April 16, 2012

Straight From The Editor! #7 and Oh Susanna - Board Book Length? and Resubmission To Publishers?

Greetings from the old folks' home where some of us are a year older than we were last week :)

(That makes us 27 if anyone is counting... :))


My truly heartfelt thanks to all of you who took time out of your weekend to send me birthday wishes and read Eric's Happy Birthday Author post - you are all the BEST and I feel so lucky and grateful to be part of such a wonderful group of people!  Thank you, thank you, so very much!!!

Now (lest I become overly sentimental :)) we'd best move right ahead to Straight From The Editor!

You will recall Miranda's winning pitch:


Working Title:  Reef Stew
Age/Genre:  Rhyming Picture Book ages 4-8
The Pitch:  When a shipwreck destroys their reef, the shellfish grow selfish and every creature’s a crab.  Can Whale stir up happiness with a single piece of stony coral?  Filled with slurps, burps, and spicy sargassum, this quirky version of a classic tale will send ripples of laughter through any school of young guppies.


Here is editor Erin Molta's comment:

I actually don’t have anything to say about this except for one thing: What you have written is lyrical and inviting and gets the point across, but if you’re pitching a rhyming picture book then it would be great to show some rhyme  -- something to give an editor an idea of how you rhyme. Rhyming is not looked upon favorably, so either don’t tell them it’s rhyming because that might turn them off unnecessarily or show them example of how you rhyme.

Pretty interesting, don't you think?  Looks like y'all picked the right winner :) and I thought Erin's comment about the rhyme was intriguing.  I hope we all learned something!

Moving right along, let's jump on into Oh Susanna.  Today I'm actually going to answer two questions because they're pretty short.

First, Laura asked, "In regard to Children's Board Books -  Is there a magical number of pages required?  A minimum or maximum number (i.e. 32 pages for picture books)?

My answer to this question is that it depends on the publishing house/line you are writing for.  Board books have fewer spreads than picture books, as a general rule - they will not be 32 pages.  But I have seen them anywhere from 6 or 8 pages up to about 20.  So go to your local library or bookstore and look at a selection of board books.  Count the spreads/pages and make yourself a chart - for example, Little Simon's board books tend to be about 8 spreads/16 pages.  This will help you on two levels: one, you will end up with a list of publishers who publish board books (many of them do not so it's important to know who does), and two, you will have a good idea of the length each publisher/imprint leans toward so you can appropriately target your manuscript.

Second, Kirsten asked, "Can you ever approach a publisher more than once with the same piece. For example, if Publisher A rejects the piece, can you resubmit the same piece to Publisher A after you've made substantial rewrites and a substantial period of time has elapsed? Or is it "one strike and you're out" for each manuscript?"

Hmmm.... this is a bit tricky.  I would say "one strike you're out" as a general rule.  If you've submitted and your manuscript has been read and passed on (that's the euphemism for rejected :)), your work there (with that particular MS) is done and it's time to move on to another publisher.

The exceptions to this rule would be:

1.  You submitted to Editor A at Publishing House A.  After some time and substantial rewrites that make your MS much stronger, Editor A leaves Publishing House A and is replaced by new Editor B who has never seen your MS.  If you still feel Publishing House A is a great fit for your book, you could try Editor B.  (This is not the same as resubmitting your MS to another editor in the same house.  Presumably you selected Editor A because s/he was involved with the imprint most suited to your work, so you wouldn't resubmit to editors of other less well-suited imprints of the house just to get another editor's eyes on your MS.  For example, you submit to the editor at Little Simon.  If she turns you down you wouldn't turn around and resubmit to another editor at Little Simon or to an editor at Beach Lane (another S&S children's imprint.))

2.  When you submitted to Publishing House A, they rejected your MS but indicated interest, saying they would like to see it again if you change X, Y, and Z.  In that case you could make changes and resubmit as soon as you comfortably could.

That is what I think, Kirsten, but I would be very interested to hear what some of you other experienced writers think about this subject, so please share your wisdom with all of us in the comments!

Kirsten or Laura, if you have follow up questions or anything I said wasn't clear, please pursue it in the comments!!

Finally, in Phyllis Tour Update News, I'd like to point you all toward Kathy's brand new blog where Phyllis visited Vermont, and Julie's blog which posts about Phyllis's visit to Colorado!  Please stop by when you have a second and share the love :)

Also, Phyllis took the liberty of posting a picture of her Kiwi Bird friend on Face Book (he arrived on Blueberry Hill all the way from New Zealand courtesy of Diane!) and Donna, being an alert sort even at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning, immediately suggested we have a contest to decide on a name for the bird.  You all know how I can't resist a contest, so later today (or at some point when I get around to it) when I have had my coffee and we are all feeling as alert as Donna, I will post the contest on Phyllis's FB page and everyone can put in their 2 cents :)  You may put your two cents here in the comments as to what you'd like the prize for the winner to be!

