Today, we have Dan Ehrenhaft from Harper Collins. I had the pleasure of meeting Dan for lunch in New York for BEA and he is funny and brilliant. One of those people that you walk away from and say "wow he is so smart!" I adore him and think he's a great writer. I've also heard he is also a wonderful editor. Who could ask for more? :)
Hi Dan, first tell us about you as an author.
Besides being an editor, I am the author of way too many books for children and young adults including Dirty Laundry and The After Life. I’ve written under the pseudonym Daniel Parker and occasionally Erin Haft. My newest book, Friend is Not a Verb, has just been released by Harper Teen, for which I had a signing at BEA.
Henry "Hen" Birnbaum's life is a shambles. His girlfriend Petra both dumped him and fired him her band, PETRA. And on that same miserable rainy night Hen's sister, Sarah, mysteriously returns home after having vanished for an entire year. Worse, Sarah won't tell him where she's been and why. The solution to all of Hen's problems? Become a rock star.
You know things are bad when your dreams come with a washed-up '80s soundtrack.
I was excited to get a copy :) Now, can you tell us a little about your background in publishing and about your new job at Harper.
I started the month after I graduated from college--I knew I wanted to work in children's books, and I took the only job I could find: editing and writing cover copy for the Sweet Valley High series, and assisting in their production. The company behind Sweet Valley High, Daniel Weiss Associates, eventually became Alloy Entertainment. I worked on and off there from 1993 to 2009--at which point I joined Sourcebooks. Creating their YA imprint, Teen Fire, was by far my favorite part of the job, and watching it grow so quickly was amazing.
Just recently, I left Sourcebooks and joined the Harper staff as Director of Intellectual Property Development for the Children's department--working mostly on teen and tween fiction. (My boss, Elise Howard, was my very first boss at Daniel Weiss Associates, so I feel as if I've come full circle--it's very nice.) I am responsible for coming up with book series and properties in the emerging digital space for Harper to produce in-house. Once I pitch a project and Harper approves, I will work with the staff here to find an author and help to see the project through publication.
Sounds like a new way to go for Harper. How do you feel about book packaging in general and what will you do differently?
I know that packaging sometimes gets a bad rap--that a packaged series is somehow less real or legitimate than a work of fiction conceived entirely by an author--but some of the most amazing, compelling, and original teen and tween series have either been packaged by publishers in-house or conceived by an outside packager such as Alloy. As far as what I'll do differently goes... I'll definitely focus on bringing properties to life in a variety of media, and looking to the audience itself for guidance and inspiration.
You made a huge impact on Sourcebooks and started an online presence that grew quickly. What was your social networking strategy?
At Sourcebooks, in addition to our Ning Site and YAlitchat, they offered an “Author toolkit,” that encouraged authors to build a webpage as part of the Sourcebooks on-line presence. The marketing department also planned to send authors on extensive blog tours.
What do you think authors should focus on when promoting their books?
Connecting with their readers in any way possible is crucial. The YA authors who are the most exciting to me are those who are the most accessible to their fans: blogging, tweeting, interacting on existing social networking sites or sites of their own making.
What would you be if you were not an author or editor?
That’s easy. A musician! I play guitar in pretty much the only all-YA-author band on the planet, Tiger Beat, with Natalie Standiford, Libba Bray on vocals, and Barney Miller on drums. But if I were a full-time musician, I know I'd answer this question by saying, "What I really want to do is work in YA fiction."
Note: You can also follow Dan on Twitter.
Thanks for having me Shelli!
For today, I'm giving away 2 of Dan's books: Tell it to Naomi and The AfterLife. Tell me, if you could be any rock star, who would it be and why?