Making the Most of Conferences
with Editor Julie Strauss-Gabel
Many thanks to Shirley Harazin for editing this transcript for us
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Verla: While we are waiting for Julie to arrive, I want to mention a few things.
Verla: This will NOT be a regular "editor" workshop tonight.
Verla: We usually have a Q&A for editors, but Julie wants to do something a little different tonight.
JulieSG has joined channel #kidlit
Verla: LOL Julie. I JUST emailed to you.
NOTE: LOL = Laughing Out Loud
Verla: Julie has a specific subject to talk about tonight, so we are going to try to handle it like a regular chat session. BUT... if too many people start talking at once, I'll change it to a moderated status... where you won't be able to talk until you are given "voice."
Tracy: How do we know when we have "voice"?
Verla: If we change to moderated status, when your name looks like hers is right now, then you talk!
Douglas: Tracey, you'll have a plus sign next to your name. (NOTE: Or it will change color, depending on the kind of program you are using to access this workshop.)
Verla: Welcome to our monthly Kidlit Workshop. We ask that you hold all personal chit-chat until the hour is up, but we encourage you to join the discussion in progress of the current topic.
Verla: Our topic tonight is Getting the Most Out of Conferences.
*** Verla has set the topic on channel #kidlit to Getting the Most Out of Conferences workshop IN PROGRESS
Verla: Our leader is Julie Strauss-Gabel
Verla: Here's her bio...and then I'm turning this workshop over to you after the bio is posted, Julie! THANKS for coming!
Verla: Julie Strauss-Gabel is an Editor at Dutton Children's Books, an imprint of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. Dutton publishes picture books and fiction, as well as selected nonfiction. The list includes WINNIE THE POOH, Paul Zelinsky, Elisa Kleven, Lloyd Alexander, and Eva Ibbotson.
Verla: Before joining Dutton, Julie was at Clarion Books for almost five years where she worked with authors and illustrators including Karen English, Carol Matas, Howard Fine, Eileen Christelow, Linda Sue Park, and Javaka Steptoe.
Verla: Julie works on a variety of projects, including picture books and contemporary young adult / middle grade fiction. She is especially interested in finding new voices in fiction and enjoys both tender and irreverent picture book manuscripts with tight, lyrical writing. Humor is a plus for any submission. She is not as interested in chapter books or historical fiction.
JulieSG: Thanks. I asked Verla about doing this chat inspired by two thoughts.
JulieSG: Mostly, I've seen a lot of topics discussed recently regarding conferences making the most of them, crits, etc.
JulieSG: And it seemed like a good time to try to chat.
JulieSG: Also - as an editor who attends conferences (and enjoys conferences!) I want to know what you all WISH I was talking more about, talking less about, etc.
JulieSG: What is it that you wish editors would talk about more, or more openly?
JulieSG: So - help me!
JulieSG: Happy to add more opening remarks about this - or we can just start questions.
barb: I think there writers have different needs, depending on where they are on their learning curve.
DellaRF: Yeah, what do you want US to know?
barb: New writers need to learn the realities of the slush.
barb: But seasoned writers really want to learn about new markets that would be good fits for them.
JulieSG: Okay - I'll open by saying that I think that conferences, SCBWI conferences in particular, are an excellent resource on a number of levels and worth the effort and expense when possible
Marjorie: Julie, I can attest to the importance of meeting editors at conferences. In 2000 I met Steph Lurie at an SCBWI regional conference and, as a result, I have a book coming out with Dutton in 2004 (yeah!).
Dori: Hi Julie. Dori Chaconas here. I think most conference goers just want to hear how to get published.
barb: Dori's right.
Marjorie: I agree Dori. But those of us already published want to know how to keep getting published too <g>!
JulieSG: I think that conferences are most critical as networking and educational tools.
JulieSG: And I think that networking with other writers is one of the more critical parts of that equation Äì not just finding/pitching to editors or agents.
LindaJoy: I enjoyed hearing an editor give a diary-version of what her week is like - that was VERY interesting.
Verla: Yes, I remember that talk, LindaJoy. It was great!
LindaJoy: Also I really like to know specifics about what made an editor buy a certain manuscript.
JulieSG: I think that the opportunity to learn from writing colleagues, put faces to names, solidify working and friendly relationships is a huge part of it being a community activity.
Agy: Yes, me too, LJ what Editors look for, or consider "voice"
Verla: If you use overheads or slides, showing what the inside of your office looks like and your slushpiles is VERY interesting, too.
JulieSG: Do you find it more important to really understand THAT editor's day and that editor's likes more than a general overview?
LindaJoy: yeah--I love to see what it's really like 3000 miles away from my office.
Verla: Especially what YOU are looking for. What YOU like, Julie.
Verla: Yes, Julie. Because we can read in the CWIM what "everyone" wants.
LindaJoy: I'd say what is MOST important is specific things that have turned you off and intrigued you.
Tracy: Yes! Everyone has such distinct tastes and likes/dislikes.
JulieSG: That's always good to hear, because I do think that the desire is often to hear editors talk about the broad strokes of the "industry" and "trends."
Agy: I'm assuming that some of the people you network with at conferences whether through a paid crit or talking, you've requested manuscripts?
BGLit: But don't you think that limits the experience then, to just one editor/agent's likes? If you target for that person, and that's NOT the way/type of thing you normally write, aren't you wasting time?
Agy: I think that info is good though BG, because I want to know WHO would be a good fit, as well as style of working... meeting people makes it easier to make that call.
Lizanne: I found this weekend at the NJSCBWI that we learned more when we asked the editor what they DIDN'T like.
JulieSG: That's really interesting Lizanne.
LindaJoy: When you hear different editors, you get an idea of different tastes and how the industry works.
JulieSG: It's a question I think that many people are afraid to ask.
kimmar: I think it would be so helpful for editors at conferences to provide lists of books they have edited to attendees.
Tracy: Yes, kimmar!
LindaJoy: I agree, kim.
PaulaLesso: Kimmar, great idea.
DellaRF: Yes, kimmar, particularly of first or second time authors.
Lizanne: The answer to - what are you looking for - seems to get the generic' I'll know it when I seee it'? Has anyone else noticed that?
Marjorie: At one conference an editor spoke about the marketing decisions involved in acquiring books - the sales handles etc. It was very helpful!
JulieSG: Lizanne - did the editor elaborate on what he/she meant?
hols: A conference is a chance to get to know what one editor likes, which is awfully specific, but it's better than not knowing what any editors like. It does help to target submissions when you can at least get a feel for what different editors are looking for.
BGLit: Oh, I don't disagree with that at all, Agy...just thought you'd get more of that from networking with attendees than from hearing one editor/agent say what they like.
morningswi: Elsbet had a good question. When meeting an editor at a conference what is appropriate to ask?
Lizanne: after a bit more questioning - they said things like - ' I work on historical fiction most of the day - so I don't want to see more of it.
JulieSG: Because I can't speak to the likes/dislikes of other editors and houses (nor should I) what do you wish an editor would do to expand that horizon a little? Talk about general guidelines?
wordcrafte: On voice: I'd like an editor to read a passage from a recent book she's edited and say what she likes about the voice.
JulieSG: Lizanne - you sure that wasn't me?
Lizanne: No - it was Tara Weikum - they have rights to Little House books etc.
Agy: I've only been to one conference, and if I hadn't a crit I wouldn't have met an actual editor. But the panel discussions were good, though it was mostly about e-publish.
