First, why don't you tell us a little about yourself.
After the requisite liberal arts degree, I began my career in the managing editorial group at Grosset & Dunlap/Putnam, and for the past fifteen years have been with Delacorte Press, where I’m an executive editor working primarily on middle grade/tween/teen fiction. Delacorte Press is an imprint of the Random House Children’s Book group; there are five editors including myself, three assistants, and our vp/publisher, Beverly Horowitz.
I’ve also written a number of books for young readers—series fiction, movie tie-ins--which I like to think makes me a more empathetic editor. Revisions? Criticism? I've been there.
We have a web site we’re quite proud! Please check us out at Randomhouse Kids and Random Teens.
We also have an active presence on Facebook. You can check out a few of RHCB books on Facebook:
- The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
- Sisterhood Central
- Magic in Manhattan
- The Lorax
- Random Buzzers
In your opinion, how important is social networking?
Very important. We find that our authors who have a real online presence are making important connections with educators, parents, librarians, and readers, which translates into good book buzz and sales. Kids live online and writers who write for kids want to live in that world as well. Some websites/blogs are reaching out to adults and others are more kid-driven—both serve a purpose. It also helps in the acquisition process to gain insight into a potential author—read their blog, see what type of content they’ve created, what kind of community is responding to their work.
The writing must always come first, though.
Do you feel it is beneficial for authors to team up and promote books as a group?
Yes, especially new writers. In fact, we have a program at RHCB called IT’S A FIRST that’s geared to grouping together and cultivating and nurturing new talent, promoting our new fiction writers together through a cd & brochure—it’s a sales hook that made perfect sense to us, a way to pull together a group of talented authors with diverse styles, sharing the common theme of “debut novelist.”
It’s terrific how writers are helping each other, through blogs like yours, through joint events (signings, appearances) . . . fans of Author X may show up at X’s event, get a book signed by X, and be introduced to Author Y and decide to check out that author too. It’s a great way to introduce readers to new authors/books. And of course it can be helpful to have “likeminded” authors teaming up as their fan base is likely to overlap.
The Class of 2K8 and Class of 2K9 groups are shining examples of pooling efforts to help fellow authors succeed—they’re an incredibly polished, professional, and focused group of authors. And while it’s inevitable that writers “compare notes,” it’s important to stay positive and focused on your own writing. Each book is a unique entity in the marketplace.
And while it’s inevitable that writers “compare notes,” I think it’s important to stay positive and focused on your own writing. Each book is a unique entity in the marketplace.
When evaluating whether to take on an author or book, do you ever google them to see if they already have a web presence or platform?
Absolutely! Working with a writer on a manuscript is a true partnership, and I want to know as much about my potential partner as possible. I’m not looking necessarily for a fan base or platform, but rather to get insight into how they think/feel/respond/connect with their followers/readers, etc. and to get a sense of how I think we could/would mesh and work together.
What are you looking for? What are you interested in?
Something I haven’t seen before. Like most editors, the voice is what immediately hooks me. A fast-paced plot doesn’t hurt, either. Think women’s fiction—for teens, a la Sarah Dessen, Meg Cabot. Would like a great paranormal—I just read Evermore and can see why it’s so popular with girls. Commercial + literary is a win-win for everyone. Wry humor.
Books that take me to another world, like The Hunger Games. Escapist books like the Pretty Little Liars series. Books that kids living in 2009 can relate to. Books like When You Reach Me that remind me of how much I loved reading as a kid—this is a book I would have adored.
I’m looking forward to reading Along for the Ride , Winter Girls, and the next Luxe book . . . and all the revised manuscripts that are due to me in the coming months. I’ve worked with some amazingly talented writers and they’ve set the bar pretty high.
Thanks for spending some time with us today.