DEBBIE OHI! Guest Post — It’s Worth the Wait

Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Image credit: Beckett Gladney. All rights reserved.

I am thrilled to be helping to promote friend and Canadian illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s first picture book on my blog. I hope you saw I’M BORED on my Perfect Picture Book Friday post last week. Today, Debbie has graciously agreed to do a guest post on my blog, and I am so grateful to her for sharing her thoughts about why, for her,  the long wait time in the traditional publishing process was worth it.

Debbie Ridpath Ohi writes and illustrates for young people. She is the illustrator of I’M BORED by Michael Ian Black (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, Sept/2012) and her work also appears in the teen fiction anthology, TOMO (Stone Bridge Press, Mar/2012). Represented by Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown Ltd. For longer bios, see:

Also, see the interview Joanna Marple did with Debbie on September 5th.

There are oodles of links near the end of this post — and there’s a GIVEAWAY! Any comment on this post will be entered for a chance to win a copy of I’M BORED. The winner will be announced next Monday, September 17th.  Read to the end of the post to find out how to get an EXTRA entry!

And now let’s see what Debbie has to say. I assure you, you won’t be bored!


a guest post by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

In order to stay sane in the publishing industry, you need to learn perseverance and patience. Perseverance is important when you’re sending out your submissions. Patience is especially handy during the publishing process.

Beth has asked me to write about the waiting time between acceptance and final release. Her suggested topic is well-timed since I’ve been thinking a great deal about the whole process recently, now that my book is actually in bookstores.

I was first approached about illustrating I’M BORED for Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers back in August, 2010, when Justin Chanda saw my portfolio at the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA (read the story here: How Rejection Got Me My Book Deal).

Meeting with Laurent and Justin. Image courtesy Debbie Ridpath Ohi. All rights reserved.

Next, my agent negotiated terms with S&S, and the actual contract was signed Sept.13, 2010. Justin had already sent me Michael’s unedited manuscript for I’M BORED, which I loved. Seriously — it made me laugh out loud, and I could see right away why he thought my art was right for the project.

Here’s how the rest of the I’M BORED timeline progressed:

I worked on several rounds of character sketches as well as very rough sketch ideas through 2011, as well as meeting several times with Justin and my art director, Laurent Linn. I handed in the final artwork in August, 2010.

Outfit Sketch. Image courtesy Debbie Ridpath Ohi. All rights reserved.
Character Notes – Girl. Image courtesy Debbie Ridpath Ohi. All rights reserved.


My f&gs (stands for “folded & gathered” and are the printers’ proofs) arrived in mid-January, 2012, and I made a few small adjustments to color on a couple of pages, resubmitted them. Meanwhile, these f&gs were being used by S&S to do early promotion of the book as well as show bookstore owners and other industry people.

Bologna Book Fair. Image credit Benjamin Rabe. All rights reserved.
Book Expo America. Credit Julie Duffy. All rights reserved.

Six months later (July/2012), I received a sample copy and near the end of August, my box of I’M BORED books arrived, yay! I’M BORED officially launches in bookstores on September 4th, 2012.

Unboxing I’M BORED! Image courtesy Debbie Ridpath Ohi. All rights reserved.

Total time between first offer and the book being available in stores: almost exactly two years.

This may seem incredibly slow to some people, and I know that the slow pace of the traditional print publishing industry is one reason that writers sometimes consider self-publishing. For me, however, it was definitely worth it.

S&S was very good re: keeping me informed about what was going on with the book, especially in the longer waiting periods. My book had a professional interior and exterior book design, and some of the color tweaks I made were the result of my art director painstakingly going over every illustration to check for quality and consistency. There were months when my work was finished but a ton of production, marketing and sales work had begun.

I look at the final version of I’M BORED and I’m so aware of all the work that so many people put into this one book. So often we see a picture book and just think of the author and illustrator. I recently collected a list of everyone at Simon & Schuster who were involved with I’M BORED in some way:

The Simon & Schuster Team Who Helped With I’M BORED  (Note from Beth — be sure to click on that link to see the list of nearly ONE HUNDRED names!)

