It is always good to get an insiders view on the publishing industry and this morning was no exception, with the delightful Suzanne O’Sullivan from Lothian sharing her thoughts at the NSW Writers’ Centre, First Friday Club.
Suzanne confirmed that with blockbuster titles from the likes of John Green helping the market along, children’s book sales continue to be very healthy. And the area of the children’s publishing market that Lothian are keen to see more strong submissions in, is Junior Fiction. Series books for 6-9 year olds, with an approximate word count of 15,000-20,00 words. Suzanne is also always on the look out for great picture books.
However getting your work in front of Suzanne is no mean feat, as she only accepts agented submissions, or submissions following on from consultations at conferences or literary speed dating.
But if you are lucky enough to make it into her pile of submitted manuscripts, these are her tips for how to stand out:
- Have a really clear sense of the market, “this book fits into this trend,” or “this book fills this gap,” (but be careful that the gap really is a gap in the market and not a gap in your knowledge of the market!)
- Really hone your writing. Make sure it is fully workshopped and edited before you send it.
- Let your writing be the star, regardless of your other successes the writing needs to speak for itself.
And what themes is she looking for?
- Humour, she loves a story that makes her laugh, but the humour must be supported by a good story with heart.
- Friendship, friendship themes are always very popular in junior fiction.
- Adventure based stories.
So according to Suzanne, what can writers be doing to help them achieve publication?
- Be active on social media.
- Be active in writers groups and attending conferences etc
- Show a willingness to get out there and promote yourself.
Suzanne also mentioned a preference for authors who have a body of work targeting one area of the children’s market, so that they can build a strong readership and utilise this readership for the authors other books.
And there is a small glimmer of hope if you are not lined up to attend a conference or event where Suzanne is meeting writers- Lothian are currently thinking about opening up submissions for one genre at a time, probably early next year, so make sure you follow Suzanne on Twitter @Suzanne_OS and keep your eye on the Hachette website http://www.hachettechildrens.com.au
Happy writing everyone!