Chitchat with Yeehoo Press Editor Helen Wu Plus a Critique Giveaway and Above the Slush Pile Submission!
Hello, lucky KidLit Oasis Readers!
I am so excited to have you back, because you are in for multiple treats with this post! Are you smiling already? I hope you are, and in just a moment, you'll see what I mean...
My guest on KidLit Oasis is the amazing Helen Wu, who wears many hats in the kidlit industry: she is an editor, publisher, author, illustrator, graphic designer, and translator! How impressive is that? Oh, and she's also my acquisition's editor for my upcoming picture book, The School of Failure: A Story About Success. So, it's my great pleasure to have Helen on my blog, and I'm truly happy to chat with her about her role as an editor, in particular, and get the scoop on what goes on behind the scenes at Yeehoo Press, so you could be in the know as well!
Plus, Helen is generously giving away a picture book critique to one super lucky blog reader! And, she's giving my readers an above-the-slush-pile submission opportunity! Hooray! (Find the guidelines at the end of the interview.)
Now, without further ado, welcome, Helen! Thank you for being my guest. I have lots of questions, so let's get started.
1. How did you become an editor? Did you have any mentors who helped you along the way? And please tell us about Yeehoo as a publisher -- what are the company's values, goals, and missions?
I’ve been passionate about writing and drawing since I was a kid, but I never thought it would be a career option growing up in China. After I graduated from the University of Georgia with an MS in Economics, I landed a job in the marketing field. I learned how to use and draw in Photoshop to make attractive marketing materials. I did digital drawings and put a portfolio online. To my surprise, someone asked me if I could illustrate their picture book. Gradually, I illustrated more self-published picture books. I got involved in every step of bookmaking—from illustration to layout to cover design, typography, and book printing. When my son was born, I was inspired to write and illustrate my own picture books. The positive feedback encouraged me to do more. In 2018, with 10 picture books that I wrote and illustrated under my belt, I realized I wanted more than just a book out there. My dream was to write a book that could reach a wider audience and be carried by libraries and brick-and-mortar bookstores. I knew I needed a professional team with an editor, designer, and art director and marketing resources to back me up. Traditional publishing was the route to take. I started taking classes and attending conferences.
In August 2019, I attended the SCBWI conference in Los Angeles and met Mr. Zhang, the publisher, and two editors from Yeehoo Press. Luyang Xue, the acquisition editor, told me they were looking for someone to take charge of their publishing house’s US division. They wanted someone who could speak Mandarin and English and had experience in children’s book publishing and connections to authors in the US.
My background was a perfect fit for Yeehoo’s criteria. They invited me to visit their offices in Shanghai and Suzhou for an in-depth discussion with the whole team. After a few months of talks and planning, I officially joined the team in November 2019.
Yeehoo Press creates and publishes fun, enchanting, and socially responsible children’s books for audiences worldwide, focusing on universal messages. Yeehoo publishes the English editions in the US and the simplified Chinese editions in mainland China. Starting with the US and Chinese markets—two of the largest children's book markets—Yeehoo’s goal is to find common ground between different countries and cultures and provide books with universal interest and appeal for readers worldwide.
2. What is your favorite part of the job and what is your least favorite part? What brings you joy in your position day in and day out?
Definitely getting the chance to think creatively—not only the book itself but also the whole collaboration process and all areas of the publishing business. To be the best advocate for your book, you have to know about contracts, subsidiary rights, the target audience, writing, art style, graphic design, marketing, publicity, sales, and so on. The goal is to support the author and the rest of the book team, including the illustrator, designer, and marketing team, in telling a compelling story. I love to see each step of how a book takes shape from plain text to a finished book. I always marvel at the journey of making picture books. You plant a seed and work hard to nurture it, and it surprises you months later with flowers!
3. What is a typical workday for you? If there's no "typical" what are some of the tasks that have priority in any given workday?
Last year, I focused more on acquisitions. I used to read and review picture book manuscripts before presenting potential books to the acquisitions board. Some weeks, I only had a few manuscripts to read, while I had too many in other weeks. It can be really hot and cold, but every day starts with reading and taking notes.
