Workshop Transcript

Speak with an Editor

with Julie Strauss-Gabel


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*** Channel created at Tuesday, February 13, 2001 4:42:54 PM

Verla: Wow. Lotsa early birds for tonight. Getting the seats way up front, eh?

Verla: (ignore me for a while now, folks. Gotta get the room set up for our editor. :-)

NOTE: :-) = sideways happy face

^Miriam: so verla, what exactly is the session about tonight?

Verla: An Associate Editor from Clarion will be here to answer questions, mir.

katrapp_: we have an editor from Clarion here

Verla: and now... I am invisible while I get everything set up here

Elsbet: hey- where'd Verla go! I can't see her anymore!

katrapp_: hi to all guests

Verla: That's just a test, guest2

Guest83089: hi. I was trying to get to the site w/ the Clarion editor. Guess I don't know what I'm doing.

Verla: you are here, guest

Guest83089: Thank you.

Verla: to change your nickname from guest, type /nick NEW NAME HERE (try adding a carat ^ at the front or back of the name)

Elsbet: we get here early sometimes for the first row, Guest!

Verla: I imagine there will be a good-sized crowd tonight for Julie.

Verla: She's the first "big" editor we've had here

Verla: (as a guest speaker, I mean)

katrapp_: does this mean she is open to lots of subs??

katrapp_: hint hint

^Miriam: good question kat

Robin_: Hi. What time is the guest suppose to arrive?

Verla: In about 40 minutes, Robin

Elsbet: what do you write, Robin?

RobinA: Unpublished manuscripts, so far. Picture Books.

RobinA: This is a wonderful site. I'm still learning.

Verla: It's a really good bunch of people that come to this chat room, Robin. I've met some of my closest friends through it!

Elsbet: It is great- Verla's a sweetie for putting it together for us!

Verla blushes and hides behind the potted palm in the far corner of the chat room.

Elsbet: hehe- I can see you blushing through the plant..

RobinA: Unfortunately, I won't be able to stay for the guest tonight. Believe it or not... visiting sick relative in hospital. Wish I could stay. Will there be a "transcript" of sorts to view afterwards?

Verla: yes, robin

Verla: ...TESTING

Elsbet: I don't have anything out to Clarion, anyway, so It will be easy for me to be good, ; )

Verla: els, you could still ask about a ms you have on your desk and be bad. (LOL)

NOTE: LOL = Laughing Out Loud

Elsbet: lol- gotcha! I'll still be good!

Verla saves a seat WAY up front for "good" els

Verla waves at everyone....

Verla: I'm almost through "testing" everything for tonight


TimD: 2Verla, are hello's allowed during a workshop?s

Verla: nope, tim.

Verla: They are until the workshop begins, though

*** Verla has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to Speak With An Editor workshop tonight at 9pm EST

TimD wanders to the front of the room and ever so casually sits in the nearest front row seat.

SusetteW: ouch Tim, get up, I'm under here!

^Miriam: not in my lap Tim!!

SusetteW: you, too Mir?

^Miriam: yes!

SusetteW: boy, he's dangerous

TimD: 2I said EMPTY seat.

^Miriam: well, you missed and got our laps tim!

SusetteW: Yeah, ditto what Mir said

SusetteW: watch where you're sitting

Verla: TEST:

Verla: I'm testing to see how to break up our guest speaker's intro, folks. Please don't listen

Amishka closes her eyes

TimD: 2I didn't hear anything, Verla.

SusetteW: Mish, she said don't LISTEN, open your eyes, close your ears.

DonaV looks up from taking notes madly. "Huh?"

Elsbet: Looks like I know where to send my novel- but I won't make a peep- I swear! : )

DonaV: Elsbet, me too!

Elsbet: lol, Dona!

Amishka: I don't read with my ears

Verla: TEST finished:

Verla: okay... I got it.

^Miriam: tim, sit by verla so she can watch you

TimD: 2Verla's got her ruler with her. I'm not sitting over there.

^Miriam: hey, she will be closer to the editor tim . . .

TimD: 2Closer to the editor, hmmmmmm

Verla: ruler doesn't hurt unless you do something wrong, tim

Elsbet: trout do, tho!

^Miriam: ah, yes, verla and her trouts

Elsbet slaps everyone in the chat room around with a wet trout

Elsbet yells, Yippeeeee!

Elsbet says, All Right!

Elsbet blows a raspberry across the chat room, PPPPFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFTH!

Elsbet says, All Right!

TimD: 2Elsbet needs professional help.

