One main reason to attend a national conference is to meet editors, listen to how they describe their lists, and find out what they are looking for. Attendees are usually offered an opportunity to submit for a short period of time, even if the house policy is no unsolicited manuscripts.
Needs Contemporary, Upper Middle Grade and YA
Jennifer B. Greene, Senior Editor at Clarion Books (an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Children’s Books) talks fast and passionately about the books she has published.
Clarion’s submission policy: Open to unsolicited, but will not respond unless interested. Do not include an SASE. NO email submissions. Greene adds that personally, she’s not a fan of query letters, but would rather see the entire fiction manuscript. For nonfiction, she needs to see a detailed proposal with sample chapters. Be aware, though, that for a first contract with an author, Clarion wants to see a completed nonfiction manuscript.
She handed out a long list of books that she has edited, or wishes she has edited. Like many other editors, she looks for fresh, distinctive and original books.
- Preschool Picture books. Quirky & subversive, with illustrations that have vintage appeal. No bedtime stories. Books shouldn’t be for adults for should reflect the early experience of preschool or early elementary kids.
- Multicultural. Only 2 % of books feature Latino characters, yet our population has many bilingual families. Asian folktales, especially if they affirm our shared humanity.
- Nonfiction picture books. These are often for upper elementary students. Would like to see something on the topics of art, food, architecture, design.
- Nonfiction for older readers. Wide variety of nonfiction topics and biographies.
- Fiction. For either middle grade or YA readers, Greene looks for character oriented stories. Emotionally true. Not fast-paced action. Would like to see something in an alternate universe, apocalyptic stories, life after death. By or about emigres, especially India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Something that includes the clash of cultures.
Does NOT want to see
- Rhymed picture books
- Picture books written for adults instead of kids
- No mass market ideas.
- For historical fiction, setting is secondary to characters. Make sure it’s a character driven, literary story.
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