The official blog from the team at children’s publisher Hot Key Books, a brand new division of Bonnier Publishing, publishing books for 9 – 19 year olds from August 2012.

Our lovely new website has arrived, full of sneak peeks at our upcoming books, plus a fun “sorting” feature to find what books you might like. Never fear, we are still blogging every weekday, right here.

We love your comments, but do moderate each one for appropriateness.

Who we are:

Sarah Odedina, Managing Director
I have been committed to publishing excellent children’s books since 1988. I began my publishing career in the rights department of Penguin Books. In 1992, I moved to the Watts Publishing Group where I was Rights Director of Watts non-fiction and Orchard fiction. This position was invaluable in providing the commercial training upon which I have built an exciting editorial career. For the past fourteen years, I have served as publishing director of the children’s list of Bloomsbury Publishing, including overseeing and managing the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, and in my career my authors have won many wonderful prizes including three Carnegie Medals.  I am committed to bringing great authors to readers, and am a particular fan of US authors, whose writing has an important place in the British market.

Emily Thomas, Publisher
I began my publishing career at Andre Deutsch Children’s Books as a secretary to the formidable Editorial Director, Pam Royds. Pam’s authors formed a veritable Hollywood Walk of Fame of Publishing and included my beloved childhood favourites, such as Joan Aiken, Leon Garfield and Philippa Pearce. In truth, I wasn’t cut out to be a secretary. I was far more interested in sticking my nose in all the incoming manuscripts and asking a LOT of questions. Beaten down by my curiosity and persistence, Pam would kindly sit after hours and tell me precisely how she went about turning an (often handwritten manuscript) into a work of creative genius. So was born my passion for editing children’s books and working with authors! I moved about a bit: editorial assistant at Scholastic, working with the great David Fickling, followed by a stint of non-fiction editing at Kingfisher books, and then a move to the glossy supermodel of publishing houses, Hodder Headline (later to be become Hachette Livre UK) as junior editor, editor, senior editor, senior commissiong editor, and then publisher of teen fiction at Hodder Children’s Books… It’s been such an exciting career in publishing so far, and now, as Publisher at Hot Key Books, I have arrived at the job I dreamed of all those years ago as I sat in a creaky old Georgian House in Great Russell Street and listened wide-eyed to my mentor Pam: to be buying such fabulous books from so many talented authors, working with wonderful colleagues to build a brand new and thrilling children’s list here at Hot Key. It really doesn’t get any better than this.

Sara O’Connor, Editorial Director, Print & Digital
I began as an editorial assistant at Little Brown Books for Young Readers in New York, and then followed my heart to London. There I joined Working Partners where I worked on series like Rainbow Magic and My Sister the Vampire. Most recently, I was at Hodder Children’s Books managing the Enid Blyton publishing program and acquiring projects like internet sensation JackDrawsAnything.com, and A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton. I am also the co-creator of the volunteer SCBWI Undiscovered Voices project, helping fourteen previously unknown children’s authors land publishing deals that have won and been nominated for a number of industry awards.

Georgia Murray, Editor
I started out in children’s publishing ten-ish years ago, at Bloomsbury Children’s Books, just as Harry Potter was going stellar. I worked closely on the fifth and sixth Harry Potter titles and was also lucky enough to work on books by wonderful authors like Benjamin Zephaniah, Celia Rees, Jeanette Winterson and Louis Sachar. After an extraordinary time and being there long enough to move offices twice, I left to have two children, attempt the freelance life and jam-making, realised jam-making is not all it is cracked up to be, went to work as a commissioning editor at Hodder and Orchard, and ended up at the lovely Hot Key Books.

Jenny JacobyJenny Jacoby, Editor
I started out working in children’s publishing on the Production side at DK (where my love of Excel spreadsheets was kindled) and moved into Editorial via a stint in academic publishing at Nature Publishing Group. When I was ready to leave genetics behind I returned to the (much more fun) world of children’s, with time at HarperCollins, managing the Noddy and Dr Seuss publishing, and then to Walker Books, working on fantastic pop-ups, fiction and non-fiction. Since having a baby two years ago I’ve been having a lot of fun working freelance, which is when I first became friends with Hot Key Books – but now I’m delighted to be working in-house with the great team here.

Naomi Colthurst, Editorial Assistant
I recently finished a Masters in Gender Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, having first done an undergraduate degree in History at Newcastle University. The main attraction for me when studying History was the amazing stories I used to uncover – which now means I am the office champion of books with historical settings! I did some brilliant work experience with Barry Cunningham at The Chicken House which confirmed for me that publishing, and specifically children’s and young adult publishing, was what I wanted to do as a career. I applied for a position at Hot Key Books thinking I wouldn’t have a chance as it was such an incredible, exciting venture with so many amazing people on board – but whaddaya know! I am beyond delighted to be working here and can’t wait for our fantastic books to finally hit the shops.

