Saturday, February 10, 2024

PANEL: The Outlook for Children’s Publishing in 2024: Patrice Caldwell

The Outlook for Children’s Publishing in 2024

Favorite/Proudest moment as a Publishing Professional: Negotiating an imprint called Freedom Fire at Disney. Freedom Fire will aim to acquire stories from Black authors around the world, celebrating the diasporic culture.

What are you reading?: Reading a “spicy romanticacy” called Persephone and Hades. Loves mythology and highly recommends this modern take on an old tale. 

How to submit to Patrice:  Some people have messaged her on Instagram/LinkedIn but Patrice recommends to try and follow the guidelines of the agency/publisher you are interested in.  She has reached out to authors/illustrators through DMs but she does read the submissions in her slush pile.

What makes you fall in love with a manuscript?: Patrice is a “mood reader” and her taste spans all genres but if something can hold her attention, she’s onboard. Her latest read kept her awake until 3 am which excited her, even if the next day at work was LONG! She loves romance and knows the contemporary romance genre very well, so she is very interested in that genre. 

In your query letter, Patrice is most interested in the logline and will dive into the manuscript immediately. It’s okay if the first few pages are clunky—she’ll bounce around and get a feel of the manuscript but something about the book need to be intriguing. Editors and agents are willing to take on something that is not perfect if the story has legs. 

What is your editorial style?: Patrice will ask “Was this the book you meant to write? She asks about the client’s logline and comparable titles and if the writer describes it one way but the work doesn’t reflect it, she works to marry the two. She can help you get there but wants to make sure that she and the client are on the same page.

How involved are you in searching for illustrators?: Patrice went to the portfolio showcase and grabbed tons of postcards. Instagram is a great tool, especially utilizing hashtags to get your work seen as well as staying open to queries and referrals.

Question about Promotion: Having an agent who truly understands and is exciting about strategizing is instrumental. Having someone alongside you to push you and your work into the right spaces does make a big different. Knowing who has influence and where can help you get eyes on your book. It is an investment but it gets you out there. School visits can be really help and you can make money through public speaking and workshops. 

“Write the next thing. Nothing will sell your backlist then your front list.” 

“You are running a small business. Figure out the intersection of what works for you and what your readers love!”

When you are submitting, think about your WHY? “Why” did you spend countless nights and weekend to write your book. Showcase that passion! 

Patrice Caldwell 

Patrice Caldwell is seeking commercial, character-driven fiction for middle grade, young adult, and adult readers as well as narrative nonfiction. Across the board, she is especially looking for middle grade and young adult science fiction & fantasy, mythology retellings and reimaginings, romance novels, and anything that can be categorized as horror and/or gothic literature. Patrice loves to champion stories from writers & illustrators from marginalized backgrounds. She does not represent picture books.
Before becoming a literary agent, Patrice was an editor at Disney-Hyperion and, before that, Scholastic. She went to Wellesley College, where she studied Political Science and English, and is the founder of People of Color in Publishing, a grassroots organization.

Moderated by TeMika Grooms
Manager Of Design And Illustration

TeMika Grooms is a Georgia-based writer and illustrator creating stories with a belief that all children should be able to see themselves as the hero within the pages of a book. In 2021, she was selected as an Illustration Mentee in the We Need Diverse Books Program and was a member of the first cohort for the Highlights Foundation and The Brown Bookshelf Amplify Black Stories program. Her latest illustrated book Put Your Shoes On & Get Ready! by Senator Raphael G. Warnock was released by Philomel Books in January 2023.

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