JulieSG: wordcrafter - thank you, I think that's a great idea.
BGLit: Heh, I've heard editors do just that, word...and then hear many people talk about how much they DIDN't like the book s/he read.
barb: General guidelines are just that -- general. We want to hear what YOU like.
hols: I would love to hear an editor take a manuscript and explain what works and what doesn't work in it for him/her. I think that would not only be extremely interesting, but it would really help us understand the lingo editors use.
Andi: I think it's informative to hear an editor's reaction to first pages, and manuscript critiques.
elsbet: I have never been to a conference, so I would like to know what kind of things are appropriate to ask of an editor or agent when meeting them for the first time? I'm sure you don't want someone to pitch their book, do you?
JulieSG: Elsbet - with regard to pitching a project?
elsbet: I mean, I wouldn't be able to pitch a project, but I have heard others suggest it.
hols: I always thought it would be very rude to pitch at a conference.
Agy: LOL Julie in the Northeast, there are no smaller conferences.
JulieSG: okay - BG, you may feel differently, but especially at smaller conferences I think it's a waste of time to pitch.
BGLit: Nope, I'd agree with that completely.
DellaRF: Can you explain why, Julie?
JulieSG: Here's my thought process - by being at the conference I am essentially opening the door to you to submit to me.
JulieSG: So - odds are, if you come and start pitching to me, I'm just going to welcome you to send it.
JulieSG: so you're really no further along than before you started pitching.
barb: At our conferences, the editors get mobbed at breaks. Don't you feel a little overwhelmed sometimes?
elsbet: I figured you would probably be so inundated you wouldn't even remember anyway, lol.
JulieSG: So - I'd say a better use of that few minutes of impromptu personal time is better spent asking a question you've always wanted answered, or discussing something said in their speech, etc
JulieSG: And I certainly really appreciate and respect folks who come to talk with me.
JulieSG: But it's important, too, to respect normal personal boundaries, of course.
JulieSG: as in the ladies room stall
BGLit: I'll second that, Julie! Being followed into the bathroom by an author pitching their work is the worst.
NOTE: BGLit is Barry Goldblatt, a literary agent from New York who specializes in children's literature.
hols: Julie, do you ever request a manuscript you critique at a conference, or one you hear read aloud?
JulieSG: hols - yes I have
JulieSG: Something I try to ask for ahead (but that's very hard for organizers to provide, usually) is a sense of the membership, who is coming.
LindaJoy: At the first conference I ever went to a woman raised her hand then sang a song -- saying she wanted the editor to remember her. 15 years later--I remember.
JulieSG: Since it can really matter what the experience level in the room is, and sometimes there's no way for us to know ahead of time what you already know.
wordcrafte: What about telling an editor, "You've had my manuscript for months. Your life must be really hectic."
JulieSG: wordcrafter - I think putting people on the spot with regard to things on their desk is not the best idea.
elsbet: What would make things easier at a conference for the editors and agents from us?
Agy: I'd be interested in knowing how the top % gets weeded out.
Lizanne: I would like to know how much weight/ effort needs to go into our cover letters - or for PB mss do editors usually flip to the first page anyway?
barb: Is it necessary to shake your hand at the conference? Or, can we just mention hearing you speak as a way of opening our cover letter?
JulieSG: barb - I'd say that if there's really something you'd like to talk about with me, it's always great to make a personal intro.
DellaRF: Maybe I still don't understand....What's wrong with asking an editor if they might be interested in my bedtime book, or my non-fiction , or blah blah blah. I don't mean cornering them in the bathroom or anything.
JulieSG: But, honestly, once I'm back in my office, the manuscript stands on it's own.
JulieSG: So I wouldn't rush to make a brief formal intro just for the sake of that intro.
Agy: It's really an informational thing, it all happens so quickly and in the case of the one I attended there were over 400 people.
Verla: Way back at the beginning of the workshop there was a question asked that I didn't see answered, Julie (and probably a dozen more I missed!) Here it is: Marjorie: Julie, is it common for publishers to wait and see how an author's first book does before they commit to acquiring more?
JulieSG: Marjorie - I think that's TOTALLY case by case, but while it's great to wait for that info, the pace of publishing does also make it hard.
barb: But it's so hard because, like I said, the editors are surrounded. It's a SERIOUS CHALLENGE to try to get near them!
Agy: volunteer barb
barb: I am a volunteer.
Agy: Some people are assigned to one person, which might sound daunting, still a WHOLE day with someone you most likely respect.
barb: But I do behind the scenes stuff.
BGLit: I was just going to say that, Agy. That's the best way possible to get real one on one time with editors and agents. Drive them to the airport, be their "angels", etc.
JulieSG: volunteer for airport pick ups=lots of private time :)
JulieSG: I think those conference angels are really key.
barb: Does that work? I have small kids, so I've never been interested in editor care.
JulieSG: not enough places do it.
Abbey: I'll volunteer to be your angel if you ever come to Australia! <g>
Agy: I've heard good things from people who's done it barb.
hols: The same people always do it in our region.
JulieSG: I think a conference is your time to learn about an editor--and a house--and also ask some burning questions.
Marjorie: I have two friends who acted as chauffeurs for editors and both got published by them!
JulieSG: I think folks should not be shy about asking about things that have been on their mind.
JulieSG: And if you know about a personal history - pick their brain too about places they've been before.
Lizanne: When an editor changes publishers do they find that some of what they can acquire is dictated by the new house?
BGLit: Remember: agents and editors who attend these conferences are PAID to be there. They know what they're getting into, and are prepared to answer your questions
JulieSG: What do you all think editors avoid talking about?
Amishka: you don't want the small child in the back seat when you pick up an editor - never know where that chocolate bar is going to end up.
JulieSG: BG- my conference philosophy is that once I'm there, I'm theirs.
JulieSG: I love small children in back seats.
barb: Where are your forthcoming conferences?
JulieSG: I love friendly, up front, curious people - but not stunts.
Marjorie: Some avoid talking about how large a role marketing plays in selecting manuscripts.
Verla: good plan, Barb... to volunteer to be an editor helper!
PamelaRoss: Julie: people at a recent SCBWI conference held here on Long Island were pestering for info re: advance $. Editors on panel did not want to speak to the issue. I don't blame them.
Andi: Turn around time.
BGLit: For any of you in the Southwest, Julie and I will be taking our act on the road, to Tucson in January.
kimmar: Julie, is there any passing around of mss that you might get but feel another editor at your house may be better suited for?
JulieSG: barb - I'll be in Indianapolis in about 10 days, then I have a few things in the fall
hols: I think editors are usually vague about what kinds of manuscripts they are really looking for and what they think makes a great book. I know those are hard questions, but I think writers really want to know the answer to these.
JulieSG: kimmar - Yes, I like to think that we do that.
JulieSG: Of course, the system doesn't always work perfectly, but it's definitely a goal.
Agy: I wish I knew what editors work on what books... a friend said I wrote like a couple of people, knowing the books they're drawn to would help.
VerlaKay: (And Julie and I will both be talking - and meeting each other in person for the first time - in New Jersey in October!) NOTE: This was a WONDERFUL workshop! Both Julie and Verla had a great time sharing information with attendees in an intimate setting.
Abbey: Julie, do you ever use freelance editors?
JulieSG: hols - Do you think they are vague by design - or just not communicating their wants well?
Lizanne: I would love to know what an editor likes to read for enjoyment either children's lit or adult fiction nonfiction etc.
