Pub Rants

What UK Children’s Editors Want

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STATUS: Spent the day being a lovely tourist instead of working. And sorry for the tiny covers of yesterday. My computer or Blogger was not cooperating and despite efforts, I couldn’t get the pics to upload bigger and I didn’t have time to fiddle.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ACCIDENTALLY IN LOVE by Counting Crows

To kick off the blog entry, here is a lovely shot of Blenheim Palace from the gardens.

Alas, Colin Firth did not emerge dripping wet from any neighboring lakes or ponds—much to Sarah Rees Brennan and my great disappointment.

Now that I’m back at the flat, I’m flipping through my little notebook of scribbled writings. From what I can decipher (as my handwriting is not always the best), here are some things UK children’s editors are looking for. In no particular order and a nice sum up of what several editors spotlighted:

–More boy adventure books (although one publisher specifically said their list is full in this arena so not as high on their list)
–YA historical
–would love a prize-winning new teen voice along the lines of HOW I LIVE NOW
–Funny with beautiful writing (so a blend of literary with a really fun story line)
–a modern Anne of Green Gables
–middle grade fantasy that is a girl-driven narrative
–humorous girl stuff that is more than just boys and relationships but is warm, and character driven. Not necessarily issue driven
–high concept middle grade with a really original voice so it can stand out.
–anything that can crossover solidly to the adult market (ie. THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF A DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME)
–a contemporary author with a literary, classic voice. (hum.. that seems to tie in with the modern Anne of Green Gables example above)

Different houses did have different feelings on the market. One house thought that Meg Cabot and her popularity was in the past and another thought she was still burning strong.

I got a sense that all the editors would be open to anything romantic. No surprise there.

And even though I know my blog readers love my lists, it basically comes down to this. Editors want an original story well told.

In that sense, the US and the UK are the same.

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17 Responses

  1. Kez said:

    Fascinating..did you get any impression about whther they are less likely to take on new projects because of the recession? My YA book went out to UK children’s editors a few months ago, and although I got a two-book deal – hurray! – I also got a lot of ‘we love it but we’re not sure of the market in the current climate’ comments. Also quite a few seemed to think the market for ‘gritty realism’ was on the wane. We shall see…

  2. Anonymous said:

    Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth version) was filmed up at Lyme Hall, outside Manchester, and the pond in question is now clearly marked ‘Darcy’s Pond’.

    The more recent version was also filmed in the North West, at Chatsworth. Darcy’s statue is now hidden in the statue gallery there.

    Both are worth a visit (particularly Chatsworth) and are about two hours from London, if you can sneak away.

  3. alexandralittle said:

    If I can ask a question…

    When they say that they want fantasy, are they looking for more traditional fantasy (such as Tolkien or Pierce), or are they looking for urban, or are they simply looking for everything?

  4. David said:


    It’s really great to see information like this, about what editors are specifically looking for. I wish agents had pages, for instance, that displayed precisely what their agency is looking to represent, what the editors they sell to are looking for, and where the two coincide.

    Oftentimes when someone sees ‘fantasy’, they’ll think anything from George R.R. Martin to Stephenie Meyer. Hell, science fantasy may slip in there sometimes.

    Seeing the genres more clearly defined, even down to specific book types within genres, is an excellent way for a writer to decide if an agent is right for them, AND if the agent is going to be able to pitch it to an editor with a positive influence.

    Thank you for posting this. It opened my eyes to another level of publishing I hadn’t really considered – that editors may be looking for very specific types of book.

  5. Anonymous said:

    Hi Kristin,

    thanks for a nice blog.
    i have discovered it lately and just on the second visit I’m addicted to it.

    great to keep us enlighted and i wish you represent me in a near future.

    Word smith

  6. Shannan said:

    Hey Kristin,

    Thanks for sharing this valuable info!

    Sounds like a productive time in the UK – though too bad about no sexy men emerging dripping wet… nice image though =D

  7. Yunaleska said:

    Thank your for this Kristen – living in the UK, this is valuable information for me. Even nicer when my current wips could well fit the criteria!

  8. HeatherM said:

    Beautiful picture! Thanks for all the info on what they’re looking for in the UK. Like another reader though, I have to wonder, do they mean traditional fantasy or urban?

    Don’t let Sarah drag you into too many shenanigans over there! On second thought, do, you’ll have a great time. 😉

  9. Chantele said:

    What a wonderful experience at the Blenheim Palace! If Colin Firth magically appeared dripping wet in front of me, I would probably pass out!;)
    Thank you for the great list of different genres agencies are looking for! You have amazing insight on things, and it really helps us “aspiring authors” out!

  10. Susan Kelley said:

    No Colin Firth? Bummer. I just watched that video last night while working on some edits. Thanks for the list. I guess I have the same question as two other people. Is the fantasy of the sword and sorcery or urban?

  11. therese said:

    Editors want and original story well told. 🙂

    I believe that’s one aspect of publishing that will never change and the rest is just details. But we love lists and I’m glad to hear anything romantic is a plus.

  12. birdsedge said:

    Hope you’re enjoying your visit. I think our weather’s being kind.

    Thanks for the insight. I have a new project that I’m really enjoying writing and I’m pleased to say that it ticks a few of those boxes. Girl-driven fantasy for 9s to 12s with horses, magic and a touch of romance.

    I’ve been looking for horse books in the high street shops (UK) over the past few months (just to check out the opposition) and am horrified to find they are either: pink and fluffy with unicorns and talking magic ponies, or reprints of Pullein-Thompson stories from my childhood and earlier. Isn’t anyone writing good pony books nowadays. Have they gone out of fashion?

  13. clever-pooh said:

    I just love reading your blog. I’m not usually much of a blog reader, but yours is always so interesting and useful. I find myself thinking, “My god! The publishing world isn’t a dungeon run by three or four conglomerates! It’s got real live book-loving people!”

    I’m in the process of slowly reading your archived entries. I gush, but really seriously thanks for taking the time to share all this info. It gives me the belly-ache of excitement and fear (excitement because YAY! it’s a lot of really good info about a hard-to-access industry and fear because HELP! you must first write something worthy before submitting it to said industry).