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Interview with Celia Lee, Assistant Editor At Cartwheel Books (Scholastic), open to unagented submissions from Inkygirl readers for limited time

  *** PLEASE NOTE THAT SUBMISSION WINDOW HAS NOW CLOSED. Response time (only those who included an SASE will receive a reply) is expected to be approximately 6 months. ***

Celia Lee is an assistant editor at Cartwheel Books, Scholastic’s 0-5 imprint. When she’s not reading, she’s talking about reading. And when she’s not talking about reading, she’s thinking about reading. You can follow her on Twitter @VitellusD.

How did you come to work at Scholastic?

So I had been going to grad school (for Publishing) and doing various editorial internships for a few publishers in the city for about a year, when a wonderful, kind, generous classmate of mine told me she was leaving her current Scholastic Book Clubs job for a new position in the company.

This was HUGE news for me, because Scholastic was the first publisher I ever knew about, due in part to the Book Clubs flyers I poured over when I was in elementary school. So being the enterprising individual that I am, I applied and interviewed for the job…which I didn’t get (but a very good friend of mine got it instead, which is a whole other story!).

Luckily for me, the kind classmate heard about another opening in the Book Clubs division and passed along my resume. Et voila! I got the job, worked for a few years for the wonderful Book Clubs, and then moved over to my current position with Scholastic’s Cartwheel imprint. I guess I’m a Scholastic gal through-and-through.

What is your typical work day like?

Mornings are usually the calmest part of the day. That’s when I can write a few emails, organize our imprint’s various internal charts and grids, catch up on the latest children’s book reviews/announcements, look at production passes, and review and respond to submissions. Afternoons are a little busier, because that’s when most of our meetings happen—with production and planning, or editorial and design, or even with our Book Clubs and Book Fairs. But I also squeeze out more emails and work on submissions in-between meetings. So essentially my day consists of writing, whether it be emails, proposals, or copy; reading, either emails, manuscripts, or proofs; and meetings, with anybody and everybody!

What's the best part about your job?

Working with so many talented authors, illustrators, designers, and editors!

What's the most challenging part about your job?

Working with so many talented authors, illustrators, designers, and editors! Seriously, all of these guys are so creative and inspiring—they really challenge me to be the best that I can be. It’s great…and it’s hard work!

Is Scholastic open to unagented submissions from writers and illustrators? If so, could you please give us more details?

Scholastic’s current policy is that we are not accepting unagented submissions. However, our Cartwheel imprint is opening up a 2-month window starting today, where we will review unagented submissions. 

*******NOTE FROM DEBBIE* - Submission window is now CLOSED, so I've removed the contact info. Unagented submissions are no longer being accepted and will not receive a response. Thanks to Celia for allowing Inkygirl readers the opportunity! **********

Note from Debbie: I asked Celia if she'd be the person who would be reviewing submissions and what kind of submissions was she especially looking for/not looking for, plus if she was open to submissions from illustrators who are NOT writers. Celia says that she'll be the primary reviewer though other editors may also take a look. From Celia:  

"In terms of what we’re on the lookout for: holiday; tried-and-true subjects like transportation, community, or new experiences; interesting novelty formats; and new ways of addressing core concepts. Things that we’re not looking for are nonfiction, anything older than 1st Grade, and “love” books. And we can certainly take a look at illustrators who aren’t writers! They can send a postcard with their url to their portfolio."

What advice do you have for aspiring children's book writers and illustrators? 

Really explore the book market out there. Go to your local bookstore or a Barnes and Noble and see the kind of books that they display. Then go to stores that have a book section—your Targets, your Walmarts, even your Gaps and Anthropologies. An understanding of what booksellers of all kinds are selling out in the world is invaluable, and can really help you market your stories to publishers.

Related online resources:

About Scholastic Children's Books Publishing & Distribution

Also see my other Inkygirl interviews.

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  • Response
    Since some of you have been asking... To Inkygirl readers who submitted their manuscripts to Cartwheel/Scholastic during the special window in July, please note that the estimated response time (for those who included SASEs, that is) is expected to be ar

Reader Comments (15)

Thanks for sharing this interview and this tidbit about submissions. It's always helpful to get extra insight into the publishing world from both agents and editors. It's also very helpful to be informed of submission opportunities. I am going to review my manuscripts and see if I have anything Cartwheel might be interested in. This is too great of an opportunity to pass up!!

May 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristine M. Irvin

This is an awesome opportunity! Thanks, Debbie and Celia. I enjoyed learning about you and how you got your job at Scholastic. As a former teacher , I LOVED the book clubs even more than the students. Receiving free books w/my points :)

May 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTina Cho

Thanks Debbie and Celia for the wonderful interview and chance to submit unagented manuscripts. One of my holiday stories instantly came to mind...now to tuck it into an envelope and send it on it's merry way...;~)

Great post!

Donna L Martin

May 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonna L Martin

I remember those book club flyers from many decades ago. I remember the book fairs that featured Scholastic books. Thanks for sharing your story about getting your dream job. I love inspirational stories like this. I'm definitely going to get a manuscript in and thank you for providing this wonderful opportunity!

May 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGwen Tanner

Thank you, Debbie and Celia, for sharing this interesting interview and for opening this wonderful opportunity to us. I've always loved Scholastic Books (even have some I bought from the book club more than 45 years ago!) And, as a teacher, getting to use those points to order free books was one of my favorite parts of each month.

May 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEvelyn Christensen

I love picture books and those that introduce 0-5 to the unique world around them. From a medical/health background I love introducing children to the concept that different is not necessarily scary and we are all special in different ways. Thanks for this information and a great opportunity.

May 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTerri Forehand

Thanks for a great interview! I'm especially excited about the open submissions. What an opportunity! Sounds like a busy place to work, but fun too.

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah P.

Thank you for the interesting interview and the extraordinary opportunity to submit a story to Scholastic. It's interesting to me that the best part of Celia Lee's job is also the most challenging.
Thanks for the insight into the editor's daily life.
John Paul McKinney

May 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Paul McKinney

Very interesting interview - and so down to earth! I love the envelope with your "address" on it. Thank you so much for this, Kathy, and to you, Celia, for this great opportunity! I have a few submissions to make ... and my work cut out for me to get them ready by July 19th! ;o)

May 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Drawbaugh

Thank you for a practical and informative interview. And thank you for the opportunity to submit unagented submissions.

Great interview. I would love to have a job like that.

May 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLupe Ruiz-Flores

Love, love, loved this interview! Thanks so much for opening a window into your world, Celia! As a former teacher's aide & librarian, I've enjoyed Scholastic for years, and now, well, I actually have a chance to submit to them! What's not to like?

Sue Frye

June 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersue frye

Sent off two manuscripts, and I so relate to scouring over the book club fliers in elementary school. I still do it with my grandchildren. Love Scholastic books.

June 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTerri Forehand

Oh boy, some place to send my winning picture book manuscript. Thanks for the interview. Sarah

June 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Maury Swan

Thanks so much for this awesome opportunity. I've sent off two manuscripts over the course of the past two months. Keeping my fingers crossed.

July 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia B

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