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Kind Words

Simone Kaplan is my “other brain”. She understands picture books in an invaluable way. The first time we worked together I felt like the clouds parted! Simone takes the time to understand your voice, your vision and then helps you put it into words. Whether you are new to the children’s book business, or a seasoned author, you will benefit from working with Simone. Three published picture books later I can’t imagine my life without her.

—Paulette Bogan

“I have been writing children’s books for many years, and I’ve written quite a few of them. But I can honestly say that the person who really taught me how to write picture books for very young children was Simone Kaplan.

One of my favorite publishing memories is the day I visited Simone in her office at HarperCollins to discuss an idea for a manuscript about kids getting bumps and bruises, the fourth picture book I hoped to write for the Growing Tree line. I jotted down some verses, and Simone made suggestions. I sat in her office for two hours, writing, rewriting, showing her the stanzas, and garnering her comments about specific words, meter, and flow, but also about the genuine emotions kids feel, something with which she is deeply in touch. By the end of those two hours, Boo Hoo Boo-Boo! was a book, thanks to my inestimable editor, Simone Kaplan!”

—Marilyn Singer

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“As an artist’s representative since 1980 and as someone responsible for initiating over 25 book deals in my career, including the largest deal for a first-time author in Simon & Schuster’s history (a 7 book deal across two divisions), it is with the greatest of joy and ease to write a letter on behalf of Simone Kaplan.

Simone had invited me up to HarperCollins in 2001, wanting to see the work of one artist I represented in particular. She was thoroughly professional and genuinely interested throughout the meeting, and asked if there was anyone else that I thought might work for the book she had in mind. Luckily, I had brought samples of other artists, and fortunately for me, she responded highly favorably to one of them, James Yang. So favorably, that a week later she called me up and had a manuscript she thought would be perfect for Yang.

She was the first person in all of my 15 years representing Yang who had the vision to see the possibilities of using his highly corporate and editorial art style for children’s books. This impressed me beyond words. And when the final art was submitted, we were all happily surprised. Yang’s art turned out to be perfect for the book. This was the first sign of genius I saw in Simone.

Simone Kaplan is a rarity in today’s world. She is truthful to a fault, nurturing, and a person of her word (the highest qualities any human can possess in my book). When you are speaking to Simone, she makes you feel as though you are the only person in the world, and she is a great listener. It is obvious meeting her, even for the first time, that she has attained so much wisdom and is an authority on the subject of children’s books and publishing. This is a person I unconditionally trust, as I know her comments always reflect her true beliefs, and the truth, which I seriously heed.

I am in awe of Simone in many ways, and I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know her over the years. You can take what she says to the bank. May she touch your life the same way she has touched mine.”

—David Goldman

Before I started to work with Simone, I had many fears. Mostly the fear of actually speaking to her on the phone instead of hiding behind emails. Speaking to her meant I had to face her, and more importantly myself and my desires to write and all the blocks I had around writing. And there were many.

The very first day, she saw my fear and helped me work through it--the frozen block that I had built up over many years melted. I have completed more satisfying writing in the few months that we have been working together than I had in years of wanting to write.

Working on the phone has allowed us to do the work in real-time, to have back and forth interactions and to make the changes that arise from those very alive and active discussions.

Simone has a familiarity with my manuscript before we talk so that our conversation feels deep from the beginning of each call. When I ask a question or offer an idea she engages in a mindful way and is honest, clear and direct. This is invaluable to a beginning writer and has instilled trust. Each time I hang up from a phone call I feel filled up and ready to revise. I know exactly what I need to do.

Simone constantly engages me in the process of learning so that I am becoming stronger at seeing what works and what needs work, she is able to guide me through the feelings of unease or messiness that I sometimes feel as I work my way through the drafts.

Reaching inside to have our stories come alive is the goal, and I feel with her, I have gotten as close to that as I can, and I know over time I will feel that even more.

Working with her is priceless.

