So You Want to Publish a Book: An Interview with Denise Ditto-Satterfield

I love books and eventually I want to write a couple of them. Maybe I will get around to it when I retire. Recently, I was at an event and was sitting next to one of the most congenial people that I have ever met. Her name was Mrs. Ditto-Satterfield. We started a conversation and I learned that she is an author. Naturally, I wanted to know more about her work and her publication journey.

While this is a detour from my normal topics, I thought that you all might be interested in reading about her. After all, many educators are children and young adult authors. So, I invited Mrs. Ditto-Satterfield for an interview. Before you read the interview, let me share some background details about Ms. Ditto-Satterfield.

  • She has a degree in professional writing.
  • She spent 27 years working for a real estate attorney and quit her job to pursue a writing career.
  • She is writing a series of tooth fairy chapter books. The first book is called “Batina’s Best First Day.” You can read about her work at
  • As an Executive Director for the Houston Writer’s House, she educates other authors about how to get published.

Me: How did you decide on the topic for your book?

Mrs. Ditto-Satterfield: Everyone at work knew I went back to school for writing and was going to write a book for children. One day a good friend came into work. Her daughter had lost a tooth. Her daughter wanted to know if all tooth fairies were girls. This concerned her and she came to work that day to me and said, “You need to write a book about the tooth fairy. Some of them need to be boys.” And I thought, “Well that’s kind of an interesting thing to write about.” It blossomed from there. It started out as a picture book and became the early chapter book that I have today about tooth fairies.

Addressing gender stereotypes is important. In my first book, there are boys in the story. But I don’t have any that are tooth collector fairies. So, in book two I’m going to introduce a twin brother to one of the girls in the first book. He is going to play a big role in the second book.

Me: How long did it take to write the book?

Mrs. Ditto-Satterfield: I began writing and taking notes on September 1, 2011. It took 3 years to write the book.

Me: What was your publishing process like?

Mrs. Ditto-Satterfield: Publishing is such a process. I graduated with a degree in professional writing. But I still felt like I didn’t know anything about what I was trying to do, which was write a book and publish it. I joined two or three writing organizations. I threw myself into this environment to learn about publishing.

I started going to workshops and conferences where professional critiquing services were offered. I hired a professional coach that I mailed the book to. She helped me to focus on areas that were lacking. From that point forward, I realized what I needed to do. Publishing is not so much about getting the whole idea down into a book form. It is more about, once you’ve written the book, revising it, and getting it in a coherent format people can understand.  After the third year, I started the process of trying to get the book published.

Me: When we met, you told me about your writing coach. How did you find the professional writing coach?

Mrs. Ditto-Satterfield: I joined the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) group. In the past, I have gone to their meetings and conferences. Somebody at one of their meetings told me about the coach that I used for my first book. I contacted her by email and she responded.

Me: This sounds expensive. Can the average person afford to hire a professional coach?

Mrs. Ditto-Satterfield: It is not expensive. I think the maximum was about $300 for my whole book. It is a chapter book. Her fee was $75 an hour. I feel fortunate to have had somebody to pick out the areas that might need work. The problem when you are writing, is that you think it’s wonderful. I have decided that before I get excited, I want to have somebody go through my work. The truth is that nobody writes a perfect manuscript the first time. You don’t see a lot of the things that other people see.

Me: How did you find a publisher?

Mrs. Ditto-Satterfield: I took my book to conferences like the SCBWI conference. The conferences have agents and editors there that you can hire. You can pay to have a meeting with them and try to convince them to become your agent. Conferences also offer critiquing sessions. I went to a conference and met with a professional coach that writes for Disney. She gave me a nice critique and said that my book might not be a candidate for traditional publishing because I write about brushing teeth. She asked if I planned to market to pediatric dentists. I responded, “Yes.” Then she suggested that I self-publish.

I started to look for someone to help me with self-publishing. I found an illustrator that I was interested in on (now You can also find illustrators through SCBWI. During the same time, I met a woman that worked for a small press in Texas. She met with me and I pitched my story. I signed a contract with the small press to publish my book. I thought, “This is good. I won’t have to worry about figuring out anything.” Eventually I found out that the woman that was working with me resigned and they did not get my book done. I was able to cancel my contract and I decided that I just needed to publish myself.

I hired a publishing consultant because I didn’t know what to do. I reached out to my friends in the writing community for help. Sure enough, I got the name of the lady who walked me through everything that I needed to do.