BGLit: Agy: All that takes is simple research. Finding out who edited a book is not hard. It's not like it's top secret.
hols: I think vague by design, which I can understand.
barb: So many editors just say "I know it when I see it," which, of course, doesn't tell us anything.
JulieSG: Agreed BG, it never hurts to call the house and ask.
Agy: I'm a newbie. BG
NOTE: A "newbie" is someone new to something
DellaRF: BG, when I called a publisher recently with that question, I was told they could not release the names of the editor.
BGLit: Della: Really? Never heard that before.
elsbet: That doesn't drive the people at the front desk nuts? Calling with those questions?
BGLit: It's ok, Agy...you can be anybody. Just call the publisher and get to the marketing or publicity department, or some editorial departments might say, and ask
barb: BG -- actually, it is hard. I've been put into voice mail boxes. I KNOW I'm not going to get a response if I leave a voice mail asking who edited such-and-such-a-book.
kimmar: That's why I think there should be a place writers can go to access info on what editors edit what titles.
JulieSG: kimmar - sadly, it's not always an easy answer.
JulieSG: How do you feel about more topic oriented talks? Cover letters? Hands on workshops?
hols: I'm tired of hearing about cover letters, but I'm sure there's a need for those kinds of workshops.
JulieSG: Are there specific areas--like cover letters but not cover letters--that you wish you'd see more?
KathyM: I like the idea of topic-oriented workshops. There's always something to learn.
kimberk: Julie, I would like to hear about presentation. What's best folders or paperclips for manuscripts?
LindaJoy: I don't really like editor to talk about writing topics -- I want to know "editor" stuff.
PamelaRoss: I dislike when attendees ask questions about money and the like - in the general Q and A forums--when they have yet to sell their books.
JulieSG: That's really interesting LJ
PaulaLesso: Writers are used to hearing that a ms is not right for a particular editor's list. When I hear that, I always want to know exactly what's pending on that list, so I'll know if any of my work will fit in, and then neither of us will waste any time. Of course, there are going to be those "knew it when I saw it" editor a-ha moments, too.
Agy: I'd rather know about queries, and details of the books you like... characters, set ups, plots, etc.
Tracy: I would like to hear about what makes a good query and proposal package.
JulieSG: So - a little more insight on the editor to english dictionary?
hols: I'd like to hear more about the nitty gritty stuff. What makes a great picture book great. That kind of thing.
Lizanne: Definitely - ones on cover/query letters - what grabs your attention and how important they are.
LindaJoy: I was actually disappointed once when an editor gave a workshop on writing...didn't say anything about what she was looking for.
Verla: It's always helpful to know what you like to see (and not see) in a cover letter or query, too, Julie.
kimmar: More info on what makes good "hooks" in a story.
JulieSG: Well - for you all here, I like plain Jane cover letters.
laserbraid: I always like to hear what an editor likes, personally, and what her house likes. It can be hard to tell, looking at bookshelves.
BGLit: Maybe Julie feels differently, but I always worry that if I overly describe what interests me, or mention books I've recently sold or liked, I'll just get poorly done clones of those books.
hols: I think a lot of people are confused about why some rhyming picture books work and why others don't. That would be an interesting workshop, I think.
PamelaRoss: And Linda Joy-- If an editor is the leader of a session, you're right-- as most people take it as an opportunity to barrage editor with personal "Do you like these kind of stories....?"
JulieSG: I'm definitely hearing more specific examples and workshop type explanations about what has hooked us.
KathyM: laser, I agree, and it can be hard to tell from brief CWIM or website info.
Agy: My daughter read a Chicken SOup for the Soul about why someone didn't make a goal, I'd love to hear about what definitely doesn't work.
JulieSG: More things to hold onto and take away - is that a reason that public first pages work?
Agy: Because what does work is ever so elusive
Verla: You mean a letter that says essentially, I wrote this book about X subject. It's approximately X number of pages long. Since I'm a teacher/mother/accountant, I feel fully qualified to write this story. I hope you enjoy it...
JulieSG: Verla - I don't even think I need that much.
barb: Also, what styles or genres you get way too much of.
LindaJoy: To avoid the "do you like this topic" questions, I think talking about what you've published and your specific list would give examples.
JulieSG: But I do always wish people would include email addys if they have them.
hols: I want to know specifically how I can make my writing better. I know an editor can't be expected to tell me everything I need to know to do that, but I think editors could give some really valuable advice about how to write manuscripts better, rather than just how to write cover letters better.
JulieSG: And, please folks, postage is going up in, like, 2 weeks!
kimmar: Julie, if Dutton takes queries and 5 pgs. and your picture book is 4 pages, do you say in the cover "would you like to see my story...here it is"?
JulieSG: kimmar - depends, to me - just send ms.
BGLit: Nothing worse than a query letter that's longer than the manuscript =/
Lizanne: Melanie Cecka gave out handouts - one was on Viking's guidelines and another was on what some of the phrases on those slips of paper mean - slight, forced etc. I refuse to call them rejection letters - [my words]
JulieSG: How much do you want to know about turnaround?
hols: Knowing about turnaround is interesting, but in the end, not very helpful info IMHO. It doesn't change the outcome.
Abbey: Would you ever accept email subs from overseas writers?
JulieSG: abbey - not unless I specifically gave the okay for that email submission.
LindaJoy: Julie, what I'd suggest is having a handout (let SCBWI pay for it) with basic questions, then you have time for specific info.
Agy: What in your opinion is the best way to connect with editor/s at these conferences?
JulieSG: Come up to me and introduce yourself and chat about something.
Agy: I'm still not clear, not everyone can volunteer.
JulieSG: doesn't even have to be about something book related.
JulieSG: and use the time to make a personal connection, NOT to pitch.
LindaJoy: Julie--it's nice to hear that. Even after a zillion years in the business, I still get shy with editors.
JulieSG: LindaJoy - you know, everyone is different.
JulieSG: I love writers and consider talking to them (you) one of the treats of my job
JulieSG: hols - Sometimes I refrain from talking about my personal/educational background.
JulieSG: But I do wonder if that might help you to understand why I do what I do.
JulieSG: and why I love what I love and don't love.
JulieSG: We don't bite. Well, Barry bites - but the rest of us don't.
BGLit: lol, I don't bite...just growl occasionally.
LindaJoy: I've met Barry ... he doesn't bite too hard.
Lizanne: Also - I liked hearing - and better yet seeing - the 'family tree' of a publisher - their imprints etc.
Tracy: I know we should polish our mss. as much as possible, but I would like to know how much you are willing to work with a new author if the story is great, but needs work.
Marjorie: If I'm deciding whether to attend a conference or not, one of the biggest attractions is if critiques by editors are offered.
DellaRF: Yes, Tracy! Excellent question....how much will you work with an unpublished writer.
kimmar: It's hard to differentiate sometimes between different tastes at imprints within the same house.
hols: I always think it's interesting to hear how editors became editors and why they personally love children's literature.
Lizanne: I would love to know from editors -- What questions do you ask yourself when considering a manuscript?
Verla: something a lot of writers are interested in is how you pick outside readers if you use them.
JulieSG: Verla - can't really address that issue yet w/regard to Dutton
JulieSG: Clarion does use one regular reader, a pro in the field, but don't hire editors for hire.
