July 2021 – Jericho Writers
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Felicia Yap on weaving your life experiences into your writing

Friday Night Live shortlisted author, Felicia Yap, was snapped up by Jonny Geller at Curtis Brown soon after our 2015 Festival of Writing. Her brilliant high-concept thriller \'Yesterday\' was bought by Headline’s Alex Clarke for a six-figure sum. Her latest title, \'Future Perfect\', was also published by Headline in March 2021. Felicia has had an expansive and divergent career; we spoke to her about how you can use multiple interests to inform and add texture to your writing. JW: Hi Felicia! It\'s great to talk to you. Could you start by telling us about yourself as a writer? When did you start writing? FY: I started out as a journalist. I wrote newspaper articles from the age of nineteen (for The Economist and The Business Times, amongst other publications). Later on, I became a historian at the University of Cambridge and spent years writing academic papers about the Second World War. I only began writing fiction properly after the idea for my debut novel \'Yesterday\' came to me; the concept struck me on my way to a dance studio in Cambridge. I started writing the next day and I’m glad I did. JW: Tell us about your journey to publication. Were there any events or resources that helped you along the way? FY: I was fortunate to be shortlisted for the Friday Night Live competition at the Festival of Writing in 2015. It was a joy to read the opening paragraphs of \'Yesterday\' to a large audience in York; I was thrilled by how the audience responded. It made me confident that my story began decently – which in turn made me twice as determined to finish my manuscript. \"Nothing in life is ever wasted when it comes to writing.\" JW: So, you got your agent – what happened next? FY: I did an extensive round of edits with my agent. He then sent out my manuscript and it went to auction in multiple territories. JW: What happened at the auction?   FY: I had the wonderful privilege of speaking to several editors in both the United Kingdom and America, to find out if we shared similar visions for the manuscript. It was an exciting time. JW: You’ve had a multi-hyphenate career, including working as a radioactive-cell biologist, a war historian, and a technology journalist. How have your different career paths informed your writing? FY: I have drawn on technical elements and knowledge from the professional orbits I\'ve moved through. I have also incorporated sensory details from these worlds. My second novel \'Future Perfect\' combines high fashion with technology; the book is set in the near future where computers will be able to predict how we will live and when we will die. The first chapter is told by a model who carries a bomb down a catwalk in Manhattan. I used to be a runway model and wrote quite a few articles on detection/prediction technologies for The Economist in the past. \'Yesterday\' contains spoof academic papers and science articles in the house styles of the publications I have contributed to. Nothing in life is ever wasted when it comes to writing. JW: Do you have any tips for balancing writing alongside other, seemingly divergent pursuits? FY: My unorthodox pursuits have stemmed from curiosity; I’m fascinated by the delicious possibilities out there, the things worth trying and doing. I’m convinced that divergent activities can enrich a person’s life (and one’s writing), especially the quirky ones. Life is too short not to be embraced fully. If one truly enjoys one’s pursuits, balance will come naturally. JW: Your writing balances being very high concept whilst at the same time achieving the complexity of a murder mystery. How do you approach this? FY: I normally begin with the concept and iron out the details later. Both my novels were inspired by conundrums, questions I knew I would be happy spending two years of my life figuring out the answers to. \'Yesterday\' grew out of the question: ‘How do you solve a murder if you only remember yesterday?’ While \'Future Perfect\' was inspired by the concept: ‘What if today were your last day?’ Yet, high concepts are merely empty canvases on which to hang narratives. What makes a story sparkle are the tiny yet lively details that populate it. JW: Is your writing more research-driven or informed by the experiences you’ve already had? FY: All my writing is informed by personal experience, the things I have done or encountered  (or eavesdropped on). I try to set my stories in places that I have visited before or know well. This is because the five senses are crucial in the art of storytelling, especially their rich alchemy. Stories come alive when readers can feel, touch, hear, taste and see what the characters are experiencing. I believe that one can only write about the five senses convincingly if one has experienced them in the magical amalgamation unique to a particular location. I also do a lot of research but only after I have completed the first drafts of my manuscripts. It helps to know what you don’t know, so that you can ask the right people the right sort of questions. \"High concepts are merely empty canvases on which to hang narratives. What makes a story sparkle are the tiny yet lively details that populate it.