Is there a hierarchy in the children’s book industry?
If you’re just entering this dog-eat-dog world, think of it like a school. A large, grey bugger with high fences and lots of asphalt.
The picture book creators are kept inside, in a rarefied, humidity-controlled, tastefully decorated sanctuary. Busy finger painting. Will speak to fairies. No one else.
The junior fiction authors are swinging on the monkey bars. Occasionally flash their knickers. Known to pull faces. At each other.
The middle fiction authors are in the auditorium, rehearsing Shakespeare and bossing each other around. Still believe in unicorns. Will deny it.
The nonfiction authors are in the library, reading Funk and Wagnalls and sucking up to the librarian. Begin every sentence with, ‘Did you know…’
The YA authors are behind the shelter sheds, smoking. Some even do the drawback. Will jab nerds with a compass.
The poets are on the canteen roof, eating black licorice and staring down rain clouds.
The indie authors are in detention. Writing lines, and organising a coup.
The illustrators are in the toilets. Spraying graffiti. Cutting each other’s hair. Giggling.
The graphic designers. School? Yeah, right.
The publishers are in the front office, holding the principal to ransom, threatening people via the overhead speakers.
The editors are in the stationery cupboard, playing Scrabble and sniffing paper.
The agents are in the staff room. Eating biscuits.
The reviewers are in the canteen. Icing cupcakes — and polishing bruised apples.
The literary judges? Aka, The Inspectors. Pop up when least expected. Carry clipboards (with nothing on them). Frighten the bejesus out of everyone. Can’t always be seen. Have access to cunning disguises. And invisibility cloaks.
Some players take on more than one role.
That’s when things get messy.
That’s when the machine breaks down.
Hear the bell?
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