The Inside Scoop with Christina Pulles of Sterling Children’s Books

Thanks to everyone that participated in this giveaway. With all the extra entries, we had over 400 of you competing for that one submission pass! Our winner is:

RYAN (jesteram)

Congratulations, Ryan! Keep your eyes peeled for an email with details on how to claim your prize.

I’m so excited today to celebrate Sub It Club’s anniversary by introducing you to the fabulous Christina Pulles! I’m lucky enough to be working with Christina on my picture book, MAURICE THE UNBEASTLY, which will be coming out with Sterling Children’s Books next year. Christina gives us a fascinating peek into the life of an editor, AND is giving away a pass to skip her slush pile! Keep reading to find out more!

Christina Pulles joined Sterling Children’s Books in June 2015, and before that worked at Simon & Schuster’s Simon Spotlight imprint. Realistic middle grade holds a soft spot in her heart, but she also loves working on everything from board books to fiction and nonfiction picture books. Originally from the Chicago area, she now reads, runs, bakes, and eats in Brooklyn with her husband, Justin.

Tell us about your path to the publishing world. Did you always know you wanted to be an editor?

I read constantly as a child—every night before bed, in the car, and at every meal (including restaurants)—but I didn’t really think about being a book editor until after high school. As I searched for internships each summer during college, I started researching different publishers and imprints and trying to figure out which one I might like to work for. I got my start in publishing in the sales department at Independent Publishers Group, a book distributor in Chicago, before moving to New York and diving into the editorial world.

What were your favorite books as a child?

They’re still my favorite books: the Anne of Green Gables series and the Harry Potter books. I reread each set every few years, and I actually just went to Prince Edward Island, where Anne takes place, on my honeymoon in the fall. I was also a voracious reader of series fiction: Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley, Nancy Drew, and all their many (many!) spinoffs.

Can you give us an idea of what makes Sterling distinct from other publishers?

Sterling is a mid-sized house, and our children’s division is made up of one group of editors, rather than several different imprints that focus on different types of books. This means that we children’s editors work very closely together, and we also each have the opportunity to work on whatever projects interest us, which I love—I’ve always enjoyed working on books for a variety of different age groups and markets.

We’re also one of the few publishers that still accepts unsolicited manuscripts. We get together once a month and go through the slush pile, and we’ve found a lot of great authors in there!

What is the acquisitions process like at Sterling? Do the editors work together or select manuscripts on their own?

Both! When an editor has his or her eye on a manuscript, it’s brought to the whole group, and everyone is proactive about either getting on board with a project, or helping suggest revisions if we think a project has potential but still needs a little work. After a manuscript has passed through that meeting, we share it with our Sales and Marketing teams and get their feedback as well—they are great at keeping up with what’s working in the market and what their buyers are looking for.

Writers like to worry about things like font, formatting, and the use of rhetorical questions in query letters. How important are these kinds of things? Any personal pet peeves when it comes to queries?

I don’t think it’s necessary to focus too much on things like font and formatting; I do like a query that’s neatly and succinctly written, but if I’m interested in the content, I’m not going to stop reading just because something has been misspelled or because it is set in italics.

I don’t know if I have any particular pet peeves, but I would say that I like to know a little about the author, even if they’ve not been published yet. Our Marketing and Sales teams always want to know where an author lives, to get a feel for the local market, so I like it when that information is provided right away in the pitch.

What would you love to find in your slush pile?

Oooh, so many things! Sterling is on the lookout for new middle grade right now, and I haven’t read anything with a strong female narrator that’s been just right for our list. I’d also love to find a picture book that makes me laugh out loud in the middle of our slush meeting—and know right away that it’d also make a kid laugh.

What one piece of editorial advice would you give writers who are sending their stories to you?

Stick to writing about things that are important to you, that you’re emotionally connected to. I think it comes through to an editor when a writer is trying to take on something she thinks will make a good book, but doesn’t really mean anything to her. That being said, try to keep a good handle on the market so you know what else might be out there that’s similar to your book. Is there any natural way to make your book stand out from other books on the same topic?

Any upcoming projects you are especially excited about that you can share with us? (besides mine, of course!)

MAURICE THE UNBEASTLY, of course! Seriously, it’s going to be a fun one and I just can’t wait to see how the illustrator brings your fabulous Maurice to life. I’m also working on a debut middle grade novel called HOWARD WALLACE, P.I., by Casey Lyall that comes out this fall, and I think it’s just fantastic—it’s funny, thought-provoking, and moving all at the same time. And it’s a mystery!

We will definitely keep our eyes peeled for those titles! Thanks so much for participating, Christina!

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the giveaway! The winner of this giveaway will have the opportunity skip the slush pile and have their PICTURE BOOK or MIDDLE GRADE manuscript go straight to the desk of Christina Pulles at Sterling Children’s Books. How’s that for awesome? Here’s how to enter:

This contest is for completed PICTURE BOOK and MIDDLE GRADE manuscripts only. To enter simply comment on this post.