I was very concerned about putting out a product that was professional.  I know that a lot of self-published books are not the highest quality. I didn’t want to fall into that category. The consultant answered my questions and had a list of different steps that I needed to take.

Me: I understand that book coaches, publishing consultants, and book editors have different jobs. Can you tell me how you found the editor for the book?

Mrs. Ditto-Satterfield: As far as the editor goes, I am involved in the Houston Writer’s House and they have a list of different editors. Plus, I communicated with all of my writing friends in my writing community. You can also search for editors online.

Me: Do you have advice for school librarians that want to publish with a publisher?

Mrs. Ditto-Satterfield: I would suggest that once they have their manuscript written, that they learn how to pitch the idea or the story. Next, attend conferences that bring in agents and editors. Some conferences are genre specific. That is not necessary as long as the conference has agents and editors present. Sign up to sit in front of somebody and pitch them the idea. If they like the idea, sometimes they will ask to see the first 10 pages or ask for the manuscript.

I also suggest that they go online and find books that they like and see who is publishing them. Go to the publisher’s website and find out if they are accepting unsolicited submissions. There are guidelines on the websites with requirements for submissions. A lot of the big publishing houses, will only accept submissions from agents.

Me: What do you recommend for those that want to self-publish?

Mrs. Ditto-Satterfield: I recommend they find a publishing consultant that will walk them through step-by-step. Don’t take the shortcut route. A publishing consultant will make sure that they don’t miss any important steps.

Me: What advice do you have for librarians who want to invite a self-published author for a visit?

Mrs. Ditto-Satterfield: A lot of the self-published authors are going to events that librarians are attending. Ask the self-published author if they do events and visits. I also suggest that librarians ask them about school visits. Get the author’s email and website addresses. Most importantly, let the author know any expectations in advance. Discuss the age groups, the timeframe, and if the author needs to bring their own equipment.

In conclusion, I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Mrs. Ditto-Satterfield. Perhaps you will be publishing your book sometime in the near future. If you have experiences and advice for publishing, please share them in the comments section. As always, please continue on to read the August 2017 professional development.

August 2017 Professional Development

Title:  EdmodoCon

  • Organization: Edmodo
  • Date: Tuesday, August 1, 2017 @ 7:00 AM-5:05 PM
  • Description: EdmodoCon is a free, live online global event where educators from around the world connect with each other to share how they’re using Edmodo and other digital tools to personalize learning. The educational professional development event of the year, EdmodoCon will help you collaborate with other teachers, discover valuable new resources, and harness the power of edtech in your classroom.
  • Link:

Title:  Technology Integration Made Easy with Blendspace

  • Organization: TeachersFirst
  • Date: Tuesday, August 1, 2017 @ 5:00 PM-6:30 PM
  • Description: Transform your classroom lessons by learning how to use Blendspace. Engage students and deepen content area knowledge by collecting and bundling resources online. Learn how to collect and upload video, photos, text and add quizzes to create engaging digital lessons that students can complete at their own pace. Use digital media to add context to content area instruction for your students and monitor progress. Brainstorm with others how you and your students can use Blendspace in your classroom.
  • Link:

Title:  Classroom Activities to Promote Computational Thinking

  • Organization: TeachersFirst
  • Date: Wednesday, August 2, 2017 @ 05:00 PM-06:30 PM
  • Description: Computational Thinking prepares students to understand how to use today’s digital tools to help solve tomorrow’s problems. This workshop will help participants understand the fundamental tenets of Computational Thinking, most notably, how Computational Thinking combines critical thinking skills with the power of computing to make decisions or find solutions. Participants will learn strategies to incorporate computational thinking into classroom activities, brainstorm ideas with other educators for using those strategies in their content area, and begin planning a lesson.
  • Link:

Title:  2017 SXSWedu Conference: Reports from the Field

  • Organization: Texas State Library and Archives Commission
  • Date: Thursday, August 3, 2017 @ 10:00 AM-11:00 AM
  • Description: Every March in Austin, SXSWedu fosters innovation in learning by hosting a passionate and diverse community of education stakeholders. Join TSLAC school library coordinator Liz Philippi and Mansfield ISD high school librarian Jennifer Rike as they report on all the amazing sessions and things they learned as attendees as well as the major themes that emerged and their relevance for schools and libraries.
  • Link:

Title:  Google Classroom: An Intro to Saving Time, Staying Organized, and Improving Communication

