I said that June 5 was the deadline for the 250 votes needed to keep 4RV Publishing in the running for a Chase small business grant of $100,000. It turns out that June 5 was the deadline for submitting applications for the grant. Whew! It would have been tragic to be out of the running ONE vote shy of the 250 needed! It turns out that the actual deadline for the voting was June 19, but the misreading of the rules and the sense of urgency helped to ensure that 4RV’s advance to the next step in landing one of those 20 grants for $100,000.
Even then, and even knowing that any votes over the 250 required were “superfluous,” I said:
Let’s show them the love – keep voting. Why does it matter? Because who doesn’t love to see the support of their community behind them, wishing them success? It costs nothing but a few seconds and a couple of clicks – but it’s a supportive, encouraging, positive way to say, “I wish you all the best.” It may also help to send a message to Chase and its panel of judges – this small business has people behind it who care: authors, illustrators, editors, production staff, readers young and old, fellow small business owners, friends, and family.
These days, it’s hard to mobilize even the closest family members to lift a finger and click. Those “calls to action” that were once so easy – we’re all click-weary and none of us are as popular on social media as we’d love to believe we are. Garnering 250 votes (over half of them in less than a week!) is no small feat. It’s one heck of an accomplishment! So the pressure’s off, now, but don’t feel that your vote won’t matter. It still does. It always will.
Whether it’s votes for a social media popularity contest, “Likes” and “Tweets” to help provide “social proof” to qualify for a grant, or regular purchases to help keep a favorite “Mom and Pop” local business afloat, or votes to help elect a political candidate that represents your views – your support matters.
Interviews and Follow-up with Vivian Zabel
I’ve interviewed Vivian Zabel several times, over the years. In 2011, I interviewed her for my blog, The Next Goal, and in 2013, she was hoping to land a small business grant from Staples PUSH IT FORWARD, and I did a follow up interview with her then, to find out what that would mean to her and 4RV Publishing. The competition for these things is always stiff, and she did not get the grant that time. Nevertheless, that did not stop Vivian or 4RV from moving forward.
While most of us writers would love to be published, few of us have a burning desire to found and run a publishing business. If writing is hard work, the rest of what goes into book production, marketing, and sales is daunting and feels – to some of us – like doing chores and hard labor. Vivian has found her passion in it, and in helping new writers break into print and ebooks. 4RV is a rare bird – a small, woman-owned, royalty-paying publisher in a world where the old, established publishing houses are venturing into the world of subsidy press.
I caught up with Vivian – in truth, I got to spend time with her at the recent OWFI Annual Conference in Oklahoma City – and asked her a few follow-up questions:
Since we last talked, what new titles has 4RV Publishing released?
Our new titles since 2013 include, Worst Case of Pasketti-itis by Kristin Asselin; I Like Pink by Vivian Zabel; Taking the High Ground by Amy Alessio; Kimmy Finds Her Key by Wayne Harris-Wyrick; Count 1, 2, 3 with Me by Connie Arnold; Bedtime Kisses by Karin Larson; Case of the Stolen Stash by Marvin Mayer; Star of the Team by Beverly McClure; Breakfast Is for the Birds by Eyvonna Rains; Hello, Wigwam by John Lawrence; Brady’s Lost Blanket by Stephanie Burkhart; Experiment 38 by Charles Suddeth; If You Swallow That Seed … by Wayne Harris-Wyrick; Myth Rider by Cynthia Henzel; and My Name Is Jake by Angela Graham Steele.
Has your company, or the books you’ve published, won any awards lately?
Life on Hold by Beverly McClure received Silver Seal from Literary Classics International Awards; I Like Pink by Vivian Zabel received Silver Seal from Children’s Literary Classics Awards, was chosen for the the yearly 15 children’s books for KART, and was awarded 2nd place in North Texas Book Awards; other books won regional awards.
What three tips would you share with aspiring children’s book writers?
First, learn how to write. Second, know that writing for children is NOT easy. Third, remember that a children’s story takes imagination, action, and a believable ending.
I’m always shocked by people who get into writing for children because the books are short and they think it’s “easy.” It’s easier to write for adults. Is 4RV Publishing open to unpublished and unagented writers?
Yes! 4RV takes submissions from new authors and unagented authors.
What’s the best way to pitch a book to 4RV Publishing?
The best way to pitch a book to 4RV is to attend a conference where the company is taking pitches. Other than that, a person can be recommended by another 4RV author or a staff member.
What are the biggest challenges for you as a small business owner?
The biggest challenge for me as a small business owner is keeping talented staff since we can’t pay or give the incentives more financially stable presses can. We provide a start and a springboard for new talent that leaves once their work is known and recognized.
Retaining talented people is hard even for larger companies with much bigger budgets. How would you put that $100,000 grant to use, if you were selected as one of the twenty recipients?
A $100,000 grant would allow 4RV to give incentives to artists, authors, and staff. We could obtain needed technology, also.
Thanks, Vivian – and I hope the panelists recognize, given how much you’ve already accomplished, just how much more that grant would enable you to do with 4RV Publishing. As an author who never really expected to be a published author of children’s books, I have a special place in my heart for 4RV, and consider you “Trockle’s Granny.” Trockle, Stephen, Irma, and the guppies are all rooting for you in this!