Lizanne: Me too hols! Hearing about how much they love books for children makes them less 'scary'
JulieSG: Lizanne - that's also good to know
JulieSG: I do what I do for a reason
JulieSG: so it's always nice to hear that matters, too
kimmar: Julie, could you answer the earlier question about how much you are willing to invest in an unpublished author with a manuscript that's got potential but needs work.
Agy: I think that's easy to forget, that editors and even agents may feel the same as we do about children's books.
JulieSG: kimmar - often, quite a bit - as long as we're making progress together.
JulieSG: kimmar - I can tell you about two recent buys I've made.
Verla: So if you really like a story but it needs work, you are willing to work with the author?
kimmar: please do Julie
JulieSG: One is a ms that I've been working on for over 2 years - writer and I made a commitment to each other.
JulieSG: A mutual leap of faith that paid of for both of us.
JulieSG: It pays to be patient, and stick with a good thing.
JulieSG: That works both ways.
BGLit: I think one of the oddest things I've had to come to terms with about conferences is the awed reverence people have for me and the other faculty. We are just people, not celebrities, and we're there to share what we know.
KathyM: Yeah Barry, I think that's important to keep in mind.
PaulaLesso: This is so nice to hear, Julie.
LindaJoy: What was it about that book that kept you at it for 2 years?
kimmar: Does that go the same for picture books and young adults, Julie?
JulieSG: Another is a book that I had to reject previously because it wasn't quite right for my previous home.
JulieSG: But then when I moved I called her up after a long period of silence and asked for it again.
barb: Yes, we do treat you like celebrities. That's why I always stay in the background. I hate to feel like a groupie.
hols: Editors and agents make me nervous. I don't want to seem like a needy, little puppy, but I also don't want to ignore them. The problem is that you guys have something we want. lol.
JulieSG: kimmar - Of course, a novel requires a more long term relationship.
kimmar: Can you say what made it right for one home but not the other?
JulieSG: You often know quicker when a picture book isn't working, but that doesn't mean that another great thing isn't in the future.
BGLit: How could we make ourselves more approachable?
PaulaLesso: sing and dance
LindaJoy: hmmm...do you really want to be more approachable?
tem2: BG: Funny hats!
barb: It's not you, it's the mob!
JulieSG: The ms I worked on for so long - I just knew the writer was passionate and I loved her characters - we could talk about them endlessly as if they were flesh and blood.
kimmar: Julie, would you still be willing to invest time in a picture book with a spark that needs work?
JulieSG: kimmar - yes, until we hit a dead end
KathyM: Barry, to be honest I think it's largely about our attitudes. It's more up to us than you!
SueA: Was she an unpublished author Julie?
JulieSG: SueA - unpublished for kids, yes.
Verla: What's your biggest peeve about people at conferences, Julie?
hols: How much does it matter to you if an author is already published Julie?
JulieSG: ok - previous credits
JulieSG: Don't necessarily matter
JulieSG: And if you are published, I have to ask myself why you're coming to ME, and not your previous ed.
SueA: What made you decide to call the second person back?
DellaRF: Someone else asked if there are types of books you see too much of?
JulieSG: um, preachy
JulieSG: books that aren't really about kids at all.
Agy: How do you mean? Sending a message or not a real child protagonist?
BGLit: I see WAY to much cheesy fantasy.
KathyM: define cheesy, Barry? (In your context)
JulieSG: But it's so hard to talk honestly about that without using examples.
elsbet: darn- there goes my cheesy fantasy.
hols: That's also the type of answer that makes us all paranoid. Lol. (We all start thinking "Is mine one of those "bad ones?")
PamelaRoss: That's why I love First Pages sessions at a conference
barb: We had an editor at a conference give us examples of bad. It was a great learning experience!
PamelaRoss: As it gives the room a chance to hear what the editors like in the initial read.
DellaRF: Darn! there goes my cheesy, preachy fantasy that's not about kids at all. ha ha
Agy: The hardest thing about getting so much bad stuff is it becomes hard to recognize good stuff when you're enured to it... think edna st. vincent millay
BGLit: "Cheesy" means unoriginal, unexciting, uninspiring, boring claptrap.
tem2: Ah, the power of cheesy...
KathyM: ah, right Barry :>
hols: Barry, you have such a gentle way with words. :P
BGLit: And I'll second Julie on one point: I've got one client whom I signed just a few months after opening the agency. She's still working on her YA novel, almost 18 months later, and I've yet to submit it...but it's getting closer.
laserbraid: Is it ok to ask - or has it been asked - what books you have edited, Julie?
laserbraid: I mean published books that we can see.
JulieSG: laserbraids - a list from me personally?
kimmar: Julie, what made the book you spoke of right for your new house but not the old house?
JulieSG: kimmar - After three years, it STILL makes me laugh out loud as if I'm reading it for the very first time.
laserbraid: Yes, if it's ok to ask
JulieSG: laser - I can try, but I just worry that trying to keep up with the other questions it'll be hard to piece that together.
JulieSG: I also think that what says that most about ME isn't in bookstores yet.
laserbraid: Maybe you could mention one or two of your faves.
laserbraid: Ah, that's interesting.
JulieSG: Can I come back to that question when it slows down a bit? I promise we'll come back to it.
laserbraid: Sure, that would be wonderful.
Dori: Julie, when you're editing a new writer's work, can you specifically tell exactly 'what' isn't working?
Lizanne: Do most editors have people who read for them? Should we be asking them what they like / don't like to read?
JulieSG: lizanne - I wish.
Agy: So the thing to remember on the editor end it's not only about your preference, but house list, and publishing history.
ToniB: Julie, how do you feel about well-executed rhymed picture book texts (the proverbial no-no)?
JulieSG: toni - I love good rhyme.
BGLit: And we know how rare it is to find truly funny books, Julie
JulieSG: I don't want to detour for good - but shall we talk a little about critiques?
SueA: Oh, thanks. I think I asked after that: Why did you not pick it up at first, if you don't mind me asking.
kimmar: Why was it rejected initially though Julie???????
tem2: Yes, talk about critiques.
Agy: I'd like that.
Verla: hey, you are the workshop leader, Julie. YOU lead. You want to talk about critiques... go for it!
KathyM: yes please to critiques
PaulaLesso: Julie, how does an editor begin to make her list? How exactly do you decide what's right for that list?
JulieSG: Well - I do think it's important to know what the slush pile REALLY looks like.
JulieSG: Let's talk crits - since I've seen a lot of passionate talk about them lately.
JulieSG: I have a personal philosphy about my own crits, specifically about written comments.
Marjorie: I go to conferences for the critiques.
laserbraid: At my last critique at a conference, the editor was very precise and specific. I liked that.
JulieSG: So I've found it interesting to see the level of concern over getting the most of crits, picking a ms for crit, and fear of NOT getting an editor.
Verla: Are these the critiques that you do when you are at a conference, Julie? The paid ones?
JulieSG: Verla - yes, one-on-one paid crits.
JulieSG: usually for about 15 minutes, $20-30.
hols: I think getting a critique from anyone who is a professional in the field (be it editor, agent, or published author) is worth the money.
Marjorie: I'm not interested in paying for a non-editor. I'm already in a critique group.
JulieSG: First - as much as your dream result of a crit is for me to say "I'll buy it"
Agy: I got a magazine editor for my mg/ya novel, but I loved it she picked some things up and she said nice things to me ;^)
JulieSG: My dream result is to love something so much that I find something at a conference.
JulieSG: I want NOTHING more than to find a ms at a conference.
Marjorie: our dream too!