  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Saturday, August 5, 2017 @ 10:00 AM-10:30 AM
  • Description: Have you heard about Google Classroom? It was designed to help teachers and students save time, improve communication, and stay organized! Join Jerry Swiatek as he discusses various features of Google Classroom, as well as the requirements, and explains how it goes hand-in-hand with Google Apps for Education, Google Drive, and Google Docs. He’ll also show how you can use it to reduce paperwork and efficiently manage the document and assignment workflow between teachers and students to help keep everyone organized.
  • Link:

Title:  Creating Personalized Assessments with Google Forms

  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Saturday, August 5, 2017 @ 11:00 AM-11:30 AM
  • Description: Did you know that Google Forms make it easy for you to design assessments that evolve with your students? In this webinar, join Dr. Jayme Linton as she shows you step-by-step how to use Google Forms to design customized, choose-your-own-adventure-type assessments that adjust depending on the answers that each student selects. Come discover how to easily personalize your assessments and instruction using Google Forms.
  • Link:

Title:  Using Google Maps for Virtual Journeys

  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Saturday, August 5, 2017 @ 12:00 PM-12:30 PM
  • Description: Have you ever wanted to take your students on a journey without leaving the classroom? Perhaps you need a visual to help your students see the landscape of the places they are reading about in English or social studies. Or maybe you want your science class to take a tour that shows natural elements such as volcanos or deep sea vents. Let Google Maps take you there! In this webinar, Kim Munoz will show how to use the “my maps” feature to create an interactive tour that can include text, video, and images. In addition, she will share some examples of how this can be used in the classroom.
  • Link:

Title:  Project Ideas for Using Google Hangouts in Your Classroom

  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Friday, Saturday, August 5, 2017 @ 1:00 PM-1:30 PM
  • Description: Do you think that Google Hangouts is useful only for talking with friends and colleagues? Or maybe you think it’s only for flipping your classroom. Think again! Join Nikki D. Robertson as she discusses a multitude of ways in which Google Hangouts can make learning more engaging and personalized for students, teachers, and administrators. In addition to explaining how Google Hangouts can be used, Nikki will share amazing project ideas that you can start using in your classroom immediately. Come be inspired!
  • Link:  

Title:  Creating a Dyslexia-Friendly School

  • Organization: net
  • Date: Monday, August 7, 2017 @ 2:00 PM-3:00 PM
  • Description: Imagine that you are 10 years old and struggling to decode and read. When you walk through the doors of your school, does your school environment say, “You are welcome here and we are going to support you as a learner”? In order to create a learning environment that feels safe, comfortable and empowering for students, schools need to adhere to some basic guiding principles and practices. In this edWebinar, Learning Ally’s Terrie Noland will share how to create a supportive culture for your students who are struggling readers.
  • Link:

Title:  Teacher Zen: Ways to Prepare Yourself for Your Best Year Yet!

  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Tuesday, August 8, 2017 @ 1:00 PM-1:30 PM
  • Description: While the prospect of facing new learners can be exciting, beginning a new year or new semester can also be rather stressful. Careful preparation goes a long way in determining the success of our time with these new learners. In this session, Shelly Terrell will provide tips and resources to ensure you make a positive impact on your learners and help them to achieve their learning goals. Shelly will share tips and suggestions designed to improve relationships with learners and their parents right from the start. Come discover resources that will help you and your students throughout the school year.
  • Link:

Title:   Digital Portfolios in the Classroom

Title:  Class Hacks Using Microsoft Office

Title:  SLJTeen Live!

Title:   Meet Google Classroom

Title:  Cultivate Critical Skills and Motivate Students with Social Robots and Visual Programming

  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2017 @ 2:00 PM – 2:30 PM
  • Description: Would you like an innovative, engaging way to teach your students a variety of critical skills – all while cultivating an interest in STEM-related subjects and teaching them valuable, easy-to-learn visual programming skills? Join Dr. Gregory Firn as he explores how robots and robotics in the classroom can be used to motivate students and improve academic performance, leading to increased enrollment in advanced areas of science and mathematics. He will show how interacting with these robots through the use of visual programming can enhance critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, creativity, and social skills.
  • Link:

Title:   3 Cool Tools for the Primary Classroom (K-3)

Title:   Webinar – Twitter 101: Why You Need to Tweet to Build a PLN

  • Organization: AASL
  • Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2017@ 6:00 PM-7:00 PM
  • Description: Learn why Twitter is a must for being a connected librarian, building a Personal Learning Network, keeping current with the world, and school library advocacy. Also learn how to get up and running on Twitter easily and start taking the best advantage of it immediately. The webinar will include advice on effective account settings, what to tweet, how to read through tweets, how to select good accounts to follow, how to engage in conversations, and more.
  • Link:

Title:   Digital Collaboration to Support Literacy Classrooms

  • Organization: net
  • Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2017 @ 4:00 PM-5:00 PM
  • Description: In this edWebinar, Steven W. Anderson, Digital Learning and Relationship Evangelist, and Shaelynn Farnsworth, Education Services Consultant for AEA 267 in Iowa, will examine what contemporary collaboration means and how best to implement collaborative literacy learning in both the traditional classroom as well as the blended one. They will discuss Collaboration and its relationship to the 4 Cs: Communication, Collaboration, Creation, and Critical Thinking. Their presentation will provide examples of both analog and digital collaboration tools for high-functioning literacy classrooms.
  • Link:

Title:   Building Curriculum with Colleagues: Where the Library and Classroom Learning Connect

  • Organization: WebJunction
  • Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2017 @ 5:00 PM-6:00 PM
  • Description: August is prime time for PD. Many teachers return refreshed from summer break to begin the new school year working on new or refreshed curriculum with faculty across grade levels and disciplines. This creates a sweet spot for school librarians to collaborate with colleagues and develop curriculum they will co-teach. In this edWebinar, Michelle Luhtala, Library Department Chair, New Canaan High School, CT, will share strategies for using this time to build instructional partnerships that will last throughout the year and beyond. Digital backpacks, integration with Google, Mackin Groups, Learning Management Systems, Library Management Systems, and curation will be addressed. All librarians are invited to attend this live, interactive session.
  • Link:

Title:  Google Sites: An Intro to Creating, Adding Content, Managing Settings, and More

  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Saturday, August 19, 2017 @ 12:00 PM-12:30 PM
  • Description: Join Jerry Swiatek as he shows how you can use the revamped tools and features of Google Sites to create a robust, informative website. He will show how to create a site from scratch or using one of the templates. In addition, he will explain how to edit, add text, insert pictures, include gadgets, embed other Google items, revert to previous versions, and more. Jerry will also share how to manage site settings, as well as how to share with collaborators and publish the site.
  • Link:

Title:  Great Ways to Use Google Sites in the Classroom

  • Organization: SimpeK12
  • Date: Saturday, August 19, 2017 @ 1:00 PM-1:30 PM
  • Description: The new Google Sites makes it easier than ever to create websites, and there are lots of great reasons for teachers and students to use a website. Join Google Certified Innovator Sarah Thomas as she discusses practical applications for Google Sites in the classroom. Gain ideas for using Sites as a tool for parent communication, as an electronic portfolio, as a way to disseminate information to school staff, and more. Jump in and discover how you can use Sites to save time, improve communication, document learning, and convey information!
  • Link:

Title:  Google Slides: A Step-By-Step Intro to Creating, Formatting, and Designing Slides

  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Thursday, Saturday, August 19, 2017 @ 2:00 PM-2:30 PM EDT
  • Description: Join Deb Norton as she shares step-by-step how to use some of the basic features in Slides, as well as many of the lesser known ones. She will show how to quickly get started using themes and layouts, as well as how to add slides and other elements. Deb will also demonstrate how to make your slides more appealing and informative by changing backgrounds, inserting and formatting text boxes, adding graphics, including transitions, and more. In addition, she will show how to share Slides so that you and your students or colleagues can begin working collaboratively. You will also learn how to create a Google presentation from an existing PowerPoint presentation, as well as how to save your Google Slides presentation in a different format.
  • Link:

Title:  Google Slides: Going Beyond a Simple Slide Show

  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Saturday, August 19, 2017 @ 3:00 PM-3:30 PM
  • Description: Google Slides is a staple in many classrooms, but it’s rarely used for more than creating a traditional slide show. However, this deceptively simple tool can open many more ways for your students to learn and share what they know. In this webinar, join Meredith Martin as she goes beyond the basics with Google Slides. She will share how you can use Slides to create digital interactives, to make stop-motion animation, and much more! Come discover how you can unlock the full potential of Google Slides.
  • Link:

Title:   Literacy = Love of Language: Engaging Hearts and Minds for Speech and Debate

  • Organization: net
  • Date: Monday, August 21, 2017 @ 4:00 PM-5:00 PM
  • Description: Accelerating the ability to read, write and speak is perhaps the greatest challenge facing every discipline in school. The answer is simple but not easy—production of language. In this edWebinar, join Kevin Baird, Chairman of the Board at the nonprofit Center for College & Career Readiness, as he reviews the research and outlines priority, pragmatic steps to increasing student talk for literacy acceleration using engagement, choice, and success as motivators.
  • Link:

Title:   Webinar – Twitter 201: Now I’m a Tweep – What’s Next?