Now, I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting something (you see, this is what happens when advanced age sets in :)) but since I can't think what it is, off you all go to enjoy your Mondays.  Have a lovely day! :)
Reactions:

49 comments:

  1. Super helpful editor's comment, as always. We should have thought about adding rhyme to the pitch!

    Will be thinking about the Kiwi bird's name during the day and will post on FB tonight.

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  2. Happy (late) birthday Ms. Hill! It's interesting how publishing houses work. Thanks for answering the questions in great detail! :)

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  3. Catherine JohnsonApril 16, 2012 at 7:31 AM

    You are funny! So glad you enjoyed your birthday weekend and that photo contest sounds fun. That pitch feedback is great, thanks so much for sharing!
    As for not sending back to a publisher, would you say the same for an agent too?

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  4. I was just wondering about the board book question! Thanks for answering this. I have an idea in my mind for a board book but didn't know how many pages to work on. I counted a few at our house and they were all different. I think I will work for 8 spreads! Thank you!

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  5. Lol...Susanna, I'm an early bird...if I would have read your post late at night I probably wouldn't have been so quick with the contest suggestion...;0)

    Donna L Martin
    www.donasdays.blogspot.com

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  6. Thanks so much for the birthday wishes, Erik! And I'm glad if you found the answers interesting!

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  7. Happy birthday Susanna! Sorry I'm late--another side of advancing age :)

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  8. Thankyou for your information that was great. Glad also to hear Phyllis's playmate arrived safetly.... ohhh cool contest!

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  9. Susanna, that is very helpful. The change in editors was one of the few circumstances in which I thought it might be appropriate. My only other thought was, what if you alter the manuscript so much that it changes genres, for example taking something from a picture book to a chapter book. If the publishing house handles both, could you resubmit the book? And happy belated birthday! We were out of town, so I'm just catching up.

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  10. Fun post to catch up on things going on in your world! Love the comic!! I'm a little late to the "game," but if you don't mind, is Editor Erin Molta one of your editors? Which house is she with? Her comment is very interesting and informative!

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  11. I was off this weekend. (Riding Mister Ed, of course) HAPPY BIRTHDAY, pal. Hmmm. 27. *thumps fingers* Does a *wink* at Susanna. *ahem*

    Great questions, great answers. I'm thinking that when an agent rejects your query he/she is not really rejecting the story so you could in that case requery?? What say you, youngin'?

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  12. Sorry to be sending belated birthday wishes...but better late than never, I guess. :) Happy Birthday, Susanna...27...hmmmm...one of my favorite ages. :) :)

    Thank you for the editor comments...just like with books that give different parenting approaches, when we look at "picture books" or "board books", we see a wide range of "rules"...rhyming/not rhyming, text and illustrations/ illustrations only, 250 words, 500 words, 50 words, no words...perhaps what makes a children's book a great one is that everything works together to entertain and engage. Erin's tip on adding some of the rhyme in your pitch (if it is a rhyming book) is very helpful! Thanks for passing it along. :)

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  13. Erin was the first editor to buy one of my books! :) She picked up The House That Mack Built when she was at Little Simon. She has since moved on and now does freelance work, but she has TONS of experience!

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  14. Yes, I think that would be okay, Kirsten. And thanks for the b-day wishes :)

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  15. WHAT??? (deafness is another sign :)) Thank you, Coleen :)

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  16. Okay. Let me see. In the interest of being helpful, I have toddled over to my book shelf and grabbed a handful of board books.

    Katy Duck (Little Simon) 7 spreads
    Peek-a-who? (Chronicle) 10 spreads (but only about 10 words :))
    How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends? (The Blue Sky Press) 6 spreads
    Barnyard Dance (Workman Publishing) 10 spreads
    The Going To Bed Book (Little Simon) 6 1/2 spreads

    I know I have more board books, but they are packed away and i will have to rummage around. Hope this helps in the meantime :)

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  17. 27? Okay, if you say so... Is that in groundhog years? ;-)

    What a great point about the pitch! Erin really knows her stuff.

    I appreciate very much your answers about re-submitting. I think that would be very helpful information to share with our Children's Book Hub people, so I'll be linking to this post in the Hub FB Group.

    Thanks, Susanna!

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  18. I already know your vote is for Tamie (is that pronounced Tammy or Tame-y?) and do you think the Kiwi is a boy or a girl?

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  19. Pronounced Tame-y. And it is a boy..lol.
    mmm .... there are other names.... like Kiki that's a good one... I'll add that...

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  20. Thanks Catherine :) And yes, I think i would say the same for an agent, but I don't have a lot of experience with that. Anyone? Anyone?

