I’m still buzzing after a day of encouragement, empowerment and energy. A day filled with camaraderie, connections and reverence. KidLitVic Meet the Publishers Conference 2017 in Melbourne on May 20th certainly achieved its goals for attendees to network, showcase talents, and “kick-start, build, reinvigorate and strengthen” our creative journeys.

Conference organisers, Alison Reynolds, Coral Vass, Jaquelyn Muller and Nicky Johnston once again did a stellar job in putting it all together. Everything ran flawlessly! We were delighted by the personable panel hosts, Michael Wagner and Adam Wallace, who added their touch of flair and wit to the discussions. And alongside the publisher panels, fantastic workshops were interpolated throughout the day, including presentations by Lisa Berryman, Michael Wagner and Jaquelyn Muller, Clare Hallifax, and Heath McKenzie. Individualised assessments were also conducted, which seemed to leave creators feeling energised and pumped to absolutely nail their manuscripts.

There have already been many fabulous rounds ups of the day. Be sure to check out the KidLitVic Facebook page and blog for photos and articles. I’ll be adding more blog posts below from others’ perspectives to have a squiz through.

I do have several pages of notes, but here are the main points of interest:

  • When planning to submit a chapter book or middle grade series, provide the first, entire manuscript, along with outlines of the others. You should also specify your intended timeline projection, ensuring timely releases for your market.
  • Editors primarily respond to manuscripts on gut instinct and passion. Hachette maintains the motto, “Passion shared”.
  • Avoid the ‘token’ diverse characters. Including diverse voices should come from a genuine place of passion and/or life experience, and have their own voice. Not just because you want to chuck one in!
  • A winning formula you might want to try for writing success: “Heart. Smart. Fart”. Write to capture hearts, write intelligently, and add in some humour (of the toilet variety if that’s your thing!).
  • Publishers look for illustrators in a variety of places, including Etsy stores, Instagram, great portfolios on websites, etc.
  • Picture books should encourage children to think and feel.

  • Rates of success for unsolicited manuscripts are low (like 1%, or 1 – 3 per year), however, be sure to express your knowledge of the publisher you’re submitting to, show your passion and be positive in your cover letter.
  • Submit far and wide. Express you have submitted elsewhere in your cover letter.
  • Publishers are willing to take manuscripts from agents and upon meeting authors at events.
  • Publishers DO like rhyme, but of course, only if it is written WELL!
  • Copious illustration notes are unnecessary. Only add them if they explain concepts that are different to the text. Sending a storyboard shows the publisher you have thought about your structure.
  • Another formula for writing success (from Michael Wagner): Take a tiny metaphor about human nature, or a concept, but ensure it is character based. It’s like trying to write a good joke! For example, in Bear Make Den, the story is about home making through the voice of the bear.
  • The best kind of authors are those who are ready to hone their craft, be open to suggestions, conduct school/library, etc visits, be social media and website savvy – contribute to the community. A great example of a charismatic character is Adam Wallace! He’s right up there with Andy Griffiths! 🙂
From left: Jacqueline De Rose-Ahern, Megan Higginson, Kerry Malone, Tabitha Page. Bottom: Romi Sharp

The day was consolidated by the coming-together of all the almost 200 creators in the one space; the icing on the cake, if you will. How truly marvellous it was to be surrounded by these enormous talents and the positive vibes of excitement, passion and support. A hugely memorable day, where old friendships were rekindled, and new ones established. KidLitVic2017: Inspiration at its finest!

From left: Tania McCartney, Jess Racklyeft, me #fangirlmoment
From left: Melissa Gijsbers, Megan Higginson, me

Links to other KidLitVic Articles:

Works in Progress, KidLitVic and Crystal Kite by Tania McCartney.

The KidLitVic 2017 Conference Wrap-Up by Nicky Johnston.

KidLitVic 2017: A Reflection by Juliet Sampson, on Megan Higginson’s blog.

KidLitVic2017 Lessons by Pamela Ueckerman, on Megan Higginson’s blog.

Full Steam Ahead. KidLitVic 2017 by Karen Hendriks, on Megan Higginson’s blog.

#KidLitVic2017 #MeetThePublishers #justwriteforkidsoz #justkidslit

6 thoughts to “KidLitVic2017 Reflections

  • Megan Higginson

    What a great round up of the day, and some superb tips and advice. It was so good to catch up with you again. Thanks, Romi. I’ll add your blog post to mine once it’s up.

    • Just Write For Kids

      Thanks, Megan! It was wonderful catching up with you, too! 🙂

  • Debra Tidball

    Thanks from one who couldn’t make it this year – maybe next year!

    • Just Write For Kids

      Yes, fingers crossed! X

  • joshlangleyauthor

    Looks like it was a fantastic event. Thanks for key points summary. I love the “Heart Smart Fart” guideline. I think my new book has got all that.

    • Just Write For Kids

      Yes, Heart. Smart. Fart is a good one to keep in mind! Glad you’ve got it sorted! 😉


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