\" JW: Do you think that your experience as a journalist had an impact on your writing? FY: Most certainly. The first paragraph of The Economist Style Guide continues to resonate with me. It says: “Clarity of writing usually follows clarity of thought. So think what you want to say, then say it as simply as possible.” JW: Were there any other resources you found helpful along the way? I did a couple of writing courses; they helped me understand the basic ‘rules’ of storytelling and gave me some appreciation of form, structure, and technique. It helps to know the rules if you hope to break them. More importantly, the courses put me in touch with other writers. Many of my classmates have since become good friends and we still send our works-in-progress to each other for critical feedback. \"It helps to know the rules if you hope to break them.\" JW: What are you working on next? FY: I wish I could tell you but I’m afraid it might jinx what I’m currently working on. Even my long-suffering partner Alex hasn’t got a clue! About Felicia Felicia Yap is the author of the speculative literary thrillers \'Future Perfect\' and \'Yesterday\', published in multiple languages around the world. She has worked as a radioactive-cell biologist, a war historian, a university lecturer, a technology journalist, a theatre critic, a flea-market trader, and a catwalk model. Read more about Felicia Yap on her website. FUTURE PERFECT YESTERDAY Follow Felicia Yap on Twitter at @FeliciaMYap

The 20 Best Children’s Book Publishers In 2023

It isn’t easy, to become a children’s book author. From deciphering endless submission requirements to learning that your dream children\'s book publisher doesn’t accept submissions from authors without an agent, it can be difficult finding the right home for your work. In this article, I will endeavour to make the process of getting a children’s book published a bit clearer for you, as well as include my top picks for children’s book publishers. Because let’s face it, there are a lot of options out there, and you should be armed with the best possible knowledge out there. You’ll learn the submission requirements for some of the top children’s book publishers, as well as some examples of children’s books these companies have already published so that you can choose a publisher that aligns with your current book.  Still plotting your next book and unsure if you are writing at a level that’s optimal for children? I encourage you to read our existing post regarding everything you need to know about creating a children’s book, from start to finish! Now, onto the publishers. Best Children’s Book Publishers Before I discuss some of the top children’s book publishers and their most successful children’s books, I should note that not all children’s book publishers accept submissions directly from authors. Some only accept submissions from literary agents, and you should keep this in mind before falling in love with any one publisher. It is also important to know which category your work falls under. While this may not seem necessary right away, some publishers may only be looking for certain submissions at certain times. And some children’s book publishers may not even accept certain varieties of children’s books.  The most common submission types are as follows:  Children’s fiction Children’s non-fiction Children’s picture books/board books Of course, you can also further divide children\'s fiction and nonfiction by age group/demographic (middle grade fiction and nonfiction, YA/young adult books, chapter books etc), and by genre too (fantasy, action/adventure, romance etc) which further complicates the process of researching children\'s book publishers. If you are unsure if your current manuscript meets any of these categories, you may wish to consider our Children’s Manuscript Assessment program. Through this editing service, our  team of editors will read your entire manuscript and give you structured editorial feedback that you can use to craft your work into shape. If your editor thinks your work is ready, we’ll also help you find the right agent, for free. Now, let’s get onto the children\'s book publishers. Keep in mind that the following is only a summary list of some of the best children’s book publishers and that many more exist. I do hope that one of these choices suits your publishing needs perfectly! 1. Bloomsbury Children’s Books USA With offices around the world and prominent publishing houses in both the US and the UK, Bloomsbury Books is a top contender for children’s book publishing. Established in 1986, Bloomsbury has many popular children’s book authors across every age group. Their YA fiction has grown increasingly popular, their authors often topping the New York Times Bestseller list. Their kid’s division covers all books for any age, from picture books to young adult novels. Bloomsbury is known for publishing high fantasy YA fiction and heartwarming tales that help provide kid-friendly entry points into emotional intelligence topics. Some of their most popular authors and series are Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival and Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer.  