Ten Wills and Won’ts that Make Lee & Low a Special Place to Publish

What We Will Do:

1. Edit:
Our books are pondered, nurtured, and meticulously edited. Call us old school, but we take the time to really edit books. Several people’s opinions are solicited. We have found this collaborative effort results in books that stand the test of time and are appreciated by readers for many years after publication.

2. Celebrate Unsung Heroes:
While we certainly recognize the contributions of legends like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Gandhi, we also think it is important to acknowledge the contributions of lesser-known heroes. We have published books about Anna May Wong, Paul Robeson, Peg Leg Bates, and John Lewis, to name just a few, and we will continue to tell the stories of courageous people whose lives and actions deserve recognition.

3. Ensure Cultural Authenticity:
We will work extremely hard to make sure every book we publish is culturally authentic in both text and illustrations. That’s what we do best. How? We do research, and more research. We consult outside readers and experts if a culture or traditions are unfamiliar to our staff. We are committed to making sure each story rings true.

4. Quality Over Quantity, Always:
We don’t publish a lot of books each year, but the books we publish are the highest quality in all respects. We don’t skimp on paper, and our production process is top notch. Our books have won numerous national, state, and special interest awards. Considering the size of our list—about twelve books a year—our percentage of award-winning titles is amazing. We’re not gloating here, just stating a fact.

5. Publish New People:
A big part of our mission is to reach out to and publish talented new authors and illustrators. We even put our money where our mouth is with our annual New Voices Award for first-time picture book writers.

What We Won’t Do:

1. Pay Big Advances:
It is a fact that many publishers pay big advances that never earn out. Our advances are modest, but our goal is for every author and illustrator to earn out his or her advance. Earning out is a badge of honor, and we help our authors and illustrators do this by giving each book the time and support it needs to grow. We not only promote a book in its first few months, we promote a book for its entire life in print. And our books stay in print for a long, long time.

2. Sponsor Multi-City Book Tours:
We have never found whirlwind national book tours to be cost effective for our books, and with today’s economy, that is even less likely. But there may very well be a large-scale blog tour in a new book’s future. We employ every Web 2.0 strategy in our arsenal and will get the word out about our books with a combination of high-tech and low-tech approaches that get real results.

3. Base Acquisitions Only on Projections:
Publishing books is not a scientific endeavor, and we retired our crystal ball years ago. We do not require profit and loss statements in order to decide whether or not to publish a book. While we do weigh trends, sales, and other logistics of the business, ultimately we go with the gut when acquiring a manuscript. If the story moves us, we will publish it.

4. Forget About the Backlist:
We put our marketing dollars toward promoting all our books for years and years after publication. This is why a large part of the home page of our Web site is dedicated to the backlist. Our strong backlist is the foundation of our business.

5. Take Being Small for Granted:
Each season, larger houses have to choose which books to publicize from among the many titles they publish. As a small publisher, we have a great advantage in this area. Our short list allows us to concentrate personal attention on every author, illustrator, and book we publish, from editorial all the way through marketing and publicity.

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