Saturday, March 19, 2011

Talking with Wiande Moore about One Moore Book

Recently, I discovered a new publishing company called One Moore Book online. Having an interest and a firm belief that each of us has our own story, and that our stories – or narratives – have great importance in life, I loved the mission of One Moore Book.

There mission statement says, “One Moore Book provides culturally sensitive and educational stories that highlight the lives of children of countries with significantly low literacy rates. One Moore Book provides literature for children whose narratives are largely missing from the children’s book publishing industry. The books will also serve as a key to unknown people and places for all kids who do not have access to cultures outside of their own.”

One Moore Book is a family company, where the writing, illustrating and the business of publishing are all handled by the Moore siblings: Wiande Moore-Everett, Wayétu Moore, Kula-Facia Moore,  Augustus Moore Jr., and David Moore.

They graciously agreed to answer some interview questions about their company and how they got started. Enjoy!

Carpe Keyboard: What is your favorite childhood story? Why is it so special to you?

Wiande Moore (Co-Founder/Writer): I have two favorite childhood stories: the story of Moses, and Jamonghoie. As a child, my mother made it a priority to read to us from the bible, so at a very young age, I enjoyed reading and hearing stories from the Bible that were really much more interesting than the fairy tales we read in school.  I also enjoyed hearing Liberian fables and Jamonghoie, one of the books of the Liberia series (orated by my grandmother and written by Wayetu and I) is one of them.  

Your mission statement online says: One Moore Book provides culturally sensitive and educational stories that highlight the lives of children of countries with significantly low literacy rates.  One Moore Book provides literature for children whose narratives are largely missing from the children's book publishing industry. What moved you and your siblings to publish books for this specific audience? Is there a family story here?

Other than the fact that we are Liberian and of Liberian decent, something I noticed is that a lot of what my mother read to us growing up were stories that were very different from the ones she orated to us from Liberia.  The lack of cultural variety in children's literature is standard.  Since I've become a mother myself, I find myself doing a lot of the same of what my mother did-telling my daughters stories about different cultures and with people with names and histories that they could relate to.  It engages them more and I see their eyes light up when I tell them culturally diverse stories.  We chose this particular audience because we wanted to share that same excitement.
Why didn't you go through a more traditional publishing path? Did you try working with established publishers, or did you decide right away that you would start your own publishing company?

My sister Wayetu is actually a writer and she was the one who brought the idea of a publishing company to the 4 of us.  It started between her and my other sister, who is an artist.  They initially just wanted to publish a children's book-but after research and a lot of hard work, Wayetu decided that it made more sense for us to do our own thing.  What we wanted to do was on a much bigger scale than what a traditionally publisher could provide.  We have the freedom to create our own timelines, our own content and take charge of our message.  We have no limits in what we can do and that is invaluable.  

Your family writes the stories and illustrates. So talented! What does a typical book project look like? Does one of you write a story, then ask for a specific sibling to illustrate it? Or do you have an overall plan - types of books needed by specific audiences from which you choose to begin writing or illustrating?


For this cycle, Wayetu outlined exactly what books we would need.  I am an educator so she consulted me regarding language, grade level, vocabulary we should use, etc.  When all the books were written, we communicated with each other during 5-way phone conferences and decided who would illustrate what based on the strengths of our two illustrators, Augustus Jr. and Kula.  We plan on following the same protocol for our next cycle.

And what about editing? Does each story go through a "traditional" editing process where someone other than the writer picks apart the text? Is that hard when you are all so closely related?

We actually edit ourselves.  The stories get bounced around before going to the graphic designer so we usually have a lot of perspectives and constructive criticism to fine-tune both the written work and the illustrations. We are all the hardest on ourselves and have always welcomed notes from each other.  I understand that the notes are coming from people who love me and really want the best for me, so I don't typically get offended and I think I can speak for my siblings in saying that they don't either.

How do you distribute your books? Do you work with organizations specifically in the target countries or communities?

Our books are available on our website at www.onemoorebook.com, amazon.com, or can be ordered at your local Barnes & Noble.  We also work with schools in Liberia and a number of libraries in America.  We plan to work with different organizations each time we publish a new cycle.    
What is your goal for 2011 for One Moore Books?

Our goals for 2011 include placing the first cycle of books in 50 libraries across the United States, sponsoring all 15 of our partner schools in Liberia, and publishing a second cycle for the children of Haiti.    
Could other children's book authors or illustrators help with your mission? How?

We are a small company right now and are not looking for any more creative talent; however, we do hope to add a guest writer or illustrator to our team for each cycle beginning with either our 2nd or 3rd cycle.  

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