JulieSG: so we share a common goal
JulieSG: but that's so rare
BGLit: I've actually had it happen once, and I don't know if I'll ever top that feeling.
JulieSG: so - I look on the time we have as your chance to ask me anything you'd like about your piece.
SueA: Why do you think that is rare, Julie?
KathyM: How many such manuscripts have you ever found, Julie?
JulieSG: ask about submissions stuff, etc.
JulieSG: I don't think I've ever bought something I critiqued.
Marjorie: You might not find the exact manuscript, but you might connect with an author and get that ms later.
JulieSG: But I have bought from folks I met at a conference.
Agy: A friend found her agent that way, Marjory, and I know authors who think highly of other's work and pass them along to their agents.
BGLit: And make sure you don't leave a SECOND before your time is up. I've had people get up and walk out after five minutes...bizarre.
barb: Does that mean those of us who get critiques aren't ready for prime time yet?
JulieSG: I see a huge range of ms when I critique - I'm sure the same is true for Barry.
elsbet: What questions should we ask when getting a critique?
laserbraid: Do you write up notes for the author ahead of time, Julie?
Marjorie: I got a letter with notes at mine.
JulieSG: elsbet - Personally, I like to talk about the ms and its history, how it evolved, where it's been, etc. I learn a lot about the author and the piece that way.
BGLit: Absolutely. I get things from writers who have never shown their work to anyone before, and I have critiques with published authors (which always surprises me).
hols: What is your purpose in doing critiques, Julie? That might better help us understand what we should expect.
JulieSG: I make notes for myself and provide something written when asked to do so, but I personally prefer NOT to hand over a written critique.
Agy: Julie I subbed my ms and it wasn't complete, really wanted the feedback.
JulieSG: for me, the benefit of the one-on-one is that chance to talk, that chance to learn.
Agy: Would you recommend that the manuscript be finished, or just polished?
ponytailmo: I have two versions of a story, 1st crit'ed by an author, then on advice of an editor changed. I would like a third opinion to look at both and say which is best (300 words). Is it kosher to take them both for a crit like that?
JulieSG: When I know more about your process I find that there's a lot we can zero in on and problem solve.
hols: That's cool Julie. I think all of us (writers) want to get published...but truly, the networking with just really cool people is the most fun for me.
JulieSG: But then the written thing you walk away with doesn't reflect that.
BGLit: Wait, Julie! You mean they don't require that you provide a written critique? I thought I always had to do that...
JulieSG: Barry - not always.
PaulaLesso: no tape recorders allowed, huh? :-)
DellaRF: I had a crit done this past weekend, and while I LEARNED so much about the manuscript, there was NO time for questions. That was real bummer for me.
JulieSG: I feel like a one-on-one is a chance for me to walk through the process with you and solve some problems, that's the most valuable part for me.
Marjorie: I appreciated the written critique. I was so nervous I could hardly remember anything!
barb: Notes on the manuscript would be fine with me.
kimmar: But it may help the author to have something written so they can process it all later.
JulieSG: Understood - but, to me, that's different.
Dori: BG- I've had editor critiques where the editor didn't even write a postette note's worth of comment.
JulieSG: I think this is very personal to me, honestly.
hols: An author can takes notes while your talking though, can't they, Julie? Or would that be rude?
Verla: I would be unhappy without a written critique because otherwise, I'd forget half of what was discussed. I have a VERY sad memory!
Agy: That's the thing Julie, you don't remember, it's better to have something concrete.
JulieSG: But I'm saying that my process and what I like to get out of our time together is as personal as those comments I make.
KathyM: Depends on the manuscript, yes?
JulieSG: Ah - but if all you have is my comments BEFORE we talk then that's all you remember.
JulieSG: And then a crit is just a way to get an editorial letter
JulieSG: which is different, to me.
BGLit: Interesting, Julie, I never thought of it that way.
barb: As long as your comments are honest, I don't care if their written or oral.
Marjorie: Come to think of it, we had our discussion, and then I got the written critique.
Dori: Julie, I think most writers equate the two - critique=editorial letter.
JulieSG: Anyway, just saying that everyone's process differs.
Agy: I never looked at it that way.
hols: I don't know if you saw my question Julie, but would you mind if a writer took notes during your session?
Verla: yes, that's the best way, I think, marjorie...
JulieSG: hols - Not at all.
kimberk: I think "encouragement" is important during a crit. At least for the beginner!
paulad: I think that the way each editor critiques give a writer an idea of the way he or she edits.
BGLit: I always feel that my written critique is far inferior to my oral one, since <newsflash> I'm NOT a writer, and I communicate much better aloud.
Agy: I still look over my written critique, I had a wonderful editor, so there were plenty of positive comments, I sometimes hold that dear. Maybe I shouldn't, but I need it now.
JulieSG: I have to also say that I don't think I've ever let someone down.
BGLit: It's true, Verla...ask my clients!
JulieSG: So I hope you don't all think that I'll casual about any of this.
DellaRF: Well, the only "editorial letters" I've ever gotten are at worst, a form letter, or at best, a personal rejection. On the other hand, the written critique was VERY detailed.
Abbey: Barry, I think so much more comes out in discussion anyway than we write down in a critique/report.
KathyM: Julie, do you have any idea how the manuscripts are assigned at conferences?
kimmar: Not at all Julie, just trying to figure out how everyone's needs at such an event are best met.
JulieSG: kathy - I think it totally varies.
JulieSG: Sometimes it's first come first served.
JulieSG: Sometimes the organizer choose on merit, etc.
barb: KathyM, the volunteers do it.
Marjorie: Julie, a terrific discussion would certainly meet my expectations.
DellaRF: But honestly Julie, I think it could be just as valuable to "talk through" the ms, as well.
Verla: I've been on both sides of the fence... I have done critiques (and I DO give a very detailed written critique after the session) and I just signed up and paid for a critique at National this year on my own manuscript - because it's a YA novel and I do NOT feel totally qualified to write a novel yet. (I have ONLY critiqued picture books)
JulieSG: I do often give written crits.
Agy: In a discussion you have eye contact, body language, tonality, something lacking in the written word most often
JulieSG: But I just wanted to say that, for me, I get much more out of meeting writers and going through things as a team for a few minutes.
Agy: 'That's such a subjective thing though, "merit" course I might be a tad arrogant!
kimmar: I think your way sounds great Julie, it's just not what I'm used to at conferences.
KathyM: I agree, kimmar.
Verla: I've heard of all kinds of ways of assigning mss at conferences...
JulieSG: But I'm scary off the cuff - right Pamela?
BGLit: I'd love the chance to try that in one-on-ones, Julie. The only place I ever felt I really got to do that was at actual retreats, with LOTS of one-on-one time.
Dori: When I send a story for a private critique, I'm interested in what I can do to make it saleable.
JulieSG: But it's good to hear how valuable the written part is to you.
PamelaRoss: Julie? Scary? No way. No way!
JulieSG: important to know that it's role as a "stand-in" editorial letter is most desired.
JulieSG: BUT this all means that if I see it again, it has to have been
KathyM: That sounds almost ominous Verla :-)
Agy: That's an interesting thought, dori... Julie do you ever fall in love with something not publishable?
PamelaRoss: You are as kind and intelligent in real life as you come through on the screen.
JulieSG: Agy - I doubt my husband is publishable.
JulieSG: He wouldn't break down into 32 pages very easily.
Verla: oh my! We are OUT of time, folks!
