IPG Children's Publisher of the Year

The line-up for the November How to Write Picture Books Nosy Crow Masterclass

Posted by Tom on Jul 30, 2015

The How to Write Picture Books Nosy Crow Masterclass will be back for TWO new dates this Autumn, and today we are very pleased to reveal the line-up of speakers for our November event!

The day will begin with an overview of the children’s book market from Nosy Crow’s Managing Director, Kate Wilson, setting a context for picture books in 2015.

Our Head of Picture Books, Louise Bolongaro, will deliver a crash course on the editorial essentials for writing picture books – a distilled masterclass all in itself.

Helen Mackenzie Smith, literary agent at Bell Lomax Moreton, will talk about her role as an agent – what she looks for in a submission, do’s and don’ts for authors, and more.

Over lunch, there’ll be the opportunity for all of our attendees to receive one-on-one manuscript feedback.

Shifty McGifty and Slipper Sam author Tracey Corderoy will talk about writing picture books in both rhyme and prose.

Award-winning author-illustrator Benji Davies will talk about where he finds his inspiration, how he writes, and will share his perspective on making picture books as both an author and illustrator.

And finally, Kate Wilson will close the masterclass with a session on the importance of thinking internationally, and writing picture books for a global audience – followed by a glass of wine at the end of the day!

The masterclass is taking place here at the Crow’s Nest – 10a Lant St, London, SE1 1QR – on Saturday November 7th.

It’s now completely sold out, and there is a very long waiting list for places, but if you’d like to add your name to it, either with the form below, or with this link, we can email you about future masterclass events.

And there are still a very small number of tickets remaining for our How to Write Children’s Fiction masterclass taking place in October! This event will focus more on writing older fiction (as opposed to picture books) – if you’re interested in attending, you can find out more here, and book a place with the form below:

Selling fiction abroad

Posted by Ola on Jul 29, 2015

Just a few editions of My Brother is a Superhero: from left to right, the UK, German, US, and Dutch versions of the book.

We’ve recently published a fantastic new book, My Brother is a Superhero, by David Solomons, which is climbing the charts of children’s books in the UK. This is brilliant news, of course, but I’m particularly chuffed about something else, and that’s the book’s foreign appeal: we’ve now sold it in ten foreign territories!

This is no mean feat: fiction for older children is hard to sell.

Kate’s written in the past about the specifics of book fairs, and how fast and to the point the appointments need to be.

Now, imagine you have half an hour with a publisher, and over 100 books in the catalogue that you might, potentially, want to talk to them about. With picture books and novelty books, the editor of a foreign publishing house can often judge on the first glance whether a book might fit their publishing programme. If they think the illustration style will suit their list, they can, too, read the whole book in a minute or two to see if they also like the story.

But when it comes to fiction, all the editors have to go on is the cover and the rights seller’s pitch: to really know whether the book is for them or not, they will need to read it (or ask their colleague to read it… or send it to a “reader”: someone who reads the submissions and then prepares a report for the publishing house, telling them what they liked and disliked about a particular title). And that, of course, takes time.

There’s a host of other reasons why selling fiction is tricky: the language and humour need to really speak to the children – there aren’t usually many illustrations to carry it through. And the realities of life described in the books need to be universal enough as not to be confusing when read by a child from another culture.

All this means that it’s always a great pleasure, and a great sense of achievement, to sell fiction to a broad range of territories. In the case of My Brother is a Superhero, we sold it to countries ranging from the US, through Hungary and Sweden, to China.

Here’s to many more foreign sales!

The best trains (and train journeys) in children's books

Posted by Tom on Jul 28, 2015

Last night I very excitedly started reading First Class Murder by Robin Stevens, the third book in the truly excellent Wells and Wong series for 9+ readers.

I think I must be going through a bit of a nostalgia kick, because last week I happened to re-read Emil and the Detectives, written by Erich Kästner and illustrated by Walter Trier, and I’ve just this week dug out my old copy of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken.

I’m ALSO in the middle of a re-read of Little Bits of Sky by S.E. Durrant, the incredible debut that we recently acquired.

And I have very hesitantly (yes, I have far too many books on the go at any one time) begun reading Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, the early draft of To Kill A Mockingbird about which I have Many Reservations.

It occurred to me yesterday that, of course, the unifying theme in these five books is scenes set on trains. They all feature – with varying degrees of prominence – train journeys: First Class Murder is set on the Orient Express; Emil is the victim of a theft on the train to Berlin, setting the events of the rest of the novel in motion; The Wolves of Willoughby Chase opens with a terrific night-time train scene; the siblings at the heart of Little Bits of Sky take several train journeys throughout the course of the novel, carrying them gradually towards a new life; and Go Set A Watchman begins with an adult Jean Louise Finch – Scout – returning home by train to visit her elderly father, Atticus.

I’m not entirely sure of what makes train journeys such excellent plot vehicles (ba-dum tsch…) in children’s or adult books, but I’m not one to ignore my subconscious, and five – five! – books in a row with trains is NO COINCIDENCE if you ask me: evidently there is something uniquely appealing about trains as literary devices. Is it something about the enclosed space? The fixed destination? The enforced encounters with strangers?

Inevitably (I say “inevitably” because having to produce material for this blog every day means that the slightest sign of a trend in children’s books will leave me looking to turn it into 500 words) this had me thinking about other children’s books with train journeys.

The most famous train in children’s literature must be The Hogwarts Express, I suppose – and deservedly: it is the scene of some of the Harry Potter series’ most important and dramatic moments, from the first meeting of Ron, Harry and Hermione (I think…), to their first encounter with a Dementor (again, I’m going from memory here).

I’m not sure if it counts as a children’s book (I guess I read it when I was about 11 or 12, after watching the film), but my FAVOURITE train book is, without a doubt, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, which left me desperately wanting to make the same journey from Istanbul, and provides inspiration for the setting of First Class Murder.

I suppose it’s also sort of cheating to list A Bear Called Paddington here, but I can’t help it: even if train journeys do not themselves play an integral part in the story, one particular train station certainly does.

And there are absolutely no shortage of trains in picture books, although my heart belongs to the incredibly dramatic Dinosaur Rescue! by Penny Dale, which features a speeding steam train in a truly pivotal role:

If you have a favourite train book that I’ve left out, please do share your favourites below or on Twitter – I would love to hear your suggestions.