This year, I focused more on the marketing side of the business, and our other editors do more of the acquisitions. I’m constantly looking at timing and scheduling. I always start with things at the top of my to-do list, and I regularly check on deadlines. I’m in meetings, liaising with different departments for each book, including editors who write the descriptive synopsis and catalog copy, the production team, who prints and ships the books, the sales team, who handle ads and promotions, and our acquisition editors about our new lists and acquisitions. It’s the little bits and pieces you’re doing throughout the day and over the course of many months to bring books into the world.
4. Are you actively acquiring new books at this time? What are some of the stories you're looking for? What appeals to you?
We’re developing a new list, and our manuscript wish list will be updated from time to time. The best way to keep informed of our most up-to-date list is to check our submission guidelines https://yeehoopress.com/submissions/ and follow us on social media.
5. How do you evaluate submissions? What marks does a manuscript need to hit to be considered for acquisitions?
We’re always looking for strong writing, compelling plots, and universal messages. We also have to think in terms of our list. We have four editors acquiring picture books, and the acquisition decisions are made by the whole team. We will do in-depth market research on the books we’re ready to acquire in the US and Chinese markets. Depending on the market, readers’ tastes differ, and the way to promote books is different. We try to find books with themes that have common ground in different markets. Once our books are published in the English and Chinese editions, I believe it will be easier to reach other countries and cultures and be enjoyed by readers around the world.
For the acquisition process, our editors go through stacks of submissions, consider what we think may work for our program, create a memo to share with the team that includes a positioning statement about the book’s topic and why someone might want to buy it, a brief description of the story, an author bio, and comparable titles. In the US, the books will be published and promoted individually, while in mainland China, books by different authors and illustrators are commonly sold and promoted as collections or sets with a common theme. For a set of books, it could be from 3–10 books. We usually need to acquire at least three books about a particular theme—say emotions, STEAM, non-fictions about a particular topic—to establish a set of books.
6. What happens next? How is the acquisition process handled? Could you walk us through the process from submission to contract offer?
We usually have several rounds of acquisitions meetings. Occasionally, the manuscript might need some revisions, so we’ll also talk with the author about the possible revisions and make sure we’re on the same page and agree on the book’s direction. Acquisitions might take a few weeks to a few months, depending on our list. If we rush to complete a set of books, the acquisition will be faster. If we’re developing a new list, like we have been the past several months, we’re slow at acquisitions. When we’d like to acquire a book, we’ll send the author an offer with advances, royalty structures, and any other terms.
7. Are you currently taking submissions from illustrators?
Yes, we take submissions from illustrators. We’re actively looking for illustrators and browsing illustration agencies, portfolio websites, and social media. Submitting directly to us is a great way for us to get to know the artist.
8. What is the one thing people should avoid in submissions?
Some submissions don’t have a proper query letter. The query letter includes synopsis, pitch, age range, a short bio with the author’s writing experience, and three comparable titles. Though eventually, it’s the manuscript itself that we evaluate, a strong query frequently makes the difference in the submission grabbing our interest immediately.
9. How does Yeehoo support its authors and illustrators after the acquisition process and post-publication? Would you highlight some of the marketing, promotion, and distribution support your titles receive? For example, do you work with indie bookstores, big chains, school libraries, do you submit your books to journal reviews, awards etc.?
After the acquisition, we have several editors in the US who will do the actual editing with the author. They all have years of experience working in large publishing houses and will make the manuscript the best it can possibly be. It is also time to find an illustrator. We’d like to ask potential candidates to draw a sample character to see their interpretation. We select the artist based on the art style, character design, timeline, and budget. After we officially bring the illustrator on board, they will create a storyboard, then rough sketches, and then colored spreads. Our designer will jump in to start the layout design when 90% of the artwork is finished. The art director, the designer, and the illustrator will work together to ensure the final book is polished to perfection.
Our marketing starts about six months before publication. In China, we share the marketing channels and resources with our publishing partner, Phoenix Media & Group. We have distributors in different provinces in China and for online and offline bookstores. In the US, we also partner with the distributor here to make our books available to teachers, librarians, and booksellers through the regular sales channels. We send our books to be reviewed by all the major children's literature journals, such as Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus, The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, and so on, and submit them for national, state, and numerous other awards. We also reach out to blogs, podcasts, and social media influencers for reviews and shoutouts. We contact independent bookstores and libraries for author events and storytimes. There are so many marketing ideas and approaches, and we love to work with amazing authors and illustrators to achieve success in the literary world.