—Shell LeDre

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“Simone Kaplan is one of those rare editors who gets in the trenches with you by not only offering suggestions, but by finding solutions to the rough patches and places in your picture book manuscript. When Simone works with a writer, she is in their corner all the way, working diligently to get the job of good writing and storytelling done. Working with Simone through the years has been a complete joy for me as well as many lucky authors. Armed with Simone’s solid advice, you will come away with a new confidence, and a true feeling of accomplishment. I highly recommend tapping into Simone’s knowledge of, and love for, the picture book.

Not only is Simone warm and engaging, but, you will find, extremely focused and attentive to the project at hand.

—Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Working with Simone Kaplan at Picture Book People has been the best writing decision I ever made! Prior to working with Simone, my writing was not attracting attention from agents or at writing contests. After working with Simone, I have found my voice. Agents and editors are now sending personalized feedback and requesting additional submissions; stories are placing in competitions. Simone is a unique and brilliant soul. She provides a deep understanding of the writing process and positive constructive feedback, and she elicits my best work. After a session with her look forward to making revisions.

The 3X3 option worked perfectly for me. The program ensured my commitment and focus and has enabled me to create picture book manuscripts that I love. I am confident that I will have a publishing career thanks to Simone and her valuable expertise.

—Melissa Stiveson

“Simone is a rare person who knows how to put the right talent together. When she first commissioned me to be an artist for the book, “Build it Up and Knock it Down”, the text was so perfect to the way I worked the images just flowed. This experience inspired me to write my own stories and Simone went above and beyond what I would have expected with her insight with her help to get numerous book offers for my first book. She was very much a guardian angel for me.”

—James Yang

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"I have been studying the picture book for a number of years and have attended conferences (both real and virtual) as well as numerous picture book workshops. I have also worked steadily with my very able critique partners. However, I finally came to the point where I needed one-on-one help with an editor who deeply understood the uniqueness of the picture book art form. I needed someone who could take me to the next level. I found that “someone” in Simone Kaplan.

Simone has an intuitive grasp of the picture book art form, especially the layers of emotional resonance that it can convey. She tells me kindly and directly what is not working in my manuscript and why and she understands the messiness of the creative process. She is very patient with my fits and starts and the need to pull back sometimes when a theme or character needs rethinking. In a relatively short period of time, she has guided me to dig deeper into a book’s theme to bring out its many layers. She has shown me how to be more conscious of pacing and page turns, and how to turn a “quiet” book into one that is also dynamic. What Simone does is to prod me. Make me wait, prod me some more. And what happens is that the very best comes out of me – currently, two manuscripts that I know, in my atoms, are the best picture books I have ever written. I am always inspired by her commitment to excellence and authenticity. And I love her sense of humor!

Simone Kaplan has a magic touch and I highly recommend her exceptional coaching services."

—Anne C. Bromley

"When you work with Simone, she helps you get to the heart of your story. It probably won’t happen in one session and it is rarely a linear process, but Simone will sit and dig with you. You will sift through the dirt, twigs, and rocks together and then plant your story.

Her passion for picture books is contagious and makes the hard work more enjoyable. She is direct about what is working and what isn’t and she makes the why clear. This instills trust. I feel safe trying things because I know that the discussion about why something is or isn’t working will move the story further along.

I love working over the phone. The process is conversational and spontaneous ideas pop up from our discussion. Creativity sparks through the phone line and I learn something new with each session."

—Lisa Desimini

“Have you ever attended a writer’s conference mostly to have a 15-minute manuscript critique with an editor? What if you could have a 60-minute conference with an experienced, insightful, and supportive picture book editor? For less money than the cost of attending a typical conference? And without leaving your home?

If you’re a picture book author who is serious about developing your craft, you may have shelves filled with writing books that you’ve collected over the years. You may have enrolled in college writing classes and attended workshops and conferences. Chances are, if you’re like most aspiring authors, the one thing that you haven’t managed is to get enough individual attention from a real live editor. an editor who will take the time to understand YOUR vision. An editor who has the experience to help you find the best path in a crowded marketplace. An editor who will applaud the high points in your work, help you fix the low points, and bring you to the next level. An editor-midwife who will help you give birth to the very best manuscript that you can.

