What to Expect When You’re Expecting… A Book!

What I learned from KidLitVic 2018 as a first-timer. The whole day was much more than I anticipated and made less daunting with a familiar face or three. My aim was to look, listen and learn during KidLitVic – free from the nervousness of assessments. Prior to the big day was the logistics of negotiating ones’ way to airport in one city, from airport in another city, to hotel, round Melbourne and back home. What follows is a snapshot of one panel with Michael Wagner as the interviewer.

10:00 – 11:00 Panel — What to Expect When You’re Expecting… A Book!

Michelle Madden (Penguin Random House Australia, Clare Hallifax (Scholastic), Suzanne O’Sullivan (Lothian Children’s Books, Hatchett Australia)

  • Communication is key – If you’re unsure, have concerns or don’t agree with suggestions, discuss it together – not when too late. Key stakeholders all have vested interest in a successful book. It’s a partnership.
  • Editors are your best reader – When they offer feedback they have your book baby’s best interest.
  • Share visions for the book – It’s a collaboration, an opportunity to share each other’s visions eg., Author, editor, publisher. It’s a three-way street.
  • Please explain – tease out things from the start. It’s a long, long process. Each step/phase takes months to years – author writes book, submission/rejection stage, book acquired, illustrator acquired, editing back-and-forth, illustrator roughs and illos back-and-forth, enter final stage before publishing = 2 to 3+ years later until book launched.
  • If you can’t communicate with your editor (+people in general) etc., there’ll be no collaboration.
  • Trust why editor is doing that. It’s their field of expertise.
  • Author/illustrator combination are the easiest to work with, especially if they’re established and proven. It’s one person. They understand how words and pictures can layer a story.
  • Authors are expected to support marketing/promoting of their book through author talks, school visits etc., It’s a busy noisy market with many vying for the readers and bookshops’ attention.
  • The fact your book has been acquired shows your editor and publisher love your book too. ‘Winner, winner chicken dinner’ – Claire Halifax – Scholastic.

Left: Michael Wagner, Michelle Madden, Clare Hallifax, Suzanne O’Sullivan. Front Right: Adam Wallace with hat and back to audience.

KidLitVic2018 Team

Congratulations KidLitVic team Coral Vass, Alison Reynolds, Nicky Johnston and Jaquelyn Muller. Also to interviewer extraordinaire Michael Wagner and athlete extraordinaire Adam Wallace with the roving microphone.


Left: Coral Vass, Alison Reynolds, Nicky Johnston and Jaquelyn Muller.



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