10. What projects are you working on right now for Yeehoo's list? What are you excited about and why? Any upcoming titles you could share with us?
We’re really excited about our upcoming titles this year. Milo’s Moonlight Mission (June 15) by Kathleen M. Blasi, illustrated by Petronela Dostalova, is an emotionally resonant, heartwarming tale of a parent and a child struggling to find quality time together—a challenge with which many parents and children can identify. The Perfect Party (August 10) by Laurel P. Jackson, illustrated by Hélène Baum-Owoyele, celebrates the beauty of different cultures and the strength of collaboration. The Whole World Inside Nan's Soup (August 24) by Hunter Liguore, illustrated by Vikki Zhang, in which Nan shares the wisdom that one bowl of soup contains an assortment of traditions and places. From farmhand to delivery drivers to market merchants, readers can see all the essential hands it takes to bring a meal together. Chameleon Can Be (September 7) by Carolina Farías is an adventure of guessing riddles, learning about animals, and discovering the importance of being true to yourself.
We’re also working on another eight titles for spring 2022, and we can’t wait to bring all these adorable books to life!
I cannot wait, either -- especially since one of those adorable books in my own! Aaah, I'm so excited and look forward to sharing it with the word. :)
Thank you so much for your time, Helen, and for giving us such thorough insight into the publishing process at Yeehoo Press as well as sharing all these amazing books on Yeehoo's list!
I know that you also have a new book of your own coming out, published by Beaming Books, so I hope you'll be back to KidLit Oasis as a guest author next time.
I wish you all the best on your journey and I look forward to many more books from you, personally, and from Yeehoo Press.
G I V E A W A Y ! ! !
Helen Wu is giving away one non-rhyming picture book critique.
Here's how to enter the giveaway by 6/14/21:
1. Leave a comment on this post
2. Subscribe to KidLit Oasis
*Social media shares are optional, but encouraged and appreciated! Spread the word, and invite your writer and illustrator friends over to KidLit Oasis!
Don't forget to tag me (@RosiePOV on Twitter)
>>>>>The winner will be announced on 6/15/21<<<<<
Ellen Leventhal won the picture book critique by Helen Wu! Congratulations, Ellen!
Above-the-slush submission opportunity:
Open until 6/30/21
Follow the submision guidelines of Yeehoo Press when sending your picture book manuscript to Helen Wu, and put "Kidlit" in the subject line. Good luck!
Helen H. Wu is a children’s book author and illustrator of over 20 picture books, as well as a translator, graphic designer, and publisher. Her new picture book, Tofu Takes Time, illustrated by Julie Jarema, will be published by Beaming Books in spring 2022. She illustrated the educational coronavirus picture book Be a Coronavirus Fighter by Songju Ma Daemicke, which received many praises all around the world and has been translated into 12 languages. Helen is the Associate Publisher of Yeehoo Press, a Los Angeles based children’s book publisher. Being fascinated by the differences and similarities between cultures, Helen loves to share stories that can empower children to understand the world and our connections. Born and raised in Hefei, China, Helen moved to the US in her 20s. Currently, she resides in sunny Southern California, with her family and two kids.
Connect with Yeehoo Press and Helen Wu:
Yeehoo's website: https://yeehoopress.com/
Yeehoo's Twitter: @yeehoopress
Yeehoo's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yeehoopress/
Helen Wu on Twitter: @HelenHWu
Helen Wu on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/helenhwu/
Helen Wu's website: https://helenhwu.com/
5/18/2021 04:28:45 pm
Thank you Helen for telling us about Yeehoo press it sounds like a great publisher. I like all the things they do to support their authors.
5/18/2021 04:48:40 pm
What a wonderful and thoughtful interview. Ms. Wu delved into the writing/illustrating/publishing process quite thoroughly. Thank you for the insight!
5/18/2021 04:49:24 pm
Thank you for this fascinating interview with the multi-talented Helen H. Wu. I loved learning about Yeehoo Press. And thank you for the above-the-slush submission opportunity.
