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Children's W & A 2009 | Reviews

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Children’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2009

A & C BlackClick for A & C Black Publishers Publishers References listing

 

 

To buy the Children's Writers' and  Artists' Yearbook

 

'superb listings of publishers and agents specialising in children's books across the world'

 

 

 

'Whenever people ask me about how to get their work for children published, the first words to come out of my mouth are always: Children's Writers' and Artists' Yearbook.' Michael Rosen

 

 

 

'But as I noted earlier, the children's publishing world is a very varied world, with many different specialities lurking under the innocuous heading 'children's', and the Yearbook does a great job in helping you explore them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

'It really is a jungle out there.'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

'a fantastically valuable resource for anyone who wants to venture into this highly specialised area of publishin

When the first edition of this relatively new reference book came out, we reviewed it for the site, concluding that it was 'a fantastically valuable resource for anyone who wants to venture into this highly specialised area of publishing' (read this review). We are now on to the 2008 edition and I am glad to report that the book has gone from strength, and is now an essential for any children's writer.

Not only does it provide superb listings of publishers and agents specialising in children's books across the world, but it also lists book packagers, audio publishers and bookshops. Asection on illustrating for children contains a listing of illustrators' agents. Other listings cover tv, radio and theatre and there are also sections on children's book prizes, festivals and trade fairs.

What really distinguishes the book however is the many helpful articles which make the book a primer for anyone trying to writer for children.  New this year are an article by Anne Fine on writing books to read aloud and by Malorie Blackman on writing for different genres.

UK Children's Laureate Michael Rosen contributes a new foreword for the 2009 edition and he says: 'Whenever people ask me about how to get their work for children published, the first words to come out of my mouth are always: Children's Writers' and Artists' Yearbook.'

But it is articles such as 'Writing and the children's book market' by editor Chris Kloet, 'Writing for teenagers' by Meg Rosoff and publisher Barry Cunningham's 'Spotting Talent' (he spotted J K Rowling) which, together with the superb listings, make this a really indispensable book.

Almost everyone who has had even the vaguest idea at some point of becoming a writer has a copy of the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook lurking somewhere on the bookshelves. It might be the most recent edition, it might be years old, but it sits there, be it a statement of intent or a well-thumbed reference work. It's difficult to imagine how the writing and publishing worlds got along without it. But while it's true that the Yearbook manages to be most things to all people, the nature of publishing shifts year by year, and there are some parts of the jungle that need their own rough guides. Given the soaring interest, post-Pullman, post-Rowling, in writing for children, A & C Black have done the most sensible thing in the world and in bringing out the  Children's Writers' and Artists' Yearbook.

At a glance, it looks like a slimline version of its stablemate, with reassuringly familiar typography on the cover. Inside, however, there's a whole new world of lists and guides and advice to explore. Some elements of the world are reasonably familiar to anyone who has written or published work for adults, with maybe a slight twist. But children's publishing can take on so many different aspects – there are more opportunities, for example, for publishing heavily illustrated books, or educational texts, and the variety of potential formats can be quite bewildering: board books, pop-up books, early readers. It really is a jungle out there.

Which is not to say that the Children's Writers' and Artists' Yearbook is going to take the prospective author gently by the hand and steer him or her round the pitfall, mind that large, scary animal lurking behind the tree, turn left at the ants' nest over there, throw a six, and lo, there is your book, all neatly published. It's not what the Yearbook is about. In common with its older sibling, the Yearbook deals primarily in information. It's then up to you the reader to use that information as constructively as possible. And there's an awful lot of it to work with. I for one didn't realise there were so many publishers handling children's books, but the Yearbook has a list of them, with comments on what they're looking for, and what they're not looking for. (Always pay attention to that bit.)

But as I noted earlier, the children's publishing world is a very varied world, with many different specialities lurking under the innocuous heading 'children's', and the Yearbook does a great job in helping you explore them. There's an extensive section on illustrating books for children, another on writing for film, television and radio, and for the theatre. And poetry. For that matter, there are listings of courses focusing on how to write for children, right next to the highly encouraging section on prizes.

And because, although this is not a how-to book, the editors are nevertheless good and decent people who want to help writers get along, there are words of wisdom and encouragement from a number of people involved in children's publishing, including, perhaps inevitably, J.K. Rowling. The majority of the articles are summaries of what different parts of the industry tend to be looking for in terms of, say, 'humour for children' or 'teenage fiction', alongside the almost mandatory 'how I got my book into print' stories. If I have one slight cavil with this Yearbook, it is that the encouraging words from authors can be faintly irritating because, of course, they've succeeded in getting published. They may have sent the manuscript out numerous times, but the fact remains that in a bookshop, not so far away, their book is on the shelf, and yours is not. And curiously, this is not always as encouraging as it might seem.

Nonetheless, this book is going to be a fantastically valuable resource for anyone who wants to venture into this highly specialised area of publishing, and I congratulate A & C Black for having had the wit to recognise the need for a specialist publication to sit alongside the ubiquitous Writers' and Artists' Yearbook on the shelf.

Reviewed by Maureen Kincaid SpellerMaureen Kincaid Speller a reviewer, writer, editor and former librarian, is our book reviewer and also works for WritersServices as a freelance editor. and Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage.

 

 © Maureen Kincaid Speller 2004

© Chris Holifield 2007-8   

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