I was at an excellent event at the Dublin Book Festival today and I took some notes just for you. They are particularly relevant if you are writing for children or teenagers. As you may know, it's my area and I love sharing news about the children's book world, especially good news. And there was lots of good news at this event.
Grainne Clear from Little Island Books
To be accurate I was at the first 1/2 of the event (I had to talk at my own event after that) - Meet the Publishers and Agents with Grainne Clear from Little Island Books, Sarah Davis-Goff from Tramp Press, Nicki Howard from Gill and Macmillan (soon to be just Gill) and Peter O'Connell (ex Liberties and now book pr). Sadly I missed the second part - with the agents.
Grainne Clear gave an excellent talk about the children's book world and Little Island Books in particular. She reads chapter 1 of a submission (and yes, they take unsolicited) and then the start of the next few chapters - to see how the story progresses. If she likes what she reads, she asks to see the whole book.
90% of their sales are printed books (not e books - most young children up to age 12 are not ebook readers).
Her job is not to give you feedback on an early draft - so don't send first drafts or ideas. She wants to see finished books which have been worked on.
She likes honesty and personality in a cover letter.
Nicki Howard, Gill and Macmillan
Nicki explained that Gill and Macmillan publish Irish interest books, mainly non fiction but are NOW ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR CHILDREN'S NON FICTION AND FICTION. This is great news for children's writers. They also accept unsolicited manuscripts.
She said 'publishing adds value to the space between the writer and the reader'.
Sarah Davis-Goff from Tramp Press
Sarah Davis-Goff from Tramp Press is looking for 'stonkingly brilliant fiction', including genre fiction and YA. She also gave a thumbs up to unsolicited manuscripts.
She hates submission letters that begin 'Dear Sir' as Tramp Press is run by two women! Little Island Books also.
All three women said that your cover letter is your calling card and to work on it and make it great.
Tramp Books - they would consider a debut novel a success if it sold 2k copies in a year
Gill and Macmillan - would look for at least 5k sales for a title over a year (but some of their books, like the Neven Maguire cook books would sell up to 10k a year, and The Pope's Children by David McWilliams sold 100k)
Little Island - a debut novel would be deemed successful if it sold 1.5k to 2k over a year to 18 months - Grainne mentioned that they are looking for longevity in a title and said award winning novels have a good track record for them in the long term.
Thanks to Grainne, Sarah and Nicki for all the useful information. And great to hear Gill and Macmillan are now looking for children's fiction.
Yours in books,
PS I met a young man who is writing for teenagers - I asked him what he liked to read, he said he wasn't a big reader. NEVER SAY THIS TO ANYONE IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN GETTING PUBLISHED. Poor man, think I gave him a bit of an earful.
PPS If you are serious about getting published, www.writing.ie is a super website - do check it out.