Simone Kaplan is all this and more – a delightful, caring human being. If you choose to take the next steps down your writing path alongside Simone, you’ll not only learn a great deal – you’ll not only wind up with a much stronger manuscript – but you’ll thoroughly enjoy the whole tour.

It’s hard to describe exactly the magic that Simone works. But I came away from our consultation with a new set of eyes; a new way of looking at my manuscript that would help me improve not only that particular story but every manuscript to come. Simone is what every editor ought to be: warm, encouraging, inspiring – and determined (in the nicest way possible) to pull out of her authors the very best writing of which they are capable.

—Sarah Hager

“Simone Kaplan is an excellent editor of children’s books. I’ve worked with her on a number of books and have always appreciated her sensitivity to words, to children, and to pictures. She can discuss both the whole and the parts of a book brilliantly and clearly. If you’re wondering what her accent is, it’s South African. I’ve always especially appreciated this accent when she would say to me (who was being stubborn at the moment), “Well, would you please just give it a try.” I always would, eventually, give it a try, and so often, Simone was right. That’s an editor for you.”

—Jean Marzollo

Simone is one of the most intuitive and passionate editors I have ever worked with. I have thirty books with over a million copies in print and my favorite is Under The Big Sky, a book Simone edited while she was working at HarperCollins. Simone understands picture books like no-one else I know in the industry. She has the unique ability of being able to take a book from conception to completion without compromising her incredibly high standards. She knows how to marry words and pictures seamlessly. I hope I am lucky enough to work with Simone again and again.”

—Trevor Romain

"I am so grateful to Simone Kaplan for helping me take the dream of sharing the story of my dog Ralphie, to the reality of holding my award-winning book Ralphie, Always Loved in my hands. Simone not only worked with me to get my manuscript ready for publication, she helped me find the perfect illustrator, printer, and distributor. She also helped find a marketing professional to work on the pre and post-book launch campaign. Simone is professional, accessible, and thorough. Her attention to detail and passion, for her work and mine, helped Ralphie, Always Loved shine. I recommend Simone and her services, wholeheartedly."

—Andrea Yerramilli

"My dear friend, Jean Marzollo, sent me to Simone when I was working on The Knish War on Rivington Street. I was struggling to keep it short and smart and it was Simone who helped me give up some of my golden words with a kind but firm hand. Simone has a keen ear for details and tone— skills that made all the difference. I looked forward to our editing sessions on the phone and enjoyed the back and forth that made a good story so much better. We were both delighted when the book was chosen as a Sydney Taylor Honor Book. Thank you, Simone!"

—Joanne Oppenheim

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"I had quite the journey trying to publish my first manuscript. I finally found Simone Kaplan, through a friend who was a published author.

He described her as a beautiful character full of integrity, an amazing listener who is also responsible, intelligent, and unbelievably kind.

I was determined to meet her and share my desire to write and publish children’s books.

We had our first meeting in NYC and she was exactly as described- a dream human being, great listener, rock star editor with years of experience in traditional publishing and she was interested in my work and helping me reach goals - Hallelujah!

Simone guided me through the much-needed manuscript changes, challenged me when I felt discouraged and created a safe environment for me to share my amateur work and actually grow in my writing skills.

I am now an author. My first children’s book, Livi and Grace was released nationally last June. I couldn’t be more proud of my finished product and am inspired to continue working on my second book. With love and respect- thank you Simone."

—Jenn Lynch

"Working with Simone was a gift to me. Technically my picture book was done, and ready to be produced into app form. I wanted an experienced editor to look at it and tighten it within the perimeters in which it already lived. Simone did just that, and she did it beautifully. She instinctively got to the heart of the story and helped bring it to life. I can’t recommend her highly enough."

—Sue Shanahan

"As I started on the journey to self-publish my picture book, I quickly realized there were so many things I didn’t know. After a brief conversation with Simone, I felt like I could trust her to help me bring my vision for my story to life.