The unfortunate news is that, unless you have a YA book ready to go, Bloomsbury only accepts submissions from a literary agent. However, feel free to take a look at their website for any more useful information, including their various adult and children’s book authors. 2. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, known as HMH for short, has gone through a few changes in its recent past. Now known as either Clarion Books or Mariner Books, this company has been a mainstay in children’s publishing since 1832. From board books to graphic novels, HMH publishes just about any children’s book you can think of. HMH has worked hard to develop programs for more unique voices in publishing, including new authors in their children’s publishing division. Entitled VERSIFY, this fantastic publishing program reflects a need for accessible and powerful prose and poetry—in children’s picture books, novels, and nonfiction. HMH strives to publish work that can celebrate the lives and reflect the possibilities of all children. For the most part, HMH is an agent-only submission publishing house. However, their VERSIFY program does accept unsolicited submissions during certain parts of the year. Learn more about HMH and its various submission opportunities here.  3. Holiday House Established in 1935 as a publishing company for young readers, Holiday House is a wonderful organization to submit your children’s book to. Their books are processed and distributed as a division of Penguin Random House, and they publish children’s books from ages 4 and up. From picture books to nonfiction informational handbooks, they are publishing some of the most creative and educational children’s books out there. Given their commitment to education and teaching children about major childhood themes, their website’s search engine for currently published books is in-depth and informative. From young readers books such as Lunch Box Bully by Hans Wilhelm to riveting and humorous YA fantasy like the Devil series by Donna Hosie, Holiday House no doubt publishes something for every kid in your life. Holiday House does indeed accept unsolicited submissions, which is great news for those of you without an agent. They don’t have the time to respond to every submission that they receive, but they will of course reach out if your manuscript interests them. You can learn more about their variety of books, list of awards received, and their submission process here.  4. Chicago Review Press An independent publisher founded in 1973, the Chicago Review Press strictly publishes nonfiction, including an award-winning selection of children’s nonfiction. They are firm in their desire when it comes to children’s picture books: they do not accept them, whether fiction or nonfiction. However, that doesn’t mean you are completely out of luck. If you have a fantastic nonfiction book for children, their submission process is clear and easy to follow on their website! While nonfiction children’s activity books are their bread and butter, their topics range broadly, from the history of American environmentalism all the way to Salvador Dali. There are a lot of perks to publishing with a small independent publisher, including the fact that they accept unsolicited submissions without an agent. If your book fits the niche that is the Chicago Review Press, they are an award-winning publisher that would be happy to have your nonfiction children’s workbook! 5. Flashlight Press Looking for another publisher searching for very specific submission guidelines? Check out the specificity needed from Flashlight Press, a children’s book publisher hunting exclusively for books that explore and illuminate the touching and humorous moments of family situations and social interactions through captivating writing and outstanding illustrations. What does this mean, exactly? Well, if your book targets 4–8 year olds, is under 1000 words, and has a universal theme fitting with many other Flashlight Press titles, you may have found a home for your book! Their titles vary wildly in themes, but all of them have to do with childhood themes and concerns. All of the books tend to tackle these themes with a sense of humor, such as I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll, and Carla’s Sandwich by Debbie Herman.  So long as you are familiar with the rest of Flashlight Press’s work and think your book has a similar thematic feel, their submission process is easy. Feel free to submit without an agent too, and check out Flashlight’s website here. 6. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing An American publishing company started in 1924, Simon & Schuster is a powerhouse, capable of publishing 2,000 titles annually under 35 different imprints. Their children’s publishing division is just as lauded and award winning, and they publish just about anything ages 0-12 as well as everything young adult.  