Pub Rants

Children’s Scoop Continued

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STATUS: Tired and ready for bed. Folks. As a reminder. Most editors do not accept unsolicited queries/submissions and if you are interested in getting your work out there, your best bet is to research and target agents to submit your work.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? not listening at the moment

It’s late so I only have time for a quick blog entry. Today I had lunch with Wendy Loggia from Delacorte (a children’s imprint at Random House).

We ate at the yummy Ruby Foo’s on Broadway (which is an editor hang out by the way). You can always spot publishing folks here around lunchtime because of the close proximity to the Random House Building.

Wendy mentioned that she would love to see a MG or YA mystery (think a modern Joan Lowery Nixon-type author who can reinvent something fresh).

Hum… seems to be a common refrain that I’m hearing from various editors.

She also mentioned that although she personally loves these types of stories, they’ve seen a lot of Hollywood-type books or stories revolving around a famous character or a pop star. Booksellers are starting to glaze if sales reps try and pitch a new story that includes one of these elements.

Wendy also asked if I could remind my blog readers that the Delacorte Contest for first middle-grade novel and first YA novel. These contests are just about to open.

And here’s an interesting insider tidbit. The Delacorte editors (all of them—including the publisher and the editorial director) do a fun, bring-your-own-lunch meeting every Friday during the contest just to read the contest submissions. So, entries aren’t schlepped off to the editorial assistants. All the editors do read the entries and vote. They might not pick a winner every year but if they do, that winner is published. If you look at some of the past winners, you can see that the contest has launched several careers.

It might be a fun possibility if you are interested in that sort of thing but note that it’s the standard RH boilerplate contract so keep that in mind.

10 Responses

  1. Julie said:

    I’ve looked at this contest many times, but always feel a little leery. I find it intimidating that they’ve only awarded one middle grade prize in the last seven years. (And only slightly more on the YA, I believe.) What does this say? That there are a lot of really bad middle grade manuscripts being submitted, or…what? It seems the sheer volume that has got to be going through their doors on this should lead to at least one great manuscript per year. Any comments from the gallery?

  2. Anonymous said:

    Well, it’s a contest, not a lottery. 🙂 You’d be amazed at the volume of less than good manuscripts, it’s staggering, and I suspect these contests attract a high number of them because they haven’t been able to place the story elsewhere. As Kristin said too, the contract does not favor the writer, it’s bare bones minimum, so a savvy writer with a great manuscript is not going to have difficulty getting an agent and selling, so they won’t be entering this contest. I’d never enter, there’s really no point to it.

  3. Lauren said:

    I met two of the Delacorte editors at an SCBWI conference earlier this month, and they both mentioned the contest a number of times throughout the weekend. They mentioned that in some years, they not only declare and publish the winner’s manuscript, but also publish some of the other outstanding manuscripts, too. I kept thinking that if I had my choice, I’d rather be one of the non-winners who still received some interest from a Delacorte editor — at least in that case I might be able to snag an agent before my manuscript went to the acquisitions meeting. Er… right? Or are all manuscripts that come in through the contest bound to that same boilerplate?

    Honestly, I’m glad that booksellers are tiring of Hollywood-themed books. MY eyes glaze over when I see those at the bookstore.

    Many thanks, Kristin, for this inside look at what the children’s imprints want! It’s been really helpful.

  4. An Aspiring Writer said:

    I’ve been toying with the idea of a 12 year old boy “buddy” series for that last few months, and it looks like I should have started it back then! I don’t know enough about the genre to feel informed so I have been focusing on other things.

    My forte is paranormal, so I was considering going in that direction with this … in the wake of Eragon, Harry Potter, and Goosebumps (many years ago), it still seems like a valid area to explore … but I’d love Kristin’s (or Sarah’s) input on that.

    Paranormal or just straight kid fic?

  5. Jennifer said:

    On the Delacorte Contest for first middle-grade novel and first YA novel, there are more years with no winner than there are years for winners (in middle-grade). There must be some decent (among the bad) manuscripts submitted…

    I’ve always wondered if it really is worth my time and money to send something in…I just get this feeling that…I don’t quite know how to explain it… It just seems like my effort is better spent doing research, finding publishers and sending it directly to them…

  6. Joelle said:

    I have to disagree that this contest is a bad thing for a couple of reasons. First off, the no winner thing probably has a lot to do with the fact that it’s a “first” novel. Let’s face it, a lot of them probably need help. Another reason to submit to the contest is that Delacorte doesn’t take unsolicited manuscripts and if you don’t have an agent, it’s pretty much your only open door at that imprint. And the third reason is a personal reason. A few years ago I didn’t win, but I got a great editorial letter from one of the editors inviting me to do a revision. In the end, I was still to green to pull it off, but they are looking and they are serious about it, and you do get read. There are definitely some downsides too. One is that it ties up your manuscript for 4-5 months (by the way, the YA contest is not starting for this year, but almost over. The deadline is Dec. 31st and judging is finished by April 30). And of course, the boilerplate contract is a bit of a drag. Still, I think it’s a legitimate contest and right for some people.

  7. Kimberley Griffiths Little said:

    I know two writers who sent mansucripts to the Delacorte contests. One did not win, but her novel ended up getting an offer from them, a MG. The other friend submitted, but did so at the last minute, hadn’t read the contest rules very closely, didn’t know much about it, and then got a phone call saying she was THE WINNER for the YA category! Since she was so green about publishing and ignorant about the contest, when they told her about the contract and she found out she was giving away all world rights, she balked and wanted to talk to an agent first. They withdrew the winnings and the offer. Her novel went on to get agented and sold somewhere else. The contest is a great way to get your work publicized in a bigger way than most first novels because they make a big splash about it in the catalog, etc. My opinion is that it’s definitely worth submitting to. But be sure you understand the rules and the contract!!!
    Good luck!