Monday 27 June 2016

Thoughts from a Publisher

‘The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.’ Maya Angelou

Often those submitting to my children’s book imprint, About Kids Books ( do not read the website carefully. No, I don’t publish picture books. What I want and the book lengths are clearly spelled out on the submissions’ page. Most of all, I want quality books. Books which will be read again and again by children because they are so good. Books that are memorable. Which have characters who you care about.

What I get are far too often are bland books which have no personality. What most gives a book its personality is the voice. How the book is told. The narrative voice. I want a narrative voice which is distinctive, quirky, eccentric. There should be a freshness in the writing. Word choice is the key. The writer ought to use words that sizzle on the page, and too, the story-telling ought to be fast-paced so you want to keep reading. But when you get to the end of the book you want to go back and re-read it. The sort of book we all love to read. Kids love that, too, though they might not articulate what it is that fascinates them so much.

Here are some opening sentences from children’s books which have compelled me to keep writing:·       From a crack in the plaster, where the bottle has smashed, tomato sauce dribbles down the wall.
·       There’s nothing quite as good as folding up into a book and shutting the world outside.
·       One huge shiver trudging on to the oval, that’s us. First thing on a frostbite Monday morning.
·       I was twelve years old the first time I walked on water.
·       If I could tell you only one thing about my life it would be this: when I was seven years old the mailman ran over my head.
·       The bedroom is strange. Unfamiliar. I don’t know where I am, how I came to be here. I don’t know how I’m going to get home.
·       This story begins with a smile. It was a stupid-looking smile on a rather stupid-looking face.
·       The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world.
·       They say Maniac Magee was born in a dump. They say his stomach was a cereal box and his heart a sofa spring.
·       12th Day of September
          I am commanded to write an account of my days: I am bit by fleas and plagued by family. That is all there is to say.·       Miranda Tagliotti had been planning to kill Bridget Aldich for a long time.
·       I will never forgive my mother for calling me Erica with a surname like Yurken.
The day after my mother died, the priest and I wrapped her body in a grey shroud and carried her to the village church. Our burden was not great.

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