SCBWI's Roving Reporter, Nathan Luff checks out the publishers' session and passes on some of the highlights...
With Lisa Berryman (HarperCollins), Jill Corcoron (Herman Agency), Sarah Foster (Walker Books) and Zoe Walton (Random House). Chaired by Wendy Blaxland.
What makes a submission stand out?
Freshness of idea. Quality of writing (inc voice and characterisation. Make a good first impression. Don't ever put your manuscript in the body of an email. Understanding of genre, market. Be informed. If feedback is given, when resubmitting the publisher wants to see that the feedback has been taken onboard. Also don't give publisher instructions on how to market the book. Jill always googles and researches the people she is thinking of signing – be professional when saying things anywhere (ie don't go attacking people online if you get rejected)
What is important to you with you working relationship with authors and illustrators?
Don't be difficult. The author/illustrator needs to take their commitment seriously and professional. No one wants a lazy author. Making a book is a team effort. Loyalty is important – you should always show your next book to the same publisher if they have put in effort to grow you. Discretion is important as well – don't dis on people and share secrets about publishers.
|Zoe Walton and Jill Corcoran|
What are the current trends?
a bit of a classic feel ...
a bit of nostalgia (Alice-Miranda, Nanny Piggins)
Fairy-tale retellings still hot
A lot of publishers are creating series in-house and then finding the authors.
People are looking for the classic middle grade fiction title.
Branding is how it is done – making covers look similar and creating a brand of an author.
Sarah at Walker admitted she doesn't care about trends. Besides you can't write to a trend because by the time it is published the trend will be over.
How is digital publishing affecting children's books?
Most publishers now have straight to digital. Advances are going down. It is harder to find your book.
Opening up opportunities for reprinting – going into backlists. Plus it is great for self-published authors
Children's books in Australia are 1% of the ebook market at the moment. It is an expensive process. In Australia schools you cannot at the moment buy class sets. Things will change. Young Adult sells better in digital form.
There are piracy issues – everyone is working hard but it is very difficult, hence why things are moving so slowly.
Overall from this session there was a general optimism about the future of children's books.