Happy Wednesday, readers! It's been a minute since I've done a book review as I've transitioned this blog to Tuesday From The Trenches, but I have been missing book blogging, so I will be transitioning back to more of a balance between the two. I'll still be hosting a weekly interview with an agented author about their journey through the query trenches, but twice a month I will also be doing book reviews or debut author interviews. I hope you enjoy the new balance! Today I am sharing an interview with Janie Emaus, debut author of Latkes for Santa Claus. I loved this book so much and hope that you will all pick up a copy! Join me in welcoming Janie to the blog today.
Thanks so much for joining me today, Janie! I am thrilled to be featuring your book, Latkes for Santa Claus. I loved the mash up of Hanukkah and Christmas. It’s really such a great book for culturally blended families, as well as for those of us who want to better understand cultures different than our own. I also thought it was such a fun way to introduce new holiday treats!
Can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration for the book? How did this idea come to you?
I was raised Jewish and celebrated my first Christmas after marrying my husband. When our daughter was born, we had a Christmas tree, left cookies for Santa and lit our menorah for the eight nights of Hanukkah. I began to wonder if our daughter was confused. Not being able to find any fun, fanciful books with characters she could relate to, I decided to write my own.
That is wonderful. I absolutely feel like your book fills a hole in the market. It's truly delightful. Let’s talk a bit about the recipes you share in the back of your book. Are these personal family recipes of your own?
The latke recipe is our mouth-watering one passed down through the generations. Every year, the women in our family gather to peel, chop, fry and eat our latkes. It was during one of these events when the idea sizzled into my mind to have my main character leave latkes for Santa Claus.
I love that! Ideas really can come from everywhere. Will you share a little more about your publishing journey? How did you find a home for Latkes for Santa Claus? What was the submission process like?
Since I couldn’t find any books blending Hanukkah and Christmas in an enjoyable way, I thought my book would sell. Easy Peasy. Right. Wrong! It took over fifteen years, several agents and dozens of rejections for the book to sell.
Then back in December 2019, I entered #Pitmad. For those unfamiliar, #Pitmad is a Twitter event where authors tweet their pitch in 280 characters and anxiously wait, refreshing every few minutes, or seconds, for an agent or editor to like the pitch.
My editor liked my tweet on Thursday. I sent her the manuscript on Saturday. And on Tuesday, she offered me a contract! I like to say that after only a few decades, I became an overnight success. I learned a few days ago, that the book went into a second printing.
I love PitMad so much! I found my agent through the September event, so it holds a dear place in my heart. I love that you had such an amazing success story after so many years of nos. What a testament to your perseverance. Do you have any advice for authors considering going directly to publishers rather than working through an agent?
That’s a tough question. If you’re planning on going the traditional route, depending on the genre of your manuscript, you usually need an agent. Children’s book publishers are more open to unsolicited submissions. As are some of the smaller presses, such as Wild Rose Press, the publisher where I sold my time travel romance.
But the big publishers require submissions through agents.
I’m currently looking for an agent for my Women’s Fiction novel. I follow agents on Twitter and on Manuscript Wish List. (MSWL) I’ve been in the querying trenches for years, on and off, and I know how subjective this business can be. I’ve had several agents throughout my writing career and from my experience, no agent is better than a bad one.
But it’s all about perseverance and believing in yourself.
So very true, Janie! I truly believe that every author can make it if they don't give up. Thank you so much for joining us today! Best of luck as your beautiful debut continues to sell. I can't wait to see what else comes for you.
About Janie Emaus
Janie Emaus is an author/blogger. LATKES FOR SANTA CLAUS is her debut picture book. She is also the author of the young adult novel, Mercury in Retro Love. Her essays and short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and websites. The first book in her time travel series, The Time Traveling Matchmaker, will be released in Spring 2021. To learn more about Janie, visit her website www.janieemaus.com and her blog at https://medium.com/@janieemaus
About Kailei Pew
Kailei Pew is a wife, mother, and picture book author represented by the amazing Emily Forney of Bookends Literary.She is an active member of SCBWI, a 2019 Write Mentor Mentee, and a finalist in Susanna Leonard Hill's 2019 Holiday Writing Contest. She loves writing picture books that help kids see they can do anything they set their minds to.Kailei can't wait to get her stories into your hands.