In the Spotlight: Margie Blumberg of MB Publishing

This past week we spoke with the Founders of the Children’s Book Insider about the advantages and obstacles indie authors and publishers have to face in this competitive and changing market.  Indie author and publisher Margie Blumberg writes and publishes wonderful books through her small publishing house, MB Publishing.  We love the award-winning Sunny Bunnies and Breezy Bunnies particularly, and the illustrations are really top-notch.  Her new release, Celtic Run, is an action-adventure middle-grade novel set in Ireland. I had a chance to speak with Ms. Blumberg about her journey as an author and small publisher this week.

Tell us how the idea to do Sunny Bunnies and Breezy Bunnies came about?

The series, which will include one book for each season (so far, we have a spring tale—Breezy Bunnies—and a summer tale—Sunny Bunnies), came about while recovering from a sore neck after a day of fun on a snowy hill one winter. A flying saucer was involved. Anyway, with my ice pack in place, I was lying on the couch when the words “It’s snowing! It’s snowing! You know where I’m going?” popped into my head (when Snowy Bunnies is released, those words will finally be used). And that was the beginning of our series in rhyme about the four seasons, featuring a brother and sister bunny and their family and friends in Carrot Cake Park. 
In the town where I grew up, there was a park named Candy Cane City (it’s still there), with a cabin for Brownie troop meetings, which I happily attended, and fields for softball and kickball. And there was lots of playground equipment. I wanted to name the world where these bunnies live after that idyllic place. The two Cs in Candy Cane were the inspiration for the name Carrot Cake Park.
What has been the most rewarding part of being a children’s author?

I had the wonderful opportunity to do a reading of Sunny Bunnies at Barnes and Noble. The kids sat in a circle with their parents as I read aloud all but the last word of each stanza. Page by page, I asked the children to fill in the last word of each rhyme. There was one child, around age 4, who sat beside me on the floor as I read the book. When it came time to fill in the missing word, he would say it in a loud, clear voice. Ninety-nine percent of the time, he chose the word printed in the book. When I asked him if he was reading, he answered, “No! I’m looking at the pictures!” I was very pleased that, one, I had such an enthusiastic helper, and that, two, he was able to hear my words and then quickly figure out the missing word from the illustrations. As you can imagine, that takes quite a bit of skill. It made me happy that the book worked on that level for him. The other children joined in and some of the littlest ones, who weren’t verbal yet, sat in rapt attention. 
Hearing from parents that their children request Sunny Bunnies as their bedtime book always makes me smile. I had a few favorite children’s books growing up (for example, Put Me in the Zoo and No Roses for Harry), and if June Goulding’s and my books can create the same kinds of happy moments and warm memories in a child’s life that my favorite books created for me in mine, then my dream will have come true. 
What challenges and advantages do you face as a small publisher?
As a small publisher, the biggest challenge is time. To give you an idea of a typical day, here are some words to help explain the work that’s involved in publishing: submissions, contracts, illustrations, graphic design (interiors and covers), editing (substantive editing and copy editing), distribution, printing, promotion, awards, reviews, social media, advertising, book shows, book trailers, book publishing groups, voiceovers, studio work for narrations, Web sites, blogging, newsletters, foreign rights, and film rights. Every day is busy! I’m lucky to have found some absolutely wonderful people with whom to work—artists, editors, Web site designers, lawyers, etc.—all of whom make my time at work joyful.
There are lots of advantages! As an independent owner of a publishing house, I can choose the manuscripts I want to work on. I have no oversight committee to tell me that a project I adore won’t work or that one that I’m not excited about should be undertaken because of this or that trend. This gives me tremendous freedom to pursue projects that are important or enjoyable for me. Work is far less stressful when I’m engaged in something I love. Also, I get to launch contests on my Web site (which I call Monday’s Blast because each drawing is held and each new prize is announced on the first Monday of every month). And finally, I am able to link my company’s books to something that’s very important for our seniors in need across the country: For every book that is sold from my site, MB Publishing will donate a meal to Meals on Wheels.
What new releases does MB Publishing have coming out this year and next?

Sunny Bunnies, the iBook, will be released very shortly (distributed by PicPocket Books). Also, The Scoop on Good Grammar, which is an iBook now (also available through PicPocket Books), will be coming out as an ebook (for the Kindle, Nook, etc.) by the end of this year. And Chicago Bound, the next installment in the Jake McGreevy series of middle-grade adventure books (for ages 8-13), which launched with this year’s Celtic Run, is due out in fall 2013. 
Thanks Margie for your time!  I loved the description of all the work that goes into being an author and running the publishing house!  It is a ton of work but like Margie, I find my work very exciting and fun — especially interacting with the kids at readings and folks on Facebook.   Thanks again, Margie.  Make sure to check her web site for her Monday Giveaways: 
You can read more about MB Publishing here:
Thanks, Margie, for your time and a big congratulations to you as both Celtic Run and The Scoop on Grammar  WON a Dan Poynter Global Ebook Award this past weekend!


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