PICTURE BOOK KNOWHOW From Submission to Shelf

In this week’s Picture Book KnowHow, Kim Nye, editor at Maverick Arts Publishing, continues to share her tips on the big questions that plague us when we start thinking about picture books. This week, she shares the journey a picture book manuscript goes on to get from manuscript to bookshelf.

Knowing how a book is published can be the key to making your submission successful. But what exactly does happen? The process of having a book published can differ between publishing houses. Some publishers dig through piles of unsolicited manuscripts, some only accept proposals from agents, while others generate ideas in-house and actually come to you! There are a lot of different journeys a manuscript can go on to reach its home on the shelf, but this is how it works at Maverick.

The slush pile

We receive over 8,000 submissions a year, which is a daunting amount to read and reply to (especially as we are a small team and so have lots of things to juggle). It is, however, extremely exciting coming across something that has the potential to be a great book. Anything we like gets longlisted and taken to an editorial meeting where it is read out loud. Those that we like are shortlisted and often at this stage we contact the author to arrange a meeting. If that all goes swimmingly, then we work with the author on the text until we feel it is strong enough to layout for an illustrator.

Get it on the page

Laying out a text is when you can really see how the story works and decide on the pace using the page turns. Then comes the fun part ... commissioning an illustrator! We always have a sample page done so that we can decide on whether the illustrator’s style works with the story. This is an exciting moment!

Once an illustrator has been commissioned, they sketch out the book and we pop it in the layout. Then we send it on to the author, and we all make comments. Amendments are made and then we go to colour!

Pulling it together

During this time, we start working on the design bits and bobs such as cover, back cover, endpapers and title page. We work with both the author and illustrator on these as we want them to be perfect! At Maverick, collaboration is key, there is no such thing as too many cooks.

Once we have a cover and a few spreads, we can begin to market the book – pushing it everywhere!

Then colour work starts coming through and the book starts to take shape. Once it’s almost there, we have digital copies printed so that we can see the book as a book before pressing the button on a full print run (a very scary moment).

Obviously during all this time there is lots of proofreading, working with the author on any changes. Finally, it is ready to be sent off to print!

Home sweet home!

Then about three months later, the book arrives at our distributor after having sailed across the sea! Then at a specified day, the book is released into the world and voila, the book is published!

Feature image: from AdoraBULL, written by Alison Donald, illustrated by Alex Willmore

Kim Nye is editor at Maverick Arts Publishing. She is also a designer, IT expert and a jack-of-all trades. Just don't ask her to do maths! You can submit picture book stories to Kim here. (Read the guidelines!)

Twitter: @KimaraNye

1 comment:

  1. Hey guys, as a local budding picture book writer, this article has me envisioning recieving an email from Kim saying 'we enjoyed your Mr Smarty Pants story and would like to arrange a time to discuss in person!' Oh my days, what shall I wear?? Do I go quirky city geek or Huckleberry Finn nibbling a long sprig of wheat??? Hat or no hat?? The old brown satchel that was handed down from some estranged Uncle, that's coming for sure. I'd drive the Twizy up on the day, cool breeze and Weezers 'The Trouser song' playing for High Street wanderers to enjoy in. Then I wake up 😔. Jack Nosey, in Kenley, with his fingers crossed, realising he submitted to you in the wrong format arghhh!!!! Loved the article though, nice insight into the world.


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