Elsbet: Ack- i did not mean to do that!

NOTE: Elsbet was activating the pre-programmed "actions" and "sounds" for people who come to the chat room through Verla Kay's website.

RobinA: Wish I could stay. Can't. Arghhh! Someone can have my seat... Tim? Lap-free.

SusetteW: Robin, seat free, not lap!!

SusetteW: He's already claimed ENOUGH of them!

SusetteW: *g*


BGLit: Free laps? Hey, what kind of room you running here, Verla? =)

katrapp_: oooo i want to sit in a free lap

SusetteW: Watch it Mir, Tim is dodging for the front row again.

^Miriam: I am glued in sus, he will have to sit on the floor

SusetteW: LOL Mir

SusetteW: He might make a good foot prop

Verla: Welcome, everyone

MsSASE: I knew I would have to get here early to get a seat

Verla: We still have about 15 minutes before we have to panic. (Panic if our guest of honor doesn't show up. GRIN)

Suzy-Q drags in box of silly string for after workshop.

Verla: Hooray...our silly string lady is here!

Suzy-Q runs around hugging all the oldies.. lol

Verla: I'm an oldie. HUG ME, SQ!

Elsbet: whoa! I go away for a second and everyone shows up! hi hi hi hi hi hi

Suzy-Q shakes hands with all who she doesn't know.

TimD: 2Hey, who's foot is on my shoulder?

BGLit: Sorry, Tim, thought that was an ottoman

Miriamlh: mine tim! move a little forward

SusetteW: that's mine Tim

SusetteW: your's too Mir

Verla feels sorry for Tim. He's being kicked around something terrible...

MsSASE: Sounds like Tim is being stomped

TimD: 2I am not a footstool.

Miriamlh: LOL BG

MeredithW whacks Elsbet with a wet trout (assuming she is Amy).

SusetteW: Tim has been rough in Kidlit tonight

SusetteW: walking on everyone and all

BGLit: It's that blue gets him lots of attention

Elsbet: poor guy.

SusetteW: stealing seats

Suzy-Q: Hey Verla where's my hat?

Verla gives SQ a crown to wear

Verla: full of jewels, of course.

LindaSue: Wow, what a crowd!

Elsbet: Fish Fry tonight!!!!

TimD: 2I guess I'll have to go sit on the stage.

Suzy-Q sets up table and checks mic


Suzy-Q: oooop too loud

Verla passes out the crown jewels to everyone.

Deetie: Is our speaker here yet?

Verla: not here yet, deetie. She said she'd be here!

Verla: I'm counting on her

Hols: Holy long list of people

SusetteW: it is here... in the twilight zone

LindaSue: Verla--Is Julie here yet? Will she be able to get in?

Verla: I hope so, Linda Sue

BGLit: Jeez, Verla, they're coming out of the woodwork tonight...poor Julie doesn't know what she's in for =)

SusetteW: Wait till it's your turn BG.

Verla: It's usually like this for editors and agents, barry. Be prepared for YOUR workshop in May

NOTE: BGLIt is Barry Goldblatt, children's agent. He will be doing his workshop in this chat room on May 8th.

SusetteW: The room will be packed then, too.

*** JulieSG has joined channel #Kidlit.

Verla: Hooray! Our guest of honor has arrived...and just in time!

TimD: 2I can't hear anything over this crowd.

SusetteW: shhhhhh, Tim

Verla calls for the National Guard to come protect Julie from the crowd

JulieSG: Verla - let me ask ahead of time . . .

JulieSG: what should I do if the room splits off? Just try and get back in?

Verla: yes, julie.

Verla: we will definitely wait for you!

JulieSG: okey doke

Verla: You are on the same server I'm on, if it splits, we should go together. As long as I'm with you, we will have a log of the chat and won't lose any of it.

JulieSG: Got it! I"ll just go with the flow then

Suzy-Q: Julie would you care for juice, water or something else if you rvoice becomes hoarse

JulieSG: got my water right here

Suzy-Q drags rest of drinks back to car.

TimD crowds close to Julie trying to get noticed.

SusetteW: Tim, you're pushing it again. *g*

TimD: 2I'm just a pushy guy.

wusu2 shouts, "No elbow Room!" and straps her arms down to her side

Elsbet: Verla- you need to build an addition!

Hols: Careful in here, Tim. You could start a stampede.

TimD: 2You have to be able to move to stampede.

TimD: 2I can't even scratch my leg in this crowd.