5/18/2021 04:57:39 pm
Thank you, Helen, for your valuable insights on picture book publishing and Yeehoo Press!
5/18/2021 04:58:49 pm
Sounds like an interesting publishing model!
5/18/2021 05:14:49 pm
Thank you Rosie and Helen for this informative and inspiring interview. Helen, congratulations on all your achievements within the kid lit community. I look forward to exploring and reading your previous books and those that are forthcoming. Thank you for the possibility of winning a critique and the generous above-the-slush submission opportunity.
5/18/2021 05:16:41 pm
Wonderful interview and fabulous submission/ prize opportunities, thank you Rosie and Helen!
5/18/2021 05:30:54 pm
Thank you for sharing! It is wonderful to learn more about Helen and the amazing books they are launching. And, wow!, you do a lot for your authors. I'm def submitting in the hopes of an opportunity to work with this team.
5/18/2021 05:40:42 pm
I thank you for your informative interview. Congratulations on your new endeavor.
5/18/2021 05:43:51 pm
Congratulations to you both, Rosie and Helen! And thank you for sharing insights in YeeHoo's publishing process. It sounds awesome!
5/18/2021 05:57:12 pm
Thank you for sharing! I loved learning about the "typical workday"!
5/18/2021 07:28:25 pm
I love reading about your publishing adventures, Helen. Thanks for sharing so many details about the manuscripts you're acquiring and publishing--and good luck with your own title! ~ Susan Hughes
5/18/2021 08:17:53 pm
What an amazing opportunity! Thank you both! And I was at the 2019 SCBWI LA conference! That was such an amazing time!
5/18/2021 08:48:10 pm
Thank you for sharing your journey. Pursuing our dreams is one of the great joys in life. That and family.
5/18/2021 09:16:02 pm
Awesome interview! I’d love the chance for a critique with Helen. As an LA resident, I’ve followed Yeehoo for awhile and am very impressed with the titles they have published.
5/19/2021 06:07:27 am
What a great interview! I love hearing the details about what happens after a book has been acquired. Thank you both!
5/19/2021 06:13:49 am
A very informative interview, I'm so glad I found your blog, Rosie! It's so good to see US and Chinese collaborations. I look forward to seeing Helen's new book when it comes out.
5/19/2021 08:45:42 am
Rosie and Helen, thank you for this post. It’s always great to read how life in the publishing world unroll and grow.
5/19/2021 08:45:46 am
What a thorough interview! Thank you for such a detailed look inside your work and interests and the workings of Yeehoo! I became curious about the publishing house after seeing several titles, including The Vanishing Lake, so it was awesome to get to read this.
5/19/2021 08:53:31 am
5/19/2021 10:11:32 am
Thank you for the interview! A critique by this talented editor would be a valuable boost to improving my manuscript.
5/19/2021 10:40:19 am
I loved reading this interview - such great information. Thank you both, Rosie and Helen! And I loved The Vanishing Lake! I look forward to reading the others. All the best to you both. Thanks again! Rosanna Montanaro
5/19/2021 11:17:54 am
5/19/2021 11:42:01 am
Wonderful interview! So glad I found you on social. I'll be following from now on!
5/19/2021 12:31:24 pm
Great interview, Rosie and Helen! Thank you for all the information about Yeehoo. It's always great to learn about an editor and publishing company in such detail. And congratulations on such a great career!
5/19/2021 01:22:08 pm
This interview is absolutely wonderful. Thank you so much for this opportunity!
5/19/2021 01:54:16 pm
Thanks for your insight and tips, Helen! Thanks for the interview and opportunities, Rosie!
5/19/2021 02:39:24 pm
We appreciate your interviews with people who could help us to our publishing journey like Helen Yu. More power to you all and thanks Rosie for this great opportunity. God bless.
5/19/2021 03:15:05 pm
Thank you for the inside look!
5/19/2021 03:43:33 pm
💛Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Also, a special thank you for the opportunities you are offering.💛
5/19/2021 08:01:07 pm
Loved learning about Helen and her journey to Yeehoo Press. Thanks so much for the opportunities to win a critique and also to submit!
