Salmon Swimming In The Egmont River by Sarah Broadley - Part 1

Over the next three weeks, Sarah Broadley takes us behind the scenes at publishing house, Egmont. 

Today we get to hear about the editorial department and the publishing department. 

Secrets to the publishing world are kept behind doors that only the chosen few get to open. 

Every one of us longs to be picked, to be the given the key to that door so we can enter the magical land of publishing and see our blood, sweat and tears finally become a reality.

Thankfully, SCBWI BI's Non Pratt is on hand to help get us there. On a lovely mild night in London, an intrepid group of travellers were given the opportunity to see inside the gatekeeper's lair. Egmont publishing opened their doors and welcomed us in with open arms, tea and biscuits.

Greeted by a panel of experts from every department, we all took our seats and watched and listened as the editorial process through to publication was explained to the enthusiastic crowd.

Editorial – Robin Stevens, Assistant Editor

Robin, award-winning author and Assistant Editor, began with an introduction to her department. 

  • The Editorial department within a publishing house is your first point of contact. 
  • They are the first people to read your story. 
  • They will fight for you and your story when it's time to share it with their colleagues and they will hold your hand as you make your way through the acquisition process. 
  • They are a literary friendly face, if you will, to see you off on your book journey.

On to acquisitions. Perhaps considered the all-seeing oracle that can make or break your book deal, this is where you and your book will advance to the next level or head home with your head held high in the knowledge that your premise was interesting and has potential.

As most of us are aware, not many houses will consider unsolicited submissions. Egmont believes that having an agent is the right path to take. Through their close relationships with publishers and their specialised knowledge of the industry, your MS can reach editors that otherwise might not be open to you. But it's a personal decision only you can make.

What do Egmont look for in an author?

  • Enthusiasm 
  • A person who can talk about their book and who is willing to help them promote it. 
  • Once a book is published, the fun really starts - school visits, interviews, blog tours, press-releases etc... 
In an average year, a member of the editorial team will read hundreds of books. Several may be of further interest, but the department will only ultimately buy one or two. As Robin so eloquently put “.. be realistic, we are all salmon swimming up the same river...”Here's the editing journey your book will take:

  • First edit – in-depth analysis of character and plot.
  • Second edit – possibly completed by the same editor who did the first edit, getting more focused.
  • Line edit –This edit will be in-depth, focusing on word choice, and will involve a lot of detailed suggestions.
  • Copyedit – just when you think you've finally finished your book, you get the copyedit! This is a sense check as well as one final sentence check. 
  • Proof - will normally be sent as a PDF to you and will look like the pages of a book. This will be the first time you see your book in this form, and the last time you will be asked to work on it. 

Publishing - Melissa Fairley, Publishing Director

How do Egmont find new picture books?

  • Author or illustrator subs from agents
  • Author-illustrator subs from agents.
  • Editor pitches own concept to agents to find an author to develop it
  • Editor inspired by character created by an illustrator and looks for author to develop it
  • Graduation shows – great way of finding new talent
  • Unsolicited – very, very rare. 1 in 10 years!

“...In truth, you're better with an agent...”

Do your homework!

What market is my book for? UK/International/crossover? Where in the world could it go?

  • Rhyming or prose? Can be a challenge to get it translated but if you word your covering letter correctly, you can entice them to consider your story - when submitting add a statement along the lines of “I understand prose could be done internationally so I'm happy to send that in too…”
  • Word count – c 500 words for UK commercial texts; slightly longer for older picture books
  • Structure really matters to tell a good story in such few words – PB writers are amazing!

In 2014, only one new author partnership – Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter – broke into the Top 20 picture books. However there are plenty of international opportunities to reach the charts. The Snatchabook has been published in 18 languages, even though only 4,168 copies have been sold in the UK (via Nielsen).

Thank you Sarah for taking us behind the scenes. Also thanks to Non Pratt for organising this event in the first place. 
If you interested in attending a SCBWI Event, make sure you check out the What's On Page for more details on forthcoming events. 

Sarah is a Scottish writer with a passion for picture books, who also dabbles in middle grade, poetry and even the occasional story for adults. She’s been blogging at Great Big Jar for three years, and her posts are regularly featured on the Ten-Minute Blog Break. An active member of SCBWI South East Scotland, Sarah has a passion and enthusiasm for stories that is positively infectious! 


  1. Great write-up of the event! Thanks, Sarah!

  2. Great write up - was sad to have missed this one, do love a nose in a good lair! Thank you

  3. Thanks Sara - very interesting, great write up!

  4. Thanks– I was sorry I missed this and the write-up let me learn a bit anyway.

  5. Thanks– I was sorry I missed this and the write-up let me learn a bit anyway.


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