Category Archives: slushpile

New indie markets

A couple of interesting indie publishers featured in Writing Magazine this month.

First is Fledgling Press,  a Scottish company that focuses on debut authors writing a variety of fiction including YA.  If you’re Scottish too that will help!  You should send three chapters and a short synopsis by email and they aim to reply within 6 weeks.  If accepted your book will be placed on a longlist for possible publication.  Note they do not want sci fi.  Full submission details at www.fledglingpress.co.uk/submissions.

The other indie that caught my eye this month is Ghostly Publishing which has been founded by a paranormal investigator, no less!  The premise gets even more intriguing as the submission process involves peer review on the site, so you need to register then upload your submission – first three chapters and synopsis – rather than emailing or posting it.  There is also a free ‘manuscript checker’ which apparently can instantly score your book to test if it is ready for publication – the closer you get to zero, the better!  Take a look at these details on the site to familiarise yourself with the process.  As you might expect, Ghostly wants fantasy and sci-fi for child to teen readership.

And finally, if you do buy Writing Magazine this month you’ll find my article on how to interpret your blog stats nestling happily on page 28 under the pun-derful title Stat’s Amazing!

Happy submitting everyone!

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Trudi Granger’s success story

I am delighted to share the success story of Trudi Granger, a reader of this blog, who is due to have her picture book ‘Always There Bear’ published next month by Top That! Publishing.

Always There Bear by Trudi Granger

What is your background and how long have you been writing for?

Ahh my background….. banking law!  For quite a few years I was a senior associate in Australia.  So, in a sense I have been ‘writing’ for years, in the form of loan agreements and other finance documents, as well as legal articles.  However it was not until 3 years ago when I returned to the UK with my husband and children that I started to think about writing for children.

 Slowly, little picture book ideas formed in my mind and I started to note them down.  However, it was not until about 18 months ago that I started to formulate my first picture book story.  After so many years of legal writing – where you write with absolute precision so that there is no ambiguity – it was quite liberating to write something for children, where the language could be simpler, more lyrical and encourage imagination, particularly once the so very important illustrations were added.

What made you write Always There Bear?

 I wanted to draft something that was reassuring and heart-warming for young children.  I wanted to create a story that could be read at bedtime and put the listener in a ‘good place’ when the lights went out.  (Clearly I also had the interests of the parents in mind as well!).  My thoughts focussed on teddy bears and the fact that many children have a special cuddly toy which they take around with them to share the good times and make the not-so-good times better.  How many times have parents managed to stop a child being upset or scared by handing their child their special teddy bear?  And how many times do little children decide to take a cuddly toy with them on a special outing or to nursery?  So many of them have an ‘always there bear’ who almost becomes one of the family.  And so that is what I tried to embrace in the picture book.  Coincidentally, just as I was at the stage of submitting the draft I read an article by historian David Cannadine about the enduring appeal of teddy bears.  Following his article, readers wrote in to tell their stories about the importance of their childhood teddy bears.  This made me wonder (and hope) that perhaps parents/carers/grandparents reading this book to children might also have an appreciation of the very simple message the story was intended to convey.

Tell us about the publication journey – did you submit to many places?  How did you feel when you got an offer?

Being a complete novice I had been a bit hit and miss sending off other submissions in the first couple of months until …. I came across your blog and the list you had created of publishers accepting unsolicited submissions!  It was by studying that extremely useful list that I got a more comprehensive understanding of children’s publishers and what they wanted.  Having taken a rather scattergun approach with earlier submissions (which is a real no no), this time, with ‘Always There Bear’, I was more measured, took time to look at the types of books the various publishers were currently advertising, and probably submitted the draft to only 5 or 6 publishers, including Top That! Publishing, who accepted my submission.

Unsurprisingly, I had been the recipient of my fair share of rejection letters (and worse still, deafening silence) in relation to other submissions, so the submissions for ‘Always There Bear’ were sent off with some realism as to what the response would be.  However, as with lottery tickets, we know the odds, but we still live in hope that fortune might favour us.

As regards how I felt when I received the offer via email – delighted, but slightly disbelieving!  I clicked on the email several times on the day it arrived and read it very thoroughly each time to make sure it did indeed say what it did.  (It was rather like that feeling you get when you leave the house and wonder whether you have indeed switched the oven off.  You know you have, but you still have to go back in the house to double check!)

I felt very green when I first found the courage to email Top That! Publishing, and explain to them that this was my first foray into writing and would they please explain to me what would happen once contracts had been signed.  They explained that the book, once the illustrations had been completed and the format signed off, would be showcased at the Frankfurt book fair, and would be due for publication in mid 2014 (now February 2014).  Top That! Publishing selected an illustrator, Gareth Llewhellin, and I have to say I was delighted when I first saw samples of his drawings for the book.  The illustrations complement the book completely.

Has being published changed your writing ambitions at all?

That’s an interesting question.  I am sure that many people, before they have anything published, have that feeling that they must keep going as they want to achieve the success of publication.

