• OhMG! News


    July 11, 2014: Apply for a Thurber House residency!

    Thurber House has a Children’s Writer-in-Residence program for middle-grade authors each year and  guidelines and application form for the 2015 residency were just released.

    This unique residency has been in existence since 2001, offering  an opportunity for authors to have time to work on their writing in a fully furnished apartment, in the historic boyhood home of author and humorist, James Thurber. Deadline is October 31, 2014. For details, go to READ MORE

    July 10, 2014:

    Spread MG books in unexpected places 7/19
    Drop a copy of your own book or of another middle-grade favorite in a public place on July 19 -- and some lucky reader will stumble upon it.
    Ginger Lee Malacko is spearheading this Middle Grade Bookbomb (use the hashtag #mgbookbomb in social media) -- much in the spirit of Operation Teen Book Drop.  Read more ...

June 16, 2014:
Fizz, Boom, Read: Summer reading 2014

Hundreds of public libraries across the U.S. are celebrating reading this summer with  the theme Fizz, Boom, Read! Find out more about this year's collaborative summer reading program and check out suggested booklists and activities. Read more ...

April 30, 2014:
Join the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign and help change the world

The conversation on diversity in children's books has grown beyond book creators and gate keepers to readers and book buyers. What can you do? Take part in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign May 1 though 3 on Tumblr and Twitter and in whatever creative ways you can help spread the word to take action. Read more ….

April 11, 2014:
Fall 2014 Children's Sneak Peek
A peek at forthcoming middle grade books (as well as picture books and YA books) in a round-up from Publisher's Weekly. First printed in the February 22 issue, but now available online. Time to add to your to-read list. Read more ...

April 9, 2014:
How many Newbery winners have you read?
You could make a traditional list of all the Newbery Medal Award-winning Children's Books you've read, but there's something so satisfying when you check them off and get a final tally on this BuzzFeed quiz. Read more ...

March 28, 2014:
Middle Grade fiction is hot at 2014 Bologna Children's Book Fair

For the second year in a row, publishers are clamoring for middle-grade, reporters Publishers Weekly. "I’ve been coming [to Bologna] for 12 to 15 years, and I’ve never had as many European publishers asking for middle-grade," said Steven Chudney of the Chudney Agency. Read more ...

February 14, 2014:
Cybils Awards announced
Ultra by David Carroll (Scholastic Canada) wins the Cybil for middle grade fiction; Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Disney Hyperion) wins for Speculative Fiction. Read more.

January 27, 2014: And the Newbery Medal goes to ...
Kate DiCamillo won the Newbery Medal for "Flora & Ulysses"; Rita Williams-Garcia won the Coretta Scott King Author award for "P.S. Be Eleven." Newbery Honor awards to authors Vince Vawter, Amy Timberlake, Kevin Henkes and Holly Black. For all the exciting ALA Youth Media Award News ... READ MORE

November 12, 2013:
Vote in the GoodReads semifinal round

Readers' votes have narrowed the middle-grade semifinals down to 20 titles. Log in to your GoodReads account and vote for your favorite middle-grade (and in other categories, of course). Read more ...

November 9, 2013:
Publishers Weekly Top Children's Books of 2013

Middle-grade and young adult titles selected by the editors of Publishers Weekly as their top picks of the year. Let the season of "top ten books" begin! Read more ...

October 14, 2013:
Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids debuts January 2014

Shelf Media Group, publisher of Shelf Unbound indie book review magazine, will launch a new free digital-only publication for middle-grade readers. The debut issue features interviews with such notable authors as Margaret Peterson Haddix and Chris Grabenstein as well as reviews, excerpts, and more. Middle Shelf will be published bi-monthly beginning in January 2014.
Read more ...

September 19, 2013: Writer-in-Residence program at Thurber House

Dream of time and space to focus on your own writing project? Applications now being accepted (11/1/2013 deadline) for The Thurber House Residency in Children's Literature, a month-long retreat in the furnished third-floor apartment of Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Read more ...

September 18, 2013: Vermont College of Fine Arts Scholarship opportunity

Barry Goldblatt Literary launches The Angela Johnson Scholarship, a talent-based grant for writers of color attending the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program at VCFA. Up to two $5,000 grants will be awarded each year. Read more ....

September 16, 2013:
National Book Awards longlist for youth literature

For the first time, the NBA is presenting lists of 10 books/authors on the longlist in each category. The 2013 young adult literature list includes five middle grade novels and five YA. Read more ...

Sept. 13, 2013: Spring preview
Check out Publishers Weekly roundup of upcoming children's books to be published in spring 2014. Read more...

August 21, 2013:
Want to be a Cybils Award Judge?

Middle grade categories are fiction, speculative fiction, nonfiction. Applications due August 31! Read more ...

August 19, 2013:
S&S and BN reach a deal
Readers will soon be able to find books from Simon & Schuster at Barnes & Noble. The bookstore chain was locked in a disagreement with the publisher over how much it was willing to pay for books. Read more ...

August 6, 2013:
NPR's 100 Must-Reads for Kids
NPR's Backseat Book Club asked listeners to nominate their favorite books for readers ages 9 to 14. More than 2,000 people nominated titles, and a panel of Newbery authors brought the list to 100. Most are middle grade books. Read more ...

