Welcome to #SeasonsOfKidLit, readers! By now, many of you have heard of Marble Press. They are a new publisher that's already making big waves in the industry! Headed by Susan Szecsi (author-illustrator and designer), Jon Collins-Black (author and businessman with many talents), and Michael Green (the former director of Philomel and editor extraordinaire), their books are sure to be a treat! We're lucky enough to have Susan with us today sharing more about Marble Press, their mission, and their wish list...PLUS she's sharing a superb opportunity. Want to know more about Marble Press and all the amazing things we have to look forward to in the near future? Read on...
Q: Hi, Susan. Thanks so much for joining #SeasonsOfKidLit! First, I must say, so many individuals in the #KidLit community have been intrigued by Marble Press ever since reading your Press Release in March. I'm thrilled you could join me today so we can learn more about you! Can you share more about yourself and the Marble Press team with us?
A: Marble Press was born from a desire to share the world’s best children’s books. We love children. We have kids of our own! Our goal is to publish books that will inspire children, challenge their imagination, and ignite their curiosity. In today’s complex world, quality books, and the words and images found in them, are more valuable than ever.
Marble Press has an enthusiastic team. The company was established by Susan Szecsi, author-illustrator and designer, and Jon Collins-Black, author and businessman with many talents. We were thrilled when Michael Green, the former director of Philomel and editor extraordinaire, joined us as Marble Press’ Acquisition Editor and Advisor.
We also outsource some of our jobs to seasoned experts of the industry. For example, we have just joined forces with the amazing distribution team at Baker & Taylor Publisher Services.
Q: Marble Press is aiming to take the guesswork out of choosing books for kids. How fascinating! What would you describe as your overall mission in publishing?
A: We wake up every morning with a mission. We want to publish books that make a difference, books that stand out because of their style and substance. We want books that are honest and diverse, books that offer new perspectives and outside-the-box experiences. Our books will provide a wide range of learning and experiences for our readers. In 2023 and
2024 we are focusing on picture books and middle grade books, and graphic novels, but as you can see from our submission page, we are open to manuscripts for board books and young adult novels as well.
Q: Do you have any advice for budding picture book writers? How can they get published by Marble Press?
A: Writing for children is one of the most beautiful adventures you can embark on. As picture books are relatively short, under 1K or even under 500 words, a lot of beginners think superficially that they are easy to write They are not. I love to compare successful picture books to the lyrics of #1 music hits, or an unforgettable joke of from a standup comedian. Words are carefully chosen. The text goes through several revisions until it’s chiseled to perfection. Every word counts
You are competing against the best books on the market, and there are a lot of them.
Here is a short list of things I think could be important for a writer.
Read a lot of your genre. I mean 10-20 picture books a week or more. Read some popular books published in the last five or six years, and read some of the not so successful ones too. Compare and analyze them. Try to understand what makes them popular. You can easily find the books in your local library. Talk to the librarians. They are an amazing source of information about what is popular and what people are looking to read. There are also a lot of read aloud videos on YouTube.
Learn about the publishing industry and writing for children. Join SCBWI and attended their online or local meetings, workshops, conferences. There is a plethora of information at SCBWI.
Write regularly. Have your sacred time slot and make sure that nothing interferes with it.
No writer should work totally alone. Even famous authors have their editor or writing buddy to bounce ideas. You need feedback from people who understand your goals and the craft of storytelling. Join a peer critique group. Ideally a group where everybody writes for the same age group.
Ask others in your critique group to read your manuscript aloud. Picture books are meant to be read aloud. If the reader stops or stumbles, you might need to revise that part. By the way, forgetting to read picture books aloud is Michael Green’s pet peeve.
Find blogs and online social media groups about writing for children. Participate in competitions, like Twitter pitches.
When you have a few books you are satisfied with, start pitching them to agents. Getting represented by an agency is the usual way to get seen by publishers. Understandably, most publishing houses have no capacity to accept unsolicited (unrepresented) author manuscripts, so you can only send your work to the few publishing houses who are still open to look at these manuscripts. To reach the rest of the houses you must have an agent.