Verla: Any last words of wisdom you'd like to impart before we close the official workshop for tonight, Julie?
Verla: I didn't els. We ran over ten minutes!
JulieSG: No - I'm great Verla (will stick around if that's okay)
Verla: Hey, I doubt if anyone will object to that, Julie. :-)
JulieSG: So - the question has been raised - how much do you REALLY want to know if something is sellable?
Tracy: I REALLY want to know!
Verla: Okay... this workshop is now OFFICIALLY over and the rest of it will
be "unofficial shop talk."
DellaRF: Julie, I REALLY want to know.
PaulaLesso: We want to know, Julie
.Marjorie: I want to know.
laserbraid: I always want to know the truth
KathyM: Thanks Julie, and I'd want to know, too
Dori: Julie, I'd like to know truthfully.. This manuscript is saleable with work. Or, throw this one out and start over.
JulieSG: Do you want to know in a nice sweet gentle way?
Agy: Marketing is a different animal.
barb: My biggest fear is that I'll do this forever and never get published. PLEASE TELL US THE TRUTH!
*** Verla has set the topic on channel #kidlit to Writers & Illustrators of Children's Literature Meet Here Nightly - Welcome!
DellaRF: Julie, we have our friends and family who "sugar coat" our stuff. We need to TRUST you to be HONEST. Pleeeeease.
JulieSG: How about if it should be a magazine piece?
hols: Nah. I just want the cold, hard facts
KathyM: Straightforward is better for me, Julie :)
paulad: Julie..........I think that it's really important to be honest at critiques....and for the writer to know that whatever is said is not written in stone.....another person may like it.
Verla: THANKS Julie!!!! GREAT workshop!
elsbet: If I can't take it I shouldn't be in the business.
Dori: Julie, not in a coddling way. Just honest
PaulaLesso: Yes, Julie...if it works better in a different form, tell us.
JulieSG: Honestly - my experience has been that folks don't always want the truth.
Tracy: Tell me its a better magazine piece, but please tell me why!
PaulaLesso: The truth can be hard face-to-face.
Verla passes out silly string and noisemakers and party hats and confetti to everyone.
Verla: Thanks Julie!
DellaRF: Julie, Of course, tell us the GOOD stuff about our writing. But absolutely tell us what we need to work on.
barb: Most of us start off thinking we're brilliant. Of course, we don't take a contrary opinion well. But we HAVE to hear it.
hols: Some folks don't want the truth. That's the tricky thing. It's especially unfortunate for those of us who DO want the truth, because usually things do get sugar-coated.
JulieSG: Sounds like cold hard facts is what you folks want.
kimmar: Tell me if any angle of the story night change it into something different and better or tell me to move on to something else because...
PaulaLesso: Do a sandwich critique, even if the meat is a nope.
NOTE: a sandwich critique is where you say something good at the beginning and again at the end, "sandwiching" the hard-to-accept facts in the middle.
PamelaRoss: Paula D: I love honest critiques from conference mentors.
JulieSG: How about situations where it's not suited to the mainstream trade?
BGLit: Well, I have had a lot of bad experiences critiquing folks who were definitely NOT ready to hear the bad with the good.
Tracy: Yes, that, too, Julie.
hols: What's hard for a lot of us is that we have trusted, respected colleagues who tell us how great we are, but then it seems editors don't feel the same way. In my case, and I'm sure in many other people's cases, we want to know why.
morningswi: Julie may I ask a question? I may be going to a regional SCBWI conference soon and I'm wondering if it would be worth it to get the critique. The editor is in the education market and my work is not.
JulieSG: as an aside - folks, I didn't mean to sounds all weird about crits - I'm really quite normal
Agy: The hard thing is the subjective Barry.
paulad: i am going to be teaching in two weeks and will have to critique 15 people.
NOTE: Paula D is a well-known children's author
Amishka: There are a lot of writers who don't want to hear the truth.
KathyM: Hearing the bad news would sting, but I'd get over it and move onto something more worthwhile
Agy: I agree Paula
Amishka: But many of us do.
ponytailmo: I guess it depends on if they are serious writers that have had their stuff critiqued before or not.
SueA: Julie, this may have been answered already but the manuscript that you said no to and then picked up three years later...why did you not pick it up at first? Thanks!
BGLit: Pamela: Nothing TO me, but I've had at least a half dozen burst into tears, and I've had two yell at me quite fiercely.
PamelaRoss: Julie, Barry: do you find people get defensive when you point out areas of improvement/confusion?
JulieSG: I think that if it's not a huge expense, it can always be an interesting experience to have a crit - as long as you walk into it with an honest knowledge of what that person brings to the table.
hols: Well, the truth definitely can hurt.
BGLit: Paula: 15 at one time? Yikes, that's a lot
paulad: Five days of classes
JulieSG: Barry is an animal.
Abbey: And I've had people argue black and blue why what they've written is right and my constructive feedback is wrong.
JulieSG: Barry -nyah nyah - I've never made anyone cry.
hols: I can't stand critting someone who is defensive.
paulad: Three hours of teaching in the morning....and then the afternoons to talk with each student.
Jeff_S: Julie, you made me cry once!
BGLit: Pamela: The writers who are truly there to learn about craft and improve their writing are always glad to hear what works for me and what doesn't. It's the others that, well, make me shudder.
PamelaRoss: I couldn't imagine yelling at anyone trying to help.
Jeff_S: Nah, I'm kidding, but I didn't want Barry to feel bad ;)
LindaJoy: I think different writers can take different levels of honesty at different times in their career. I mean, when you're new you mostly want encouragement
kimmar: Julie, I need to know the answer to SueA's question, it's driving me nuts!
Agy: You know jeff I don't want to crit most people anymore.
JulieSG: ok - guys - one more time!
PaulaLesso: the answer is right up there, guys!
SueA: But why didn't you pick it up originally?
hols: I think they are asking why you didn't accept it in the first place.
JulieSG: I went back to it because after 3 years it still made me laugh out loud as if I'd never seen it before.
Amishka: We heard that part Julie but they want to know why you didn't take it the first time.
kimmar: I know Julie, But WHY DID CLARION REJECT IT :)?
JulieSG: Not Clarion's sense of humor.
SueA: Ok, thanks. *Sue's body relaxes into chair.*
JulieSG: Humor is totally subjective. Sometimes different people GET different things
kimmar: Julie, I think that's what can be so tough. I read catalogs and go to conferences, but can't tell who likes what kind of humor at each house!
PamelaRoss: Would you say Dutton has a better sense of humor than Clarion?
SueA: So, even if YOU love a piece, if the rest of the people don't, the ms could get turned down anyway?
NOTE: ms = manuscript
Verla: Oh, I was trying to catch back up and I see you said that sandwich thing already, Paula. LOL!
elsbet: My mom doesn't get Monty Python and I laugh myself silly over it. I see what you mean.
JulieSG: Clarion has a different sense of humor.
BGLit: kim: I don't really think you can ever learn who likes what "kind" of humor.
Agy: It's hard to tell someone they're not ready.
Abbey: hols, It isn't annoying so much as you wonder why they waste their time paying for a professional critique if they don't want to hear how to make the work better.
Jeff_S: I love critiquing because I'm good at it. But, like I said, real life? No way. Getting yelled it is the least fun thing ever.
LindaJoy: When I have critiqued people, I try to sense what they can handle & still be honest.
Jeff_S: And I think I just won the award for most obvious statement ever.
