When That First Copy Arrives in the Mail: Shiver Me Timbers!

I don’t do happy dances. I’m not a fist-pumper, chest-thumper, or rump-bumper. It’s just an inward satisfaction, and pure pleasure; the culmination of something that’s been brewing for years. In the case of this book, A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade, illustrated by Greg Ruth, my pleasure is tripled by the gratefulness I feel to be so well published.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, for the most part, after you sell a manuscript your editor and publisher will make a hundred small decisions about the book. And each decision boils down to one thing: How much care are they going to put into it? Sometimes it’s money; mostly it’s attention to detail. For example, almost all picture books are 32 pages. But for this book, Feiwel & Friends gave illustrator Greg Ruth the freedom to stretch out the artwork across 48 pages. In doing so, they showed a commitment to story.

As an author, you can see it in the book, in the conversations you have about it, in all the myriad details of how it and you are treated. At times in my twisting, inglorious career I’ve been disappointed and disheartened. So clearly a B-lister.

That’s the most important thing, I think, with my editor Liz Szabla at Feiwel & Friends, the art director Rich Deas, publisher Jean Feiwel, and many others who work so hard there: Dave Barrett, Nicole “May I Buy a Vowel” Moulaison, and the entire “Fifth Ave” sales force (for talking like a pirate on all sales calls). What’s more, they all now bring parrots on all bookstore visits. That’s commitment, folks.

Collectively, they seem to care deeply about every book they publish. And for that I am enormously grateful and, yes, indebted.

The book hits the market for real on July 20, 2010 — just in time for the coming school year.


  1. Kurtis says:

    I can’t wait to share that book with Byron in a few years.

  2. Liz S says:

    JP, it’s our pleasure! The book looks wonderful, and sounds great too. I’m amazed at how energized it feels with each reading — I’ve looked at this a lot — a LOT — and the pacing of text and art hold up every time. Can’t wait to see it hit the shelves. LS

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