Thursday, January 5, 2012

An Interview with Maria Modugno, Part IV

Week of January 1, 2012: An Interview with Maria Modugno
Thursday, January 5—An Interview with Maria Modugno, Part IV

This is the final installment in a four-part interview with Maria Modugno, Vice President and Editorial Director of HarperCollins Children’s Books.

Rob Sanders: I hear that you have a secret time test for determining if the length of a picture book is spot on. Do you care to share your secret?

Maria Modugno: I use one of those old-fashioned egg timers as a rule of thumb. I don’t want a story to last longer than a wiggly little kid can stand still.

RS:  Are there any great picture books out there that wish you had acquired? If so, what and why?

MM: Oh you want to know about “Editorial Envy.” Every publisher has at least one book on every list that I wish were mine. A recent favorite is The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers. I think it’s important for a book to have the full support of everyone involved in the process—the publisher, sales people, marketing people, finance, design, production, etc. While editing is a one-person occupation, you need everyone to get a book published properly

RS: What percentage of your writers are new writers?

MM: At least half.
RS: What percentage of the books on your list are by author/illustrators? 

MM: About 60 %. No one believes this, but it’s harder to find good writers than to find good artists.
RS: Maria, my readers are going to ask about your submission policy. I don’t want you inundated with unwanted manuscripts. What is the HarperCollins policy about unsolicited manuscripts? 

MM: I do look at unsolicited manuscripts and email is fine. As you can tell by the interview, my responses tend to be terse.

RS: Maria, thank you for spending time answering my questions. I know the readers of Picture This! have benefited from your wisdom and candor. I can’t wait to see what fun picture books HarperCollins will be releasing next!

I believe I just heard you licking stamps for your submission to Maria. Before you fire off that manuscript, make sure you’ve followed Maria’s advice and know the HarperCollins’ list inside and out. Then . . . good luck one and all!

Visit the HarperCollins Children’s Book web site at:


Anonymous said...

Hi Rob! Thank you so much for this series. I have searched the HarperCollins Children's website and cannot seem to find submission guidelines nor information on how to contact Maria anywhere. Any hints?

Rob Sanders said...

According to the 2011 CHILDREN'S WRITER'S & ILLUSTRATOR'S MARKET the address for HarperCollins is 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022. The HarperCollins' entry says they are not accepting unsolicited manuscripts, but Maria said she does look at the unsolicited manuscripts she receives.

Jennifer R said...

This was a great interview series. I'm so glad I found your website the other day. Thanks for sharing!

Jill Bergman said...

Thanks for posting these great interviews! I enjoyed reading Ms. Modugno's thoughts about picture books.

The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

Thanks I enjoyed all four parts of this interview,
Would love to have seen an email address for submissions. I went to the website and I also Googles Harper Collins Childen's submission guidelines. No luck.
I did fine an email box for submissions, but no guidelines.... oh well.....

Rob Sanders said...

Everything you need to know about guidelines are in Maria's interview--she speaks of word count, audience, and her willingness to read unsolicited manuscripts. (Everything else would be standard--double spaced, one-inch margins, etc.) Look a couple of ocmments up and you're find the snailmail address for HarperCollins. Best of luck!

Heather Ayris Burnell said...

Thanks to you and Maria for this great interview series. I learned a alot!

Rob Sanders said...

Thanks, Heather!


CarolWeis said...

Hi Rob ~ great interview with Maria! Thanks for sharing it. Just wondering if her submission policy still stands true now that she's with Random House. Have any idea? Thanks!

Rob Sanders said...

Carol, Maria did update all of her answers after moving to Random House. However, while at the FL SCBWI meeting in Miami a couple of weeks ago participants were given the Random House mailing address to use to send submissions to Maria. RS

CarolWeis said...

hey Rob ~ thanks for responding. I'm a little confused about her updating the interview after moving to Random House...seems all references are still HarperCollins. But thanks for the heads-up.

Rob Sanders said...

Carol, Maria checked and updated her answers the first week of January 2013. Because she's only been at Random House since the first of December she has not yet built a list there from which she can share examples. So she used examples most familiar to her. Hope that helps. FSD

CarolWeis said...

Thanks so much, Rob. I sent a pb out to her today. Keeping fingers, toes, and Ts crossed.