As you can see from the list above, there were a large number of people involved in helping with sales and distribution of the book, and all these people needed to become acquainted with I’M BORED. It took time for the marketing team to plan their strategy, and for the publisher to send out f&gs for review, contacting appropriate media outlets, placing the book with the right retailers, wholesaler & trade catalogs, taking lead times into account. AND (of course) there are many other books in the pipeline for S&S as well.

Once I discovered how much effort and time that people at S&S were putting into making I’M BORED as high quality and successful as possible, I realized that the waiting time was well worth it.

Instead of fretting about how long things were taking, I used any downtime to work on improving my craft as well as working on ideas for new projects. There are so many books I want to write and illustrate!

No time for being bored. 🙂

Helpful resources:
Six Reasons Why Everything in Publishing Takes So Long – by Cheryl Klein, Scholastic editor)

Why Is Publishing So Slow? – by Rachelle Gardner, literary agent


Beth here: Definitely no time for being bored! And there’s lots more to come, fantastic links, the MUSIC VIDEO that has to be one of the best music videos EVER. But first I want to remind you about the GIVEAWAY! One lucky commenter will receive a copy of I’M BORED, direct from the publisher. Every comment will be entered (unless you have a good reason not to be entered, such as you already have the book).

*******If you want an EXTRA entry, simply mention a use for potatoes in your comment.

Crafts, science projects, recipes (sorry, Potato).*******

(A potato figures largely in this book.)

The winner will be chosen via, and will be announced next Monday, September 17th.


Now — MORE! MORE! MORE!!!!


I’M BORED is a new picture book written by comedian/actor/author Michael Ian Black & illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi, published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. Publication date: Sept. 4th, 2012.

I’M BORED (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, Sept/2012)
Author: Michael Ian Black. Illustrator: Debbie Ridpath Ohi.
Hardcover, 40 pages | Ages 3-8 / Grades P-3
ISBN-10: 1442414030
ISBN-13: 9781442414037

About I’M BORED, from Simon & Schuster website:

There is NOTHING boring about being a kid, but one little girl is going to have to prove it in this anything-but-boring picture book from comedian Michael Ian Black.

Just when a little girl thinks she couldn’t possibly be more bored, she stumbles upon a potato who turns the tables on her by declaring that children are boring. But this girl isn’t going to let a vegetable tell her what’s what, so she sets out to show the unimpressed potato all the amazing things kids can do. Too bad the potato is anything but interested.

This tongue-in-cheek twist on a familiar topic is sure to entertain anyone who’s ever been bored—or had to hear about someone else being bored—and is filled with comedian Michael Ian Black’s trademark dry wit, accompanied by charismatic illustrations from newcomer Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

Publishers Weekly starred review:

Excerpt: “Black (A Pig Parade Is a Terrible Idea) keeps this simple concept funny all the way through its final, LOL zinger. Debut illustrator Ohi’s minimalist, scraggly digital drawings are anything but boring, and speak volumes about irritation, desperation, and disdain.”



THE VIDEO! (I couldn’t get it to embed, so please click the link. You’ll be glad you did.)

I’M BORED music video



I’M BORED Facebook Page

I’M BORED Scrapbook (Photos, sketches, process, kid lit tips)

I’M BORED Bonus Page (Activities, classroom, handouts, info)

I’M BORED In The Wild photo challenge



Twitter: @inkyelbows

Blog, INKYGIRL, for those who write & illustrate for young people

DebbieOhi homepage, daily sketchbook, portfolio and links to all her projects & blogs

Author/Illustrator Facebook Page

Webcomic for writers, Will Write for Chocolate

Blog about writing and illustrating picture books for Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Press & bio info


Michael Ian Black’s website

Twitter: @michaelianblack

***NOTE: to get tons more info about I’M BORED,

including links, a plot summary, awards & reviews, etc. please send an email to (an autoresponder).


Okay, Debbie, we’ve got your book, we’ve got a potato, we have imaginations — we’re not bored!  Thanks so much for this visit and post today. All the best with your new book!