Verla:Yes, some people, especially very new writers, aren't ready to hear the "bad" news about their writing.... that's why I think it's so important to always use the sandwich method... I tell them what's good about it... (even if it's just the title!) and then what they can do to make it better, then some more that's good about it. I try to emphasis that almost all manuscripts can get better with work. But I also tell them if they're writing a theme that has been SO overdone that it probably won't ever fly without a new slant.
laserbraid: Can you say what kinds of humor each house likes? 'Cause I've been reading their books, and I can't.
JulieSG: But I do feel that I'm in a home that's right for me - SO many more folks appreciate my Mr. Winkle collection now.
PaulaLesso: Mr. Winkle?
laserbraid: I don't know who Mr. Winkle is either :(
KathyM: me neither...
kimmar: I know Barry, but it's hard to say, Penguin Putnam likes this, but each of our imprints likes this...it can be confusing for writers who really do study the market but still feel frazzled by it.
Jeff_S: Mr Winkle is so pretty he's almost ugly.
BGLit: Now I'm REALLY afraid, Julie
DellaRF: Is winkle that dog with the big tongue?
Jeff_S: But a funny little dog all the same!
PaulaLesso: WHO IS MR. WINKLE???!!!
LindaJoy: I was wondering if it's that funny dog...
kimberk: Adorable little doggie
Jeff_S: Isn't there a mrwinkle.com?
JulieSG: Barry - if you EVER come visit me, you can see my pic with Mr. Winkle
BGLit: That just might warrant a trip into the office =)
hols: I'm sorry, but I have no idea who Mr. Winkle is, and you guys are
starting to freak me out.
JulieSG: kimmar - I think it's really hard and I totally get that.
JulieSG: That's why I think it's important to use the time at conferences to really talk with editors, rather than pitch.
morningswi: Do you ever do conferences down south, around Texas or Louisiana?
BGLit: OK, Julie, but tell me this: would you have published Mr. Winkle if it had come to you?
JulieSG: BG - Well, prob not the right fit for Clarion at the time, you know?
BGLit: I was in Houston last year...and I'm holding out hope for an invite to the New Orleans conference in September.
JulieSG: morning - For me or BG?
PaulaLesso: sigh...We who don't know Mr. Winkle never will...
Verla: Hey, pamela... about Dutton vs Clarion's sense of humor... Dutton has Julie. They HAVE to have a better sense of humor. :-)
morningswi: Julie, either
Agy: I think someone else asked that question but don't remember the answer... if it's not for you, but it might be for someone else you work with would you pass it along?
JulieSG: morning - Nothing lined up, but I always love invites.
JulieSG: I want to insert that I think crits from writers are not to be sniffed at - I think they can be very valuable.
PaulaLesso: Julie, how does an editor make her list?
JulieSG: I'll also insert that I'd second the need for more small, retreat-type conferences.
JulieSG: okay - building a list
JulieSG: Every editor's situation differs in terms of the list she supports, what's needed of her, etc.
PaulaLesso: How much is her decision, how much the house's decision?
JulieSG: At the moment, I'm living a dream - really building a list of books *I* love, the kinds of books I want to bring into this world and give voice to.
BGLit: Julie: Put something in perspective for folks. How many books do you expect to publish per year.
JulieSG: BG - personally?
JulieSG: I'd say - once I've been @ Dutton for a while, hopefully about 10-12 a year.
JulieSG: But it will take a bit to ease into that rate.
Abbey: Julie, what age group are you publishing specifically?
BGLit: That's about what I expected.
JulieSG: abbey - toddler through YA for me.
KathyM: Julie, how many subs to you get a month? (I'm sure you've been asked that before, so sorry)
JulieSG: with an emphasis on the picture books and then the older fiction.
Abbey: and do you accept unsolicited manuscripts?
JulieSG: I take complete pb manuscripts, synopsis +up to three sample chapters on fiction
JulieSG: and not really looking for easy readers, chapter books, or historical fiction.
kimmar: Julie, do you, like many editors, prefer one pb ms at a time from an author?
JulieSG: kimmar - yes.
hols: Julie, is Dutton looking for holiday books at all?
JulieSG: hols - It totally just depends on the piece.
hols: Are holiday books a tough sell, generally?
BGLit: Oh, Julie, I know something I wanted to ask. I know I have on several occasions seen something I knew had promise, but just wasn't MY kind of thing, and so I've referred it to an agent friend of mine. Would you ever refer something to an editor at another house?
JulieSG: BG - PROB not, but I might send something that's totally not for Dutton to a friend at Clarion
laserbraid: Julie, I hate to harp on what was actually a casual question, but can you mention any favorite books you've edited?
Marjorie: Julie, Is it desirable (or necessary) for authors to establish a sort of 'brand' insofar as the genre/format/style of their books? In other words, if my first book with Dutton is a gatefold book for toddlers, would I have a better chance (with Dutton) of publishing another gatefold book for toddlers vs., let's say, a story picture book?
JulieSG: Marjorie - editorially, I don't think so - it's important to grow.
Agy: Julie, lb and I want to know some of your favorite books you've worked on.
DellaRF: Julie, do you edit preschool books, the kinds on heavy-weight paper, bet. board books and pic books? THANKS.
JulieSG: I'd do books for the very young.
SueA: Julie, I asked this before but I think it got lost in the whirlwind :) So If YOU love a book and it's not the house's "humor" then it can be turned down even if you love it?
JulieSG: SueA - If it doesn't really fit in with the list--and have support from others--then, yes.
JulieSG: That's the sad thing - as editors we do often lose things we love.
PaulaLesso: Julie, would you keep an author's name on file if you LOVE their work but others turned a ms down?
JulieSG: Paula - yes, sure. That's what happened with this one. I also tried to follow through on another, but it was gone, alas.
KathyM: Julie, I'm curious as to how many mss you get a month?
JulieSG: kathy - the number is growing now that folks know where to find me- maybe 100 or so monthly for now.
BGLit: Wow, Julie, I'll trade you slush piles! I'm up to 40-50 a week these days. =/
JulieSG: laser - Most of the things that I've worked on that are out are nonfiction.
JulieSG: And there are, of course, lots of things that I wasn't the acquiring editor, but I had a lot to do with. I did a lot of nonfiction at Clarion.
JulieSG: I left a great picture book behind at Clarion
JulieSG: as well as one that was almost done being illustrated.
JulieSG: laser - I'm wishing I had my manuscript list here for you.
kimmar: How true is the no sharing thing Julie?
JulieSG: two nonfiction projects: Donner Party (Marian Calabro, won CA BEatty Award); and Clara Schumann (Susannah Reich)
laserbraid: Oh, it's ok. I was just thinking that it would be interesting, after hearing you talk about your ideas, to see the books that resulted.
JulieSG: It's good to know that hard core details are wanted.
JulieSG: and also, do you really want personal-type "why I do this" type stuff?
Agy: Julie I don't know enough about the business, but I intend on being good enough and staying around, I want some one I can work with long term, knowing as much about them and they way they work, helps with that, saves time for everyone
hols: I'd like to have a good relationship with the editor who hopefully eventually publishes me. My mom hasn't had the greatest relationships with hers, and it's kind of frustrating.
****THE CHAT WAS DISRUPTED BECAUSE VERLA WAS BUMPED AT THIS POINT.
Verla: Hmph. This server doesn't like me tonight!
kim: Julie, if I get a personal reject from one imprint suggesting things but not asking to resub, can i sub to another imprint once I've changed the story?
