Windy Hollow Books: children’s books for life, learning and laughter
Windy Hollow Books is an independent publisher of children’s books based in Melbourne. Our aim is to publish high quality, literary books for children so that they have wonderful reading experiences.
Kids’ stories by authors and illustrators from Australia
Bedtime stories and more.
Tell us a little about yourself and your history in the publishing industry.
Having been one of those children with her head always stuck in a book, I was lucky enough to have the chance of majoring in Children’s Literature as part of my teaching degree. Like many others in publishing I got my grounding working in a bookshop. I then moved on to being a rep for a publisher and then working in as a sales and marketing manager before coming to Windy Hollow Books as a commissioning editor/publisher where I have now been for the last ten years.
What can you tell us about your publishing house and what you publish?
Windy Hollow Books is a small independent publisher based in Melbourne. We publish children’s picture books. We have occasionally branched out in to chapter books and even a graphic novel but our core remains picture books.
What qualities do you look for when deciding to publish a picture book? Is there a checklist you use when considering manuscripts?
I don’t have a checklist, I have to feel a connection with the story. There are a few things that I look out for but mainly I want to feel that the book has a truly special quality. I receive many good manuscripts but since we publish so few books it needs to be remarkable.
Often if I start visualizing the illustrations then I know I have something to work with. Having said that I find highly detailed instructions for how the book should be illustrated or rudimentary illustrations can put me off the story. Publishing a picture book is a shared vision.
Does it help when selecting an author for publication if they already have a presence in the children’s book industry?
Of course it can help to have a presence in the children’s book industry but it is not always what we look for. Being a small publisher means we are often looking for and publishing brand new authors.
Some of our best selling books come from first time authors. The ability to self promote never goes astray however.
Are there some issues you would like to see more focus on?
I tend to baulk if a book is presented to me as being about a particular issue. The story is the most important thing. If it introduces the reader to a particular issue in a way that is not didactic and not at the expense of a good story then that is great.
I have written a children’s picture book manuscript – do I need to find an illustrator myself?
No. This can lead to very awkward situations. What if the publisher loves the illustrations but hates the story or loves the story but doesn’t like the illustrations? Publishing a picture book is about a shared vision, the author’s, the publisher’s and the illustrator’s.
Does having an agent push you to the top of the slush pile?
No. Everyone in the slush pile gets read and has the same chance of being published. An agent can help with targeting the right publisher.
What’s a common mistake you find when reading a manuscript?
Not really a mistake I guess but more of a case of not doing research before sending to a publisher. I get young adult novels sent to me and many series. This is not what we publish and a bit of research in to what a publishers list looks like will avoid sending books to the wrong publisher.
Another is assuming that children’s books need to be written in verse.
How many submissions do you receive per year? Out of those, how many do you publish?
We probably receive in excess of thirty unsolicited manuscripts a month. Out of those perhaps one a year will be published.
Should a potential author be discouraged by the dreaded rejection letter?
Of course not. Getting published in Australia can be very difficult. It is small market and there are many talented writers out there. Keep trying.
Tell us something that has caught your eye, in a good way, in a cover letter?
I don’t take too much notice of the cover letters. It is all about the story.
And finally, what are publishers looking for in a submission?
A picture book text that makes me laugh or moves me. Something that catches me by surprise.