Larrikin House – Interview (May 2020)

Larrikin House

How did Larrikin House get started?

I’ve been buying and selling Picture Books since 1992. I currently own and manage Learning Discovery, for which I import around 100 titles every year from the big UK publishers. I remember having a whinge one day to a staff member about so many deep & meaningful picture books being published, but not enough funny nonsensical books. It suggested that publishers were publishing for awards and not children anymore. 

So my staff member simply said; “So why don’t you publish funny books then?” Fair call… Problem was, I didn’t know how to publish. I knew how to buy, and I knew how to sell, but didn’t have the foggiest how to publish. The next day I rang a publisher I knew and asked to be mentored in the process. Two years later here we are.

What are the goals of Larrikin House?

We simply want to make people laugh. We’re beginning with picture books, but we plan to expand to other genre’s & formats in the future. I guess I want Larrikin to live up to it’s name and be known for great quality, brilliantly produced funny stories. (with a touch of ‘almost wrong’.)

Are you are considered a Traditional publisher?

The word traditional makes me shudder for some reason. However, our publishing processes and marketing strategies would be very similar to other mainstream publishers. We have the freedom of being small, which means we can make quick decisions and turn out product really fast. 

What is Larrikin House’s submission process?

The submission process is really easy. Email me your funny story and if I like it you’ll hear from me very fast. (one author got a phone call within 10 minutes)

It normally only takes me two weeks to read your submission as the slush pile isn’t that much of a pile now the rush is over. We have basic guidelines on our website, the main one being story length and number of stanzas we need. 

What are you looking for in a submission?

Quirky, slightly dark, almost wrong humour. Like a story about a dog who swallows a bee and the bee stings him multiple times on his organs. Then the dog goes nuts and nobody knows why. (hint hint)

I’m just beginning my creative journey, can I submit to you?

Yes, I’m really enjoying reading stories by emerging authors. They seem to be more adventurous in what they submit. (Maybe because they haven’t had their wild ideas beaten out of them yet by all the conservative publishers.)

Do I need to have an established profile in the children’s writing industry to submit to Larrikin House?

I read all my submissions blind, so I go straight to the attachment and read the story before I read anything else about you. If I like the story then I’ll read your profile stuff. To me it doesn’t really matter if you established or not. Funny is funny. I’m a sucker for funny stories so truth be told, you could be a member of ISIS and if your story is funny I’ll still be interested, haha.

What’s next from Larrikin House?

We’re committed to around 20 picture books a year at the moment. We have the added support of my other company Learning Discovery, who will place 2000 copies of each of our titles into the educational market. I don’t think we could afford to do this without this extra avenue. After we get a good rhythm, I will start accepting submissions for YA & adult fiction.

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