Presenting Author/Illustrator and Publisher…Marissa Moss

Today it is my pleasure to bring you an interview with an amazing woman from the field of Children’s Writing: Marissa Moss.  Not only is she an award winning author and illustrator, she also happens to be the publisher at CRESTON BOOKS, the same place where my book WHEELS OF CHANGE is published. Here’s Marissa:

1. You’ve been a successful and prolific children’s book author for many years. How did you get started in this career?                 marissa photo

I sent my first book to publishers when I was nine, but, of course, it wasn’t very good and didn’t get published. I didn’t try again until I was a grown-up and then it took me five years of submitting stories, getting them rejected, revising them, submitting them over and over again until I finally got my first book. It’s a good thing I didn’t give up in year four!

2. Which of your books are most fun and enjoyable to write? Your favorite character?

Amelia’s notebooks are definitely the easiest to write since they’re based on me, so I just basically remember my childhood. The historical ones are the hardest since there’s so much research involved. But I love writing both. They’re challenging and fun in different ways.

3. You’ve recently begun a new venture as Publisher of Creston Books. How did this brave and daring move come about?

Creston Books’ first list came out in the fall of 2013, so we’re very new. The impetus was the loss of Tricycle Books, the children’s division of Ten Speed Press. When I first wrote Amelia’s Notebook in 1994, I sent it to out to all the major publishers, many of which I’d already worked with, but they all turned down the book as too odd. It wasn’t a picture book or a middle-grade novel, so how would booksellers sell it? Where would librarians shelve it? It took a small, innovative press like Tricycle to take a risk on such an unusual format. Now, of course, the journal format is everywhere, from The Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Dork Diaries to The Popularity Papers.

When Random House bought Ten Speed Press, they closed down the children’s division, Tricycle. That was a loss to all of us in the children’s book community, especially those from the Bay Area where Tricycle was based. At a time when there were fewer and fewer houses, the need for small, innovative publishers seemed greater than ever. Friends who are also small publishers encouraged me and I’ve been helped by the rich children’s book community here. I wouldn’t have dared to try doing something like this without all of them.

4. What’s been the most rewarding part of the journey?

I love publishing debut authors who might have a very hard time finding a home otherwise. Each list so far has featured one to two debut writers or illustrators, as well as established authors who haven’t published in a long time. When Denys Cazet’s Minnie & Moo: Hooves of Fire came out last spring, Denys, a prolific writer, hadn’t published anything in several years. And we’re currently working on a book with the brilliant, award-winning writer, Julius Lester, who also hasn’t had a book out in years.

5. What makes Creston unique from other publishers? Where do you envision the company 10 years from now?

We’re unique in that we fully promote each title. We do no more than four books a list and each book gets all of our attention, unlike a traditional publisher which puts out many titles and promotes only a handful. We also do a lot of work with our authors, editing stories, not simply acquiring them. We want our authors and illustrators to feel fully supported and listened to.
I would hope that in ten years, we’d have many award-winning books and could afford to give better advances. Right now our advances are small, but our promotional efforts are big.                    fallCrestontitles

6. Wearing so many hats must sometimes feel daunting. If you could have one super power what would you choose and why?

Juggling so many roles can be challenging, but it’s also hard in the same way writing is — it stretches me and forces me to grow in unexpected ways. If I could have one super power, it would be to time travel, so I could be even more efficient or maybe to lose the need to sleep. If I could work day and night, imagine how much I could do!

7. What’s next for you?

I’m always working on the next book. Right now, that’s the fourth and final book in the time travel series, Mira’s Diary: California Dreaming.

You can learn more about Marissa and CRESTON BOOKS  at: marissamoss@crestonbooks.com, marissa moss and creston books on facebook, @marissawriter and @crestonbooks on twitter.

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10 thoughts on “Presenting Author/Illustrator and Publisher…Marissa Moss

  1. Marissa, What a wonderful interview! It’s such a shame that more publishers won’t take risks with manuscripts that don’t quite fit in the box. Or for that matter, willing to take a chance on a writer who hasn’t published in a while. Well, the fact that Denys Cazet’s Minnie & Moo: Hooves of Fire was selected by Kirkus as one of the best children’s books of 2014 certainly says a lot. I, for one, am eternally grateful that you took a chance on Wilcox & Griswold. p.s. You might find this funny, but right before Tricycle Books closed I had sent them one of my manuscripts.

  2. Darlene, I’m so glad you thought to do this interview! I mean, it only makes sense 🙂 Before now I wasn’t familiar with the background of Creston Books and had only heard of it the first time through you, figuring it was an imprint which somehow (even with all my research!) hovered under my radar. In having gone to the site and reading the “About Us” page, I find it refreshing to hear the “breaking the new mold” mind set, wanting to revert back to a wider array of book choices and styles, along with a more “attentive to individual author/book” mentality. Perhaps it’s because I ADORE Wheels of Change and love Don’t Turn the Page (haven’t read the other books yet, but want to!), but I’m getting the feeling Creston Books may develop into another “Chronicle Books,” a publisher that, in my opinion, always puts out unique and outstanding work! 😀

    And now I feel compelled to admit here how I am actually ashamed to have assumed that Creston Books only accepted solicited submissions. For the past year I’ve heard four of you mention Creston Books as your publisher, but since you all have agents, I assumed! Now, of course, we all know the old saying about what assuming does ; ) Thank you for being the catalyst for my enlightenment! 😀

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