There’s no shortage of award-winning selections published by Simon & Schuster, including the ever-popular To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series by Jenny Han, and the City Spies series by James Ponti. Simon & Schuster may not be the easiest publishing company to publish with for your first book, especially because they don’t accept submissions without an agent. However, they should definitely be a publishing company to reach for as you grow as a children’s author! Learn more about them here. 7. Chronicle Books San Francisco-based favorite Chronicle Books has a wonderful eye for the unique and aesthetic storyteller. Their children’s books are beloved and unique, and this small independent publisher receives more than 1,000 submissions a month for their YA department alone! They publish most children’s books ideas, including activity books, art books, board books, picture books, chapter books, young adult, games, and gift and stationery items. While they accept a wide variety of children’s publishing themes, it is important to note that, since Chronicle receives so many submissions, they are hoping for the most unique and innovative stories out there. No pressure, right? At any rate, check out their submission process and desires here! 8. Ladybird Books UK-based and another division of the Penguin Group, Ladybird books is perfect if you’ve got a bedtime story to tell. Their lineup of children’s books is primarily geared toward younger audiences, from toddlers to roughly age ten. They have many award winning series published under their name, including many Peppa Pig books.  Their offerings also include a long list of informative nonfiction titles, such as books about the human body and our natural world. While publishing for any division of Penguin may seem complicated at first, they have provided an easy to read guide regarding their submission process. I believe having an agent would be useful if you are hoping to submit to any Penguin Group.  9. Quirk Books Looking for a smaller publishing agency for your unique and captivating children’s book? Publishing only around 25 books a year, Quirk Books is based in Philadelphia and is searching for the most original, cool, and fun ideas out there. Is your book creative enough for Quirk? It’s one of my favorite publishing companies, having taken the helm on series such as the Miss Peregrine anthology by Ransom Riggs. Quirk Books has a very informative and helpful submission page, found here. They have clearly outlined books that they are interested in, as well as appropriate emails for your submissions. From popular YA series to nonfiction books for young readers, Quirk publishes just about anything, so long as it’s quirky. 10. August House Publishers A more traditional publishing company, August House Publishers are seeking children’s book authors committed to folktales, diverse and memorable. They enjoy stories from many diverse backgrounds, as well as stories that work well as oral tales, stories meant to be passed on from generation to generation. They also have a soft spot for scary stories and stories that can be used in a classroom environment.  August House is committed to children’s publishing, and there’s no shortage of awards gifted to them for such a commitment. If you have a picture book made especially for young readers or a story related to folktales, stories from the oral tradition, stories from diverse cultures, scary stories and resource books about using stories or storytelling in the classroom, August House Publishers may be the right choice for you. You can email them and learn more about their submission process here. More Great Children\'s Book Publishers 11. Macmillan Children\'s Books 12. Hot Key Books 13. David Fickling Books 14. Balzer And Bray 15. Quarto Kids 16. Usborne Publishing 17. Hachette Children\'s Group 18. Little, Brown Books 19. Scholastic, Inc. 20. Lerner Publishing Group Frequently Asked Questions Who Is The Biggest Publisher Of Children\'s Books? There are several big children\'s book publishers, including: Bloomsbury; Simon & Schuster; Ladybird books; Macmillan Children\'s Books; Usborne Publishing; Hachette Children\'s Group; Scholastic, Inc.; and Little, Brown Books. How Do You Submit A Children\'s Book To A Publisher? To submit a children\'s book to a publisher, you first need to decide whether you want to find a literary agent first, contact the publisher directly (rare, but not impossible), or self-publish. It\'s helpful to do some research beforehand to find out where your book fits in the market (in terms of age range, genre, hook etc). Then, ensure your manuscript is as well-edited and finely tuned as you can make it, and then proceed to query agents, contact publishers, or begin the self-publishing process; whichever is applicable. Make sure that you carefully read the agent\'s/publisher\'s submission guidelines before sending your work to them. How Long Does It Take To Publish A Children\'s Book? As with any book, it can take quite a while to publish a children\'s book. Between coming up with the initial idea, planning, writing, researching, editing, and contacting literary