publishers · Submissions · unsolicited manuscripts

Publisher update 2013

At the birth of the new year (I was going to say the demise of the old year, but that sounded a bit depressing and we try to be positive over on this blog!), it’s time to check over my list of children’s publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts and see what’s changed over the year.

Sadly but predictably, some of the publishers have closed their doors to unagented work (Oxford University Press), or even ceased trading altogether (a fond farewell to Meadowside, Ragged Bears and the briefly present Rebel Books).  It seems as though A&C Black has finally been fully absorbed by Bloomsbury and no longer has its own site.  And Catnip Publishing, which a reader kindly suggested be added to the list, has now stopped accepting unagented submissions and so never made it on to the list after all.  Frances Lincoln and Bridge House are not accepting anything at the moment – hopefully that will change in the future so I have left them here for now – and the Strident website has temporarily disappeared, although a short notice assures us it will return.

On the positive side, there are still some big hitters on the list such as Egmont and Little Tiger, and the youngsters like Curious Fox, Nosy Crow and Phoenix Yard are keenly embracing new technology such as interactivity and apps.  Plus there’s a new addition: Caterpillar, a publisher of novelty picture books.  As the tidal wave of e-publishing settles down and integrates into the mainstream, publishers are regaining their strength and seem to be out to prove they deserve a place in the new literary landscape.  As always, good luck with those submissions and do let me know how you get on – I love a success story!

Visit the updated list of publishers

Advice on writing a synopsis

Advice on word count

agents · interviews · slushpile · Submissions · unsolicited manuscripts

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?

interviews · picture books · slushpile · Submissions · unsolicited manuscripts

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.

publishers · slushpile · Submissions · unsolicited manuscripts

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.

publishers · Submissions · Uncategorized · unsolicited manuscripts

Interview with Derrick Alderman of CoopJack Publishing

Hello Derrick.  What is your background and what led you to starting CoopJack Publishing?

I’ve been working for a textbook design company for 10 years, doing the same thing over and over and over again. I finally had the chance to do something new, which was to create epub books for Nook (Barnes & Noble) and iPad. It was fun, interesting, and based on my textbook experience, not too difficult. Two months ago, I quit that job and — among other paying things — I decided I wanted to publish some books on my own. I started CoopJack Publishing.

You are asking for picture books at the moment; are you likely to consider anything else now or in the future?

Right now, I’m focusing on picture books which is what I’m familiar with. I would certainly consider publishing novels or nonfiction when I find the right book and have the time to learn the technology.

Do you accept rhyming stories?

Yes, I personally LOVE rhyming stories.

Should us Brits alter our manuscripts to American spellings/words?

Ha! No, don’t worry about it.

You are hoping to publish to the iTunes bookstore. Can you explain what that means in terms of what devices people would download the books on to and what form they would take?

For those wondering, iTunes has outgrown its name, and now offers movies, books, apps, and tv shows, so it’s not just “tunes” — it’s everything! iTunes works exclusively with Apple products, the iPad and iPhone in this case. I’m taking a long view of the iPad as a fantastic device that’s just in its infancy. I think it will be around for a LONG time, and getting some content on iTunes will hopefully benefit those involved in the long run. I would expect to also publish to Nook, although that’s not a long-term bet I would take.

What about e-readers? Would Kindle owners be able to access them or would you publish separately for Kindle?

I will probably also publish on the Kindle eventually, but that’s not technology I’m familiar with right now. I think picture books are more suited to the iPad technology right now.

It’s free for authors to self-publish on to Kindle. What can your company offer that’s different from self-publishing?

Since I plan to focus on picture books, my intent is to bring together writers and artists to make professional looking books. I will also provide the layout, design, and technology side to produce professional-looking books.

How are you going to split the royalties?

Apple gets 30% off the top. I will earn 15%, and the writer/artist will split the rest. It’s still being figured out, but in the event there are derivative works (like a physical publishing deal, or merchandise, or a movie deal!) based on the books I publish, I would earn some percentage of those royalties too. This is not work-for-hire, I’m not aiming to steal the writer’s copyright or characters. Please keep in mind, I’m working for free on this! I don’t make anything unless the book can sell. It’s a risk, but I believe that creative people can come together and make something wonderful. The writer and artist also stand to benefit simply from the exposure and becoming a published author. That looks good on anyone’s CV.

How will you market the books?

The marketing will be a collaborative effort between myself, the writer, and the artist. If one out of three of us is blogging or tweeting, that’s a huge plus. I hope word of mouth about a specific book will boost sales.

How long should an author expect to wait before getting a response from you about their manuscript?

Are you asking this because I haven’t responded to any queries yet? 🙂 I hope to get back to everyone in a reasonable time frame, but since this is a “free” project I have to fit it in around the rest of my ongoing responsibilities. My apologies to anyone I’ve kept waiting.

And finally… where does the name CoopJack come from?

CoopJack comes from the names of my 2-and-a-half year old twin boys, Cooper and Jackson. They love picture books, and they DEFINITELY love mommy’s iPad!