Ruth Logan, Rights Director
I began my publishing life at Jonathan Cape in Bedford square, which was a bit lucky.  There I worked with the some of finest and most maverick of editors, selling rights in adult and children’s books including Dahl, Steadman, Burningham, Barnes, Atwood, Irving… I was really a bit spoilt so it was hard to know where to move next.  I found I couldn’t resist the call of an agency, that of Deborah Rogers far west in Notting Hill and there again, even though I was never entirely sure what my job description was, I was hovering in the vicinity of fabulous writers – Ishiguro, Rushdie, McInerney, Chatwin.  But when Bloomsbury was born I knew I had to join them in the brave new enterprise, co-founded by my ex colleague Liz Calder.  That was in 1987.  We were small but immodest in our expectations and it was exhilarating working so hard and believing so passionately in what we were doing. When Bloomsbury started a children’s list, Sarah Odedina arrived at the same time as J. K. Rowling and I adored working with such a creative and innovative editor and her authors… my life was complete and I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to work anywhere else.  I was wrong – with Hot Key the dream has begun again.

Kate Manning, Sales and Marketing Director
I started in children’s books on the shop floor at Waterstones in 1997 and then in early 2001 moved into publishing as the sales assistant at Transworld (about ten months before it merged with RHCB).  After working my way up to Key Account Manger (which included standing on a rooftop in Oxford with Philip Pullman) I moved to Macmillan just as The Gruffalo’s Child was published (first time I worked with Benton).  I then moved to S&S as Sales Director, working on lots of fabulous things including Spiderwick and Aliens Love Underpants.  I then (I have moved about a bit) went to HarperCollins for four years (second time working with Benton) and saw the launch of Walliams.  I now feel I’ve finally settled down at Hot Key and I’m making myself very much at home.  For the first time I have plants in my office, framed pictures that aren’t from our books (although they will be added) and, of course, Reg. And Benton. Again.

Sarah Benton, Head of Marketing 
I started my publishing career at Orion, as the non-fiction cuttings assistants, before securing my dream of working in children’s books as a marketing assistant at Macmillan. I worked with authors and illustrators such as Meg Cabot, Eva Ibbotson, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Emily Gravett and Julia Donaldson, before moving to Hammersmith to join HarperCollins Children’s Books. For four years I managed major marketing campaigns for Skulduggery Pleasant, Michael Morpurgo, Darren Shan, David Walliams, Oliver Jeffers and many more. I’m delighted to be here at Hot Key Books in my native East London sampling as many new cafes and restaurants as the budget will allow.

Cait Davies, Sales and Marketing Executive
It was volunteering at London Book Fair that made the decision for me – I had to work in publishing. After graduating from Swansea University in 2011, interning and HarperCollins and admitting to my parents that the family tradition of teaching probably wasn’t for me (not to mention ending a three year stint of scooping popcorn at ODEON), I was some how lucky enough to land a job as Sales & Marketing Assistant at Hot Key Books. Moving to Hackney and launching a brand new company with the most exciting and dynamic team in the industry (I am biased) was, hands down, the most exciting year of my life. A year later, I’m still pinching myself that I work with books – not to mention the most creative, passionate people at Hot Key and Red Lemon Press.

Megan Farr, PR Manager
I started working in the vibrant word of children’s books 10 years ago as Publicity and Web Associate for Barefoot Books in Bath (I even got to go to Boston woo!) before moving to London and working for Little Tiger Books and Macmillan Children’s Books where I worked with some fantastic authors including Meg Cabot, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Emily Gravett and Tony Robinson. One child later I moved to Booktrust and temporarily moved away from books to coordinate events, but couldn’t stay away from them for long and became the Children’s Web Editor where I was totally overwhelmed by the number of books being published in the world! Four and half years and another child later (that makes two) I’m back in the world of publishing and really excited to be part of a new publishing adventure.

Livs MeadLivs Mead, Sales & Marketing Assistant
I started working as a Saturday girl at the magical Tales On Moon Lane, an independent children’s bookshop when I was 15. Saturdays turned into seven years, working during my university holidays and becoming more involved as weekend manager once I had graduated. Working at the shop for so long meant that I was lucky enough to read a lot of wonderful books, see all the exciting things publishers were doing, and how excited and passionate children are about the books they love. All in all I became obsessed with the whole world of children’s books. I wanted to know more about what goes on behind the scenes to create an amazing book, so I did lots of work experience at publishers, which reinforced my dream to work for a children’s publisher. I saw Hot Key Books boom onto the scene from a bookseller stance, and instantly became fascinated and so excited about what they were doing. I’ve now got my dream job working for such a dynamic, creative and unique publishing house – and I get to carry on raving about children’s books!