JulieSG: kim - that's tough
PamelaRoss: Julie: I would hope that people accept your comments in the generic editorial sense and not assume your pairing will lead to an impending sale.
JulieSG: As, among other things, it totally depends on the mysterious editor speak in the letter.
JulieSG: and how detailed the revision comments were.
JulieSG: It's harder at a house like PPI
kim: But if the story now has much more say plot, or character development, has become a different sort of tale, might it be ok to send to another imprint in the house?
kim: Why is it harder at PPI?
JulieSG: Because, among the questions to ask are: Did they reject it because it's not to someone's personal taste, or because--knowing the shared marketing/sales force--they feel it wouldn't have a market.
PamelaRoss: I know people had been complaining about getting non-editors as critique partners. I have never been matched with an editor. But I have had great author-input from Rita Williams-Garcia, Trudy Krisher, Linda Oatman High, Deb Heiligman... and I have gone home a much wiser writer for it.
JulieSG: knowing just what the etiquette is between imprints.
Verla: I was at a conference recently, Pamela... and they paired me up to critique other published writers...
JulieSG: pamela - I think ANY time anyone smart, literate person spends with your words is time well spent.
Verla: I felt bad for the writers, because I KNOW they wanted the editors.
kim: Thanks Julie, it's frustrating because I do feel the story is much stronger now.
PaulaLesso: I agree, Julie- that's why I LOVE my crit buddies.
Verla: But I got a lot out of the crit sessions, too...
JulieSG: The end of the journey may be a little different, or might not as directly contribute to a SALE - but it's all an important part of the journey
PamelaRoss: I have to say I have never complained about a critique. This is the chance you take at a conference. You can't assume you are going to get Star Treatment.
KathyM: yes, I felt bad for my author, cause she asked me right out if I was disappointed I hadn't gotten an editor.
JulieSG: Verla - But you changed their minds, right?
PaulaLesso: Oh, well, sigh...
PamelaRoss: Oh right. Were you paired with a writer or editor?
JulieSG: You know what - it can be a mixed bag, too
KathyM: She was great, though, really homed in on some good points
JulieSG: The downside--as I mentioned--to seeing an editor is that you had better revise before sending again.
PamelaRoss: Julie: As you said above-- anyone who knows something about books and takes the time to help me is a friend of mine. <g>
Verla: I found it very enlightening to critique one gal's story... and I made sweeping statements about it. Like... this should be written for an older age... and it would work better for me if you did "this" with the main character... and after I did the critique, she told me she'd gotten a personal rejection on it by an editor previously... and that editor told her the VERY SAME THINGS!
PamelaRoss: Verla, it's so nice to know you are thinking like an editor.
KathyM: Yes, that's interesting Verla
kim: I like the thought of revising based on that "quality time" Julie.
JulieSG: Verla - Someone made an interesting point on the boards about the difference between editor comments and writer comments, and you seem to be backing that up.
Verla: It did, Paula. It was nice to know my feelings about the story were the same as the editor's.
PaulaLesso: macro/micro is interesting- I do micro crits, definitely.
JulieSG: It's my job to think on a macro level, to see the big picture and address what needs to be addressed - not always how, especially in the beginning.
Verla: What do you mean, Julie? About me backing up the comments about the difference between editor and writer comments?
Harazin: I agree with the big picture approach at first.
KathyM: Me too, hara
PaulaLesso: I am working on improving my skill at seeing overall plot believability, etc.
Verla: yes, that's pretty much how I critique, too
SueA: Julie, why do you think it is so slim that you will find a manuscript you love at a conference? Do a lot of writers have an unfinished ms?
Verla: If a person's story is THERE, then I do the line by line stuff with it.
JulieSG: Verla - You definitely were making editor-type comments (those are the kinds of things I'd be thinking about), which I wouldn't see as sweeping.
KathyM: It doesn't help changing details if the whole thing doesn't work.
JulieSG: It seems from your comment that you often focus more on fine tuning.
Verla: But if the story is basically flawed... then I concentrate on what would make the story line work.
PaulaLesso: True, Kathy. waste of time
Verla: Right, Kathy!
JulieSG: Verla - Do you really see stuff that's that close?
Verla: Yes, I think so, Julie I'm quite detailed oriented..First I look at the big picture. If it works, then I look at the nit-picky things.
JulieSG: SueA - The range I'm seeing at conferences is not dissimilar to the range in the slush.
JulieSG: Often people tell me I'm the first ever other human being to see a piece.
Verla: I've never yet had anyone say they weren't happy with my crits.
SueA: So not yet a "professional" manuscript?
JulieSG: SueA - No, not any more than normal submissions.
JulieSG: My personal subs are usually better than conference subs-- or, rather, crits.
Verla: Of course, when I told a few people in their crits that their story needed major overhauls... they might not have liked it much. But a few of the ones I've done were simply NOT good picture book stories. No plot... just rhyming couplets that didn't tell a story... no conflict, etc.
SueA: I guess some people feel that whoever crits it will tell them how to make the manuscript better?
JulieSG: Sounds like all excellent advice.
JulieSG: Sometimes people purposefully choose something very raw.
SueA: I'd be too afraid to do that.
Verla: I think that's what most people are looking for, Sue. I know that's what I'm hoping for at my crit at National on my YA
KathyM: It makes sense in a way - why put stacks of time and effort if the basic premise doesn't work
SueA: Verla, you mean you want to send in something raw for them to look at to help you redirect?
Verla: I submitted this same book years ago for a crit.
Verla: no no no....
Verla: I would never submit something I didn't feel was READY.... but I want to know if it's ready for others... not just me thinking it is.
JulieSG: Honestly, many conference goers are not as well educated as everyone here.
JulieSG: For some people it's a very first step in the process.
Verla: That's true, Julie. But in here, we really strive to LEARN
Verla: I try to be very gentle with writers while telling them what they need to hear... not what they WANT to hear.
KathyM: That's interesting Julie, I wouldn't have thought that.
JulieSG: Kathy - People get their feet wet different ways.
JulieSG: I do a conf every year in MD (not children's only) and most folks don't know what the SCBWI is.
PamelaRoss: Kathy, some people ask the darndest questions at conferences. <g>
KathyM: Yes, and a conference is probably a good place to start - I just preferred hiding out at home reading books and Verla's site :)
JulieSG: I'd love some funky questions for a change of pace.
JulieSG: Pamela mentioned hearing weird questions. I'd love some weird ones.
PamelaRoss: Do you want people asking you "If I hire you to be my editor..." and yes, I have heard that question.
JulieSG: really - wow
JulieSG: I think I learned two very helpful things.
JulieSG: I'm sure there's a picture book to be made out of at least one prince song.
JulieSG: I learned that specific examples are needed - concrete sense of what turns me on (book wise, that is)
JulieSG: And, while I get what I mean when I say that it has to grab me and speak to me, you'd like to hear more about that.
JulieSG: And also that it helps to share why I chose to work in this nutty business.
JulieSG: And those background details might help you out a little.
JulieSG: SueA - For what it's worth, I try to be full of hope - because I am.
JulieSG: I am as excited about finding you out there as you are about finding me.
PamelaRoss: My motto: Follow that Dream
Verla: By the way, NICE group tonight, Julie. I counted 42 at one point and we had close to 40 almost the entire time.
Verla: And the workshop was VERY good! Thank you bundles Julie!
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