May 1, 2016: Kelly Delaney, Associate Editor, Alfred A. Knopf Crown Books for Young Readers

by Vicky Rubin on June 22, 2016

May 1, 2016  CBIG Meeting

Guest speaker: Kelly Delaney, Associate Editor,
Alfred A. Knopf Crown Books for Young Readers (Imprint of Random House
Children’s Books) and

PDF Handout: Knopf Editors (low res)
PDF Handout: Knopf Editors (high res, same handout)

Portfolios reviewed at May 1, 2016 meeting: Laura Goetz, Kimberly Rose
Batti, Stephanie Ruble, Erin Reese, Drue Wagner

Knopf publishes contemporary yet timeless art and stories.  They publish
trade picture books for Age 3 – 7 as well as MG and YA. They do not do
original board books. However if a picture book is successful they will
come out with a board book version.

There are 11 editors at Knopf. Each works on about 12 books a year, out
of which 2 – 4 may be picture books. Rignt now she is working on 2 PBs.
Only submit to 1 editor per imprint.They do three lists per year:
Spring, Summer and Fall.

Knopf creates books for the US market. They do have sub right agents to
handle foreign rights. Sometimes foreign books are acquired. One example
is APES A GO GO from HarperCollins UK to Knopf US. The text may be
Americanized for the US market.

Illustrators should be able to draw animals and humans that can live in
the same world.

Story themes:
– Friendship is huge.
– Non-fiction is having it’s moment – female scientists and
mathematicians are big.

Kelly brought along DUNCAN THE STORY DRAGON by author/illustrator,
Amanda Driscoll to demonstrate her editorial process.

Amanda was repped by Rosemary Stimola of . Knopf Acquired the manuscript but
wanted the Dragon to be more child like. To help Amanda rethink Duncan,
Kelly suggested: drawing Duncan as if he was made from blocks, being
drawn by Picasso, wearing high top sneakers, etc. The high top sneakers
suggestion brought out Duncan’s character and personality. Take away  –
be flexible, open to change. Publishing is collaborative process.

When she is interested in acquiring a manuscript before the acquisition
– She fills out an acquisition form.
– A profit and loss form.
– Does the author have a track record?
– Comparable titles.
– How much is the advance?
– How fast the advance is earned back (guestimate)
– Is the author/illustrator new? Established?
If All goes well at the acquisition meeting an offer is made to the

From acquisition to published book, it may take about two years. May be
longer if it is not an author/illustrator as they may wait for the
“perfect” illustrator to be available for the project.

6 Months before the launch date:
The List Launch – The editor and design team Show off the final edited
version and Final cover + 2 pieces of final art to marketing department.

After List Launch –  Marketing goes out on the road to create some

A few months before:
Cover reveals are posted on social media to create buzz. About 2 months
is good, not so early that people forget.

Book tours, big expense, are Not common for picture books. However Blog
tours are free and common for picture books.

Kelly prefers electronic submission. Kelly’s turnaround time is roughly
3 – 6 months, maybe longer if she has just come back from a conference.

Kelly gravitates towards picture books:
– Funny over just sweet
– Quirky
– Unusual friendships
– Non-fiction: especially science

Not so much:
– Kelly is not so into rhyme. Rhyme is hard to do well. The story must
need the rhyme. Not the rhyme needs the story.
– Lately there have been too many Yeti books… so no more Yeti books.

CBIG Members have a 3 month opportunity (May 1 – July 31, 2016) to
submit their picture book dummy directly to Kelly. She prefers digital
E-mail your PDF dummy to:
In the subject line put: CBIG May 1, 2016 PB dummy submission

Postcards may be sent to:
Kelly Delaney
Associate Editor
Alfred A. Knopf Crown Books for Young Readers
Imprint of Random House Children’s Books
1745 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

Knopf is one of the few houses that still accepts UNSOLICITED
MANUSCRIPTS. If you missed Kelly’s window of opportunity, you can still
submit via the slush pile. See the Knopf Editors handout PDF that Kelly
generously shared with us at the meeting for more insight to their
tastes. It will be reviewed with other unsolicited work. Allow 5 – 6
months for a response. Please do not submit manuscripts via email. YES
they have a slush pile!

Submission guidelines posted at .
Send a sample of your work, 25-50 pages, and a stamped, self- addressed
envelope to:
1745 Broadway
New York, NY 10019


See top of page for links to the PDF handouts.