Jet Purdie, Art Director
I studied Typography at LCP before working in above-the-line advertising at M&C Saatchi and WCRS. Realising advertising was the work of the devil, I crossed over to publishing where I ghost-illustrated Maisy (the mouse) for Walker Books and designed teen fiction covers for Random House Kids. Later I freelanced for a couple of years, designing theatrical film posters and DVD covers for entertainment advertising agencies such as The Creative Partnership and Tea Creative. After that I set up my own Ltd company, designing corporate brands and the odd graphic novel cover. Then I met the lovely Sarah Odedina and we designed the Hot Key Books logo… and now I art direct for Hot Key Books!

Jan Bielecki, Design Assistant
I self-published my first children’s book back in my Swedish high school, where I forced family and friends to buy up the tiny print run. I have since been designing and illustrating all types of books and graphic novels for Swedish publishers like Raben & Sjogren and Kolik forlag – sometimes with my name on there as the creator! Wanting to sample life outside of chilly Scandinavia I set sail for London where I freelanced while getting my Central Saint Martins diploma. Now, after illustrating Hot Key’s A World Between Us cover, I somehow bagged a design job with the lovely Hot Key family and jumped at the opportunity!

Jon Perdoni, Finance Director
Having studied for my Economics degree in Leeds, for some strange reason I decided three years of books about numbers wasn’t quite enough. So I embarked on another few towards becoming a chartered accountant. I joined Bonnier two years ago and was involved in the amazing creation that is Hot Key Books from the outset. This is such an exciting time for both Hot Key Books and the Bonnier Publishing group, and I am so pleased I can be a part of this wonderful team.

Dominic Saraceno, Production Director
Printing and publishing has been in our family for many years. I grew up surrounded by book samples, hot metal typography pieces and old print machinery my dad would bring home. These days, you’ll find all this stuff in a museum. Straight after school I went to Watford College (now West Herts College) and studied Printing And Packaging Technology. This was a four-year course with one year spent in industry. I left with a Bsc Honours and continued to work at a paperback printer for a year before crossing over into trade publishing production at Pan Macmillan. Since then, I have worked for HarperCollins and Templar Publishing. These all have a very broad product base, and when Bonnier purchased Templar the opportunity arose to work with Hot Key, Weldon Owen and Smellessence.

Tristan Hanks, Production Controller
After graduating with a much-maligned Media Production degree from Bedfordshire University I moved back to Oxford and began working for Harcourt Education.  After a few years of working on school books the lure of London became too strong and I managed to land myself a position at Walker Books, working with the novelty department. Nearly six years later and with almost ten million Where’s Wally printings under my belt I found an offer I couldn’t refuse – to work in the wonderful world of Hot Key Books!

57 responses to “About

  1. How does one become an author with hot key book?

  2. For the moment we are still accepting unagented submissions, which can be sent to our enquiries email address.

  3. Hello, just checking whether you are still currently accepting unagented submissions? Thanks

  4. HI Rachel, yes we still are to the enquiries@hotkeybooks.com email address.


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  6. Hello there, I’m just wondering if you’re still accepting unagented submissions? Thanks a lot in advance for your reply!

  7. Hi there – yes, we are! Send in to the same address as above :)

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  9. Hi, Are you still open for unsolicited MS? Look forward to your reply :)

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  11. Hi there – would you consider a manuscript aimed at 8-11 year olds?

  12. We would! Please do send it in to our enquiries at hotkeybooks dot com email address.

  13. Hello there, are you still considering unagented submissions? If so, I have a fiction manuscript for ages 9-12. What are your requirements for submission?
    Thank you for your time & attention.

    • Yes, we are. Please send the whole thing in to our enquiries at hotkeybooks dot com email address, with a cover letter.

  14. Do you accept multiple submissions, and by that I mean, can I submit more than one manuscript to you at once? Or do you prefer to have them submitted one at a time and for the author to wait for rejection or acceptance? I ask because I suspect you will soon be an agent-only submissions and I’d like to get both my manuscripts into your submissions queue before that happens :)

  15. Do you only want to see manuscripts on an exclusive basis? Or is it okay for authors to submit to you and other presses at the same time?

    • Exclusive is certainly nice, but not required. Just tell us in the cover letter if you are sending it to other publishers.

