Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 25, 2018

Page Street Kids – Courtney Burke Interview

Interview Questions For Courtney Burke

How did you get the job with Page Street Kids?

It’s a pretty simple story: After finishing up an internship at HMH, I was keeping an eye on job boards for children’s publishing positions in the Boston area and was super excited to find this one. I applied, interviewed, and here I am!

Since you are on the board of directors for the Boston Teen Author Festival, could you tell us a little bit about it? Do publishers attend?

Boston Teen Author Festival is an annual festival celebrating all things YA. It’s free, completely run by volunteers—this is the 2nd year I have been on the team—and really community focused. We usually have about 30-40 authors of YA literature, with numerous panels held throughout the day, books available for sale from Porter Square Books, some exhibitors, and signings at the end! You can find out more at

Do you prefer a short word count picture book?

I don’t really have a preference when it comes to word count. It very much depends on the book! That said, keeping it under 800 words for fiction is usually a good framework.

Do you accept unsolicited submissions?

Yes, we do accept unsolicited submissions. They can be sent to Check out our specific guidelines at

Are you open to an author using illustrator notes in their manuscript?

Yes, although ultimately it will be the illustrator’s job to interpret the story. I think illustrator notes are most helpful in situations where the art and words are communicating different things.

Does an author have a better chance securing a contract with you if they have an agent?

Nope, it doesn’t matter either way. We work with authors without agents and authors with agents alike.

Any idea of how an author can get your attention with their submission?

For me, voice is definitely key. I do try to read through every manuscript, but I often have a good idea of how I’ll feel after the first couple of lines. Making your characters specific and the narrative voice strong is good way to hook me.

Any query letter tips?

Do your research before submitting. We get a fair amount of submissions from people asking us to consider “representing” their manuscript…and we’re a publisher not an agency! I always appreciate when it’s clear that the writer/illustrator has done some research on who we are and what we do.

Have you noticed any common mistakes writers make?

I’d say watch out for rushed conclusions. When you’re dealing with the shorter length of a picture book, it’s extra important to think through the pacing and narrative arc of the story.

Do you let people know if you are not interested in what they submitted?

With the amount of submissions we receive, we unfortunately cannot respond to every one. If I have specifically requested material, I do try to respond with a brief constructive comment.

Any pet peeves?

I wouldn’t exactly call it a pet peeve, but I’m not a big fan of a certain kind of rhyme. That’s not to say avoid rhyming altogether, as we have a couple rhyming books with Page Street Kids now that I love! But you should make sure you’re not twisting the words awkwardly to fit it or using the most obvious rhymes. Really consider if the manuscript needs it.

Do you give editorial feedback to your clients?

Of course! We often work with authors/illustrators to help with the developmental process and crafting the story even before acquiring.

Are you interested in writer’s conference invitations?

Yes, absolutely.

Thank you Courtney for taking the time to share your expertise. I’m sure everyone will find it helpful.

Talk tomorrow,




  1. Very useful interview. Thanks for this one.


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