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  21. Are you suggesting that I am not 27? Perhaps you're right. I may only be 25 :) Glad you found the post helpful, and thanks for sharing with CBH!

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  22. Thank you for the wishes, Vivian :) and yes 27 is one of my favorite ages - I think this is my ninth time being 27 :) (I spent some extra years at 21, 24, and 25 also :)) Glad if the post was helpful :)

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  23. Thank you, Jarm! And you are so right! I spend a lot of time being 3, 4 and 5 :)

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  24. Really great advice on the pitch- which was terrific to start with.
    And, as always your publishing answers are well-considered and thorough. I can't think of anything to add :-)

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  25. Wonderful information on the pitch! So good to know. :) And I love that comic at the top! Hilarious!

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  26. I find it interesting to hear that a rhyming ms should not be mentioned as such in a query to no ruin chances of them requesting. Thanks.

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  27. I get the feeling you're suggesting I may not be 27... :) About agents, I still don't think I'd requery the same story with the same agent, if that's what you mean....

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  28. I'm an early bird too, and I LOVE your suggestion :)

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  29. Susanna, I found your point interesting about not submitting to two imprints within the same publishing house. Does that mean editors from different imprints talk to each other? Where editor at imprint A says, I like the book but it doesn't fit our list and recommends editor at imprint B take a look.

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  30. What? I missed your birthday =( *hangs head in shame*
    Happy belated birthday, Susanna! I do hope it was grand!!

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  31. Found your comments interesting. But, with all of the thousands of MS the read, I would think it would be hard to remember a story. Doesn't mean you can't submit a different manuscript.

    You're not goint to be able to live with Phyllis when she returns home after all of her adventures. But, she will certainly have a lot to say at your school visits.

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  32. Happy belated birthday, Susanna! I'm sorry I missed passing on my wishes before your special day ended.

    I can remember hearing a publisher at a conference say that if you have made significant changes and a reasonable amount of time has passed, go ahead and submit again. Chances are they won't remember they've rejected you before. I would've thought, though, that in this day and age, most publishers would keep databases listing the names and authors of manuscripts they've received. Whether that's true or not, I have no idea. :-)

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    1. What you're saying sounds totally logical, and I would think you're right. I just know that generally, protocol is don't resubmit unless you've been asked. But I'm sure there are situations where it would be appropriate.

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  33. Stina LindenblattApril 16, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    I know the rule with agents is no = no unless you are asked to do a revision request. With some agencies, a no from one agent means a no from all of them. This is where it gets frustrating, because you might have done substantial rewrites and another agent hasn't yet seen the story (unless the writing was strong and the ms was passed around but no one wanted to rep it in the end). For some agencies you can probably get away with redoing the query and renaming the book, then requery it to another agent there. Other agencies you can't get away with that.

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  34. Loved the question and the answer. Always find such good info on your blog Susanna. And that Phyllis...she is one traveling groundhog!

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  35. These are great questions and answers. Thank you Susanna. I so wish I had any experience to add to the answers, but alas, I do not. Loving the updates on Phyllis! I need to find that FB page.

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  36. Glad to hear you can't think of anything to add :) I wouldn't have wanted to leave out something important!

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  37. Glad if it was helpful Tracy and I bet you'll have all kinds of knowledge and experience before you know it!

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  38. So glad you like it Sharon, thanks! And yes - Phyllis is quite the globetrotter :)

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  39. Thanks for this very helpful info Stina - people were asking about agents!

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  40. Yes, of course you can submit a different MS - I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. you're just not supposed to resubmit the same one. And you are right about Phyllis! I'm going o have to think up another scheme to keep her occupied :)

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  41. Thank you for the b-day wishes - you are so kind! And don't worry about missing it - how could you know? I don't know when yours is! (That is a not so subtle hint :))

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  42. Editors from different imprints do talk to each other in many cases, and if an editor gets a story she likes that doesn't work for her line, she will often pass it along. Obviously, though, if she doesn't like it she won't.

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  43. Well, I think she meant one or the other - either don't mention it, or show an example of how well you do it!

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  44. Interesting point about whether to mentione rhyming or not. (Not that I would ever dare submit anything in rhyme). Great point about studying board books and noting publishers. I often look for agents mentioned in acknowledgements when I read novels or memoirs.

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  45. Penny KlostermannApril 17, 2012 at 8:34 AM

    Really good Oh Susanna! questions and answers. I am learning great information from this blog feature.
    And if you're in the old folks home...then I have one foot in the grave!
    Phyllis's stops were awesome. That puppet was the cutest thing ever!! I added to the name suggestions for Kiwi on FB!

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  46. One foot... you are so funny :) Glad you're enjoying everything and thanks for the name suggestions - very excellent!

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