69 thoughts on “DEBBIE OHI! Guest Post — It’s Worth the Wait”

  1. WOW! That was a lot of fun and totally not boring! Loved hearing about why it was worth the wait. But I don’t want to wait anymore for my copy, so I hope I win 🙂 Uses for potatoes… hmmm… mashed, fried or baked as some form of food is too boring!… I believe a potato could make an excellent if slightly wobbly ball for use in many types of games (base potato, basket potato, kick potato… although you’d need a large potato or very good aim for that one… tennis anyone?) It would also be an excellent, if slightly juicy, place to store pins (you know, like a pinpotato.) A large potato could make a good door stop. Ok. I’ll stop 🙂

    1. You’re the amazing one, Debbie — you supplied all the information, I just formatted it. And thank you SO much for being my first ever guest poster. And for doing such fab illustrations for I’M BORED. I absobloominglutely love that book!

  2. I love this book. My kids love it too. So wonderful to learn more about Debbie’s publication experience. =) Thanks so much ladies for such an awersome post. I couldn’t help but think of the book yesterday, when my family and I chopped some potatoes in half to prepare an International Dot Day project. Poor, poor potatoes. I would love to win this book. Thank you so much for this opportunity! If I sound like an imposter of myself, it is because it is 5:12 AM my time and my brain no worky so good this early.

    1. Potatoes in a Dot Day project? How ultra-cool is that? I can hardly wait to see the results! (I hope that we get to see the results…)

  3. There were ideas I had before getting into the industry and I can honestly say that I’ve learned a whole lot, especially from getting to read posts like this one, where perseverance and patience are key to seeing all the hard work come to fruition. Thanks for this guest post, Debbie and thanks, Beth, for having her here today.

  4. Such a fun post, Beth and Debbie. And congratulations, Debbie!! Loved hearing how waiting was worth the wait…and loved seeing the photos taken throughout the process. Si, potatoes? Hmmm….what’s a good use of potatoes? Maybe to grow more potatoes! We often keep our potatoes too long, and sometimes they start sprouting. Would be fun to try planing them some time!

    1. That’s how people used to grow their potatoes — they cut up the sprouted potatoes into what they called “sets,” with one sprouting eye to each set, and planted them. Voila, potatoes!

      Thanks, Kerry!

  5. My favorite potato dish is Raclette, it is a poor man’s fondue, where everyone griddles their cheese on the raclette pan and pours the melted goo over their spuds accompanied with charcuterie and pickles! YUM!

    This was so informative, but my favorite part is the S&S list. I think people have no idea what teamwork goes into a well-publsiehd book. Thank you for sharing the journey.

    A little tidbit of irrelevance I worked for Cambridge University Farm on potato research during my gap year between school and uni, and I am sorry to upset the little girl in the story, but potatoes are not boring either!

    1. That sounds sooooooo goodl You had me at “griddles the cheese”. I would like that for supper, please. Unfortunately (do I dare admit this?) I have NO potatoes!

      Cool that you worked on potato research. That is so neat.

  6. Margaret Greanias

    Great post! Thank you Beth and Debbie. It’s crazy that so many people work together to get one picture book out the door. I’ve heard so much about I’M BORED in the past several months and I am so looking forward to reading it. A good use for a potato? How about a battery?

    1. Oh wow, a battery? Neat. I bet my cousin’s sons have done that — they were always doing cool science stuff when they were kids. Thanks, Margaret!

  7. Awesome post!
    I love hearing the story about the wait time!
    And as far as potatoes go, once I made “Potato Frenzy” for my friends.
    We had:
    mashed potatoes
    Baked potatoes
    twice baked potatoes
    homefries with salt and pepper
    Homefries with chili and garlic powder
    french fries
    sweet potato fries
    garlic fries
    and sweet potato pie.

    It took forever and we didn’t get through everything until DAYS later,
    but it was awesome.

    Also, please make sure I am NOT entered in the giveaway….
    I already have my copy!
    Just want to make sure someone else gets to have one too!

    Thanks for the great post, Beth!

    1. After all that, you don’t need to be in the giveaway? When I’m busy wiping drool (sorry) off my keyboard (sorry, Mackie…) I haven’t had twice baked potatoes in far too long. I think it is imperative that I remedy that as soon as possible.

      Thanks, Kathy Ellen!

  8. Now that’s one informative post and the funniest music video ever! How much do I love those lyrics! Congrats to Debbie on the book, which I’ve been anticipating for quite some time because the cover makes me smile. Too cute! And now that I know a potato is involved, I am doubly intrigued. Alas, it’s not yet available in Italy, but I’m sure it will be soon.