However, now that I have had my ‘fix’ of publication success there is indeed that feeling of wanting to go further.  Ideally I would love to be able to write a story for 7-9 year olds.  I have an idea, but I am very new to this craft and the standard is so very high.  So, I am realistic.  I shall carry on writing and will submit when I think something might be suitable.  However, if writing remains just a hobby for now, I shall be happy simply to have had the experience of having a book published and to have been introduced to an industry that I would otherwise never have known nothing about.  It’s been an enlightening journey!

What’s your advice to other writers hoping to be published, particularly in the picture book field?

Keep writing!  Always have a pen (or in my case, propelling pencil) and paper to hand to jot down your ideas as they come into your head.  Read other people’s writing blogs.  Go in for writing competitions.  But whatever it is, make sure it feels right for you.  And, most of all, I wish you all the very best of luck!

Thanks so much for your time, Trudi, and congratulations on your success!

‘Always There Bear’ will be available in bookshops and on Amazon from February.

New markets

A couple of children’s fiction markets for you this month.  Crooked Cat is a small UK publisher accepting young adult fiction for its Silver range, up to a maximum of 90,000.  The bad news is that it is closed to submissions at the moment, but the website asks you to check back in January, so hopefully they are just going through a catchup period.  Worth keeping an eye on, I think.

Also, spotted in Writing Magazine this month, is the indie publisher My Little Big Town which is the brainchild of author/illustrator Calvin Innes.  Think Aliens Love Underpants rather than Princess Poppy and you’ll be on MLBT’s wavelength.  Submission guidelines are strict so follow them to the letter to get the best chance of being read.  Unusually, you should send the entire manuscript, and you should also print off a covering header sheet which can be downloaded from the website.  Do NOT submit by email!  (I’m guessing they are swamped.)  MLBT accept all sorts of genres and lengths, but looking at their site I would guess that picture books and chapter books (7-9) are the types of manuscripts you should send to this market.

Finally I would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas, and a successful and happy writing year for 2014.  My new year’s resolution is to have one morning a week dedicated writing time instead of snatching moments out of the day.  It will be bliss!  What’s your writing resolution for next year?

Children’s publishers in the US accepting unsolicited manuscripts

I’ve been asked several times about US publishers and have not been able to help very much.  I did think about trying to put together my own list, but it would involve a massive amount of research and time!  Luckily, thanks to a handy blog post by JR Poulter, I have discovered Brian Grove and his site My Perfect Pitch (www.myperfectpitch.com) where, as well as dispensing wisdom and advice to aspiring writers, he also maintains lists of publishers to approach.

So to see a list of US publishers accepting manuscripts, visit http://myperfectpitch.com/childrens-book-publishers-usa/.  As always, read the individual requirements of the publishers very carefully before you submit.  The better we writers make our submissions, the more likely the few publishing companies who still accept unsolicited work will continue to do so.

The very best of luck and please tell me of any success stories – I love to hear them!

Put your question to Curtis Brown’s children’s literary agent

UK literary agency Curtis Brown has a shiny new submissions portal and is embracing the e-slush pile with open arms!  I will be putting some questions to their children’s agent Stephanie Thwaites in the next week or two, so if you have a question you have always wanted to ask a literary agent, pass it on to me via the comments box below.  I’ll use as many as I can, but if there are too many I’ll select the ones I think will be of most interest to others.

So what would you like to ask Stephanie?

Pete’s success story

Followers of this blog (and particularly followers of the comments on the Children’s Publishers Accepting Unsolicited Manuscripts page) will be impatient to hear news of Pete, who has been keeping us updated with his publication story.  I caught up with Pete to ask him how it was all going and find out a bit more about what the process has been like.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing journey?  Have you been published before?

My name is Pete Shaw, I’m 27 years old and I live in God’s county of Lancashire, North West England. I have a beautiful daughter, Jessica, who will be three years old in March. For day job I am a supermarket manager, and up until eighteen months ago I had had absolutely no history of writing to any noteable level, never mind being a published author!

Midway through 2011 I decided to write a story, Little Ronnie and Magic the Horse. My only previous writing experience had been composing short stories at school, and writing small pieces whilst studying English Language at college. The story only took about 3-4 hours in total to write, and maybe an hour or so doing little bits of tweaking here and there, writing my synopsis, exploring various ‘submission help blogs’ 😉 etc. It’s roughly 750 words long, and is written in rhyme.

little ronnie and magic the horse

What was the inspiration for ‘Little Ronnie and Magic the Horse’?

There are three main inspirations for me wanting to write. The first one is my daughter, Jessica. One day I thought to myself, “Why am I buying stories to read to my daughter at bedtime, when I can have a crack at it myself and have the satisfaction that I have written the story that she loves to hear?” It was only once I had finished writing the story that I decided that it would possibly be good enough for some publishers to have a look at.

My second inspiration is Roald Dahl. His stories were my absolute favourites as a child, and if I possess the smallest of fractions of that man’s talent, then I’ll be successful and produce some wonderful things to read.

Thirdly, Julia Donaldson is a very recent inspiration for me personally, and is a firm favourite of my daughter’s. The Gruffalo is a brilliant read, and we have all her books at home. Again, if I even begin to emulate any of her work, then there is a lot to look forward to.

What do you think made your book stand out to the publishers?

