I recently read an article in which seasoned editors gave advice to newbies. It was in Publishers Weekly, February 21, 2014, and was titled, “Voices of Experience: Advice from Publishing Veterans.” Although the tidbits of wisdom are meant for beginning editors, the ideas are helpful for writers also.
Barbara Marcus, Random House, said to read as many books as you can so you have a broader knowledge of the industry…hang out in bookstores…and take note of how books are designed, positioned and promoted. Find a mentor and learn as much as you can.
Joy Peskin, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, said that volunteering in community programs for juveniles gave her an understanding of how young people think and act. With this knowledge, she can instantly determine if a manuscript has a modern voice and if it reflects how kids reason, talk, worry and dream.
Chris Satterlund, Scholastic, said he wished he’d known earlier how important it is to find your passion and pursue it with excellence. “Getting paid for your passion is a wonderful thing…but if you let that govern your choice you will miss out. We all need to pay the bills, but we sacrifice much when that is our only driver.”
Lara Starr, Chronicle Books, reminds us that we must step back from books we loved as a child, and ask ourselves, “Who is the reader?” “Can you imagine,” she asked, “that a kid that will light up when a parent, teacher, or librarian puts this book in their hand? Spend as much time as you can around people who read books with actual kids—that’s where the rubber hits the road. Teachers, librarians, parents, booksellers, authors, and illustrators do a lot of reading with kids and have a lot to say about what works, what doesn’t, and what makes kids’ eyes light up.”
Samantha Hagerbaumer, HarperCollins, sums up a great strategy for editors and writers. “Ask a ton of questions, read as much as you can, and work your butt off.”
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