Simone challenged me to dig deeper into the story, to find the essence and the emotion. I never realized it could be that difficult to write a story with so few words. Simone encouraged me when I thought I couldn’t do it. She made me a better storyteller. She pulled together a team: artist, art director. many other people that I didn’t know I needed. She managed the whole project and produced a book that is absolutely magical--far beyond anything I could have done myself."

—Kathy Simmers

"I am so grateful that I met Simone. From the beginning, she has been supportive and informative as well as excited with me regarding my manuscript.

There is an intimacy that I found is involved with this process of writing a children’s book and getting a manuscript ready for publication. The manuscript was my baby, and

Simone was able to care for, nurture, support, and guide with kindness, finesse, and professionalism. Her questions were always thoughtful and helped me find the clearest way to express myself. Simone is a gentle and firm taskmaster. She is efficient, kind, warm, encouraging and a real pleasure to work with and have by my side during this process. I am deeply grateful to have worked with Simone and loved getting to know her.

I cannot imagine going through this process with anyone else."

—Caren Sacks

"Simone loves picture books, and it shows in her passion and respect for this genre.

I liken my experience working with Simone like meeting a master carpenter. She pulled out her editorial toolbox with tools like her knowledge of character, plot, structure, pacing, tension and language. But it’s her uncanny knack for helping me find the emotional moment in my story that took my work to another level.

I’ve signed my first contract, with NorthSouth/NordSud Publishers. And if that’s not enough, simultaneously, I acquired an agent.

Thank you, Simone, for so deftly sharing your wisdom and insight with me.

—Jacqueline Azua Kramer

“While searching for an editor to work with me on my picture book manuscript, I came across Simone Kaplan’s website. The Picture Book People home page was very welcoming and in a sense, reassuring to someone like me who has yet to be published.

I hold a Master’s degree in Creative Writing for Children, and I have been fortunate to meet some wonderful authors, illustrators, agents and publishers. What I needed, what I have now that I am working with Simone, was someone beside me. Simone is more than just there every step of the way – she actively and creatively pushes my writing forward, helping it to evolve into something I didn’t even know it could become. With Simone’s gentle, yet honest guidance, thoughts and ideas are somehow nurtured and shaped into words and sentences. And with her help, the story you always intended to tell is brought to life.

Although an unpublished writer, I am a writer, nonetheless, and every author is a writer first. As such, I feel extremely privileged to work with Simone, and I am learning more about the craft of writing each time I put pen to paper. I look back on each consultation we have had with a sense of accomplishment and personal growth, and I look forward to what the future will bring.

Simone has my deepest gratitude and my utmost admiration.”

—Jessica Coriat

“I was a struggling writer, just getting started, and I was looking for someone to help me polish my manuscript. I needed more than a brief comment about one or two points in my story.

A published writer in our local SCBWI group referred me to Simone Kaplan at Picture Book People. Ms. Kaplan’s comments, suggestions, and encouragement improved my story tenfold. I am a more confident writer. My story is now an exciting and coherent manuscript, ready to be sent out into the publishing world.

Ms. Kaplan not only helped me with this current manuscript, but the improvements to this story have led to an increased level of professionalism in all of my writing. I have taken what she taught me and incorporated it into my other projects. In a short period, I have learned mountains of basic writing skills thanks to the patient, kind tutelage of Simone Kaplan.

—Alice Broc

"Simone’s one-hour phone consultation gave me more insight into my picture book manuscript than months of peer critique groups ever could. Where critique groups tend to line-edit manuscripts or get hung up on personal word choices, Simone zeroed in on my manuscript’s believability flaws and helped me brainstorm ways to bring my story to a satisfactory conclusion. With her help, I now have the insight to reshape my story into something more genuine, convincing and saleable. If you’re looking for a professional with years of industry experience to help you find the heart of your story, hire Simone. You won’t be disappointed."

—Kimberlee Murray

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Do you want some tools to uplevel your writing?

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You’ll also receive our newsletter filled with strategies, advice, and insights to help you develop as a writer.

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