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The Right Product - Considerations When Submitting a Children's Book

The Right Product - Considerations When Submitting a Children's Book

 |  Author Academy


As a Commissioning Editor, there are many things to take into account before making a decision to offer a publishing contract. If it were only about the story and the illustrations, that would be easy. However, there is far more to it than that. This article is not about the quality of the writing, subject matter or illustrations but rather the commercial viability of a product. Yes, I said ‘product’. Although books are beautiful things, the elements laid out in this article need to be the first things you think about.  Maybe one of the reasons for writing a book is so that you, the author, can read to your child at bedtime or for a child to begin to learn to read. However, from a commercial standpoint, they are not reasons for us to publish a book.


The harsh truth of the matter is that a book is indeed a product, a product that is out there in the marketplace looking to be sold and to make money for a number of invested parties: the author, the publisher, the wholesaler, the bookstore. Then, there are the subsidiary rights to be sold on – it’s a big business. This is what we are looking at today, the commercial thought process and reasoning behind choosing a book to take to publication.



There is one main consideration to take into account: saleability. For a mainstream publishing house, that is looking to sell books in volume, we are judging the work on a few factors: the saleability of the work; what marketing options are open to us with the subject matter and the author; the available interest from bookstores, from the media and from the public. We must consider the quality of the product - which needs to be of a high standard - so that people wish to buy the book, put together with a competitive retail price in the market. There are various reasons why certain requests from authors to publish their book in a particular way cannot be met.


Many would like their work to be bound with gilt edges, with an embossed hardcover, 500 pages long and with 200 colour illustrations. Even though we would love to publish a beautiful piece like that, we would not consider it.




The retail price.


Of course, there are beautiful books like this: limited editions, collectable editions, etc. However, that comes with a high retail price. We are looking to sell children’s books, in quantity, and for our target audience of parents, relatives and children themselves. We are looking for work that is going to sell and be attractive to the general children’s book buyer. Therefore, the right retail price is incredibly important.




To enable us to do this, we have to work out the necessary characteristics for the book: the length of the work, the sizing, the paper type, hardcover or softcover, and how many illustrations. There has been numerous works that we have not been able to take on, due to the fact they are not commercially viable. It can be heartbreaking to have to reject beautiful work that does not meet these criteria.


All these things are good to be mindful of when submitting your work to a mainstream children’s publisher - if your work is rejected, remember it may not always be about the work itself but rather that it does not make a commercially viable product.


When we do find lovely written work, that has been beautifully illustrated and is the right length, with the right number of illustrations, it is an absolute joy. To be able to take that work on, knowing that once published, it has every chance of being the success it deserves to be, is why we love to publish children’s books.



Suzanne, Commissioning Editor





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