It’s two weeks since I attended a book event hosted by Head & Heart Publishing Services. A mate of mine, who I’d been speaking to about my book, sent me the Eventbrite link. It seemed just the ticket, and it was FREE – what’s not to like, right? I arrived at the event a few minutes late because the map app on my phone failed me. Basically, I walked twenty minutes in the wrong direction before my spidey senses kicked in, which meant unfortunately I missed the group introductions. Nonetheless, it was an evening well spent.

Head & Heart was launched by Lucy Llewellyn at the London Book Far in 2014. There was an excellent team on hand at the event who were well placed to give advice based on their experience in the book industry. Many of my questions at the time were answered by the ‘Are You Ready to Publish?’ event hosted by Head & Heart.

‘Are You Ready to Publish?’ was aimed at ‘nearly-there’ authors. Admittedly I wasn’t sure if I was nearly there, but I had nothing to lose by attending. Along with other aspiring published authors, in attendance were:

Lucy Llewellyn: founder of Head & Heart, editor and project manager

Cressida Downing: editor and consultant

João Moata: graphic designer and typographer

A wide range of book publishing issues were touched on, such as:

  • Submitting to a publisher
  • Picture books
  • Editing
  • Book design
  • Typography
  • Self-publishing
  • Publishing contracts
Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2015

Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2015

I thought I’d share the key points, as I noted them:

When submitting a manuscript to a publisher, follow their instructions entirely. In the submission letter be yourself, let you personality shine through, and refer to books they have published. Don’t be too arrogant or too meek. Do consider smaller publishers as they are likely to pay more attention to your book. For picture books read How to write for children and get published by Louise Jordan.

When it’s time to edit, think about what type of editing is needed; structural, style, copy-editing or just proofreading. If hiring an editor, discuss the cost breakdown, time frame for completion and how the feedback will be given.

For the book design, consider the brief that goes with the book. Be clear on why you are writing and what your story is about. Read contracts and small print carefully, especially if it deals with creative aspects. Don’t forget about the design of the spine. Consider eBook and app options.

For the typography, keep it simple, no more than two types of font, three maximum, on your cover.

If self-publishing, be aware that if you use Kindle Direct the book will not be available anywhere else but on Amazon for two years. Shop around when looking for publishing service companies that offer printing and distribution.

Regarding publishing contracts, read the fine print, ask about advance payments, royalties, which type of product will be made (eg. print copies? eBooks? Apps?). How much editorial and marketing support will be given, and will it extend to a social media campaign?

Agents’ fees may vary but the standard is around 15%.

Yes, pretty much all aspects were touched on at the event. I was pleased to have been in attendance. Since the ‘Are You Ready to Publish?’ event I’ve sent my manuscript to Head & Heart Publishing Services for structural editing. I’m happy to report the feedback was thorough and very helpful. Armed with my copy of the Children’s Writers and Artists’ Yearbook 2015, I feel confident to move on to the final edit of my picture book manuscript and start work on my submission letter to publishers who will accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Wish me luck, dear readers!

IOW

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