The World of Publishing

A Look at Publishing with Ramona Moreno Winner

I had a wonderful opportunity to discuss my publishing experiences with students of a Creative Writing Class at the Santa Barbara California Learning Center.  We discussed ways people go about getting a book published.

Traditional Publishing – this is when authors submit their manuscripts to publishers, the manuscript is made into a book and sold to the public.

Self Publishing – when an individual decides to become the publisher and take on the responsibility of producing a book for sale.

There are books (Writer’s Market Guides) that list publishers, their interests, and their submission guidelines for individuals who want to just submit a manuscript and not carry the full burden of marketing and selling their books.  The process begins with submission of a manuscript.  If the manuscript is accepted by the publisher, then a contract will be worked out between the publisher and the author that will define monetary compensation.  The compensation may be an advance payment plus a percentage of the sale of each book.  Each contract may be different.  To be successful in this industry, an author hopes to have many books published with hopes of big sales and the continued receipt of book royalties.

I fall under the category of self publishing.  I developed a publishing company, BrainStorm 3000, in 1996 and have been publishing book since then.  I now have four titles, three of them have won national and international book awards.  My process for publishing a book is as follows:

1) Having a story.  I am not a disciplined writer in that I do not write every day, nor do I journal.  I get an idea for a story, I let it stew in my head, and once it develops, I type it out.  I don’t always write about what I know.  I spend a lot of time researching different topics.  I try to remember the need for sales and marketing when I think of a story to write about.  After all, I do have to sell books.  That means, other people need to have an interest in what I select to publish.

2)  Once I have the story, I need to find an illustrator.  This may require contacting several artists, sending them my story, and asking them for rough drafts on a single illustration.

3)  Contract with an illustrator.  The illustrator’s average cost is $3500 plus 3% to 5% royalty fees.

4)  Editing and translating the story comes next (my books are in English/Spanish).  Both services can run $200 to $300.

5)  Format and layout of the story and illustration.  I do this in-house so this doesn’t cost me anything.  Editing can run $300+ and design and layout $3000.

6)  Selecting a printer.  Once again, I have to send out for quotes, get sample (dummy) books from the printers.

7)  Working with a printer is very involved and takes many steps for approval at different stages.

8)  Printing costs run from $1.00 to $2.00 (on average) for children’s picture books.  7000 copies for $8,000.

9)  Once I get the books, I then have to get them to distributors, sell books, market and promote.

It was great to be able to show the group of students my original illustrations.  They were able to see how the illustrators, at times, have to redo their work.

I was asked about my future projects and introduced my latest manuscript of the Mesquite tree that grows in the Southwestern United States.  My manuscript is titled:  Mesquite Queen.  I shared information from my Cultural Trivia for The Classroom book which is a work in progress.  Some topics we discussed were:

From where does the potato originate?

Answer:  From Peru.  The Incas used the potato thousands of years ago.  To protect themselves from crop failure, they would allow the potato to turn to mush by laying it out in the sun, they would mash the mush, then dehydrate it (known as chañu).  This powdered potato was able to be stored for 10 years.   The Spanish conquistadores took the potato to Europe where it was used as fodder for the animals.  We discussed the potato famine in Ireland.  How sad that they didn’t know about chañu.

We also talked about the origins of hamburger, canopy beds, and the saying:  it’s raining cats and dogs.

I am honored to have been invited to the California Learning Center to speak with their students.  My son, Lucas, was a former student of this center seven years ago when he was in third grade.  They gave him confidence and helped him catch up on his reading skills.  This is my way of saying THANK YOU.

For information on my books visit:

“The essence of teaching is to make learning contagious, to have one idea spark another.”  Marva Collins


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