Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Yeah, If You're Madonna! by Karen Rostoker-Gruber
One day, while reading books in the children's section of the Somerset County Public Library, someone came up to me and said, "I'm giving myself a year to write and publish a children's book, do you think that is a realistic expectation."  

I said, "Yeah, if you're Madonna!"  It's not like I was being snotty on purpose, it's just that most people think writing for children is easy; it's not.  

Not only does it take a long time to write a children's book, but it took me 10 years to find the right publisher for my 1st children's book.  What people don't understand is this:

-First, you have to write a children's book that has:  unforgettable characters; unique voices; a strong beginning, middle, and end; a unique setting; (and so much more) all in 32 pages with less than 1,000 words.

-Then you have to join a critique group.  If you are a picture book writer, you need to join a critique group for picture book writers.  This will give you insight into your writing ability as well as support from writers that write what you write.
-Next you have to submit your story to a proofreader.  Trust me, you need to do this.  You've read your story over, and over, and over again, so you can't be trusted to find that that word word that that keeps keeps repeating.  :)

-And then, after all of that, you need to research who the best publishers and editors are for your book.  (When I was researching the best editors for my book, "Bandit," I found one editor--Margery Cuyler-- had two cats and LOVED cat books, so I sent it there.)  (She acquired it.  Then published five of my books after that. ) 

-Now you have to write the best, one-page coverletter that you possibly can, mimicking the flap copy of the publishers that you are submitting to.

-Once you do all of that, then, and only then, can you submit your story to a publisher.  

Soooooo, there is NO way it only takes one year.  It took me 10 years to write, edit, research, submit, and get a contract for my first children's book.  :)

However, if your book is good, and you do your research, and pick the best publisher for your book, it will get published.  It just takes patience, persistence, and perspiration-----and really tough skin.  :)
Here is the last book that I wrote with my editor Margery Cuyler, before she retired.  It is called "Ferret Fun in the Sun."
It is a sequel to my book, "Ferret Fun."

In this book, my ferret friends (Fudge and Einstein) are going on vacation. When Andrea, their owner leaves for the day, Einstein wants to get out of the cage to explore.  Fudge wants to remain in their room at the ranch, where it is safe--he has his hammock, water bottle, and treats.  Will they explore or remain at the ranch?

This was a sad book for me to work on, knowing that it would be my last book with Margery.  When an editor leaves, it's like there is a void at the publishing company--your cheerleader is gone--just some backstory stuff for you.

Here is a photo of my real ferret.  His name is Bandit.

The other book that I recently worked on, "Farmer Kobi's Hanukkah Match," that was published by Apples and Honey Press in August, was a National Jewish Book Award Finalist!!!!  Here is the book with its new sticker on the front cover.  Yay!!!!!

Here is the flap copy:

Come join Farmer Kobi and his animals for a hilarious Hanukkah dinner.  Kobi's 
well maaa-nnered goats, donkey, geese, and sheep know eggz-actly how to play host, and they give Polly, Kobi's Hanukkah guest, a gracious hee-haw welcome.  But when Polly doesn't like playing dreidel with goats, singing Hanukkah songs with geese, or being near any of Kobi's animal family, what will happen next?

This book takes place on the famous Nahalal Moshav in Israel.  Many of my family members still live there today.  Here are some photos of the actual moshav.


Also, this book was sold at Bed, Bath and Beyond stores.  Here is a photo.  Yay!!!

Also, my website has a lot of tips for writers.  There is a video of me teaching people how to get published, as well as written tips for those that don't want to watch a video.

There are also a lot of things for teachers and parents on my site: coloring pages, teachers' guides, readers theater scripts, and activity sheets.  Oh, there are also some videos of me and my puppet (Maria) as I am also a ventriloquist.  :)  

Have fun!

Karen Rostoker-Gruber
Award-winning children's book author of:
and other adult humor books.


  1. Karen, your persistence is paying off! I hope you are finding time to celebrate. Thanks for the behind-the-scenes peek into your stories. I especially love the box of Mr. Bubble next to your ferret in the tub!

    1. You have NO idea how long it took for the ferret to stay still long enough for the photographer to snap that photo of him. The bubbles were very distracting. :)
      Such a good photographer.

  2. Thanks for visiting @Jane Heitman Healy! So glad to have both you and Karen here!

  3. You are very welcome, @Karen Gruber -- it was fun!

  4. Anytime. I have 4 new books coming out in the next two years. My goal this year is to get an agent. :)

  5. The researching of publishers is the one I have trouble with.

    Thank you for that detail!

    1. You are very welcome. :)
      There is a ton of tips on my website for researching publishers.

  6. Thank you so much for visiting and commenting, Joy -- so glad to see you here!