    As for the potato, I’ve always thought a large potato would make an excellent prop skull for the grave digger scene in HAMLET. It’s already got the eyes, so you just need to carve a grimace and go! “Alas, poor Spudrick. I grew him well.”

    1. Your potato use is fantabulously original. Thank you!!! And I hope, hope, hope you’ll be able to get your hands on the book soon. It is also fantabulously original.

  9. I enjoyed this anything but boring post and congratulate you on the publication of I’m Bored. I’m sure it will be a great success. As for the potato, I would suggest using a real, earth friendly, biodegradable potato for Mr. Potatohead instead of the ecologically unfriendly plastic one. Then when you’re done playing with Mr. Potatohead you can make a nifty ink stamp by cutting the potato in half and carving away the area you don’t want to print. After you’re done printing, cut away the inked parts, peel what’s left and boil up the rest for some mashed potatoes for lunch.

    1. Now THAT is utilizing a potato to the fullest. Why oh why didn’t I remember to buy potatoes when I was in the store today? I want to make a Mr. Potatohead!

      Thanks, Diane!

  10. Congrats, Debbie on your book! Looks like I need to add it to my Christmas list.

    Potato ideas from the internet:

    Jewelry…cut shapes, put on skewers to dry for about a week, paint and string.

    Turkey…cut head from construction paper, glue to potato body and add colored tooth picks for tail feathers.

    Potato Candy

    Potato Putty

    Potato Wine

    Need I go on? I think not…you get the idea…;~)

    Donna L Martin

    1. What cool ideas. I wonder if my aunt who liked to do crafty things with her kids, and then her grandkids, had ever heard of the potato jewelry idea. That would have been right up her alley. Thanks, Donna!

  11. Great to hear what goes on behind the scenes after a PB sale (I just started the two-year clock myself). I’M BORED looks fantastic! And for potatoes…I’d go classic mashed. Thanks, Beth!

  12. What an awesome post Beth! Congrats Debbie! I’m looking forward to reading your book and checking out all your links. I’m very interested in the link with 100 people in takes to make a children’s book wow!

    Hmmm…as for potato ideas what about baked sweet potato chips.

    1. Debbie’s post is awesome. Which is not surprising, considering the fact that Debbie herself is awesome.

      Baked sweet potato chips sound delish! Thanks, Jennifer!

  13. Thank you for posting the list of people involved in the making of I”M BORED, Debbie. I never realized how many people have their hands in the making of one picture book!

    If you live up north, you can carve little potato clogs so your dog doesn’t have to get cold paws in the winter.

    1. I’m going to buy the book this week, so don’t enter me in the contest. Ben said the potatoes would make good helmets fro hamsters for when they ride on your race teack.

    2. Love the clogs and the hamster helmets (I do not intend to try saying “hamster helmet” out loud though, it twists my brain, I suspect it would also twist my tongue.) And since you’ve said not to enter you in the contest, I will do so. not do so. whatever. Glad you played “find a use for the potato” anyway! Thanks, Heather!

  14. How terrific of you, Debbie, to acknowledge all those involved. Congrats on your book – looking forward to reading it. Thanks, Beth, for sharing. When my grandma was a little girl her step-mom (who was a mail order bride) used to put warm baked potatoes under the blankets before they crawled into bed during the winter months. Also they held them in their mittened hands on wagon rides into town in winter.

    1. Thank you, Laura! I wanted to post about others involved with the book because so often, it’s the author and illustrator who get all the attention. After my I’M BORED experience, I have a far greater appreciation of the essential roles played by others behind-the-scenes.

    2. Thanks, Laura! There have been days in my apartment when the wind is coming from the east that I could use warm baked potatoes to hold in my hands… How did our grandparents and great-grandparents survive those experiences?

    1. Yay indeed for Potato Stamps!!! I’m going to have to try that — I don’t remember if I’ve ever done potato stamping. That’s kind of hard to believe, but I think it’s true. Thanks, Erik!

  15. Really enjoyed the interview with Debbie. Good info to know. I love the picture of you opening the box of books — you give us hope! Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of the book. Congratulations! Used to use potatoes on bee stings — they pull out the poison.

    1. Thanks so much, Patricia. And yes, opening that box of books was huge for me. I’ve been getting so many rejections for so many years. And I know there will be more rejections in the future BUT being able to hold an actual print copy of the final book in my hand…well…it made all the bumps in my journey so worth it.