For extra entries:

SubItClub Badge (175x88)Post our badge on your blog and link it back here to

Follow us on Twitter @SubItClub

Take part in our private Sub It Club Submission Support Group and/or our Critique Partner Matchup.

Share this post via social media!

Please let us know about your extra entries in your comment.

Entries are open until FEBRUARY 16TH at noon PST. Winner will be announced on this post the next day. Good luck!

198 thoughts on “The Inside Scoop with Christina Pulles of Sterling Children’s Books

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  1. Thank you for the insider’s perspective. I remember falling in love with middle grade books as I read Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising Sequence. That was a magical universe that just sucked me right in, and the world needs books like that…the ones that make children fall in love with reading.


  2. I really enjoy these posts. It’s so interesting to learn more about editors and agents. Maybe they’re just regular people after all. 🙂 Thanks for this fabulous opportunity to bypass the slush pile. For extra entries, I’ve posted the Sub It Club badge on my site , I follow Sub It Club on Twitter, and I’ve shared this post via Twitter.


  3. Sub It Club is having a wonderful birthday bash! Sterling look alike a great place for an author to land! Sharing on FB and following y”all on twitter. TY all.


  4. Okay, I dotted all my i’s and crossed my t’s,- that is sent your badge to my blog at imamohogg and follow Sub It Club on Twitter and posted to my Pinterest page where you can find some great medieval pics about my finished MG novel entitled ‘The Relic Hunters and The Santiago Knight.’ My second ‘The Relic Hunters and the Golden Arm’ will be work shopped by Darcy Pattison soon.


  5. Fabulous info! I love “getting to know” an editor. Thanks for this wonderful post and for the opportunity to win. 🙂 I did share it on FB an liked on Twitter. (Thanks for the pointer on Twitter, as I’d completely forgotten to follow there!)


  6. And last manuscript called ‘The Relic Hunters and the Heart of St. Agatha’ concerns a historical heart relic. The real heart was 800 years old and belonged to St. Lawrence and was stolen from the cathedral in Dublin in Ireland in 2012.. Never recovered. So sad.


  7. This is a great interview! I love hearing how the Sterling team gets together to read manuscripts. 🙂 For extra entries: I have your badge on my site-, I shared on Twitter-, and I follow you on Twitter, too. I am in the submission support group, too, although I have not has as much time as I would like to participate. I have also referred many people to your sites, most recently in my SCBWI presentation to 50 members. Thanks for all you do!


  8. Thanks, Sub it Club, Amy and Christina for a look into the editorial process at Sterling Children’s Books. Great information and a great opportunity you’ve offered as well.


  9. I’ve been submitting Picture Books to Sterling. I enjoyed Christina’s insight about her experience and the process there. And I’m excited about this possible opportunity to submit outside the slush! Thanks. 🙂


  10. Hi, thanks for your thoughts and advice. I write about what I love…….animals. The main character in my children’s book is my favorite cat that passed away, Floyd (He was 17). I grew up in the country and love writing about animals because I feel their souls are pure and loving. Animals make the world a safer, happier, place. Even the Super Bowl loves animals, Panthers and Broncos!


  11. Thank you for giving us an insight into Sterling and how you work Christina and thank you Sub It Club for this great giveaway!

    I’ve shared the post on Facebook. I’m also in the Sub It Club Facebook group and follow on Twitter.


  12. Thanks for sharing info about yourself and about Sterling, Christina! And thanks for the post, Amy. I love me some Amy Dixon–and I can’t wait for MAURICE! 🙂 I am a Twitter follower and a support group member. 🙂


  13. The information was very informative, thank you for taking the time. I love the thought of having my Middle Grade manuscript not hitting a slush pile!!!!


  14. Thank you Sterling Books for the helpful insight and opportunity to leap frog to the top of the pile. (As for increasing my luck, I follow on Twitter (@staceydavislaw & @sibingcode) & shared the post via SM (Twitter).)


  15. Already LOVE everything SubitClub (on Twitter, on my website, on Facebook). Sharing this to my Facebooks and Goodreads group wherever I DON’T see it, and will retweet anything I see on Twitter about it. I hope I win, but may submit even if I don’t. I want to see if I can make you laugh. 😉


  16. Congratulations on your recent wedding! I hope you enjoyed every single minute of your honeymoon! And I hope he made you laugh…more than once! Best wishes for huge success in your career. My husband astounds me continuously with his humour, his antics, and his way of looking at our beautifully funny world. Humorous stories are my passion, so I hope you will be able to read one of mine some day. Enjoy every minute of this great writing world and family!


  17. So great to read about new publishers and how they help authors.I’ve shared the post on Facebook. I’m also in the Sub It Club Facebook group and follow on Twitter.


  18. Sterling publishes lots of laugh out loud picture books! Would love an opportunity to sub one of my own to them. Thanks for this giveaway Sub It Club and Christina. Sub It Club badge is on my blog with link, am a follower on Twitter, a member of Sub It Club support group, and shared this post on social media. Thanks for this giveaway Sub It Club and Christina.


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