agents/publishers or self-publishing, it requires a lot of time and effort. How much time varies widely on a case-by-case basis, but, from start to finish, it generally takes around 1-3 years. Of course, this is an approximation, and some books are published in far less time, while others take much longer to be published. Whether you choose to be traditionally published or self-published also makes a big difference. How Much Do You Make Selling A Children\'s Book? How much authors make from writing a children\'s book depends on whether they\'ve already published successful books or have an existing audience, whether they have foreign rights, and even things like how recently the book was released can affect sales figures. Writers generally get an advance; the amount of which can vary based on the popularity of the book\'s topic, whether they\'re a first time author or an experienced one, and many other factors. If the book has illustrations, the author will split the royalties with the illustrator (unless the author is also the illustrator), so they will both get around 3.5-6% of the book\'s sale price, rather than 7-10% royalites for the author of a non-illustrated children\'s book. If you have an agent, a proportion of your royalties will also go to them. Conclusion While I hope you found a few excellent children’s book publishers from this list, do keep in mind that there are many more that are worth your consideration. Whether you have an agent or not, there are always publishers seeking the best new stories out there. Yours could very well be one of them! What are some of your top publisher picks for your children’s book? Are you still crafting your book? I encourage you to take some time exploring our website for many publishing resources, and perhaps consider joining the world’s leading online writers club! Happy writing!

Aliya Ali-Afzal on working with her agent & choosing a publisher at an auction

Aliya Ali-Afzal became a member of Jericho Writers in 2019, signing with her agent in 2020. Aliya’s debut novel, ‘Would I Lie to You?’, will be published by Head of Zeus in the UK and Grand Central Publishing in the US in July 2021. Having already proven to be in-demand at auction, it looks set to be incredibly popular. Aliya is represented by Juliet Mushens of Mushens Entertainment. We spoke to her about the working relationship between author and agent, and the surreal experience of choosing a publisher from an online auction.   JW: Hi Aliya! Great to talk to you. We’re really intrigued by the concept of your debut - where did the inspiration for ‘Would I Lie to You?’ come from?  AA: The initial inspiration came from something that happened in my own life. I had been on a big spending spree, and when I got home, my husband called to say he had lost his job. I felt a surge of panic - then guilt - as I thought about all the money I had spent, especially as my husband didn’t know about it. This sparked the idea about what would happen if someone had spent a lot more in secret, and unless they could put that money back quickly, they risked losing everything.  I’m fascinated by human nature and when I worked in London as a career and life coach, I saw how people’s sense of self can sometimes get caught up with how much they earn and what they have, rather than who they are. I also wanted to explore what happens after someone makes a terrible mistake. Can we ever put things right and can others ever forgive us?   JW: How did Jericho Writers membership help you with your writing journey?  AA: I became a member of Jericho Writers in the Spring of 2019, when I had just started editing my novel. I listened to every single podcast and video in the resource library! There’s a really broad range of topics covered including plot, characterisation, editing, writing cover letters and synopsis. I also loved watching Slushpile Live.  In September 2019, I attended the Festival of Writing in York for the first time and loved the panels and workshops. In my one-to-one session the agent asked for the full manuscript, which was an incredible boost for my confidence. It was also very helpful meeting other writers who shared their experience and tips about the submissions process. I felt inspired by hearing stories about writers who had found agents, after countless rejections!  All these things helped enormously when I started submitting in November 2019 - which resulted in me signing up with Juliet Mushens in January 2020. I would recommend that writers sign up with Jericho Writers immediately!  \"I became a member of Jericho Writers in the Spring of 2019, when I had just started editing my novel. I listened to every single podcast and video in the resource library!\" JW: In what ways have writing groups helped you along in your journey to publication?  AA: Our group meets every fortnight to give honest feedback, help with plot ideas, synopsis, advice on cover letters, agents, and publication. We also provide each other with that other vital ingredient for writers- moral support! The group has been invaluable and feels like having my own personal hotline whenever I need help!  