SPECIAL FEATURE Q&A with Eleanor Collins

Eleanor Collins, Editorial Director at Floris Books, talks publishing, submissions, competitions and promotion with SCBWI SE Scotland Network Organiser, Elizabeth Frattaroli.

Last month the SCBWI SE Scotland network were delighted to welcome Eleanor Collins of Floris Books along to their Winter Social. Afterwards, Elizabeth Frattaroli had a chance to ask her about her work in children’s publishing.

Eleanor Collins is Editorial Director at Floris Books in Edinburgh, Scotland's largest children's publisher. She is an experienced editor of quality children's and adult fiction and non-fiction, and has worked in UK and Australian publishing. She has a GradDip in Publishing and Editing, and her doctoral research let her read lots of novels and narrative theory.

EF What do you most enjoy about working in children’s publishing?

EC The plotting. I have worked in adult fiction, which has its own real satisfactions, but the big difference editing children’s stories is that they must have compelling plots. The young are wonderfully unforgiving readers.

Also, picture books. They are their own beautifully condensed literary form, like haiku. (In a way.)

I also work with creative, generous, motivated people – the team at Floris Books, our authors and illustrators, and the literary community in Scotland.

That was three ‘mosts’, sorry!

EF You have worked with a number of debut authors, both through direct submissions to you and by discovering them via the Kelpies Book Prize, which is now in its 14th year. What makes something jump out at you (for the right reasons?)

EC Voice. I want the voice that speaks to me, whether it’s a character or a narrator, to feel immediately real, to draw me in. Then there’s the book concept. Sometimes someone just has a great idea for a plot or a book. And also, humour. Laughing out loud when you read is rare and delicious.

EF And is there anything that would put you off a submission straight away?

EC Starting the cover letter 'Dear Sirs'. (Yes, I have received this.)

I would also be put off by explain-y writing – doing all the world-building up front. Other turn offs would include extended description, unless it’s brilliant, introducing ten characters in the first chapter, or flat prose.

EF Is there a particular story or genre that Floris books are looking for at present?

EC There is no story or genre we’re not looking for. What do we love? Magical adventure; evocative literary brilliance; sharp contemporary social realism; map-cap punning humour; epic journeys; characters to die for.

EF The Kelpies Prize 2019 is open to entries from writers based in Scotland until the end of February 2019; what do you think that you and other publishers get out of running a competition compared to taking submissions in the regular way?

EC Excitement! The prize is a real thrill for us, for the shortlisted authors, for readers.

Floris is absolutely committed to publishing new voices for children. The Kelpies Prize guarantees that commitment and gives it focus. Brand new names are a risk for publishers, but we have found many of our best authors through the Kelpies Prize.

EF The format has also changed this year, with more of a focus on finding a writer rather than a book, and you ask entrants to mention any skills that will help them to build a readership for their writing. How important do you think a social media platform is for example, for writers today?

EC Writing a book is engrossing and challenging, so it’s easy to forget that’s only half the job: after publication, connecting with your readership is vital. Social media is a handy tool for this, but of course it also has downsides– it can soak up writers’ time.

Strong promotion takes many forms: school visits, contact with traditional media, book festivals, reaching out to booksellers. The Floris sales and marketing team supports the Kelpies Prize winner in finding their promotional strengths.

EF And finally, if you were to offer one piece of advice for anyone writing for children, what would it be?

EC Read. Re-read what you loved as a child. Read what children around you are reading.

We’d like to thank Eleanor for being so generous with her time and supportive of children’s writers in general. SCBWI SE Scotland has a fantastic record with the Kelpies Prize, and two past winners, Lindsay Littleson (right) and Elizabeth Ezra (left) were at the Social, along with a previous runner up, Justin Davies.

The Kelpies Illustration Prize runs alongside the Kelpies Prize and is open to illustrators and designers in Scotland. Floris Books is always on the lookout for new and talented artists who want to work with children's books. Like the Kelpies Prize for new children's writing, the Illustration Prize closes on February 28th 2019.

Elizabeth Frattaroli is joint network coordinator of the SE Scotland branch of SCBWI and is an award-winning writer for children and young adults. Her first MG children’s novel, Pathfinder 13, won the 2016 T.C Farries Trophy at the Scottish Association of Writers annual conference, and she has previously been shortlisted for The Greenhouse Funny Prize Award with one of her picture book texts, and longlisted in The Bath Children’s Novel Award with her first YA novel, 16. You can find Elizabeth on Twitter

No comments:

We love comments and really appreciate the time it takes to leave one.
Interesting and pithy reactions to a post are brilliant but we also LOVE it when people just say they've read and enjoyed.
We've made it easy to comment by losing the 'are you human?' test, which means we get a lot of spam. Fortunately, Blogger recognises these, so most, if not all, anonymous comments are deleted without reading.

Words & Pictures is the Online Magazine of SCBWI British Isles. Powered by Blogger.