Hey cHEwY gum gums!

On Wednesday night we had our final CBCA Northern Sydney Sub-branch meeting via Zoom. Instead of Xmas drinks and festive fun at a pub, we were sharing Christmas decorations through our tiny screens. But we also got some juicy insights from 2 publishers about the challenges of 2020, as well as what’s beyond for publishing next year and beyond.

We were joined by Eva Mills, publisher from Allen and Unwin, as well as Alexandra Yalomi-Clark from boutique indie publisher, Berbay Books. So we had opinions from both ends of the children’s book industry. I’ve summed up some of their thoughts here for you to enjoy, plenty of food for thought.

Challenges in 2020

Publishers have remained resilient this year, despite the lack of hand-selling of books in bookstores and school presentations, which has hurt debut authors and picture books. Eva said that people tend to be drawn to comfort food, so classic and well-known authors and books thrived.

Another challenge was seeing foreign rights stalled because of the worldwide pandemic, with book fairs like Bologna cancelled.

Point of Sale marketing like dump bins and posters were replaced with visuals and videos uploaded to social media. It was a neat way to get people’s attention on their own screens, and a good alternative as bookstores were closed.

Both publishers also spoke about authors and illustrators finding it hard to be creative, which is something I can relate to 🙂 More on this in a future blog.

So what will 2021 bring?

Publishers will be coming out guns blazing in 2021, especially if borders in Australia stay open, and people start to get out and about, vaccine pending. They are keen for authors, publicists and sale reps to get back into bookstores and schools.

Eva said that movements such as Black Lives Matter have forced publishers to look at their lists to see if it’s diverse. So they are looking for fresh, new voices from all cultures and backgrounds.

Publishers will continue to build upon their social media and online presence. They will sit side by side with more traditional marketing ways.

It gives me hope that 2021 will be a brighter year, not just in general, but for the children’s book industry. What do you think 2021 will bring?

O.W