What we are looking for

Writers

The publishing industry is tough to break into, especially in Australia. The competition is fierce and the market is relatively small. 

We are looking for exceptional Australian authors and illustrators who:

  • Are easy to work with
  • Are professional and polite
  • Just love to write and write and write some more
  • Are willing to give author talks at schools, libraries and festivals
  • Are willing to engage in social media in using a platform that suits them

Picture Books

Here are some things we’d love to see in picture book manuscripts:

  • Heartfelt
  • Surprising story lines. Think about the best selling picture books you know – they typically have a surprising element about them
  • Festive themes are often popular, such as birthdays, Christmas etc. Look for the gap in the market.
  • Picture books with girl characters
  • 24 or 32 page spreads
  • Please NO rhyming books unless you are as good as Pamela Allen and the manuscript has a strong plot. 

Illustrators

  • Unique and iconic illustrations.
  • Black and white illustration portfolios for chapter books.
  • In your portfolio, please show expression, movement,consistency and angles.

Chapter books/ Junior fiction

  • Look for a gap in the market
  • Fresh plot
  • Girl characters

Middle Grade

Note: we are very keen for standalone MG manuscripts. Characters are very important in middle grade. Children need to be able to relate to the main character and want to go on the journey with them. Some tips:

  • Look for a gap in the market
  • Are the stakes high enough? Or too high?
  • Make sure your story is age appropriate
  • Fresh plot
  • Polish your manuscript as much as possible before sending it out
  • Unique and interesting characters are great
  • Make sure you have fantastic world building
  • Consider using humour where possible
  • The plot should have plenty of hooks
  • The pacing needs to be right – this is hard to do and takes practice
  • Stories should be max PG rated. No swearing etc
  • No stereotypes and clichés please
  • We love adventure, humour, contemporary, drama, friendship, action, comedy, dystopian, mystery, fairy tale retellings, sci-fi, myth, sport and magical realism.
  • With fantasy, the story really needs to be unique and fresh. Make sure you have done your market research before you start writing
  • Would love a manuscript like Wonder by RJ Palacio
  • Word length up to 60,000
  • Please don’t submit any ghost stories or horror

Young Adults

The young adult market is very tough. Teenagers seem to read less than children. You're competing against piles of homework, sport, friends, part-time jobs, phones, social media, YouTube, Netflix, movies etc. Your manuscript needs to be so interesting that teenagers will want to read it instead of doing a million other fun things, like eating chocolate or watching a movie. Some tips:

  • High stakes and heart, heart, heart
  • Emotional connection. Teen voice
  • Plot needs to be so riveting that readers don’t want to put it down, then when they finish it they want to tell all their friends about this awesome book they just read
  • There needs to be more humour in YA
  • No stereotypes and clichés please
  • Polish your manuscript as much as possible before sending it out
  • Hooks, hooks and more hooks. Make sure the plot has plenty of hooks and the pacing is right
  • Unique and interesting characters are great, plus fantastic world building
  • We love fantasy, adventure, contemporary, humour, friendship, paranormal, bitter-sweet tragedies, romantic comedies, sci-fi, drama, action, myth, competitions and magical realism
  • Not dark or overly violent. Please don’t submit any horror or thrillers
  • Not a big fan of present tense 

Justine's current manuscript wish list:

  • I would love to see more MG and YA (preferably with humour)