Editors’ personal taste does not rule
Random House have a consumer intel-team which have a Hot Title meeting every week. There are fourteen people in the fiction team with ten commissioning editors who all have personal taste but everyone also has to consider the list. They have to take in consideration how a new title will work with the list and the books position in the market. There has to be an in-house excitement about the book and they do not consider anything that feels mid-list as Random House has a reputation for publishing high-profile books.
It is harder to market an author who writes for different age-groups
This revelation made my heart sink as I write and have completed a multitude of picture books, two mid-grade books and a YA book. Apparently it is because an author who writes for a multitude of age ranges loses retailer confidence.
It works with more established authors than debuts, especially if they already have an audience. This has not put me off as I love writing for all age ranges. I think my best bet is to push my picture books and then try and work myself up with my readership.
Diversity is key now more than ever
We have always known essentially every child should see themselves in a book. We are also aware that publishers are actively seeking books where the protagonist happens to be ‘different’ and it is not an issue, such as gay, disabled, different culture, etc. I believe, as long as the research is strong, a writer can write as a character not from their own background. Diversity is about showing respect.
Random House have a scheme to encourage writers to tell them in 1000 words where more diversity is needed called the Right Now Scheme. Submissions are taken from different regions throughout the UK.
Gender does make a difference
Girls are happy to read about boys but boys are not happy to read about girls. This is less true for picture books. Boys do not like to read domestic dramas.
Second book syndrome is a thing
Random House never take on one book deals they always agree a second book. This second book is expected in six months and this will be specified in the contract. This can put an added pressure on an author.
Just because you have been taken on by a publisher does not mean you have made it
Every year publishers like Random House sit in a Title Majority Meeting where they discuss each debuts progress. If a book has not made out its advance the author and their book will be cut from the list. This does not do your career any good. Big publishers have to look at the bigger picture and they have to think how they are going to compete in the United States.