First, Carter introduced us to the history of Candlewick, the company culture, and some of their extremely well known authors, illustrators, books, and series.
He then explained their relatively simple acquisitions process: there are no big meetings, editors don't need to get buy-in from sales and marketing, and there aren't a great many hoops to jump though for a Candlewick editor to acquire a manuscript. Their guiding statement is simply,
“We only sign the un-put-down-able.”
Some other tidbits included:
- For picture books, Candlewick solicits input from the author about the choice of illustrator. They paginate and layout the text before sending to the illustrator.
- For nonfiction, an important aspect is the source material used. He looks for strong, primary sources, and offered Action Jackson as an example of a perfect picture book biography.
- Candlewick likes narrative-based work, whether in novels, picture books, fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. If you are not writing a narrative story, they are probably not the right publisher for you.
- Candlewick editors are always looking for picture book texts, picture book biographies, and character-based stories. Carter loves unusual sci-fi with great world building. He also likes boy books along the lines of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe). “Show me the book that no one else wants,” they often say. They are looking for something unique and special.