my answers to them throughout the day. I’ll also use your questions as a starting point for whomever I chose to interview next.
-Mandy Robbins, Senior Editor, Capstone Nonfiction
Elaine Sloan asked:
I am a school librarian and always buy the latest elementary titles from Capstone. I am interested in publishing some ghost stories I have written for the elementary age group and thought I would try the Amazon Create Space website for self-publishing. My students are always asking for scary stories, but I only buy ones that are not too scary like the ones you sell. I have written a couple and my students have loved them. If I do this, could I at some point try for a mainstream publisher such as Capstone if my book is popular?
Similarly M.C. Finotti asked:
What's the best way to get a non-fiction book deal with Capstone? Query? Writer for hire? What works?
I love to hear people are writing as well as reading. I'm not sure what the process is for the fiction side of the company, but in nonfiction, we do works for hire. We actually have a link on our company website for anyone looking to submit manuscripts. You never know what might happen! Go to:
Fran Hodgkins asked:
How do you determine what series of books to publish?
Similarly, Shirley Duke asked:
Who chooses the new series titles and how is that decided?
Good questions! We have a very talented (and very busy) Product Planning department who studies the market and reading trends and comes up with our product lists.
Wilson Williams Jr. asked:
How are your projects scheduled throughout the year? When are they proposed, approved, begin and end. And how much does your publishing schedule vary from imprint to imprint?
Wow! Lots to answer here. First off, editors are not involved in the proposals of titles. That is all taken care of before we receive our assignments. As for the publishing schedule, we publish books bi-annually. However, there is a good amount of overlap of our seasons. For example, I just finished up my Fall 2012 books at the end of May. But I had already received my outlines for Spring 2013 books beginning in February. Now I'm working on getting my manuscripts for Spring 2013 approved so that we can pick photos and my designers can begin the layout process. Those books will be due to the print vendor in October. And at the same time, I've already started receiving my outlines for Fall 2013. I work on about 10 to 15 books per season, so these projects can be a lot to keep track of! However, the schedule DOES vary from imprint to imprint. I tend to work on higher-level books such as Edge and Velocity, but I sit next to an editor who works primarily on Pebble Plus. Her books are due to the vendor a month or two before mine, and her outlines and manuscripts come in about that much earlier too. She also has the unenviable task of juggling 20 to 25 books per season!
Is there a perfect time of year to receive illustration samples?
As an editor, I don't deal with illustrators at all. However, to my knowledge, there is no better or worse time to submit illustration samples. We are always looking for talented authors and illustrators!
Linda Foley asked:
I would like to recommend a set of books on identity theft for teens- struggling readers and regular readers. I see you want submissions by mail. Unfortunately the identity theft field changes so a book written now might not be appropriate 18 months from now. Are you doing any e-books? Do you ever want teaching guides for non-fiction or fiction books?
Identity theft is a great topic for kids to learn about! I'm not involved in deciding what sets we do, but we are trying to reach out more to teen readers, and we are also now publishing e-books. I could see this possibly being something we would do in the future. However, when submitting nonfiction writing samples, please know that we are not looking for specific book ideas but for good writing so that we could hire authors for projects the product planners have chosen.
Vijaya Bodach asked:
Hi, I was curious if Capstone authors are in a database (I've written a plant parts series and one on graphing). Both my editors left and I've not received any new assignments for a while now. Should I send out a new packet? I've loved working with Capstone and the books are gorgeous and teachers and students alike love them, so I would love to get more assignments. Thank you.
Similarly, L.Sirota asked:
Hi Mandy-I have written 10 books for Capstone and 1 for Compass Point. There seems to be a lull of late. What is happening?
Yes, we do have an author database. However, I am not one of the editors who hires authors. There could be various reasons for the lull. Often we feel that various authors are better suited to different topics, and we may not be working on those topics at the moment. We also like to keep the voice and style of the writing in our books fresh and not rely on the same authors all the time. If you have specific questions, it's probably best to contact one of the managing editors who initially hired you. But it wouldn't hurt to resubmit a writing sample as well.
Hi! I love Capstone... thanks for doing this! Is there any reason illustrators and fiction authors submit by e-mail, but nonfiction authors submit by postal mail? And can you give an idea of the fees you pay writers for nonfiction work-for-hire projects?
I'm not really sure as to why submissions are requested in different forms for different types of work. And as far as fees go, it really depends on the type of book, reading level, word count, etc. Sorry I'm not much help on this one.
I hope I've sufficiently addressed everyone's questions. Thank you for a successful start to "Ask a Capstoner!" I've got to close this thread now, so I can get back to my books, but please look for this feature on the blog again!
And thank you to Wilson Williams Jr. for linking to us on his blog!