In Which I Got to See the Innards of Chronicle Books and They Were Beautiful…

I got to be one of thirty privileged people on a tour of Chronicle Books on Friday, thanks to my phone appendage and the connections of SCBWI. I only took four pictures and two of them are blurry because, well, no one else was taking pictures. And I didn’t want to be the only one flipping out and taking pictures of everything, so I tried to be all sly about it, the result of which is four pictures, fifty percent of which are blurry.

Basically, it was awesome. Basically, it was like a dream. The people who work at Chronicle Books have a book store in their lobby, mostly art, food, and children’s books, like, all the best kinds of books. And each desk has a bookshelf next to it full of the same.

The design floor had this beautiful texture wall for inspiration and ideas.


The cover wall had all the covers of the books coming out in the next year.


There was color and texture everywhere.


I would sleep under a desk there if they would let me.


I didn’t get a picture of the mock-up room where blank white books of all shapes and paper types were waiting to be filled. If you are a writer or an illustrator then you know how it feels to see towers of beautifully bound blank books. There was a locked door in the corner that secured all of the original artwork they were currently using. And two girls worked in this room, their only job, to make sample books. That is their “work”.

We got an interview with the art director, an art editor, and a children’s book editor.

Chronicle Books is one of the only publishers that still accept unsolicited manuscripts. They get about a thousand a month. On Friday afternoon, they bring the bins into “the room with the couches” and read. There’s usually some chocolate. They pass the manuscripts back and forth.

“Have you ever selected one out of the slush pile?”
“Goodnight Goodnight, Construction Site was one. Three years on the New York Times Bestsellers.”

Alright, so one made it from the slush pile.

“You have to understand, too,” they said, “that we’re selecting books now for the two thousand eighteen season. It takes two to three years to get a book to published.”


But the biggest perk of the tour was that each of us get to submit something to her directly. And now it’s been three days and I’m still deliberating which one I want to get rejected. Which one of you lovely little manuscripts wants to get rejected again? Hmm?

“Tweak a little, type a little, tweak a little, type a little, tweak, tweak, tweak, type a lot, tweak a little more…”(Sing this to the tune of that one song from the Music Man.)

So go wander through the Chronicle Books website. They have some of the most beautiful children’s books currently available. And good luck to all of us in the slush pile!


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