Behind the Scenes with Chronicle Books plus a Video Book Review

Hi Readers,

So sorry I have been away for the past four months. I have missed all of you. I have been focusing on my own picture book writing and it has been going really well. I am definitely finding my groove so I will start blogging again. I cannot wait to tell you about all the fabulous books coming out this Fall 2014. And I am also taking Katie Davis’s Video Boot Camp course so hopefully you will start to see more video reviews from me as well.




Chronicle Books is an independent publisher based in San Francisco. They produce gorgeous, smart, visually appealing books. This past week children’s editor Melissa Manlove and book designer Ryan Hayes gave a behind the scenes look at children’s publishing. The event was moderated by Irene and Sally from the Marketing department. Below are some of the highlights from the event.

Q: Who partakes in the Acquisition meetings?

A: Editors, Book Designers, Production, Marketing, Publicity … pretty much everyone involved with the book except for Sales.

Q: What makes it a great book for Chronicle? (to Melissa)

A: Magic. (Melissa retold a story of how when they were working on JOSEPHINE, they realized that the text and art were too scrunched up. So Melissa asked her boss if they could have more pages. And the answer was yes. JOSEPHINE is a 3,800 word non-fiction story told in verse. It is 104 pages long!)

josephine collage2


Q: How big is the slush pile?

A: They receive 9-10,000 manuscripts a year. The editorial team gets together once a month to go through the slush pile.

Q: Where do the stories come from that get published?

A: Most stories come from existing authors that they have worked with and from agents. However, they do find stories in the slush pile. They also have a small percentage of stories that are work-for-hire.

Q: What is Chronicle’s position on ebooks and story apps?

A: Chronicle is issuing ebooks for all their frontlist titles. With regards to storybook apps they are not seeing the return on investment at this time, so are taking a wait and see approach.

Q: How many books does Chronicle print on a first-run?

A: This is something that is discussed at the acquisition meeting but the final decision is made later on by the publishing director and sales team. Average first-run in children’s books is 10-15,000. Basically enough to last 3-6months. Their philosophy is to print small and print rapidly.

STEAM TRAIN, DREAM TRAIN did have a first run of 100,00. But keep in mind this follows GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT CONSTRUCTION SITE which has been on the New York Bestseller’s list for 146 weeks!

Q: If a writer-only is submitting a novelty book idea can they submit a prototype or extra material.

A: Submit whatever is necessary to get the vision across. (The novelty book WHAT’S IN YOUR PURSE was created by a writer-only author and she did submit additional pdfs explaining/showing the interactive portions of the book.)

Hope you found these few highlights helpful. If you have any other questions fell free to ask in the comments. If I know the answer I’ll try to answer.

For your viewing pleasure below is my first ever video review of the adorable book WHAT’S IN YOUR PURSE by Chronicle Books. Enjoy!


16 Comments to “Behind the Scenes with Chronicle Books plus a Video Book Review”

  1. Hi, Darshana. Glad to hear that your writing is going well and that you’re back online. Thanks for the great synopsis of the Chronicle Books program!

  2. Nice post Darshana! Glad everything is going so well for you, especially post WOW retreat!

  3. Thanks for the insight from Chronicle. I loved your video review! I’m taking a digital video class, too, to renew my teaching license. What program did you use? It must’ve been difficult to hold the camera and flip through the book.

    • Thanks Tina. I just used my iPhone. I didn’t do any editing, haven’t learned how to do that yet. Yes I wouldn’t recommend holding the phone while filming, YouTube was able to do some stabilization to fix the shakiness. I am planning to use a tripod and our HD camcorder in the future.

  4. Reblogged this on authorkarenbrueggeman and commented:
    Great insight of behind the scenes with Chronicle Books.

  5. Excellent post, Darshana, thanks for sharing!

  6. What an awesome video book review! I can’t believe it’s your first one, and I can’t believe you just recorded it on your iphone. Terrific info on Chronicle Books too!

    • Thanks Teresa. It’s really easy, you should trying recording just for kicks. I think the editing part will be harder. I actually spent more time trying to figure out how to make the clickable link at the end of the video.

  7. Good job, tech-savvy Darshana. That was fun, especially hearing your voice.

    • Thank you Sherri. Surprisingly I actually don’t mind my voice on the video. I do hate the sound of my voice on answering machines though. For some reason I sound like a kid.

  8. Great video! Great interview! 😀

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