Verla: Hey, we've had nearly twice this number in the chat room before

Verla: It's like a uterus. It expands to encompass the number of people

HolsandMom: Lovely image, Verla

DonaV: LOL Verla!

TimD: 2Yuck, Verla.

Verla: Hey, you are a male, tim. That comment was aimed at the gals in here. THEY understand it.

MeredithW: All too well Verla. :-/

katrapp_: ooooooooo :P verla!!

Verla: We are almost ready to start

*** Mode change "+v JulieSG" on #Kidlit by Verla

Verla: Okay, folks...

Verla: this workshop is about to begin...


HolsandMom: hip hip...

______________OFFICIAL BEGINNING OF WORKSHOP______________

*** Verla has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to Speak With An Editor workshop IN PROGRESS

Verla: Before we begin, folks, I'd like to give you all the "rules" of this session...

Verla: Tonight we will be using a special moderated session. You will not be able to talk in the chat room until it is your turn. When a + is by your name, or your name changes color, it will be your turn to post

Verla: I will "moderate" the room and take away your voice after our guest speaker has been introduced and you have all had a chance to welcome her to this workshop.

Verla: Please have your questions typed and ready to post when it is your turn. We will go in alphabetical order, with latecomers at the end. Everyone will have a turn to ask their questions.

Verla: Please do NOT ask personal questions about a manuscript you have sent or want to send to Clarion. Those questions should be asked privately, not during a workshop session. "Generic" manuscript questions are fine to ask. Thank you.

Verla: And now... it gives me GREAT pleasure to introduce to you.... Julie Strauss-Gabel!


Verla: (clapping during the intro is allowed and encouraged, folks)

Verla: Whooo eeeeeee!

ClaraRose claps loudly!!

katrapp_: hi julie :)

Elsbet: Yayyyyy!

Suzy-Q tips her hat to Julie..

BGLit: welcome =)

misskopelk: Hi!

HolsandMom: Welcome Julie.

TimD tries to look aloof

DonaV applauds

^Laura^: Hello!

MeredithW claps wildly.

Amishka: Hi Julie

wusu2: welcome, Julie, thanks for speaking with us!

ClaraRose: Welcome Julie!! Glad you are here!!

Guest37705: thanks for being here!

Elsbet: welcome julie!

JGwrites: Welcome Julie! Clapping!

JulieSG: Hello all

Verla: Julie Strauss-Gabel is an Associate Editor at Clarion Books. Before joining Clarion in 1997, Julie worked at Hyperion Books for Children/Disney Publishing. Clarion Books is an all children's imprint of the Houghton Mifflin Company. Clarion publishes about 50 new hardcover titles each year, for infants through grade 12. The house publishes picture books, fiction, and nonfiction, but does not publish novelty books or books in series.

Verla: Julie works on a variety of projects, including picture books, young adult fiction, folklore, and nonfiction. She is especially interested in young adult fiction, particularly stories featuring strong girls or unique, literary fantasy or suspense. She works with a variety of picture book styles, ranging from intimate, personal stories, to the funny or irreverent.

Verla: Folklore and contemporary fiction inspired by folklore for all age groups is of interest to her, as well as nonfiction projects on unique topics. She is not as interested in chapter books. Authors she has worked with include: Susanna Reich, Clara Schumann: Piano Virtuoso; Marian Calabro, The Perilous Journey of the Donner Party; Eve Bunting, I Like the Way You Are; Eileen Christelow, the Five Little Monkeys series and What Do Illustrators Do?, and many others.

JulieSG: I'm not her editor, but I work with Linda Sue, too :)

LindaSue blushes (modestly, of course)

Verla: Okay, folks... the room will now go "silent" except for the room operators and those whose turn it is to speak.

Verla: get your questions typed and ready to post for when it is your turn...

Verla: (I'll help you keep track of the questions, Julie...just answer them with the names of the people asking them. I'll do the rest. If you miss any, I'll repost them for you)

JulieSG: thanks verla

Verla: Okay, the first group may post their questions now.

AlessiaCow: Thanks for chatting with us! I have two questions: Are there subjects which are taboo for picture books? If so, what? Would you consider character-driven mss more the preference now than plot-driven mss for the young adult market?

NOTE: mss = manuscripts

JulieSG: Okay - #1

JulieSG: I fear that my answer to the first question is going to be something I'll repeat again and again

JulieSG: I don't think that there's anything "taboo" so long as the piece is beautifully written and executed

JulieSG: what doesn't work for 99% of people, might be gold in 1 person's hands

JulieSG: as for character vs. plot - again, it's a matter of personal style and choice

JulieSG: though I don't think any mss, pb through ya, can succeed without strong characters

NOTE: pb = Picture Book

NOTE: ya = Young Adult

JulieSG: (please let me know if I haven't answered something fully)

DonaV: How do you want to be approached for fiction and nonfiction? Query letter? Complete manuscript?

