At the Frankfurt Book Fair, I got to speak with Kim Nye of Maverick Books. Let’s just say it like this: what a cool publisher!
Maverick Books was on my list of must-meet publishers.
They’re a respectable UK publisher of kid’s books, one that brings quirky, fun stories to their readers.
When I approach a publisher’s booth for the first time, I never know what kind of reaction I’m going to get. You cannot assume that they’re going to be friendly just because they publish books for kids.
It was a pleasure being able to speak with Kim Nye. She was willing to share some insights with me about publishing and even provided an interesting tip for writers – one that was completely new to me.
About Maverick Books
Maverick Books has only been around since 2009, but whose name is already Right There in the thick of the action. It is a four-person firm that publishes about 20 books per year. (I got to briefly meet founder Steve Bicknell, a very busy man who was in a meeting at the table next to me and Kim.)
Currently, Maverick gets about 4,000 submissions per year. Truly, they do read every single submission that is emailed to them (no snail mail submissions are accepted – more details on submissions are coming, so keep reading my friends).
Maverick Books is aptly named, really. If you look at the illustrated storybooks they’re bringing to the market, you can easily see how Maverick books aren’t quite the sweet books you typically find coming from the UK. Maverick Books are quirky, funny and even a bit edgy.
Kimara “Kim” Nye
I asked Kim what got her into the business and her answer surprised me. “I love artwork. I can’t do it myself, but working [here with Maverick] gave me the chance to work with artists.”
About ebooks for kids, and how that may change the future of book publishing, Nye isn’t worried a bit. She knows the numbers and sees how kids respond. “Children’s stories sell stronger than most other types of books as a printed product. Children will always want books.”
But that doesn’t mean the children’s publishing business is without worry. There’s a ton of competition, especially in the UK.
About the Extreme UK Competition
“It’s a particularly tough market, especially in the UK. We discount huge amounts.”
As an example, one that shocked me, Kim Nye explained that in the UK it’s quite common to discount books so much that they are given as packets: 10 books for 10 pounds. Distributed everywhere like this, with these prices, it’s incredible to me that a small house can compete at all.
“If we can have a bigger run, we can have the price points down.” That means the company is able to distribute very widely and with success. I know what printing costs. They’re printing a lot of books.
This really opened my eyes, because it made me realize how much the publishers at Maverick have to be willing to risk on a single title in order to bring it to market at all. This isn’t a half measure; there is no safety net – not when you’re talking about numbers like these. It’s huge.
What do you do in Frankfurt?
“We’re here to sell rights.” Maverick goes to many book fairs around the world, including China. But, “Frankfurt’s a lot more business. You’re making contacts. You meet here, get the ball rolling, and then close the deal in Bologna.”
When I asked other publishers this question, they had similar answers. If they don’t go to Bologna to close their deals, they do that in London (which is held around the same time as the Bologna Book Fair).
London does have children’s books, but the focus there is on adult fiction and nonfiction.
Maverick always goes to Bologna, which makes sense. If a publisher’s focus is illustrated storybooks (as is the case with Maverick), there is no other place to be.
Bologna is primarily about the artwork that goes into books. Maverick Books is no exception, as they too have “long queues, looking at portfolios.”
That means artists who attend the Bologna Book Fair can go to Maverick’s bookstand with their portfolio in hand, and show them their stuff. Kim Nye is quite possibly the person you’ll meet there at the end of the line – the one who will look at your artwork.
Kim’s Great Tip for Writers (& artists, really)
I asked Kim for a personal tip she might like me to pass on to writers. Many writers don’t think about location when they write an illustrated storybook manuscript. So their story all happens in one place, like a room of their Kindergarten. While this may read all right, it won’t translate into an illustrated story that well.
If “it all happens in one place,” the story doesn’t move. “They don’t give any thought to what we see.” So be sure to think about where the characters are, moment to moment. Move it about and make it as visual as possible.
Maverick Process of Consideration
They sit down and read the submissions out loud to each other. They do this with every long-listed manuscript. As Kim says, “We read it aloud. So get people to critique it [your manuscript] and read it aloud.”
Because Maverick really does read everything they get, it can take up to 6 months for a response. But they DO indeed respond, to every submission. That’s more considerate than most.
Maverick’s submissions guidelines are HERE.
For more insight about what Maverick wants and doesn’t want in their submissions, watch this video. This is actually Kim Nye, telling us what they need from us. Good stuff.
Keep creating, no matter what.