Tara Cattie Luebbe ran her own picture book store before becoming an author. She’s read thousands of pictures books and has a solid grasp of what it takes to write for a picture book crowd. I’ve had the pleasure of reading her manuscripts in our critique group and can safely say you’ll be seeing a lot of her name soon. In gratitude to her own mentor, Tara will host a mentorship contest early next year where authors and illustrators can apply to be mentored by an established author or illustrator. The details are below. Thank you, Tara, for the candid interview from a retailer’s perspective.
Tara, you had a baptism by fire in searching out good children’s lit with your oldest son who’d finished all the Harry Potter books by first grade. It sounds like keeping up with his book appetite is what prompted you to open your toy and bookstore.
I think I got into picture books like a lot of writers, I had kids. My first born was a voracious reader and so I spent a lot of time looking for new books to keep him satisfied. He did not like to read one book over and over, he always wanted a new one. He went on to read all the Harry Potters by the end of first grade. I was blessed to have two more sons after that, and they are all equally avid readers, which makes me so happy.
Because my background was in retail buying, I followed a dream and opened a toy and book store. My store catered to children 0-6, so the only books I sold were picture books. My selection was very different than the chain store down the way. I spent hours at market buying new books and searching out the best picture books from smaller pubs, foreign pubs and the wonderful backlist. As an indie, I had no requirements to carry anything from a corporate office. If I didn’t like the book, I didn’t carry it, even if it was a huge seller elsewhere. It was a highly curated collection reflective of my taste.
Where did you go to find your books? Tell me about the backlist (backlist books are older book still available from a publisher). Continue reading