  16. Thank you for answering all these questions, Sarah. If I may ask another: Do you reply to all submissions? Or is there a certain time at which we (authors) should assume our submissions have been rejected. Also, assuming you do reply to a submission, do you have a rough idea on how long someone will wait to hear back? I’m going to be submitting my manuscript next week and I would be happy to give it as an exclusive, but I know some publishers can take months (or even years) to make a decision and that can be rather taxing, as an author, to give an exclusive for that long.

    • We reply to all submissions. I would suggest our average turn around time is about a month, so feel free to chase if you haven’t heard back within a month.

  17. Thank you for all the great info. Your line up looks great and that mission-impossible style video is …… er …… shameless(?) LOL. Loved it! I think you guys would be fun to work with.

  18. Hi. Do you guys consider previously self-published books? Also, do you consider books that have sold in other markets? e.g. If another press has my North American rights, could I submit something with only the UK rights available?

    • Yes, we do. It’s a harder decision because we’re not able to be the ones launching the book, but we will consider it. And we do occasionally acquire limited rights, depending on the territories available — again, though, it’s a more difficult decision because we won’t have the same opportunities as with a project that we aren’t limited on rights. But, if the book is amazing, we’ll find a way to make it work!

  19. Greetings, HotKeyBooks People:

    Pardon the intrusion, but I submitted a manuscript to you fine folks a couple months ago. I see that you said authors could “chase you up” if we hadn’t heard from you in a month, and I have tried to do that. I sent a couple follow up emails a couple weeks back. However, I’ve not heard back. Perhaps your line of manuscripts to consider now stretches around the block and mine has yet to tickle across anyone’s desk.

    Have your response times changed? Or have you adopted the “No answer = We’re not interested” method of submission replies?

    Many thanks,

    Aaron Madden

    • Hi Aaron –

      Just checking you picked up my previous message, as we still haven’t received anything from you and would love to do so!



  20. Hi Aaron –

    I’m very sorry, but we don’t seem to have any record of either your manuscript or your follow-up emails – there is no record of them in the spam filter either! Did you definitely send them in to enquiries@hotkeybooks.com?

    Either way please send your submission in again and this time if you don’t receive an email from us telling you we have safely received it, let us know via the blog and we’ll think of something else.



  21. Love this blog! Love the books you’re putting out! You have at least four submissions from a few members of the Victoria Writers Group. We’re all looking forward to hearing what titles you guys have coming down the chute. Also very exciting to hear that you’re still replying to submissions after only a month. Could I ask a question I’m just curious about? How many submissions do you guys get in a typical month? Is it really as bad as we writers here? Because we always hear stories of poor submissions editors being burried beneath insurmountable heaps of manuscripts. I’ve just always been interested in how things work on the other side of the curtian.

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  23. Are you guys still accepting submissions direct from authors? I heard that you guys had stopped replying to submissions and I thought I’d check.

  24. Oh, good, Sara, thank you for clearing that up. Perhaps the previously mentioned one month response time has changed? There were a few members of my local SCBWI chapter who submitted and mentioned that they were on month three of waiting for a reply. They reported hearing that it was agent-only submissions from now on (come to think of it, I think it might have also been the SCBWI message boards where I saw that). I’m glad they were mistaken.

    • Thanks for letting us know. We are trying to stay on top of all our submissions, and certainly want to better a three month turn around! We’ll do some work internally to improve — but we certainly are not going agent-exclusive.

  25. Hi guys,

    wondering are you looking for some book cover design help? I’m a freelancer doing cover designs at http://www.ebookcoverdesigns.net, if you need any help let me know, I can design well and pretty fast ;)


    • Thanks! I’ll pass this on to the art department, but we have our brilliant in house team covering everything at the moment.

  26. I’d be interested in the same things Megan mentioned above. Perhaps her question went unanswered because you don’t want to share those kinds of details, but if you would, I’d be really interested in knowing more about your submissions process. What percentage of the books you’ve signed on have come from your slush pile and what percentage have come from agents? How many people read a manuscript before a decision is made about acquisition? I’m even curious if you guys all just read digital copies, or if you print out manuscripts and read hard copies.

    Can’t wait to see your next round of book releases!

  27. Megan and Laura – We didn’t answer because we tried to compile the statistics and failed! Submissions come in to so many places and aren’t all officially tracked.
    We get an ever increasing percentage from unagented. For our first nine months, submissions to enquiries came quite slowly, but now it’s more and more. It is a little insurmountable, but we’re still going to work to get through it. And we’re preparing for NaNoWriMo and getting through all we can by the end of November.
    The vast majority of the books we have signed are agented, but we do still look at unattended because we know there are gems out there.
    Pretty much everyone on the editorial, SPAM and rights team read all the books before we acquire. it’s most definitely and everybody on board process,
    We all pretty much just read digital copies, on Kindles, iPads and desktops.

