Dawn Jeffers

Managing Partner Raven Tree Press, LLC

Could you tell us about your professional background and what led to the creation of Raven Tree Press.

I have been in sales and marketing my entire career. I had been linked to local writers and artists, professionally and personally and thought I could combine the two with this profession. I saw a need in the picture book industry for high quality bilingual materials particularly in English/Spanish. So by reviewing the market opportunities and my ability to link to the writing and art communities, Raven Tree Press was born.

As a relatively new publisher, what do you feel Raven Tree Press bring to an already crowded market?

Again, you need to differentiate yourself in a market as big and as competitive as the picture book market. Our niche is bilingual picture books. That is all we do. We have creatively presented our books in a number of innovative ways to offer variety within the niche…full text, embedded text, concept text and even wordless books with bilingual instruction pages. Our books are bilingual with universal storylines which also sets us apart from traditional bilingual publishers that offer culturally based stories only. Finally, our books are top quality in production, translation, art and story. That commitment is unfortunately rare in our niche.

Do you work with many illustrators/authors from outside the US?

Yes and we would love to do more of it.

How many titles have Raven Tree published to date and what has been your most successful title?

We have 20 books currently in print. Alien Invaders/ Invasores extraterrestres is our newest and most successful title. We have been learning as we go what our customers need and when they need it. This has obviously added to our success in newer or burgeoning markets.
Tell us a little about a recent project you have worked on, the stages involved and why you chose the selected illustrator(s).

The illustrator for Alien Invaders/ Invasores extraterrestres had submitted work just as the author was submitting the story. I think they both landed here the same day. I loved the artwork because of its humor and ability to tell a story. The illustrator had an animation background which truly came through in the submission. It was the perfect fit to the story…so it was alittle of being at the right place at the right time and of course her talent spoke for itself.

What should a first time author expect once a manuscript has been accepted?

Every house works differently. We are small and very interactive with our talent base. We accept a manuscript and then it is sent to reading groups across the country consisting of librarians, teachers, booksellers, parents, child lit instructors and we also read them to children in English and Spanish. If we like what we hear from them, we offer a contract. We also tell the talent what was said and use this when editing, translating and illustrating the work.
Could you explain the royalty / flat fee structure you have in place at Raven Tree?

We do offer advances and royalties to both authors and illustrators. This is based on expertise, publishing history, publicity ability, etc. The more you bring to the table, the higher the offer. That said, we love the energy a first time author and illustrator bring to the Work and will work with them to establish themselves for this publication and a future in the industry.
What key industry events do you attend annually and why?

We are at ALA and BEA annually because that is the best place to introduce the work to our customers and make contacts needed for sales. Because we are bilingual we also work with NABE and other regional bilingual education associations to get the word out.

What kind of feedback do you get from parents who have bought your books for their children and in what way do these letters influence future projects?

We get feedback from parents before and after the projects, so their input is critical to our direction. They are the gatekeepers in the home to what their children are reading and we want to hear from them.

What is your all-time favourite children’s book and why?

I am a Suess-a-holic. I love light hearted humor, the fanciful delivery and the word play.


This interview has been syndicated courtesy of Childrensillustrators.com