From Sale to Shelf: The Debut Author’s First Year (Online Only) 2020

January 15 - May 7, 2020

This course is currently in progress but closed to new registrants, but we plan to offer it again in the future. If you’d like to be on the wait list for notice of when that course becomes available, add your name to the waiting list.

Join Us To:

Prepare for the publication of your first book with this 16-week online workshop. Hear from publishing professionals, get downloadable resources, and ask questions in a supportive forum. Complete monthly assignments to reach your goal of a successful debut plan.

The course is divided into 8 sessions:

  • Session 1: Getting Started with Your Debut Year with Jess Rinker
  • Session 2: Timelines with Jess Rinker interviewing Alex Villasante and Nicole Valentine
  • Session 3: Giving Value to the Book Creator with Jess Rinker interviewing Pablo Cartaya
  • Session 4: The Art of the Learning Curve with Jess Rinker interviewing Heather Demetrios and Linda Epstein
  • Session 5: Author Branding and Promotion with Jess Rinkier interviewing Kwame Mbalia
  • Session 6: Getting to Know Teachers: School Visits, Educator guides, and Conferences with Jess Rinker interviewing Debbie Gonzales
  • Session 7: The Importance of Community with Jess Rinker interviewing Traci Sorell and Daria Peoples-Riley
  • Session 8: Where Do We Go From Here? with Jess Rinker (Live)

Please note: our online courses use the Thinkific platform, so when you click to register, you’ll land on the Thinkific site and you’ll register there.

What You’ll Learn:

This workshop will give you a comprehensive look at best practices for launching your book and your career. You’ll actually be working on your plan throughout the course, with the goal of being ready to begin when the course is through. You will:

  • Get an overview of the “Year 1” process.
  • Find out what components you’ll need: headshots, website, budget and more.
  • Understand what your publisher will–and won’t–do for you.
  • Learn all about the financial: setting a budget, negotiating payments for visits, and more.
  • Talk about promoting in person: which conferences/festivals/visits are worth doing?
  • Think about author branding, working with publicists and creating your online and social media presence.
  • Explore school visits, educator guides, and conferences. How can they help you?
  • Find your community: networking and friendships–how can you help each other?
  • Complete your plan and evaluate your next steps.

Attend If:

  • You are soon to debut your first book. Congratulations! Here’s how you find out what to do next.
  • You have recently debuted. There’s still so much to be done, and this course will tell you how.
  • You are debuting within the next 2 years. Perfect! This course will give you a head start.

Find out more about this course in this video where Program Director Alison Green Myers talks about 2020 courses that will help novelists build their careers.


The course is divided up into 8 sessions, each with a different topic. For each session, workshop leader Jess Rinker will:

  • Address details of the topics through interviews with publishing professionals.
  • Give you topic-related assignments.
  • Share specific resources.
  • Manage a forum for questions on the topic.

Here are the session topics and dates:

Session 1: Getting Started with Your Debut Year

  • Overview of Year 1 Process
  • Author responsibilities
  • What you’ll need (headshots, website, budget, etc)
  • Dealing with Impostor Syndrome

Session 2: Timelines

  • Year 1 timeline
  • Milestones
  • Expectations: you vs. your publisher
  • What to do if you fall behind schedule
  • When to talk about book 2

Session 3: Giving Value to the Book Creator

  • How do you find out what your publisher will do for you?
  • What can you do for free?
  • How do you set your pricing?
  • What conferences/festivals/visits are “worth” it?
  • Who and where to find support
  • How do you negotiate payment? Report payment? Dispute payment?

Session 4: The Art of the Learning Curve

  • Is there a connection between financial disorganization and self-worth?
  • How important are advanced copies and promotion language in the book contract?
  • Why do publisher marketing responsibilities vary so greatly between publishers?
  • What should I ask my publisher to do? What should I ask my agent to do?

Session 5: Author Branding and Promotion

  • How do you build an online presence?
  • Is author branding necessary?
  • Are you in control of your branding or is your publisher?
  • How do you handle self-promotion online and in person?
  • How do publicists work?
  • What’s worth investing in? Swag? Signings? School visits? Social media?

Session 6: Getting to Know Teachers: School Visits, Educator Guides, and Conferences

  • Are school visits important?
  • What do you need to know when planning a school visit?
  • How important are contracts with the school?
  • What else can you do to meet teachers and librarians?
  • What resources do you have for building teacher guides?

Session 7: The Importance of Community

  • How do you find community in the children’s book industry?
  • What is the difference between networking and friendship?
  • What organizations are most beneficial? Why?
  • How do you give back to your community once you are published?

Session 8: Where Do We Go From Here?

  • Questions you still have
  • What our new community has built
  • Evaluating your plan and steps of action


Jessica Rinker

Jess Rinker is the author of Gloria Takes a Stand, a picture book biography of Gloria Steinem, and the forthcoming,…
Learn more

Alexandra Villasante

Alexandra Villasante has always loved telling stories–though not always with words. She has a BFA in Painting and an MA…
Learn more

Traci Sorell

Traci Sorell writes fiction and nonfiction books as well as poems for children. Her debut nonfiction picture book, We Are…
Learn more

Kwame Mbalia

Kwame is a husband, father, writer, and pharmaceutical metrologist in that order. His debut middle-grade novel, Tristan Strong Punches a…
Learn more

Nicole Valentine

Nicole Valentine ( is an author of middle grade fiction. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young…
Learn more

Linda Epstein

Linda Epstein is a senior agent at Emerald City Literary Agency, in their east coast office. She represents picture books,…
Learn more

Heather Demetrios

When she’s not traipsing around the world or spending time in imaginary places, Heather Demetrios lives with her husband and…
Learn more

Pablo Cartaya

Pablo Cartaya is an award-winning author whose books have been reviewed by The New York Times, featured in The Washington…
Learn more

Debbie Gonzales

Debbie Gonzales is a career educator, curriculum consultant, former school administrator and adjunct professor, a podcaster (The Debcast), and past…
Learn more

Daria Peoples-Riley

Daria’s first job was at nine years old in the children’s section of her hometown library in Paso Robles, California.…
Learn more

Event Cost: $699.00

workshop information