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

Add yours

  1. What a great post! I always love hearing from Editors, especially Editors working with my favorite people and friends and their amazing books. Indeed!

    The badge is posted on my blog ( and linked to this site.
    I follow @SubItClub on Twitter (@marcypusey)
    I am part of the private Sub It Club Submission Support Group.
    I shared this post on Twitter and Facebook.



  2. Christina, Thank you for sharing and giving a writer the opportunity to skip the slush pile.
    I follow @SubItClub on Twitter (@ManjuBeth)
    Shared this post on Twitter &
    Take part in the Sub It Club FB Group.


  3. Huge THANK YOU to Sub It Club for the possibility and to Christina and Sterling, for continuing to be a raft in the publishing madness! Would rather write than tweet but this support deserves a post. I’ll get right on it.


  4. I want to add that the Anne books changed my life. They were that important to me growing up. I too made a pilgrimage to PE — my parents took me as a girl. As an adult, one of my first big PR assignments was publicizing the classic PBS series from the 1980s. I wrote the press kit, worked the press event, pitched critics, etc. No one knew the books as well as I did, and my mentors gave me a chance to show them I could give this series the careful publicity attention it and the books deserved. Still a highlight of my career! In addition to my posts here I shared this and I’m a member of the Sub It Club.


  5. Thanks so much for the great interview and giveaway! I will join the chorus of others who love Ann too. Her stories got me through the tough pre-teen years!


  6. Thanks, SubItClub! Nice to meet you, Christina, and to meet Sterling Children’s Books!

    Shared on Facebook and Twitter. I follow this blog and SubItClub on Twitter and the private Facebook group for SubItClub.


  7. I am intrigued by the drawing and process. I love some of their picture books and what a great opportunity to skip the slush pile.


  8. Thank you so much SubItClub, Amy Dixon and Christina Pulles! It was a fascinating interview with Christina and great to hear about Sterling Children’s Books. Thank you very much indeed for the fantastic opportunity that you are offering, Christina. It is very much appreciated.


  9. Thanks for doing this. I’m already signed up with the Facebook group and Twitter follower. But here’s my entry with a new comment. Thanks!


  10. Great interview! Will be bookmarking this one. Congrats on your upcoming book Amy! Yes I would like to skip the slush pile. 🙂 I am a follower on FB and Twiiter and have tweeted about this post.


  11. Love getting inside looks into aspects of publishing like this! Thanks for sharing this interview.
    (I follow on Twitter and have tweeted about this post, as well!)


  12. I am so happy to hear from an editor at Sterling and find out what goes on “behind closed doors!” Thank You Sterling for accepting unsolicited manuscripts…it makes me smile to think I might have a chance:> (I follow @subitclub on twitter as well.)


  13. Thanks for this wonderful interview! I follow this blog, SubItClub on Twitter and SubItClub’s Facebook group. I would love to skip the slush pile! Thank you.


  14. Thanks for all the good info Christina. I’m sure someone is going to be so happy to get your attention.
    Nina Johnson


  15. What a great interview! It’s so nice to get insight into the editorial / publishing process. It’s also nice to learn specifically about Sterling, which publishes some of my favorite picture books!


  16. Throughout my years as an educator your Sterling Publishing has always stood out as a champion for high quality children’s literature for my students. Thank you for continuing in that tradition.


  17. It’s refreshing to hear from an editor – especially one that is so enthusiastic and upbeat! – who is still acquiring unsolicited manuscripts. “Old school” and loving it!


  18. This was an enjoyable interview to read. I am a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan and have visited the house where she wrote her books. (just like Christina visited Avonlea) Because of this post I have joined the Sub It Club, I’d never heard of it before.


  19. What a fun post. It inspired me to visit Sterling’s Children’s Books website to see what books they’ve published. Thank you for the chance to win. Good luck to everyone! I already follow on Twitter and am part of the Sub It Club Facebook group. I shared this post on Twitter, too. (scheduled to post the morning of Feb 9)


  20. How fortunate you were to visit Prince Edward Island on your honeymoon. That’s what so many Anne of Green Gables fans would love to do. I am now following you on Twitter (@pmconw) and am a pending member of the Sub It Club Submission Group on Facebook.


  21. Thanks for sharing your process, Christina. I love hearing that the editors work together closely and that you get to work on the projects that interest you. That sounds ideal.
    I follow @SubItClub on Twitter. Thanks!


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