5/20/2021 11:53:26 am
I've also been hearing great things about Yeehoo, so it was great to learn more about Helen. Thanks, and xiexie!
5/20/2021 12:43:54 pm
What an insightful interview and thank you for the opportunity to submit and win a critique!
5/20/2021 02:23:02 pm
Thanks so much for this great interview! And congrats on your book, Rosie!
5/21/2021 08:28:08 am
5/21/2021 08:30:46 am
Thank you Helen for a great interview and insight into Yeehoo Press.
5/21/2021 10:03:18 am
Love learning more about Helen Wu and Yeehoo Press! Thank you for this great interview and awesome opportunities.
5/21/2021 10:18:49 am
Thank you Rosie and Helen for the informative interview! Thanks for the opportunity to win a critique.
5/21/2021 10:45:39 am
Great interview. Thank you for the above the slush pile opportunity.
5/21/2021 02:08:11 pm
I've seen a lot of great publicity about Yeehoo Pub lately; love hearing the behind the scenes story on how their stories are brought into the world! :) Thanks Rosie & Helen!
5/21/2021 03:00:02 pm
Great interview. Thanks so much, Helen and Rosie!❤️
5/21/2021 06:23:38 pm
Thank you, Rosa and Helen, for this meaty interview! ( and as a vegetarian I don't say meaty often!).
5/21/2021 08:12:36 pm
Great interview Rosie. Lots of useful information and a great opportunity.
5/21/2021 09:46:12 pm
What a great opportunity! Very informative and helpful interview. I love all of Yeehoo's books coming out! Some of my books would be a great fit. Thank you Helen and Rosie!
5/21/2021 10:01:26 pm
Thanks for this insightful interview and the wonderful opportunities!
5/22/2021 07:23:06 am
Wow! What a detailed look at the small press publishing process for an international house. I really enjoyed hearing about your journey to get where you are now, as well as what you do day to day. Thank you!
5/22/2021 08:12:43 am
I always love to get a peek “behind the scenes”! Thank you for sharing this wonderful interview.
5/22/2021 01:04:21 pm
5/23/2021 01:15:25 am
Thank you for this interview and critique opportunity. So interesting to learn about the differences in creating and marketing books in China vs. the US.
5/23/2021 03:56:34 pm
What an interesting interview. Thank you so much, Helen, for the chance of a free critique opportunity x
5/23/2021 08:01:51 pm
I have several Yeehoo Press books, and I really appreciate their creativity. I'd love to hear more about what gives a manuscript international appeal -- and what doesn't work well. For instance, are wordplay-heavy texts hard to translate? Anyway, thanks for such an informative interview!
5/24/2021 07:47:14 am
Thank you for this interview. We love Milo's Moonlight Mission! I would be so honored to have one of my picture books critiqued. Thank you for the opportunity!
5/24/2021 09:33:15 am
Great interview Rosie and Helen! Helen - I love following your writing and publishing journeys!
5/24/2021 10:53:26 am
This was so fun to read and informative. I'm glad for the tips on writing a query letter.
5/24/2021 12:09:25 pm
Wow! That's a lot of hats, Helen. Thank you for the great interview Rosie and Helen.
5/24/2021 01:07:09 pm
Thank you so much Rosie and Helen. I love that Yeehoo Press publishes in both the US and China!
5/24/2021 03:04:28 pm
This is a great post. Thanks so much, Rosie and Helen.
5/24/2021 03:46:29 pm
This was so insightful, especially to new writers like myself who don't know what happens after a book deal is made. Thank you Rosie for sharing your resources!!
5/24/2021 04:22:23 pm
Congratulations to both of you on your upcoming books, they sound amazing! Thank you, Helen, for a 'behind-the-scenes' glimpse of the publishing world, it's exciting to see the process!!
5/24/2021 09:26:46 pm
Thank you, this was eye opening. Great interview! And congratulations to both of you on your new books coming out!
5/25/2021 07:43:16 pm
Thank you for the interesting interview and critique opportunity!
5/25/2021 07:44:02 pm
Thank you for the interesting and informative interview, and the critique giveaway!