And Derrick also adds…

I’m currently having a publishing agreement drafted by lawyers in Portland, Maine. This is all kind of a new experience for me, and I’m learning a lot as I go along. I also have my first “pairing” of a writer and author, which I am very excited about. I hope I can announce it once things are more formally agreed between us. The writer is already published and has some stories that various publishers have not been interested in, so she has agreed to work with me. The artist is someone I’ve worked with before and he’s very fast, with a fun and colorful style. Keep in mind, we’re all working for free up front, so it’s a labor of love. I hope this first book sets the pace for a successful new venture.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Derrick.

To view the website and see how to submit to CoopJack, visit

publishers · slushpile · Submissions · unsolicited manuscripts

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.

Submissions · unsolicited manuscripts

Pants on Fire Press call for submissions

Pants on Fire Press have contacted me to tell me they are currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts for picture, middle grade (equivalent to the 8-12 age readership in the UK) and young adult books.  Based in the US, they are a small independent publisher keen to expand and explore new areas of technology as well as traditional printing.

Submission details can be found here and they prefer an initial query letter sent as an email.

short stories · Submissions · unsolicited manuscripts

Cast of Wonders short story market – and an interview with a successful submitter

I am really pleased to come across yet another market for short stories for children.  This one is called Cast of Wonders and it takes the form of a weekly podcast of science fiction and fantasy short stories for young adults aged 12 to 17, read expertly by Graeme Dunlop.  They pay £5 per story at the moment but hope to pay more in future to attract good writers, although as listening to the podcasts is free they rely on donations.  The exciting thing about this market is that you have flexibility in terms of length and subject, as long as it fits into the sci fi fantasy genre and is suitable for the age group (think Hunger Games as a rough guide to content).  They also accept manuscripts from young authors (stage your age when submitting if you are under 18).

Submissions details are here and you need to send through their website.

One person who successfully submitted is Lucy Oliver, who has agreed to answer a few questions on the process and her writing journey.

What prompted you to submit to Cast of Wonders and how did you hear of them?
I found Cast of Wonders on Duotrope. I thought the site was very well designed and I liked the idea of Y/A podcasts.

Have you been published anywhere else?
I have been published in Take a Break, Fiction Feast, Cafelit, Stories for Children and various anthologies. I also won the Stylist Magazine Microfiction competition.

How important is persistence when you are submitting manuscripts? How do you stay motivated to keep trying?
It’s vital. But you do also need to be realistic. Writing is a skill and needs to be learned. It’s a long process. You do need to keep sending work out, but if it keeps coming back – try to work out why. A good critique by a third party can be extremely helpful.  The work itself keeps me motivated. If I had nothing accepted, I would still write. I couldn’t give up the sense of exhilaration you get when a story starts to work and suddenly, you’re there with your characters feeling all their emotions.

These new niche markets are exciting opportunities for writers and small publishers. How do you see the future of children’s publishing now that we are moving away from traditional ink and paper?I think there will always be a place for paper and ink. I’ve got young children and they’re not into e-books. They like pictures and the fun of turning the pages. I think teenagers however, would be much more interested. The e-readers are smart and easy to use. A book is a book, no matter what method is used to read it and anything that encourages young readers is good.

And finally, when will your story be on Cast of Wonders and what is it called?
It is called, ‘Living Clay,’ and should be on site on the 18th May, but the exact date is still to be confirmed.

Thanks Lucy.

Cast of Wonders is a venture of Wolfsbane Publishing who also produce the horror podcast Cast Macabre.  I visited their website/blog but found myself wading through spam comments that outnumbered the content many times over.  Get yourselves a spam filter, guys!

publishers · Submissions · unsolicited manuscripts

Maverick accepting unsolicited manuscripts for picture books

Thanks to reader Kaytie for spotting another children’s publisher to add to our list!  Maverick publish a range of lively and colourful picture books.  They are looking for quirky, interesting reads with strong storylines.  As a guide, their books are usually 32 pages long and no longer than 1,200 words and they prefer text only, not illustrations.  Email submissions are preferred as pdf or Word attachments together with a covering letter or email, but you can also submit by post.  Find all the details on their submissions page.

And lastly:


If you like to write stories that rhyme,

Most publishers have to decline.

Though your verse may fill them with delight

They must consider foreign rights,

And your carefully crafted creation

Loses something in translation.


But sometimes a publisher will have a go –

At the back of their mind there’s a Gruffalo –

And I’m happy to tell you that Maverick

Will consider your stanzas, so make ’em slick!

(If your rhyming, like mine, just gets rubbisher,

You may not find a publisher!)

publishers · short stories · Submissions · unsolicited manuscripts · websites

Another market for children’s short stories – Alfie Dog Limited

New e-publishers Alfie Dog Limited are looking for short stories to make available for download on their website,  Submissions details are at and  Authors will receive just under half of the download fee, so for a 39p short story the author will receive 16p per download.

The publisher  is aiming at an international audience and is has mentioned that she would love to see more children’s stories, although she considers any age group or genre.   If you fancy dipping your toe in the electronic waters but don’t want to go it alone, this could be a market for you.