Knowing each other’s work intimately, we feel comfortable enough to point out things that could be improved or are not working. By workshopping regularly, we also shift the focus from writing being ‘good’ or ‘bad’, to work that is simply being edited and improved. This is an important distinction. As well as learning how to give clear, productive feedback, it is important to know how to receive and process feedback too. Over the years, I’ve almost developed an intuition about which feedback I want to take on (often something that most people in the group agree on), and which elements of the feedback I disagree with. After a while, you learn to trust your own instincts as well, and it is important to be able to reject feedback sometimes too, even if you value and accept it most of the time.  \"[We] provide each other with that other vital ingredient for writers- moral support! The group has been invaluable and feels like having my own personal hotline whenever I need help!\" JW: Can you tell us about how you found representation with Juliet Mushens?  AA: Juliet was my dream agent and there were several reasons why she was at the top of my list. I knew that she represented some incredible writers, who all raved about what a great agent she was. She was super successful and brilliant at her job, but also seemed very passionate about it, which I admired. I followed her on Twitter and found that we shared a similar sense of humour and a love of beautiful dresses, which also convinced me that she would be my perfect agent!  I attended an excellent Guardian masterclass that she presented on how to find an agent, but was too shy to go and introduce myself or even ask a question. I did, however, take lots of notes! By the time I submitted to Juliet via the slush pile, I had done months of research about her wish list and wrote a targeted and personalised cover letter. Juliet asked for the full manuscript the same day that I submitted to her. Five days later, she emailed me to offer representation. It was, without doubt, the best email I had ever received in my life!  In total I submitted to five agents and it took me seven weeks to find representation. I had expected it to take months, even years, so I was blown away at the speed at which it all happened. Some of this was of course down to luck and timing too, but I think it also helped that I did months of research, preparation and hard work before I started to submit. JW: What’s your working relationship with your agent like? What do you think are the benefits of having an agent?  AA: Juliet is an incredible, extraordinary agent. Despite being insanely busy, she is always available for me and makes me feel as if I am her only client! She is direct and honest in her communication and I love that – I\'m the same and I feel comfortable saying what I think to her. We also instantly got on when we met, so I really enjoy working with her too.  The most valuable aspect of having Juliet as my agent is that I absolutely trust her opinion on both business and creative matters. I have consulted her throughout the publication process and value her advice. This is especially important as a debut, when you can feel out of your depth.  Juliet is also a brilliant editor, and gave me extensive editorial feedback. I love brainstorming with her, and it helps that we are both obsessed with working on the manuscript until it\'s perfect, however many rounds of edits it takes!  \"Juliet asked for the full manuscript the same day that I submitted to her. Five days later, she emailed me to offer representation. It was, without doubt, the best email I had ever received in my life!\" JW: Can you describe the auction?  AA: It was a surreal and very exciting experience. Under normal circumstances, we would have visited each publisher’s offices for the auction, but under lockdown, everything took place on Zoom. Each publisher’s entire team- editorial, marketing and publicity - pitched to me and Juliet, showing us presentations about their publication plans and creative visions for ‘Would I Lie to You?’ We also chatted to see how we got on.  After years of wondering if I would ever get an agent or any interest at all from a publisher, I suddenly had three publishers, each wanting me to choose them! It was a great feeling to have these amazing publishers telling me how much they loved my writing and discussing my characters with me. It boosted my confidence enormously, both in my writing and in my story. Juliet debriefed me after each pitch and outlined all the factors I needed to consider before making my decision.  JW: Do you have one last piece of advice for the JW members?  AA: Prepare, prepare, prepare, before you start to submit!    About Aliya   Aliya Ali-Afzal is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London, and studied Russian and German at University College London. She is an Alum of the Curtis Brown Creative novel-writing course. Aliya lives in London and is a career and life coach.   Get Would I Lie to You? from Waterstones From Bookshop.org From Amazon Follow Aliya on Twitter: @AAAiswriting 
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