Upskilling Tips for Children’s Publishing
By Amelia Bashford, Kaia Blaszczyk, Misha Manani and Rowan Groat
The children’s book market is huge and contains a variety of sub-genres. It can encompass anything from novelty picture books and toddler fiction to chapter books for primary school children, to young adult (YA) fiction and educational textbooks. People’s love for books often begins from an early age, which makes children’s literature even more exciting!
Creative flair and proficiency in Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator.
Ability to collaborate with illustrators to create book jackets.
Passion and enthusiasm for achieving agreed outcomes/visions.
Promote books and authors through print, radio, TV, social media and other digital platforms to generate sales and ensure coverage.
Organise tours and events such as library readings and bookshop signings to promote an author’s public profile.
Write press materials that appeal to a wide range of people and pitch to newspapers by email, phone and letter.
Interest in nurturing new voices and strategically building a market-leading book list.
Excellent eye for detail, project management and ability to multitask.
Ability to work closely and liaise with agents, illustrators, production and marketing.
In Conversation with Emma Quick, Senior Marketing Manager at Bonnier Books
Tell us about your journey into publishing and, specifically, children’s publishing.
I studied English Literature and French at university. I never considered publishing an option because I desperately didn’t want to move to London. The thought of moving away from my friends and family to a big city where I barely knew anyone was completely overwhelming. It still surprises me how London-centric publishing is.
Having spent a while in an admin job at a local record label (which gave me some brilliant office experience), I convinced myself to *try* to get a publishing job – not realising how difficult and competitive it was! I eventually took an under-paid marketing role at a small literary magazine in London, getting a second job to support myself. The role was marketing at a small company where I did a bit of everything including editorial, sales and PR. It was a steep learning curve but I learned a lot. From there, I moved into a children’s-focused role at Pan Macmillan.
What advice would you give to those interested in pursuing a career in children’s publishing?
Read some modern children’s books (and not just YA)! There’s more to the children’s reading space than Roald Dahl, and some extremely talented authors who handle tricky subjects with care, humour and heart. Try to research trends around children’s spaces too – what are kids interested in right now? Where are they spending their time? What values do they care about?
What do you think are the most important skills and/or qualities to succeed in children’s publishing?
Marketing always takes creativity, but in children’s, you have to go the extra mile to make it stand out, normally on a smaller budget. Trying to reach young people is one of the most exciting parts of my role because it’s constantly changing – you have to be on it in terms of trends and the spaces they’re using. Publishing is a slow industry, but in children’s, you have to be prepared to push for change, even if it’s risky. Last year we were the first UK publishers to start creating TikTok content to promote our titles (@HotKeyBooks), and it’s really paid off.
What, if anything, do you think is different about children’s publishing compared to adult trade?
Children’s marketing is so different to adults! Depending on the reading age of the book, the audience is completely different – you have to be able to talk to parents, gatekeepers, children/young people and adult YA fans in an appropriate way. The children’s space has changed so much and continues to force publishers to be more creative and exciting in their campaigns. Budgets are also almost always smaller for children’s departments too, which means you have to make every penny in your campaign count.
Guide to Commissioning Children’s Books: Created by The Publishing Training Centre, this guide covers the necessary skills, attributes and experiences needed to pursue a successful career in children’s publishing. Register to download the guide for free!
List of UK Children’s Book Publishers: Check out their websites for work experience, volunteering and job opportunities.
Children’s Publishing MA: In 2018, Bath Spa University began the first-ever MA in Children’s Publishing. If you’re interested in this industry-focused postgraduate course, check it out here. Roehampton University is also running a distance-learning MA in Children’s Literature.
Thanks for reading Upskilling Tips for Children’s Publishing and the first in our latest sector-focused series. Join us again for Issue Thirty-Three, our Black History Month issue, where we will be focusing on Upskilling Tips for Underrepresented Publishing Hopefuls.