  28. Thanks Sarah. That gives us writers a little hope that you at least look through the unagented submissions. I hope you find some books in there that you like. I can’t imagine the submissions you must get after NaNoWriMo (Yikes).

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  30. Do you guys take submissions from USA writers or just UK writers?

    • We are happy to take submission from writers in the USA, yes! Please send a cover letter and the full manuscript to the enquiries AT hotkeybooks DOT com.

  31. This is a great website/blog, you guys seem like you would be wonderful to work with. I am really curious about publishing and in particular the submission process.. How does it work over there? I imagine you get lots of submissions. Do we authors wtihout agents have much of a shot? Break it to me gently, please :)

    • Our submission process is simple. Write a great book (or write a book, then make it great!), and send it with a cover letter to enquiries AT hotkeybooks.com. We read everything, unagented or agented, but most of the books we acquire are agented.

  32. Cool blog you guys have here. I think most comments on this page are from writers…….. surprise, surprise. I have an idea for a blog post that might be fun (but might be a lot of work too). Follow a manuscript from slush-pile to how it’s acquired (editorial meetings and what not), to contract offer to development (editorial/title changes…..etc), to publication. I think not just writers, but readers (non-writer readers) too would love to see how it all happens. I’m not sure how to pull all that off, exactly, but if you manage it, I know I would love to read that post.

    • This is a great idea! We’re actually going to do a whole series of “A Day in the Life Of…” posts which will follow Editorial, Design, and Sales assistants through their most important tasks. Keep watching this space for those posts.

  33. Good day, HKB staff,

    A writer from my critique group suggested I submit my manuscript you you, and I was just wondering if there were any particular differences you look for in writers not from the UK? Do you want books that take place in the UK? Do you want them written in UK English?

    Furthermore, if someone is willing to send a manuscript on an exclusive basis, does that bump them up the queue a bit? Or does it make any difference at all? Is there an estimated turn around time on submissions? Or is there a time after which it is ok to chase you up and query about the status?

    Pleased to have found a publisher like you folks. There aren’t enough children’s publishers out there.

    Brooke Ashe

    • Hi Brooke,

      Thanks for your enquiry. We don’t look for any particular differences between UK and non-UK authors – and we DEFINITELY don’t want books just set in the UK! That would make for a rather monotonous list. We aren’t at all fussed about UK English either – although, like any submission, we would want the language to reflect the book’s setting (i.e. no modern slang in historical books, please…)

      I’m afraid you would not be ‘bumped up the queue’ if you were to send your manuscript to us exclusively. That wouldn’t really be fair! And we always try to get back to someone within three months of their submission, but during busy periods that can be difficult. Do feel free to chase us up after the three months though.

      Hope that answers everything!


  34. Hi I was just wondering if you’d actually accept a manuscript from a debut writer from Pakistan. My script is a western/romantic fantasy for young adult!

  35. Yes, we would! We are a location-agnostic publisher. The description or your genre is certainly interesting! Please send it in with a cover letter to enquiries AT hotkeybooks DOT com, and we’ll take a look as soon as we can.

  36. Wicked!!! I’m already in love with you guys! I hope to send you my script in a couple of days. Keeping my fingers crossed and twisted and entangled!!!

  37. Ryan James Keane

    Hi. I wish to submit a manuscript. Would a crime be suitable for young adults, (17-19) I believe my plot should be.

  38. Hey there, I’m a new blogger coming from Lading, Austria who found you on https://hotkeyblog.wordpress.com/about/. Would you have any points for those looking into blogging? I’m planning
    to start my own page very soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Do you think I should get started with a free site like PivotX or shell out some cash into a pay site? I’m faced with a lot of options and it’s all so daunting… Any tips?

    • Ooh, very good question – and one that I think our fabulous blogger readers would be excellent at pitching in. This is bigger than a one line question, so do you mind waiting a few days while we get it up on our blog with our take, but ask our readers’ take, too?

  39. Hi there,
    Just wanted to confirm, if I use few dialogues referring to Hogwarts/Voldermort/Harry Potter in a different context, in my script would that be a violation of copyright act/plagiarism? I’ve used it in the prologue of my script and if it is a violation of copyright act then I’ll immediately edit the script.
    E.g Character “A” says “I’m a graduate from Hogwarts university.”
    or “Harry Potter can never die!”
    Is that serious plagiarism?

  40. Thank you!

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