Tuesday, August 17, 2010

From Your House to My House: What Makes Me Choose Your Book? [Editor Panel]

Nick Eliopolis - Editor of Fiction and Multiplatform, Scholastic Press
Claudia Gabel – HarperCollins / Katherine Tegen books.
Brenda Murray – Reference and Nonfiction Editor, Scholastic Press
Jennifer Rees – Senior Editor, Scholastic Press.
Moderated by Krista Marino

This is my summary of the editor panel at the LA SCBWI Conference, 2010. I lost track of who said what a couple of times...apologies! Hopefully it still makes sense..

It's a lot about editors' mood, needs, connection, personal taste and vision.
Nick: Deals mostly with graphic novels, middle grade novels.
Jen: Needs to love book. Wendy Mass, Suzanne Collins, Sarah Littman.

Q: Which would they rather – voice or plot.
Jen: If voice is good, we can work on the plot together.
Nick: Both, preferably. He's a plot guy. Gets excited by a clear description. High concept plot. Easier to envision championing to others if it's a very cool plot.
Claudia – Character important.

Q: Books they wish they'd done.
In Me Own Words (Bigfoot biography)
Biography of Claudette Colvin
Photo by Brady: A Picture of The Civil War
The Hunger Games
What I Saw and How I Lied
A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray
Speak – Laurie Halse-Anderson
Little House on the Prairie books

They don't want to publish the same thing over and over. They want something different.

Q: Can inspiration come from other art forms?
Intellectual properties – can access movies, magazines to get ideas for series. Reluctant readers are consuming stories all the time – youtube, comics, cartoons, TV shows, movies, video games...
Search youtube to find out what they're watching – is it horror etc? Popular TV shows are often on top of trends, magazines, news articles. What are people talking about? An idea for a book once came from an NPR story.

Q: What are you looking for now?
Guy concept – original idea
NonFiction – show something new, teach something. One nugget of a brilliant idea. Something that's not well known.
Commercial potential – a wide audience. The Hunger Games – even adults are reading it.
General – beautiful prose, but also can write fast to keep up with trends. Tween and teen mysteries.

Q: What not to do when submitting a manuscript?
Unprofessional package (eg. poor synopsis). Prove that you can promote yourself in a professional way.
Not researched. No sense of what's already out there. Sell it yourself. How is yours different? Anything you can provide ie: marketing – will be to your benefit. Do you have special expertise? Does it tie in with something?
No personality in query letter. Want to gravitate towards the author - see who you are in that page. If can't sense who you are and what the book is like – will not request MS.
Relationship is a big part of the job.
If it looks like a blindly sent-out MS, (eg - editor has not worked on a PB for years) will ignore submission because passing onto a colleague is creating more work for them (not appreciated).

Facebook – tough to know where to draw the line. Nick responds to facebook, but says it's awkward.

Q: Do you read slush?
Scholastic – no slush accepted. Interns read it.
If states “I read an interview you did on a blog saying you're looking for …”, will read.
Krista will not read if addressed to the wrong name.

Q: Agents write query letters, so how do you know your agent will write a query that gives a sense of your voice and personality?
Keep in touch with your agent, make sure you know who is lined up, who they are sending to. If sounds interesting, editor may call the writer personally or ask more about them. Stay very involved and hands-on with your agent. Know what your agent is sending out about you.

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