I managed to catch the last NZ SCBWI conference of the year, last weekend, despite my having to work a few hours that day. So glad I did as Lorrain Day former Publishing Manager/Editor of Harper Collins NZ for 10 years, was the amazing guest speak
Once again I was reminded of what I had already learned, about what makes a great writer, (through Emma Walton Hamilton’s teleseminars she holds exclusively for her Children’s Book Hub members), and also the surprising differences between New Zealand and overseas publishers.
When Lorrain started at Harper Collins she had to fight to bring Children’s Book Publishing into the fore as there was little in the way of Children’s Books being published here. Due to her personal commitment there are many children’s book writers and new ones coming on. Having said this, Lorrain did mention that local publishing are going through difficult times at present, and children’s books are one’s that suffer first, being not investment heavy and classed as expensive to publish, due to illustrations, binding etc. that goes into them. It is also noted that good manuscripts are being turned down that otherwise would have been accepted 5 – 10 years ago.
In her thoughts on e-books, Lorrain felt, it will certainly expand readership and they are crying out for product and need good stories. Remembering that a very good story will always sell whether in hard back or e-book, for children still have to read.
In answering questions and what the writer needs to be aware I jotted down some quick notes…
-these days publishers here in New Zealand are competitive.
-product needs to be in the best possible shape as editors cannot afford the time to work on stories with an author. So, very little adjustment will appeal.
– Everyday issues are most popular
-New Zealand children it was noted are handling issues two or three years older than overseas children, such as UK and USA.
-12 -16 year olds are noted to be merging with YA and handling issues way more advanced. …examples are – Riddle of the Frozen Phantom, The Change Over, Kaitangata Twitch all by New Zealand author Margaret Mahy, among others mentioned.
– It was also noted 9 – 12year or chapter books were the easiest to publish.
– Picture books, while Lorrain loved them, are difficult to produce because of binding costs. Librarians insisting on non staples. Shelf space is also an issue.
– New Zealand publishing only something like 140 a year of children and YA books.
– publishers will at times put a well known illustrator with the unknown writer and this can help sell the book.
Some wonderful advice from Lorrain for the writer/illustrator…
– Make sure you have fun, enjoy it, otherwise stop writing, as it will show in your work.
– Make your story fun, exciting.
– Children enjoy the naughty, the extreme, mystery, laughter..etc.
– Make them want to turn the page, hook them with every page.
– don’t rhyme unless you can do it naturally.
– It is noted that grandparents are getting glasses so they can read to their grandchildren, so appeal has to be large.
– “Learning Media website” a great tool for free editing advice, and learning ones craft.
– Authors these days have to be performers when promoting their books; you are no longer just a writer.
Names of some great New Zealand writers who have a knack of being able to hold a class of children spellbound with their creative story telling and knowing how to interact with them. Their YA Books show great depth and factual substance along with trailers that draw the reader in, coupled with interesting resources are …. Brian Faulkner at http://www.brianfalkner.com/index.asp (interesting button, bottom left of his website) and Des Hunt at http://www.deshunt.com/#! To name a couple.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Lorrain‘s interesting overview on publishing in New Zealand (nursing a sore leg), she happily answered many questions, and very proudly showed off her husbands first Picture book “Bigger Digger” printed by 5Mile Press in Australia.
Delightful Rhyme text.