JulieSG: Dona, I think it depends on the project and the house

JulieSG: In my case/Clarion's case, my feeling is that it's always worth sending a pb manuscript

JulieSG: though I realize that some houses do require a query even for pb

JulieSG: for longer projects, it depends

JulieSG: With nonfiction, generally I think a query containing some sort of overview/synopsis, chapter breakdown, and a few sample chapters is ideal

JulieSG: With fiction - if I don't know the author, a query and a sample is good

JulieSG: But often if someone I know asks, I'll ask them to send it along

BGLit: Hi Julie, it's Barry Goldblatt. I thought I'd just ask you to talk about what you expect to see in a good cover letter, and what you hate to see.

JulieSG: Hi Barry! Regarding cover letters, personally, I'm a big fan of "less is more" particularly with picture books

JulieSG: I'd want to know about key publishing credits, or key experience

JulieSG: With fiction I'd probably want a brief pitch, synopsis

JulieSG: With nonfiction, perhaps a paragraph on your qualifications to write on this topic, your research, etc

JulieSG: Things I DON'T want to see generally falls under the topic of personal information

JulieSG: I don't really want or need to know about personal matters, your pets, your neighbor's kids, etc.

JulieSG: And I also don't think unpublished authors need to explain WHY they're unpublished

JulieSG: We all understand that everyone starts somewhere - everyone is new at some time

JulieSG: If there's nothing more to say - I think a clean, professional letter is always best

DoriCha: What would you consider to be the average word length for picture books today?

JulieSG: Dori - Another tough question with a really general answer

JulieSG: I think it totally depends

JulieSG: Sometimes we see older, more narrative stories, sometimes pb with just one word per page

JulieSG: Honestly, page and word count are not one of the first things I think about

JulieSG: Sorry not to have a more solid answer on that one

ClaraRose: What is the process that a manuscript goes through to be accepted(at Clarion), and what is your role in that process?

JulieSG: Clara - There are several editors at Clarion who are always looking for new projects

JulieSG: Generally, once one of us finds a project that we believe in we then discuss the project with our editorial director

JulieSG: Of course, before that point, each project is different

JulieSG: sometimes it will go through several revisions, sometimes we will share it with several other editors in house - it varies

Cazinbama: What catches your eye most quickly that might get someone's MS out of the slush pile?

JulieSG: Cazinbama - what catches our eye . . .

JulieSG: It depends - usually we just start reading. You can tell pretty quickly if something is worth a second look

JulieSG: So - it's a matter of your language, story construction at the beginning

JulieSG: Language, I think, is key . . . beautiful writing again

Deetie: If you get a ms that is not right for you, do you pass it around in-house to other editors?

JulieSG: Deetie - sometimes

JulieSG: Depends on why I feel it's not right for me - Is it just not my taste? Yes, I might pass it along for a second opinion, or simply pass it along

JulieSG: But if it's something that I have more fundamental problems with, or something that I don't think will fit into the list, then I might not

Elsbet: Dumb question- does the type of paper a person uses make a difference to an editor- do editors prefer a heavy nice paper for letters and manuscripts, or not really care?

JulieSG: Elsbet - doesn't matter at all to me

JulieSG: Simple, classic is best

JulieSG: plain white paper, easy to read clean font

JulieSG: Honestly - we get more annoyed by the envelopes than the paper

Guest37705: what is it about the envelopes that makes them annoying (so we know to avoid)?

Verla: I have to ask this, Julie... what annoys you about envelopes????

Verla: (GOOD question, Guest37705. GRIN)

JulieSG: okay - env.

JulieSG: The Clarion guidelines pretty clearly state to include an SASE or proper size and postage

JulieSG: But you'd be amazed how often people don't do that

JulieSG: We get homemade response cards, itty bitty dollhouse-sized envelopes, you name it

JulieSG: Reused envelopes - those are pretty gross, too

JulieSG: Envelope thing basically speaks to my basic belief that it's important to pay attention to each house's submission guidelines

JulieSG: So - with Clarion, important to enclose a properly-sized SASE as requested

HolsandMom: What exactly does an editor mean when he/she says a manuscript is too "slight?"

JulieSG: HolsandMom - Well, I think it can mean a lot of things

Verla: Can you elaborate a little on your "slight" comment, Julie?

