Linda Zajac—Robo-Motion: Robots That Move Like Animals




Linda Zajac
Millbrook Press, September 7, 2021, $27.99
ISBN-10: 1541581261, ISBN-13: 978-1541581265
ASIN: B098K4WY11
Reading age: 4-9 years

Zajac reports:

While doing research for a pitch, I discovered a number of animal robots that ultimately led to ROBO-MOTION. After submitting the pitch to MUSE magazine for the theme ‘thinking bots,’ I started working on this book. I continued scouring the internet until I had a whole zoo of amazing robots that mimicked animal motion. Next, I chose a variety of animals that moved on land, air, and sea, making certain to include insects and other invertebrates.

After whittling down the list, I considered various structures for the book. Since robots and animals are both high-interest subjects, I gave them equal weight by designing the book with animals on the verso and robots on the recto. I came up with a lyrical pattern for the text, using action verbs. Not only is ROBO-MOTION about animals and robots, it’s a book about movement and a hopeful look at how robots can benefit society.

Linda Zajac

Linda Zajac

Early in the book submission process, I received positive feedback from an editor I’d met at a conference. Although she liked the concept and she was fascinated by the robots, she thought the text seemed too sparse. It’s not often that a writer receives feedback on a rejection. I took that little nugget of wisdom and used it to revise. I pulled robot details out of the back matter and incorporated them in the main text by adding a layer of subtext.

The book was out on submission when my article “Reaching Like Roaches” was published in MUSE in March 2017. A year later, I subbed my manuscript in an open call for STEM picture books that could be illustrated with photographs. On September 1, 2018, I heard from an editor who wanted to bring it to acquisitions. Another five months passed before I received an email from her that began with, “I am so sorry.…” Since I have had book manuscripts fizzle in the acquisitions process, my heart sank.

I took a deep breath and finished reading, “...for how long this has taken.” She wanted the book and made an offer! The pandemic delayed publication by almost a year.


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October 6, 2021

Advance Copy

The path from idea to book may take myriad routes. The Advance Copy column, started in 2000 by NASW volunteer book editor Lynne Lamberg, features NASW authors telling the stories behind their books. Authors are asked to report how they got their idea, honed it into a proposal, found an agent and a publisher, funded and conducted their research, and organized their writing process. They also are asked to share what they wish they’d known when they started or would do differently next time, and what advice they can offer aspiring authors. Lamberg edits the authors’ answers to produce the Advance Copy reports.

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