July 2, 2013:
Penguin & Random House Merger

The new company, Penguin Random House, will control more than 25 percent of the trade book market in the United States. On Monday, the newly formed company began to take shape, only hours after a middle-of-the-night announcement that the long-planned merger had been completed. Read more ...

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  • The World of Licensed Characters and Work-For-Hire

    Learning Differences

    Chances are, if you’ve ever thought of writing a book, you’ve thought it would go something like this:

    You get an idea for a story, a great idea. For months (maybe years) you work on it, writing and revising and polishing until you have a manuscript you can be proud of. Then you go to work finding an editor who loves it enough to buy it (or an agent who will find one for you). Finally, someone offers to purchase the right to print your book, and a year or two later you hold the finished product in your hands.

    Eve Adler

    But not all books are created this way. We’ve all seen books based on characters from TV or the movies, or an entire line of books based on one character. The process used to create these kinds of books (and book products) is a completely different world. I was privileged to take a peek into this world by visiting with Eve Adler, an editor with Grosset and Dunlap/Price Stern Sloan. Though all publishing houses work a little differently, the basic process is the same.


    Happy Feet Two: The NovelBook publishers are always on the lookout for great characters found in television and movies, as well as popular toys or games. Once they find them, they make an offer to purchase the right to create a book that ties in with the character or their world. At Grosset and Dunlap, the licensing division takes care of this work. They search for licenses they can purchase for movie tie-ins (a recent example, Eve edited books for the Happy Feet 2 movie), or books based on popular television characters (for example, Grosset is responsible for many of the Penguins of Madagascar books).

    Sometimes it gets complicated and publishing houses purchase the right to create books based on a television series which was based on a beloved book or book character (Angelina Ballerina is a classic Grosset and Dunlap example).


    Book publishers are also busy creating their own brands in-house. In this instance, they will develop the brand and produce the book(s), and create any apps if applicable. For those brands they want to expand further, they may publish different formats, like sticker stories and board books. Occasionally, if they own the rights, they may license them out to others to create plush items, games, and other products.

    “Ladybug Girl by husband and wife team David Soman and Jacky Davis is an example of an in-house brand that we all love and are looking to develop,” Eve shares. “Dial publishes the original hardcover picture books, and at Grosset, we’ve published several board books and a sticker story to expand the brand.”


    But who writes these books? That’s where work-for-hire comes in.

    Work-for-hire is when a writer is hired to write a book for a publishing company (or other entity). The writer does not retain the rights to the book—those belong to the publishing company—and they are paid a flat fee for their work. There are strict guidelines and very quick deadlines (usually two weeks to write a picture book, for example).

    These writers still work with the editor on revising or making any changes to the work, but also those who own the licensed character must be consulted and approve the projects. So sometimes a work-for-hire author might need to revise based on the licensor’s suggestions as well as the editor’s.

    Breaking into the work-for-hire world is not easy, but it can be done. Eve says, “To be a good writer-for-hire author, you need to make sure everything you’re writing is on-brand. You also need to take direction well, especially since there are so many cooks in the kitchen, so-to-speak, in licensed publishing.”

    Publishers with work-for-hire projects often want to see samples of a writer’s work. Editors will keep names of those writers whose work they liked, and when they have a new project, they will contact the writer and offer them the job. Eve says the easiest way to get started is by having your own contact with an editor.

    Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators The best way to make contact is by attending writing conferences. (In fact, that’s how Eve and I met; at the SCBWI Utah/Southern Idaho regional conference in Salt Lake City.)

    Work-for-hire isn’t just for writers, though. Eve mentioned that often her company hires teachers or librarians to create their leveled readers, since readers must follow strict reading level guidelines and most teachers/librarians are already familiar with these. And a few smaller products may be written by the editor in-house, since hiring someone outside the company is not cost-effective. “At Grosset, we (editors) usually write our licensed sticker stories, activity books, and board books. It’s a really fun part of the job!” says Eve.

    The licensed characters and work-for-hire world is an interesting and ever-growing part of the publishing business. And though we didn’t discuss this part of the industry today, Eve also acquires original manuscripts. As a special opportunity for our readers who were also writers, Eve accepted submissions through May 10, 2012. If you sent something to Eve, she will will do her best to respond within 6 months of the date your submission.

    Thanks to Eve and Grosset and Dunlap/Price Stern Sloan for letting us take a look behind the scenes of this unique part of the industry! And a special thanks to Eve for the Mixed-Up opportunity to submit original work to her.

    Also, don’t forget to check out our Mixed-Up Middle-Grade Skype Tour! Simply leave a comment here to be entered to win a Skype visit with Wendy Shang, author of the award-winning THE GREAT WALL OF LUCY WU!

    Elissa Cruz has always wondered how the book tie-ins her kids love to read were created. Now she knows. She is hard at work writing her own original middle-grade books, hoping one day they may be made into a brand of their own. She’s not holding her breath, though. You can also find her at her blog or participating in her other middle-grade project, #MGlitchat on Twitter.

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