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 Picture Books, Middle Grade and Digital Stories
Michelle Nagler, Editorial Director at Bloomsbury Children’s Books is petite, energetic and talks with her hands. In spite of today’s economy, she’s very optimistic about the publishing industry.
Bloomsbury submission policy: Query; they will only respond if interested, so do not include a SASE. Be sure your contact info is on the cover letter.
- No new fantasy. Bloomsbury has done well with fantasy, which means it has a stable of fantasy writers already, so no new fantasy.
- Debuts. They get excited by debut authors.
- Funny, bold picture books. Picture books should be funny and bold and include a hook in the title, if possible.
- No early readers. They don’t do early readers.
- Short chapter market.They find the short chapter market to be very competitive.
- Early middle grade stories. Stories for this age, such as The Magic Half, by Annie Barrows, sell well for them.
- Tween, or upper middle grade (junior high) stories must have a strong hook. For example, Bloomsbury title, Boys Are Dogs, by Leslie Margolis, is described as a girl who uses a dog training manual to deal with boys.
- Historical fiction. They do some, but it’s mostly for girls, such as those by Celia Rees, or Ophelia by Lisa Klein.
- Edgy YA. Yes, especially with a voice that takes you back to high school.
Nagler’s Personal Likes & Wishes
- Hooks. Stories must have a hook: editorial hooks emphasize something in the text; marketing hooks emphasize a link to the market; hooks give the audience an “in” and helps marketing know how to do every book on her list justice in some way.
- Picture books. Bold & funny with a hook; snarky, offbeat, quirky.
- Chapter book series, even though it’s a very competitive market.
- Contemporary middle grade
- Digital tie ins such as the Bradford Girls (S&S) and 39 Clues (Scholastic)
- Literary stories
Nagler Does NOT Want to See
- Fantasy. High fantasy, though urban fantasy or magical realism might appeal to her.
- Slow paced stories.
- Narrow nonfiction.. Must have commercial appeal such as election, space. etc.