  • Organization: AASL
  • Date: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 @ 6:00 PM-7:00 PM
  • Description: This webinar is a Part 2 for those who attended “Twitter 101: Why You Need to Tweet to Build a Personal Learning Network” on August 15 or for everyone who has a Twitter account but wants to take it to the next step. It will include tips on participating in Twitter chats, ways to optimize and get the most out of tweets with visuals, using Twitter as a back channel during conferences, using Twitter lists, third-party tools to enhance Twitter, and ways to use Twitter with students and for library advocacy.
  • Link:

Title:  Go From Overwhelmed to Organized with 5 Free Web Tools

  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Wednesday, August 23, 2017 @ 2:00 PM-2:30 PM
  • Description: Are you overwhelmed by the vast amount of electronic data that crosses your electronic desktop? Do you struggle to keep track of the websites and documents you need? Is it difficult to find resources when you need them? Are you looking for a way to get it all organized? Join Jayme Linton for one of her most popular trainings as she explores some of her favorite free resources that can help you reduce stress and get organized online.
  • Link:

Title:  Transforming Education with Personalized Learning and Differentiated Instruction

  • Organization: SimpleK12
  • Date: Wednesday, August 23, 2017 @ 3:00 PM-3:30 PM
  • Description: Would you like to be able to deliver a more personalized, relevant learning experience to each of your students? This webinar will showcase creative ideas, reflective practices, and various technologies that can transform your teaching. Join Naomi Harm as she shares innovative instructional strategies that will allow for differentiation approaches, educator choice, challenge-based learning, and mobile learning opportunities. Collaborative teaming and active learning activities will be discussed along with virtual brainstorming, “bumping” of ideas, and augmented reality mobile learning.
  • Link:

Title:  Literacy: More than Lexiles – Engaging the Hearts and Minds of All Students

  • Organization: net
  • Date: Monday, August 28, 2017 @ 4:00 PM-5:00 PM
  • Description: Literacy is driven not only by differentiation to skills, but also by differentiation to interests and passions. In this session, Kevin Baird will review both the research and new methods for engaging the hearts and minds of all learners while differentiating content according to each student’s skill level, learning temperament and learning pace.
  • Link:

Title:  Get Recognized for Advancing Digital Teaching and Citizenship

  • Organization: net
  • Date: Tuesday, August 29, 2017 @ 3:00 PM-4:00 PM
  • Description: Are you teaching students to be safe, responsible, and respectful as they participate in the digital world? Are you using technology to enhance your lessons? Are you engaging parents in helping their kids be good digital citizens? Or are you ready to take the first step in your digital teaching and citizenship journey? Common Sense recognizes the educators, schools, and districts that are committed to creating a culture of digital teaching and citizenship by implementing meaningful learning experiences within a safe and responsible environment. The Common Sense Recognition Program builds a community of educators, from novices to experts, who believe in the power of technology to transform learning and who believe that digital teaching and digital citizenship go hand in hand.
  • Link:

Title:   Webinar – AASL Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2017

  • Organization: AASL
  • Date: Tuesday, August 29, 2017 @ 6:00 PM-7:00 PM
  • Description: Did you miss ALA Annual? Didn’t make it to the big reveal of AASL Best Websites or the Exploring Best Websites Session? Don’t worry we’ve got you covered! Join Heather Moorefield-Lang for a dive into this year’s American Association of School Librarians’ Best Websites for Teaching & Learning recipients. Delve into websites that fall into categories like digital storytelling, social media and communication, media sharing, and much more. A fast-paced, highly informative session about new and exciting online tools and resources. This session will definitely leave you with ideas for the new school year.
  • Link:

Author: Daniella Smith

Daniella Smith, PhD. is a former school and public librarian. She is currently the Hazel Harvey Peace Professor in Children’s Library Services at the University of North Texas.

Categories: Blog Topics, Professional Development

Tags: , , ,

1 reply

  1. I enjoyed hanging with her at several conferences. Last spring, her Tooth Fairy book won the grand prize at the Chanticleer Author Conference. Her sweet book was just perfect for my neighbor’s preschooler who loves fairies. I think she will learn about caring for her teeth too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.