SCBWI NSW Ends the Year in Style

SCBWI NSW finished the year in style with a party at the Hughenden Hotel. There was lots of merriment, catching up with old friends and a meeting of new members organised by Ramon Davey. Afterwards we had our Chrissy event with some very special guests.

Lisa Berryman, publisher wit Harper Collins told us about the kids' publishing industry and why she loves it so much. This was followed by talented and lovely illustrators, Sarah Davis and Marjorie Crosby-Fairall.

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Lisa was in conversation with Susanne Gervay. In a very funny but informative chat, we found some interesting things, including Lisa's top tips for being and staying published.

  • Read kids' books. Lisa is always surprised by aspiring writers and illustrators who don't read
  • Write from the heart
  • Make sure your great idea has a STRONG VOICE
  • Network
  • Being published is always about the book, not a great cover letter or reference or work history
  • Get out to schools and have something about your presentation that is unique

Susanne then asked about specific genres.

Picture Books

This is a tricky market, partly because retail has changed and when Borders and A&R closed, 25% of the kids' book market disappeared..BUT the good news is that alternative like Aldi are now becoming players, which means Lisa can open up her backlist and sell titles that once would have been forgotten. 

Middle Grade

This is rocking! Lisa sees a shift back to classic stories eg Judith Rossell's Withering By Sea. There is a trend towards collecting, especially for girl readers and a market for classy collectables. The story is what will determine higher production values such as marker ribbons, internal illustrations and hardcovers.


Series are hard to keep alive and there is a strong need to keep backing the title. Lisa will allow 2 books to go to print before deciding whether to go ahead with more. It is the publisher who will often decide the number of books in a series.


This is still in the contemporary phase. It is a great are for exploring all sorts of issues, but warns not to let the issue drive the story. There is still an issue with censorship and if there is something confronting in the book it has to be there for reason of the story.


Lisa isn't keen on high fantasy, partly because it doesn't sell well. There is a market for fantasy if it is done well.


Lisa's tip to gain the attention of thew reader....romance. Especially for YA...make sure there's a lot of yearning.

Submitting to Harper Collins

You can submit via 'The Wednesday Post" online but HC has also partnered with the CBCA Australia in the Aspiring Writers Mentorship Program. Contact HC for more. 

Hearing from Marjorie and Sarah was not only a delight but a real education in how they make pictures and words work together.

When a publisher receives a text they. then have the task of deciding who would be the best illustrator for that project to create the book they envisage. Both Marjorie and Sarah said how important it was that illustrators try to absorb and understand the essence of the work. An emotional response to the work is important in creating the best result. 

Sarah showed us her beautiful artwork. She prefers no notes on the text but to think about pacing, rhythm and the payoff.

Marjorie explained that she wants the theme to come out in every way - in the layout, colour, and pagination. This part of the process is a lot like staging or planning a film. It was amazing to see how Marjorie's illustrations come to life from initial sketch to final colour image.

It was a real pleasure hearing from both illustrators, how they work, how they approach their craft and to hear their passion for what they do.

Thank you to RA Susanne Gervay for the afternoon and for lending us the beautiful Hughenden Hotel, Sydney, and to all the SCBWI leadhersip teams around the country who make events like this happen. It is so important to get together, talk about our successes and cheer each other on.

Happy Christmas from the SCBWIAustEastNz team.

Don't forget...

... that the next NSW/ACT quarterly meeting is coming up fast! It will be held at the Hughenden on the 18th of March, so keep an eye on the calendar for further details. To get you in an appropriately convivial mood, and to remind you what a nice bunch we are, here's a little reminder of what happened the last time we all got together...