Marble press is open to unsolicited subs right now, but we may begin limiting it to a few months a year in 2023.
Finally, don’t give up. Writing for children and getting published is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Just know that many famous authors had countless rejections, and eventually succeeded.
Q: Thanks for sharing all of this FABOULOUS advice, Susan! Do you have any practical advice for the authors who are sending their work to Marble Press?
A: First, I’d love to thank all of the talented people who sent us their manuscript or art for consideration in the last seven months. We got over a thousand emails. We read them all. Unfortunately, we don’t have the capacity and the time to answer all emails.
As for the nitty-gritty of submissions, I see a lot of social media posts where authors fret about the perfect query letter. We have got some amazingly crafted query letters. It’s a joy to read them, there is a fantastic pitch, intriguing synopsis, properly researched comps, and when we open the manuscript itself… well, let’s just say that this latter part is the most important one. If your query letter makes us cry because it’s so beautiful, but your story doesn’t, you will not get an offer. However, if it’s other way around, we are more than happy to forgive small mishaps in your query.
Lastly, please, name your manuscript properly: Your Name Story Title: E.g.: JaneDoe-TheThreeLittlePigs. Don’t forget to include your basic data at the top each of your manuscript. It’s very easy to get lost if your submission is called version08965MarblePress, and there is no author name, email, or anything in the document, except the story.
Q: Are you accepting illustrator submissions too? Where do you find your illustrators?
A: Yes! We are always open to see new and accomplished artists’ work. Apart from looking around agency websites, we regularly browse social media, IG, Pinterest, FB, Artstation, etc. We also archive the portfolio pages, or tear-offs (1-2 pages of PDF with name, website, and some selected art works) that artists send us.
Q: What kind of spooky or fall-themed books would you love to find in your inbox this season?
A: We’d be delighted to see an original and funny book about Halloween, or Thanksgiving.
Thanks again for joining us, Susan! It was such a treat having you and Marble Press join us!
Q: Would you like to leave a Trick or a Treat for the readers?
A: Some delicious treats, of course.
We will offer detailed written critiques on two picture book manuscripts submitted to Marble Press. The story must be related to a holiday.
To participate you have to do three things:
3. Comment under this blogpost.
The winners will be announced November 17th, 2022.
If you scroll down on our submission page, you will find some free downloadable picture book layout templates. They can come in handy when you are writing and wondering about spacing your story, and layouts are inevitable if you are also illustrating your own book.
WOW! This is amazing. Thanks for such a terror-iffic treat and opportunity!
Contest Details: Please make sure to follow Susan's guidelines above and comment below to let us know you're entering! I can't WAIT to see the winners on November 17th!
Please also thank Susan for stopping by and sharing her wisdom and valuable insight with us!
Reminder: Those who leave a comment on all posts will be eligible to win one (1) of ten (10) Rate Your Story Speed Passes.
About Marble Press:
Marble Press was born from a desire to share the world’s best children’s books. We love children. We have kids of our own! And we were children once, you know. We, the adults behind Marble Press, and our kids all love books. Before launching Marble Press, we discovered our favorite children’s books through a combination of chance, luck, and skill—similar to winning a game of marbles. With Marble Press, we will take the guesswork out of choosing your child’s next book.
Our mission is to publish books that will inspire your child, challenge their imagination, and ignite their curiosity. In today’s complex world, quality books, and the words and images found in them, are more valuable than ever.
We intend to publish books that make a difference, books that stand out in regard to style and substance. We want books that are honest and diverse, books that offer new perspectives and outside-the-box experiences. Great books can make you cry or scream with joy, they can make you ponder or dance or sing. Our books will offer a wide range of learning and experiences for our readers.
Our logo is the Taltos, a mythical horse that comes to age inspired and enlightened. Not only does the Taltos transform, but also he takes his young rider through a transformation. Great books can transform readers. We want to bring those transformative books to you.
For more about Marble Press, check out the below links:
Just for fun, enjoy an extra special treat from Susan (an illustrated/animated short)!