5/25/2021 09:13:28 pm
Thank you so much Helen for this extremely informative interview. I enjoyed your in-depth discussion of the acquisition process and how the illustrator is selected. Wonderful to learn the behind the scene process. I am excited about the possibility of winning a critique from you based on your experience as an Editor and Author. I did post about this on my Twitter page. Thank you again for sharing your wisdom.
5/26/2021 04:28:37 pm
Thanks for this useful info, Rosie.
5/27/2021 09:25:30 pm
Great interview and so informative. Good luck on both your upcoming book releases.
5/28/2021 09:23:06 pm
Helen, you are the perfect person for your job at Yeehoo Press. I first learned about you at 12 x12. You've come so far in the publishing industry, contributing so much to it. A book to be published too! CONGRATULATIONS!
6/4/2021 10:23:26 am
What an awesome interview. So happy for you both!
6/6/2021 01:37:54 pm
Thank you for this great and informative interview! I loved hearing about Yeehoo Press! I enjoyed learning about the acquisitions process from Helen Wu. Wishing you both the best for your upcoming book releases! I will tweet and fb share this great interview.
6/6/2021 06:58:02 pm
Thank you for such an informative interview! I love the glimpse into the editor side of things and learning about the acquisitions process. Yeehoo seems like a great publishing house. I just submitted my illustrated dummy last week!
6/7/2021 11:30:26 am
Haven't spent half of my childhood in Hong Kong, I appreciate this inside look and how Yeehoo's unique offering is also a bridge into the Chinese market that can be daunting to squeeze in for American writers. It is also inspiring to read about the milestones in Helen's career and how it continues to evolve. I definitely got inspiration and insights out of it! Thank you!
6/8/2021 07:33:15 am
This was an excellent interview!I can’t wait to read all of the new books coming out and am excited to pursue the submission offer. This gave me great insight into all that publishers do and all that is involved in the acquisition process! Thanks so much!
6/8/2021 11:59:06 am
Another great interview, Rosie! Helen sounds amazing and you are lucky to have her as your editor! Congrats to you both on your upcoming books!
6/9/2021 12:38:06 pm
Nice interview. We appreciate that we are able to know deeper into what Yeehoo Press offers to writers. Thanks Helen and Rosie.
6/9/2021 12:47:26 pm
Insightful blog post, Rosie! Interesting to hear the abckstory of how Helen goes from the submission/acquisiton process to supporting authors/illustrators with marketing, etc. And best wishes to Yeehoo Press as they continue to grow!
6/9/2021 02:10:17 pm
Thanks for sharing this fantastic interview and opportunity!
6/9/2021 03:38:55 pm
This was a very detailed interview and I loved every word! Thank you!
6/9/2021 04:49:41 pm
Thanks for this informative interview, Helen. Looking forward to all these new titles, including your book, Rosie!
6/10/2021 04:10:35 pm
Thank you for the lovely informative interview. I'd love to win a picturebook critique.
6/14/2021 04:12:10 pm
That was an amazing interview. So informative. Ms. Wi must be a delight to work with.
6/14/2021 07:07:09 pm
Thanks for the inside scoop with Helen Wu!
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About Rosie J. Pova
Rosie J. Pova is a multi-published, award-winning children's author and kid lit Writing Coach. She's the creator of Picture Book Mastery System™ that is proven to help emerging children's writers advance their career and get closer to their publishing goals.
Rosie's latest picture book, Sunday Rain, was featured in The New York Times and recommended by Parents magazine. Her upcoming picture book, The School of Failure: A Story About Success will be released in the spring of 2022 in both China and the USA.
Rosie also loves to visit schools and her interactive workshops empower students to unleash their creativity and grow in confidence through reading, writing, and creating. Teachers and librarians love Rosie for her bubbly, upbeat personality which captures students' attention, encourages them to think creatively, and motivates them to pursue big dreams.
She has been featured on TV, radio, podcasts, and print media, and also speaks on women's and moms’ topics, sharing her journey from a Bulgarian immigrant to a published author.
Find out more about Rosie's online courses, mentorships, and her work by visiting her website: RosieJPova.com
Check out her Critique Services here, her Workshops here, and her school visits page here.
Rosie is represented by Jennifer Herrington of Harvey Klinger Literary.