    2. Isn’t that picture of opening the box just filled with delight? Debbie’s post is so encouraging and uplifting. I appreciate so much that she dropped in to my blog.

      Potatoes for bee stings? Cool. I didn’t know that. I’m learning a lot, reading through these comments. Thanks, Pat!

  16. Terrific post, as always, Beth. The book looks awesome, Debbie, and hearing about the process I’m just at the level of dreaming about is so helpful.

    Have to admit the first thought that came to mind when I saw potato was “couch potato” – even before I viewed the video! Love the other ideas mentioned, though, especially those that don’t involve dinner time…

    1. Debbie writes a great post, doesn’t she? I had such fun putting it all together.

      Why didn’t I think of couch potato? I’m a perfect example of one. Well, maybe not perfect, but pretty dang good… 😉

      Thanks, Patricia!

  17. Wonderful post. I would dress the potatoes up and turn them into puppets and start singing “Small Potatoes” from Disney. My kids love those clips on the Disney channel.

    So anxious to read this book.

  18. Congratulations, Debbie. You shared some great information. Beth, you did it again and I was certainly not bored! I am so excited about this book. Can’t wait to take my pictures and share them. As for stuff to do with a potato:
    With some cool accessories and body-parts, he’d make a great puppet (just insert a craftstick to hold him)
    Use him as a bowling bowl in a math game (How many pins does Mr. Spud knock down?)
    He could be the storyteller’s prompt:
    Kids pass the potato around each adding lines to a story started by Mr. Spud_he’d be in costume of course

    The kids would enjoy scooping out the potato and making delicious potato skins
    If you use spuds for stamping the cut away parts could be used for latkes or hashbrowns

  19. I’m amazed that it takes almost two years on the illustration side. And that’s AFTER the writer has written the manuscript and the publishing house has accepted it. I can see how it takes 5 or more years from first draft to publication. Wow! As for potatoes, I am a big fan of potato stamps. Cut a potato in half. Trace your design on the cut end of the potato and cut around your design, leaving the design in relief, using a sharp knife. Get some paint and stamp away! This is great for making cards, decorating place mats, etc. No more boredom.

    1. It seems that with potatoes around, boredom is well-nigh impossible!

      It sounds as though the wait is worth it — and I can certainly vouch for I’M BORED being worth the wait.

      Gotta try potato stamps. Just gotta. Thanks, Kirsten!

  20. How great to hear about the journey of I’m Bored. I just love the cover….especially with you holding it up from the box of books!!! Love your expression!

    Potato Ideas
    Potato stamps
    Dress your potato (kind of like Mr. Potato head only with construction paper or felt)

    And….most yummy baked potatoes
    Cut potato in half lenghwise leaving skin on
    Brush entire potato with olive oil
    Sprinkle with sea salt and coarse black pepper
    Bake (flat side down) on cookie sheet at 350 til done (about 30 min.)

    Yum….very crispy all over!

    1. The whole book is as delightful (or even more delightful) than the cover, Penny. I marvel at how well Debbie captures emotions in what seem to be simple drawings. (I know there’s nothing simple about them, really…)

      Great potato ideas, especially that recipe. I’d never thought of doing that, with the cutting and baking flat side down. I’m definitely going to try that. I may have to print out all the recipe suggestions and have a Potato Day each week or something.

      Thanks, Penny!

  21. Finally had a chance to read the WHOLE post, and I’m so glad I did. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into that process, Debbie and Beth.

    Hmmm….uses for potatoes. Here are two uses I remember from books I read as a kid. I have no idea why these are stuck in my head, but they are.

    The first one is from Little House in the Big Woods (I believe it was that one). Ma put baked potatoes in Laura and Mary’s pockets during the wintertime to keep their hands warm.

    The second is from one of the All of a Kind Family books. At one point, a radiator started spouting water. Mama put a potato over the radiator pipe and that stopped the water from leaking until it could be fixed. (Since I’ve always lived in old houses with lots of radiators, I’ve filed away this bit of useful trivia just in case…)

    1. Thanks, Carrie — I’m glad you got a chance to read all of Debbie’s post, as she has certainly graced us with much useful information.

      Great uses for potatoes — and I love that they come from children’s books! How appropriate!

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