Associate Publisher Children’s Books - Suzanne O’Sullivan
We seek out the best stories. We nurture them. Then we share them.
Hachette Australia is a team of expert publishers and passionate readers dedicated to discovering and supporting talented writers and working with them to craft exceptional stories.
We select the very best, whatever the genre – from high-quality commercial fiction to literary award-winners, children’s picture books and adventure stories to memoirs and history, lifestyle and sport. And then we pour 100 years of publishing excellence into every page, bringing them to readers in the formats that they love.
Who is Hachette Australia?
We are the Australian specialists in the global publishing house Hachette Livre. Our editorial team are dedicated to seeking out and developing writing talent from our home shores. We have our own production, sales, marketing and publicity teams who work closely with authors and editors locally and across the world to curate the very best reading experience for Australian readers.
Who do we publish?
We are proud to have discovered, nurtured and shared some of the most exciting and bestselling authors in Australia, and the world. Please explore the rest of the site to make your own discoveries from our list, and sign up to hear what we’re working on at the moment.
Tell us a little about yourself and your history in the publishing industry.
I’ve been a bookseller, an editor and a publisher, and I have an honours degree in English and a masters in children’s literature: in other words, I can’t imagine doing something that didn’t involve books!
How long have you been working with Hachette?
I’ve been with Hachette since 2012, and before that I worked at Walker Books and Scholastic.
What can you tell us about your publishing house and what you publish?
Hachette is an international publisher with a strong Australian list. Most of our Australian children’s books are published under the Lothian imprint. We publish picture books, kids’ fiction, some non-fiction and a smattering on YA. We look for books with unique voices, strong commercial appeal, and a great sense of what kids really enjoy.
What qualities do you look for when deciding to publish a picture book? Is there a checklist you use when considering manuscripts?
I don’t have a specific checklist, but there are questions I tend to keep in mind. Is this an entertaining story? Does it speak directly to kids, without being condescending or didactic? Is the voice distinctive? Where will this story work best – in the school/library sector, or the general trade? What illustration style would work best with this? Does the text leave space for an illustrator to bring their own interpretation to it?
Does it help when selecting an author for publication if they already have a presence in the children’s book industry?
It can help, but the only thing that really matters is the quality of the text. Having a good profile won’t get you signed if you don’t have a terrific text!
I have written a children’s picture book manuscript – do I need to find an illustrator myself?
No – we pair illustrators to texts based on our understanding of the market. It’s also important to remember that we will work with you to develop and edit your text, which may change what you had in mind for the illustrations.
What’s a common mistake you find when reading a manuscript?
I see lots of picture book manuscripts that are overly moralising or didactic. I’d prefer for authors to focus on telling a good story, and let any message simply be implied.
How long from acceptance until the book hits the shelves?
This can vary a lot, depending on all sorts of factors such as what we already have scheduled, how topical the book is, whether we need to find an illustrator and what their availability is. A novel that is already very polished could potentially be published 6 months after acceptance, but a year is more typical. With a picture book, it could be anywhere from 9 months to 2 years. It could take time to find the right illustrator, and they may not be able to start working on it for a while. The illustrating process generally takes 6 months to a year.
Should a potential author be discouraged by the dreaded rejection letter?
No – it can just mean you’ve approached the wrong publisher for your work, or that the timing wasn’t right, or any number of things. Always take it as an opportunity to keep working on improving your writing and on getting to know the industry.
And finally, what are publishers looking for in a submission?
A great voice, the ability to tell a story and a strong central idea! Don’t send us lots of supplementary material – just write a simple, to-the-point cover letter and let your manuscript speak for itself.