Thursday, April 9, 2009

Interview with Publisher Dawn Jeffers, Raven Tree Press

Raven Tree Press specializes in family oriented, high-quality, bilingual (English-Spanish) children's picture books with universal themes that can appeal to many cultures. Their books have garnered rave reviews and won awards. Here to talk about the press is publisher Dawn Jeffers. Jeffers is also an accomplished children's writer and author of the bilingual titles, Vegetable Dreams and Beautiful Moon.

Thanks for being here today, Dawn. Tell us, how did Raven Tree Press get started?
The publisher knew a group of talented writers and artists in the Midwest. That pool of regional talent helped launch the initial list. With the success of the books the talent pool spread through the US and now we proudly work with talent around the world.

Who is your primary audience? Our picture books are focused on children grades preschool ­ third grade. Because our book are co-released as bilingual books in English and Spanish the word count is traditionally low and the artwork must tell sub-stories for us.

What genres do you publish and for what age group? We are a juvenile fiction publisher exclusively. We have one series that blends fiction (postcards written by a child) with non-fictions (facts and photos about specific locations in the United States).

Is there a big market for bilingual books? Children's books in general is a huge market and highly competitive. We needed something to differentiate ourselves and there were no high quality bilingual books in the market. We focused on keeping production quality high, artwork beautiful and excellent translations. These books can then be used in schools for language learning in either language, in a bilingual home where the parent may speak one language and the child is learning a second in school, and by children and families that are curious about a second language. They can use a picture book in the learning as the illustrations help to cue the words in many cases. We end every book with a keyword vocabulary list to aid in learning. These books help make language learning fun.

Are your books available in Spanish-speaking countries outside the US? That has been a challenge for us. We have translators that blend those types of Spanish most often used in the United States and try to blend the translation to suit this blend. Spanish in Spain and sometimes the Spanish in Latin America do not match the translation in our books. We do offer our books for rights purchase so that the publishers in those countries can retranslate for their market and then reprint the books for their needs. That is true for not only Spanish speaking countries, but any company that may want a dual language presentation.

What do you look for in a picture book manuscript? We look for a story that is easily illustratable. We look for family oriented, universal storylines. We do not need culturally specific or multicultural stories as we believe a good story is a good story in any language. In the editing process we lower the word count and choose words that can be translated.

Do you accept unagented submissions? Yes, but we always ask an writer or agent to view our website before any submission. We want them to become familiar with our books and guidelines. It will save everyone time and resources.

Are you looking for English/Spanish translators at this time? We are not looking for translators.

Sometimes the tone of a book is lost in a translation. What do you look for in a translator? Tone is so important. In a children¹s book specifically we want the children to be educated and entertained. We need translators that have had experience translated creative writing and specifically juvenile fiction. Those that portray the voice of the characters in our books is critical to us. We also want that sensitivity to blend discussed earlier and that is tricky sometimes.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers? Please visit our website. We want writers, readers and translators to know who we are and what we produce. If you have children, share one of our books with them and see them light up seeing a second language in the book. It is so interesting that children love to experience the new language when adults are sometimes hesitant.

Thanks for the interview, Dawn!

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Margot Finke said...

Mayra, I enjoyed your interview of Dawn Jeffers of Raven Tree Press - although ending up at Delta Publishing, when I clicked the link, was a bit confusing.

Dawn, do you ever accept and translate rhyming picture books? I write in rhyme (8 published + 2 more coming soon,)and I wondered if it was possible to translate verses with a good degree of rhyme and meter accuracy.

"Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat Behind"
FREE: Link to me reading any Autographed
picture book you BUY from my website.

Anonymous said...

Mayra & Dawn,
I stopped by the ezine this interview was published at and left a comment. I had to comment on the book cover. It really grabbed my attention.
Good luck on thisb venture.
The Differently-Abled Children's Author
J. Aday Kennedy