Publisher Profile: Creston Books
The CBC asks Marissa Moss, Editor/Publisher, questions about the publisher.
What is your publishing house most known for?
We’re known for our small, highly curated children’s books. Each book is a good story and well-illustrated, because if I don’t love a book, it’s not worth our time and effort to get it through the publishing process.
Where in the country is your house based? What do you love about being based there?
We’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is home to some powerful independent bookstores, like Book Passage and Books, Inc. We rely on independent bookstores to understand the worth of independent presses.
How many books does your house aim to publish per season/year?
Our goal is four books a season, but sometimes we only have two. There are no “fillers” on our lists, only books we strongly believe in and want to share with readers.
Which genres does your house prefer to publish?
We do a mix of fiction and non-fiction, some science, some history, including biographies of people you should know about but probably don’t.
Which formats does your house prefer to publish?
We do mostly picture books, also middle grade, and some YA.
What are some of your house’s publishing priorities over the next few years?
The same as it’s always been, to get great books into the hands of readers. It feels like there’s more urgency in this because of the steep drop in literacy levels among students post-pandemic, plus, of course, the rise in book banning.
Which title has your house recently rallied behind?
We rally behind every single one of our titles. Last spring, that was Food for Hope by Jeff Gottesfeld, illustrated by Michelle Laurentia Agatha about the man who started food banks. It’s an important book to diffuse the shame of being hungry. The real shame lies in not feeding people. [A note from the CBC: Food for Hope is the winner of the 2023 Goddard CBC Children’s Book Social Justice Prize!]
The other book on our spring list was Her Eyes on the Stars: Maria Mitchell, Astronomer by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by Liz Wong. Mitchell was an important astronomer in the late 19th century, someone who’s often overlooked simply because she was a woman.
Which title does your house feel deserved more love than it got?
Eighteen Vats of Water by Ji-li Jiang, illustrated by Nadia Hsieh was recognized with awards, but neglected by reviews. Some of that was simply pandemic timing, but it’s an inspiring story with stunning illustrations about the importance of tradition and hard work in becoming an artist.
Which upcoming titles is your house buzzing about?
We have three superb books out this fall: Olive by Jed Alexander; Picnic Planet: A Lunchtime Guide to Your Galaxy’s Exoplanets by Asa Stahl, illustrated by Nadia Hsieh; and Chloe’s Nature Journal by Miri Leshem-Pelly.
Which of your frontlist titles would be great for a school or public library?
All of our frontlist titles are excellent for schools. Three are non-fiction and highly informative, and all have curriculum guides available for download on our website.
Which of your frontlist titles would be great for a classroom? Which grade?
Again, all are great classroom books. Of our fall books, Picnic Planet and Chloe’s Science Journal are perfect for grades 2-5. Olive is a wonderful wordless read-aloud for Kindergarteners.
Which of your frontlist tiles would be great for an at-home library?
All of our books are strong contenders for kids to have at home, especially for parents who want to foster curiosity and a love of reading.
Name a few of your favorite backlist titles that people should check out.
Our first list included How to Be Human: Diary of an Autistic Girl by Florida Frenz which is an incredible look at how it feels to be autistic. Frenz is the pen name of a young woman who wrote this book as a teenager, relying on her own journal where she tried to figure out social cues and how to fit in at school.
One of my favorite picture books is In a Village by the Sea by Muon Van, illustrated by April Chu. It’s simply a stunning book with gorgeous illustrations that lead you deeper and deeper into one family’s world.
What else would you like to tell us about your house and the amazing work you all do?
We work hard to get stories out that may not see the light of day otherwise. We read everything in the slush pile, un-agented as well as agented. We do a lot of debut books as well as books by older authors who now find themselves ignored by the big houses since they’re not “hot new stuff.” We aren’t trying to follow any of the current trends. We’re just trying to do great books, and that focus has allowed us to put out books by a diverse range of authors and illustrators.
Thank you, Creston Books!