I can only guess at what made my book stand out, as I haven’t received any specific feedback other than the fact that they loved it! Going off what my family fed back to me upon reading Little Ronnie, the rhyming aspect to the story is something that is a massive hit with children, and the fact that the story SOUNDS good to the child must be a massive factor.

How did the artwork process work?  Did you have any input?

I was asked if I’d like to recommend an artist or illustrator, but being a complete novice to the writing scene, I didn’t have any contacts. The publishers chose an illustrator for me, pairing me up with someone who they thought could best compliment my words with their illustrations. Coincidentally, I was looking through the children’s books at work one day and I stumbled across a book that was actually illustrated by Daniel Howarth, the illustrator for ‘Little Ronnie’!

I have since been sent the PDFs of all the pages of the book, and they are most impressive! It’s quite surreal to see words that were once in your head brought to life by someone who has put their own unique interpretation into them!

Were you asked to do any editing or redrafting?

I wasn’t asked to do any editing, although they have made a few tweaks themselves.

Have you been asked to get involved with marketing at all?

With Little Ronnie being due for release in Spring 2013, I have been told that marketing will be stepped up in the new year, and that they will contact me in due course to discuss how I can help. I have specifically asked to play as big a part in the marketing as they will allow me to play! I know the book was shown at the Frankfurt Book Fair earlier this year, and at time of writing, Little Ronnie will be available to buy in the UK, United States and Australia.

What are you working on now?

I’ve already written another story in the same style (completely unrelated storyline), which still needs a bit of tweaking. I also plan to write a sequel to Little Ronnie in the near future, but for the time being I am going to see how Little Ronnie performs in what is an incredibly competitive market. If the demand is there, I would be delighted to continue Ronnie’s adventures! I hope to write a full-length novel one day, but one step at a time I think!

What would you say to people who are still trying to get published?

Don’t let a a few rejections get you down. I received nine rejections followed by an email telling me that a publisher loved it! You just have to stick it out and explore all the different avenues available, and ultimately you may have to bite the bullet and accept that it’s not the right time for your story to be accepted. Double-check and even get someone else to proof-read your submission – even the covering email/letter should be checked for mistakes. I can only presume that when publishers are receiving literally thousands of submissions, a spelling mistake in the first sentence would render the rest of your submission pretty pointless!

And finally… Did the list of publishers on my blog help?!

A resounding YES! I would literally not be writing this email, nor would I be having a book published next year if it wasn’t for Lou’s blog. An amazing help, and I can’t thank her enough!

Little Ronnie and Magic the Horse is due to be released in Spring 2013, by Top That! Publishing.  You can follow Pete on Twitter at @pdshaw09.

Meadowside Books no longer trading

Sadly I heard today that Meadowside Books are no longer trading.  Staff have been made redundant.  As far as I know, any manuscripts they have been holding have been shredded – which sounds drastic but stops them being misused.  So if you’ve submitted to them recently it’s time to move on to the next publisher on your list.  A real pity when a children’s publisher like this has to fold.

Curious Fox sniffing out new talent

It’s always heartening to hear of a new publishing venture starting up.  This one from Curious Fox looks promising, with two new series already commissioned from book packager Hothouse plus four young adult books originally published by e-publisher Fiction Express (an intriguing project where readers subscribe and vote on what will happen next in the story).

Curious Fox are looking for “bold, fun and imaginative” fiction for age 8 upwards, by email submission.  Send a synopsis, the first chapter and a covering letter.  Brief submission guidelines are here.

Strange Chemistry open their doors (briefly!) to unsolicited manuscripts

Good news for authors of young adult fantasy and sci-fi.  Exciting new imprint Strange Chemistry (offspring of the adult sci-fi publisher Angry Robots) are opening their doors to unsolicited manuscripts between 16 and 30 April 2012.  This is a great opportunity to submit directly to a serious and ambitious publisher.

Take a very careful look at their submission guidelines and follow them to the letter to increase your chances.  Note, for example, that they specify single spacing, not double.  And the length of your novel should be around 60-90 K words, which is quite beefy for YA.  You should not submit until 16 April at the earliest, and then only do so by visiting the site and using their upload system.

In the meantime I highly recommend taking a browse around the main Strange Chemistry site.   There’s some great recommendations of current and classic YA speculative fiction, reviews of last year’s releases and news of what’s up and coming – it’s sure to get you inspired.

Tamarind accepting unsolicited manuscripts

I spotted in this month’s Writers’ News (published with Writing Magazine, March 2012) that the children’s publisher Tamarind are looking for submissions directly from writers.  Tamarind are part of Random House and their ethos is to redress the imbalance in children’s publishing in terms of ethnicity.  The main characters of their books are black, Asian or mixed heritage but the subject of the book should be something that all children can relate to.  Have a read of their submissions guidelines to find out more; they are particularly interested in mystery, sci-fi and fantasy.  You can submit by post or email and should send a covering letter/email, the first three chapters and the synopsis.  They also accept picture books that again should fit their ethos, and they also ask that you do not send stories with animals as the main characters.  You should also not send illustrations with your picture book.  Have a look at the main website to get a feel for their style.

Tamarind