Before I went to a writing conference in Toronto earlier this month the members of my writers’ group here in Winnipeg helped me to come up with questions for a panel of book editors from various publishing house who were going to field questions about getting your book in print. I submitted the questions and the moderator of the panel used almost every one as she led the discussion. I promised my writers’ group the Anitas, that I’d provide them with the answers – so here they are.
What is hot in books for children, teens and young adults rights now?
For teens and young adults it is gothic, horror, ghost stories, fantasy and science fiction. Nothing is too edgy to write about for the young adult audience.
What’s popular comes in waves. Editors are looking for books about diverse experiences and unique characters. Historical fiction is a little flat right now. A book in that genre works if it hits a modern-day nerve.
For picture books editors want stories that aren’t too long, that are humorous and based in reality or personal experience. They don’t have to be about some big important issue to be meaningful.
Middle grade books need to tell diverse stories and publishers are seeking unique and diverse authors as well. In non-fiction for kids social justice issues are big right now and its important to make sure that although your book addresses an important topic it is written in a way kids can relate to and understand.
It’s tough because publishing houses need to honor the commitments they have to authors they have already signed and promoted.
You can go the self-publishing route and then hope a big publishing house will love your book and pick it up for wider distribution. Some publishers however receive a dozen self-published books a day and may pick one a year to publish.
Some publishers only look at things they get from an agent, others tend to use their contacts in the industry to find new authors but there are some publishing houses who actually do go through every single manuscript that is submitted to them.
Does an author need to have a social media presence in order to get published?
Publishers will look for people who are active on sites that appeal to school markets because it means they can reach out to schools.
They do want to know about your social media contacts and your activity. It is very important that your online presence is something children can see and read without their parents worrying about your online content.
Sometimes they do publish books by people because they already have lots of great online content that appeals to kids and they have established a group of specific, dedicated followers.
You should follow authors and illustrators, publishing houses and professional writing groups online if you are looking to get published so you can see what is trending and what is going on in the publishing world. How do you know if a book is going to be successful, if a book is one you want to publish?
If it makes me laugh out loud!
If after I read the book an elevator pitch for it just pops into my head.
It’s a gut feeling but it’s always a gamble. You never know. Sometimes you publish books you think will be big successes and they’re not and other times you publish books you are worried won’t sell and they are a huge success.
Does an author need to have an agent?
You can survive in Canada without an agent.
About a quarter of the authors we publish don’t have an agent.
An agent can make your relationship with a publisher easier in some ways and more difficult in others.