Author & Publisher Spotlight: Asia Citro

Oct. 13, 2017

Today we feature children's author Asia Citro, who also is the publisher of The Innovation Pressa small press that publishes quirky books that celebrate the creativity, curiosity, and diversity of children. 

Be sure to enter into her giveaway: Two winners get a book of your choice from The Innovation Press. Choices can be found here.

Tell us about your background and how you came to be a publisher.

I have always been passionate about writing. As a child, I toted a notebook full of stories (mostly about cats) just about everywhere I went. My involvement in writing continued through college, where I worked as an editor for my school's writing center. Many years later, when my second child was born with severe colic, I turned to blogging as a creative outlet. Though I had long-term goals of using the blog to get a publishing deal, I had no idea it would happen so quickly. About a year into blogging I was approached by a mid-range publishing company and I quickly wrote my first book --- an activity book that included the most popular content from my blog.

I loved seeing my book pop up all over the world and receiving messages from readers. I was sold on this whole book writing thing. I wanted to write more, but I didn't want to do it at a big house. I’d felt very lost in the crowd there since I was just one of literally hundreds of books that were going out the door. We had several instances where we sold out of my book (for weeks at a time) that were traumatizing to my Type-A personality.  

What I really wanted to do was run everything myself...but I didn't want to be self-published because I enjoyed seeing my books all over the world in different languages and on the shelves of stores and libraries. With the help of a very generous friend, I used a detailed business plan combined with the success of my first book to secure international distribution for my very own publishing house. For the first year, I just ran my own titles to build up capital.  I like to think of this year (2017) as our first "real" year because we finally have several titles from several authors.

Tell us about The Innovation Press. What prompted you to start this press? What is your editorial focus?

If I'm being totally honest, my press was born out of my desire to be in charge of all the things (soooo Type A). I also wanted to be able to do things that might not fly at bigger publishing houses – for instance, with my second book I wanted to write about inquiry science and have a cover that featured only girls. At The Innovation Press we love quirky books. 

It's honestly a bit hard to put a finger on what exactly makes a book a perfect fit for us, but generally our books have some humor in them, they teach kids about something (often STEM, but not exclusively), and they often take an unusual approach. For instance, we have a book about train tracks rather than trains. And we have a book that covers everything from physics to geography to first aid...for magic carpet riders.  I love it when I see a submission and think, I've never seen this before!

What do you believe sets you apart from other small independent presses?

Well first off, we are a pretty awesome group to work with.  We all have kids and are kind of kids ourselves still, so we do our best to make the whole publishing process fun. Because I am an author and know what it feels like, we involve the authors quite a bit in the illustration process. Our authors have input on the illustrator we choose, the cover design, and the interior illustrations.  

Of course all the final decisions are ours, but we do our best to accommodate their requests.  We also give our authors a LOT of publicity support.  Every one of our titles is promoted via book tours and trade shows, etc.

What are some recent titles you are excited about?

We have been really tickled with the reception for our new Amazing Scientists series. We wanted to create a biography series that featured folks that aren't widely covered in children’s literature currently, and we wanted to make it really accessible and enticing for kids -- so the stories are written in rhyme. We work with the scientists we feature -- they all sign off on the final draft, provide family photos, and write a note to the readers that appears right after the story -- which I think makes the series pretty special.   

I am also going to be dorky and say that I'm excited for my chapter book series, ZOEY AND SASSAFRAS, both because we have enjoyed seeing all the adorable science experiments from our readers and because we've sold the rights for book fairs and book clubs to Scholastic for the first two books.

As a publisher, what makes a submission stand out? What is a big mistake you see?

I LOVE to see things I haven't seen before. This could be anything from a subject I haven’t seen tackled before or a fresh new approach to telling a story. As for a big mistake, I see an alarming number of submissions that are blatant copies of successful books.  Don't copy. 

How can authors or illustrators submit to The Innovation Press?

Authors and illustrators can find all of our submission guidelines at submissions.

What advice would you give to new authors and illustrators?

Practice, practice, practice. Most of our successful authors have either been previously published or have been active in SCBWI or other writing groups for years. When you know your craft, it shows.  

Likewise with illustrators -- when we look at someone's portfolio, we like to see a range of subjects as well as a range of movements and emotions in your characters. And if you illustrate people, please do not forget to include characters who are non-white in your portfolio!

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I raised the Grand Champion Lamb at the Alameda County Fair as a child in 4H and still own the ginormous shiny belt buckle that attests to this.

Where can we find you online?

As a publisher you can find me at:

Twitter:  @innovationpress

And an author you can find me at:

Asia Citro is a former classroom science teacher (M.Ed) who now runs The Innovation Press, a small press that publishes quirky books that celebrate the creativity, curiosity, and diversity of children.  She is also the author of 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids, The Curious Kid’s Science Book, A Little Bit of Dirt, and the Zoey and Sassafras series.  Her work has been featured on Apartment Therapy, The Chicago Tribune, Today, Disney Baby, MSN, King 5 TV, New Day Northwest, and Highlights, among others.


  1. I'm an autistic author who writes about autism. I also have two kids on the spectrum. I'm especially looking forward to reading The Girl Who Thought in Pictures.

  2. You are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your vision, and thank you for publishing these great books.

  3. I've studied their books very carefully, and I think if I were lucky enough to win I would choose "How To Survive As a Shark"--and the end papers are very nice!

    1. I love Erica's illustrations -- an excellent choice!

  4. Thanks for the interview. I always enjoy getting the inside information on publishing houses and what they are seeking. I also enjoy books that surprise me and are unique.

  5. Wonderful interview. I loved learning about your journey from writing, to published, to publisher.

  6. Really enjoyed the interview! As a math major and teacher, I'm always excited to hear about people who are encouraging kids to be interested in STEM, especially girls.

    1. Woohoo! Math + teacher = awesome! Thank you. :)

  7. I love the focus your books are taking as well as the "risks"! Thanks for the post!

  8. Wow ... just wow. I've never heard of your publishing house before (nor any of your books) and I'm totally hooked!! All of the books you publish look so entertaining and different. My daughter turns 8 next month and I'm definitely getting her the magic carpet book (and others, I'm sure!) Thanks Kidlit 411 for a great spotlight feature!

  9. Your books look fascinating. I'll be looking these up!

  10. Fabulous! I love books that engage readers. Congratulations as well!

  11. very interesting post.this is my first time visit here.i found so mmany interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion..thanks for the post! Danilo

  12. I love the idea of a publishing house that highlights children's curiosity and ability to innovate. At my house, we've all been enjoying OLD TRACKS, NEW TRICKS.


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