Through the IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association), Raincloud Press brought a book to the BookExpo of America (BEA) in May 2016 held in very foggy Chicago. It was a momentous event, for it signified the debut our first true lead title: Spot 12: Five Months in the Neonatal ICU.
Spot 12 and the Spanish version (Cunero 12) had shelf space in the IBPA booth. And on Thursday May 12th, myself and an IBPA liaison gave away 96 ARC copies. The response was very positive. The majority of passersby were interested in the obviously graphic novel cover. And after being told the graphic memoir was for adults, many people became intrigued. And several visitors wanted to know more about the saga of baby Asa. It was thrilling to have so much contact with potential readers.
The IBPA booth was a hub for independent publishers, and I got to compare notes with several other houses. When you are newish to the business, this chance to talk to other small houses is very useful. For example, the question over whether to sign with a large distributor or DIY/stick with wholesalers always comes up. It was a relevant question for me, as I was meeting with a contact in the IPG booth about distributing Spot 12.
Upon return from BEA 2016, I received the news that Spot 12 received a positive review from Kirkus Reviews. I could hardly believe my luck (see below for full review). Using the review as more fodder for my case, I applied to SPU (a division of IPG) for distribution. I found out days later that we were accepted! It was a joyful occasion, as it will ultimately mean more people will find out about the book.
During the transition to SPU (June 2016-August 2016) some of our titles may be hard to find. But fear not, because our titles will be back with a splash come mid-August, well in time for the October 7th publication date of Spot 12.
Kirkus Review of Spot 12: Five Months in the Neonatal ICU
“Jaeckel (For the Love of Meat , 2016, etc.) catalogs her daughter’s five months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in this graphic memoir. When it was discovered that the author was suffering from a buildup of amniotic fluid, her doctors recommended inducing labor early. Shortly after the birth, physicians found that her daughter, Asa, suffered from tracheoesophageal fistula, a rare esophagus defect that needed to be corrected with surgery. So began a monthlong process to ensure that Asa could breathe and eat correctly and would be safe from the dangers of infection. It was touch and go, with Jaeckel and her husband, Cito, restricted in their access to Asa. Jaeckel was particularly affected by the stress of the situation.With this memoir, told in paneled illustrations like a graphic novel, the author chronicles her experiences with doctors and nurses (of various degrees of patience and gentleness), supportive friends, her intrusive mother, and the esoteric acronyms that categorize hospital life (“Her SATS are low,” reads one speech bubble. “She had T.P.N. and now she’s still N.P.O.”). The people in the memoir are represented in the illustrations as stylized animals, reminiscent of Art Spiegelman’s seminal graphic novel, Maus . Jaeckel and her family, too, are mice, while the supporting characters are a mix of dogs, cats, deer, frogs, and other endearingly drawn creatures. The illustrations greatly soften what, as simple prose, might read as an extremely serious and upsetting account of a sick infant. The depictions of Asa as a tiny mouse with wires and tubes taped to her body are simultaneously adorable and tragic. In the book’s strongest moments, Jaeckel discusses and draws her own fraught emotional state, which leads to very striking panels of symbolic representation: tiny animals separated by immense, inky blackness, and Asa tranquilly aloft among the stars or suspended at the middle of the Tree of Life. Though hospitals, and illness in general, can often rob patients of their individuality, Jaeckel has managed to represent such a world in a unique and highly personalized way.
A memorable and beautifully executed memoir of a newborn’s difficult first months.”