CAROL GORDON EKSTER: It’s always exciting for kidlit writers to hear about a new publishing company geared towards the magical genre of picture books. (Can you guess what I write?) I am pleased to bring you this interview with the editor of the new Massachusetts based picture book publisher, Ripple Grove Press, Amanda Broder.
Amanda, Please tell us how long it took you to bring the dream of Ripple Grove Press to fruition and some of the things that getting there involved.
AMANDA BRODER: My husband, Rob, and I have always wanted to start our own business. One day in the fall of 2012, Rob came home with the idea to start a children’s book publishing company. We got to work doing research into what it takes to publish children’s books. We’ve always had an interest in children’s literature–Rob was a preschool teacher and I worked in the art industry–but since having our daughter we have become true aficionados. It was the first and only business idea we were truly passionate about. After months of research and talking to people in the industry, we founded Ripple Grove Press in March 2013.
CGE: What is your typical day like now and where are you presently doing Ripple Grove Press business?
AB: Because we’re starting out, both Rob and I still have our day jobs. I am a mostly-stay-at-home mom to our 3-year-old daughter so I spend nap times logging submissions and answering emails. Rob spends his evenings reading submissions, collaborating with our current illustrators, and handling printing and distribution tasks. On the weekends we read submissions and have work meetings to go over our books in progress. Ripple Grove Press is presently located in our home in Hubbardston, MA.
CGE: What has surprised you about the world of publishing?
AB: How supportive and enthusiastic the industry has been. We had been warned during our research that the publishing industry was a bit closed and difficult to break in to. But we have found that everyone from fellow publishers, big and small, to distributors and printers have been open and willing to guide us to make the best possible books. Authors and illustrators are excited to talk to us and work with us from the ground up.
CGE: You and your husband are both working on Ripple Grove Press together. Do you have the same vision? What do you each bring to the table?
AB: Rob and I have the same vision for Ripple Grove Press: to make creative, timeless, and well-made picture books. Rob has a background in early childhood education and now works in sales. I have a background in art. We each have different strengths and we utilize those strengths on every day tasks with Ripple Grove Press and our big picture goals.
CGE: Of course, readers of WritersRumpus want to know about your submission policy and what you are looking for. Can you tell us your personal style for dealing with submissions that come to you?
AB: We are grateful for every submission we receive. Each of those submissions means that someone believes in our mission and wants to be part of it. We log and read every manuscript that comes to us. We take turns reading each bundle as they’re logged and discuss each one. Those that interest us make it to the “revisit folder” where we take a break from them for a couple weeks. If we go back and still like the story and it will fit into our upcoming lists, we make the decision to move forward.
CGE: What are some of your plans to get the word out about your company and the books that you publish?
AB: We set up a social media network when we first started Ripple Grove Press to start getting our name out. We’ve done a few web interviews as well. We visit and talk with booksellers and librarians about what they like and look for, and how they choose and order books.
We will be sending our books for the “Big 5” reviews and working with our authors’ and illustrators’ local media outlets, as well as our own, for reviews and interviews.
Our first book comes out this fall: The Gentleman Bat written by Abraham Schroeder and illustrated by Piotr Parda. It features the charismatic gentleman bat out on a night time stroll down cobblestone streets where the town is lively and energetic. Along the way he meets his lady friend. Dancing and merriment fill their evening until the weather takes a turn. But not to worry, when you’re called the gentleman bat, you always come prepared.
AB: We hope to be continuing our mission to make creative and timeless picture books. Once we are established we can see ourselves moving into board books or specialty design books. And maybe even have a few employees!
CGE: What else would you like the writers and illustrators tuning in to this interview to know?
AB: We are looking for stories we want to read over and over with art that captures the imagination. We hope that with our books, our passion will come across the pages.
Thank you for the opportunity to share Ripple Grove Press with your readers!
Related posts on Writers’ Rumpus:
How One Small Press Got Started: Character Publishing by Carol Ekster
Interview with Publisher Nancy Tuminelly by Paul Czajak