Little Pink Dog Books is a new Australian independent publisher specialising in picture books for children.
We are based in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia and aim to publish between one to three books each year for the younger age group.
Tell us a little about yourself and your history in the publishing industry.
We first started publishing children’s picture books when we were based in the UK and Singapore. In the UK, we operated as Creative Characters Partnership and within four years we had published over 20 children’s picture books. Our model at that time was to offer the whole end to end production of books for niche market clients, such as historic houses, theme parks, zoological gardens, animal conservation groups and country clubs. Our most successful title was ‘My Cousin, Ah Meng’, which sold over thirty thousand copies in Singapore.
How long have you been working with Little Pink Dog Books?
Little Pink Dog Books started in January this year and we have just closed our first call for submissions. Kathy and I are partners in the business and we look forward to working with a range of new and emerging writers and illustrators.
What can you tell us about your publishing house and what you publish?
Although we are a new small traditional publisher, we are quite ambitious and aim to publish good quality, colourful, exciting and ‘cutting edge’ books for the children’s picture book market. In the past, we concentrated on publishing animal and conservation themes, but now we are looking for stories that are quirky and humerous, and stories that have social and environmental themes. We also love tales about dogs!
What qualities do you look for when deciding to publish a picture book? Is there a checklist you use when considering manuscripts?
We are looking for writers and illustrators, who are new or emerging, and have something different to offer the children’s market in Australia and worldwide. We don’t go by any check list, but we do look for a story that has something a child can relate to, or identify with, and can a take them on an action driven or character driven adventure that captivates their imagination, with twists and surprises that keep them spellbound right up to a satisfying resolution. The writing has to be well paced, so that there is an anticipation of what might happen at each page turn. We also look at how the story can be expanded by the illustration. Sometimes we may suggest to the author that a certain word or sentence be removed so that the illustration can carry the narrative or create a counterpoint effect.
Does it help when selecting an author for publication if they already have a presence in the children’s book industry?
As we are looking for new or emerging, this is not of the utmost importance. However, we would expect the author and the illustrator to develop their personal author/illustrator platform, where they can assist in the promotion of themselves and their books.
Are there any specific subjects that seem to be addressed more in Children’s Literature?
Concentrating on the picture book market, there does seem to be more emphasis on tackling sensitive social issues.
Are there some issues you would like to see more focus on?
We’d like to see more emphasis on importance of family relationships, self development and care of our environment.
I have written a children’s picture book manuscript – do I need to find an illustrator myself?
Well no, but we are happy to receive suggestions for illustrators you may wish to work with. We always try to find the best emerging or new illustrator for a manuscript, and we keep adding different illustrators to our files.
Does having an agent push you to the top of the slush pile?
We don’t deal with agents yet, but having one will definitely get your manuscript onto a publishers desk a lot faster than the slush pile queue!
What’s a common mistake you find when reading a manuscript?
Manuscripts that arrive with highly detailed art briefs are problematic. This is because a picture book manuscript needs to be understood without complex explanation, unless there are some areas that the author has left for a visual narrative, then there is need for a short art brief.
How many submissions do you receive per year? Out of those, how many do you publish?
As a newcomer to the Australian market, we were lucky to receive an extremely high volume of submissions and aim to initially publish 1 to 3 books a year. Recognising that high quality work takes time to produce, we are not applying significant time pressures on our authors and illustrators. As such, we will be commissioning more books than our yearly quota, so some may not be published until the following year.
How long from acceptance until the book hits the shelves?
That very much depends upon the author and the illustrator. We will be demanding a high quality product and as such we expect their work to take between six and eighteen months. Production will then take one to three months after that, so books could be in the marketplace somewhere between seven and twenty-one months, although it could be shorter, as long as the quality is met.
Should a potential author be discouraged by the dreaded rejection letter?
Unfortunately, the dreaded rejection letter is a part of the reality of the publishing world. Some publishers talk of a very low, single figure percentage of submissions actually being published. We aim to take higher risks, and will work with emerging authors and illustrators to give them the opportunity of producing a children’s picture book, as long as it meets our high standards.
Tell us something that has caught your eye, in a good way, in a cover letter?
A professionally written and well laid out cover letter always stands out, and gives a good indication of the degree of professionalism of the aspiring author or illustrator.
And finally, what are publishers looking for in a submission?
Publishers are businesses that need to return a profit. The difference with Little Pink Dog Books is that we are willing to take a higher level of risk, and are actively looking to give support and opportunity to new and emerging authors and illustrators. However, it is important to understand that we are still hoping to make a return on our investment and will consider all submissions very carefully.