Verla: That's a phrase so many of us have heard from editors...

JulieSG: Most basically, I think that slight can mean that some aspect--perhaps narrative development, perhaps character development--is not really well developed, that (in that editor's opinion) they are looking for something more to hold the piece together both in structure and in emotion that is missing

JulieSG: I think that a lack of emotional resonance can often contribute to the feeling that something is slighter than it could be

^GailM: Are there different piles of rejection letters on your desk that say different things, and do you select a certain pile because of your interest/disinterest in a certain MS? Is that why I get different rejection letters at different times?

JulieSG: May I ask Gail to clarify/

JulieSG: ?

JulieSG: Do you mean, different form letters?

^GailM: Right, different form letters.

JulieSG: Well, there is a preprinted Clarion response card that we use

JulieSG: Generally - when a submission comes to me I try to send a letter, the possible shades of gray with that rejection depend on my interest

JulieSG: If it's just not going to work for me, then a simple letter

JulieSG: If I'd like to see future projects, I'll ask

JulieSG: If I think the project is good, but not quite there, I might write a longer letter with some suggestions for revision

Guest76575: Are you or other editors at Clarion accepting unsolicited picturebook manuscripts and/or dummies?

JulieSG: Yes - Clarion accepts unsolicited ms.

JulieSG: Our general unsolicited submissions go to the attention of our editorial director, Dinah Stevenson

JulieSG: But submissions can also be addressed to my attention

JulieSG: I assume that perhaps we'll get to that later :)

HolsandMom: Mom wants to know what you would think if someone who had been published with Houghton Mifflin sent you a manuscript.

JulieSG: Well - relationships with editors and with people house to house is always hard to navigate for everyone

JulieSG: Clarion, being Hougton's sister imprint, tends to often not work with the same people

JulieSG: but that's not a rule chisled in stone in the office

JulieSG: certainly, if someone had a long-ago relationship things really change

HolsandMom: Thanks, Julie.

Jodelle55: Do you personally like books with humor or do you prefer more serious works?

JulieSG: Jodelle - I think I have a love of humor (more my personal reading style) But I certainly work on some very serious things too

JulieD1: if a person doesn't specify past publishing experience in their cover letter because they don't have any what should they say?

JulieSG: Julie - my personal feeling is that you don't need to say anything

JulieSG: Just say "Here's my ms. Thank you for your time"

JulieSG: We understand that everyone is new at some time

JulieSG: Explaining a lack of credits, imho, just calls attention to it

NOTE: imho = in my humble opinion

katrapp_: Julie... About the mailed envelope....I usually send mine in half sized envelopes, should they be in full sized envelopes?

JulieSG: katrapp - Honestly - I rarely see the mailed envelope - so, hey, send it however you'd like!

lorrier: you mentioned earlier that language and beautiful writing is important - what influences your decision more - the writing or the "market"

JulieSG: Lorrier - the WRITING

JulieSG: Well, that was a simple one

JulieSG: More easy questions please!

lorrier: lol

LindaSue: Julie--just to clarify an earlier point--Clarion does not have what other houses call an "acquisitions meeting", right? And my 'real' question is, all this merger madness and emphasis on the "bottom line"--has it changed your day-to-day work at all, and how?

JulieSG: LS - No, we do not have an acquisitions meeting.

JulieSG: It's more of a personal conversation as to how a book fits on the Clarion list and whether or not we can make it work and do right by the author

JulieSG: I don't think that we think about the bottom line in a constant way

JulieSG: Part of that is because Clarion has such a solid list that every list is important, every book matters, and we have a huge amount of faith in the constant performance of our backlist

JulieSG: So, the critical nature of our frontlist is different

Merrylegs: Hi Julie, thank you for being here tonight. Are you interested in historical fiction and if so, what periods and countries? Thank you.

JulieSG: Again - if historical fiction has a strong story and solid characters that I care about, I could potentially embrace any ms.

JulieSG: I do think that with historical fiction about well-covered periods one does need to be aware of what else is out there, the competiton

JulieSG: not so much a matter of "market" as it is a matter of, again, how can Clarion do YOUR project justice

JulieSG: and set it apart

misskopelk: Is there a "slush pile" with agented material?

JulieSG: kopelk - "real" agents tend to submit to a certain editor with whom they have a relationship or who they think will be receptive - so, no

JulieSG: but there are a lot of agents out there that are questionable - those often go on the slush pile

opus4u: How would you define beautiful writing when it's minimal as in board books or books for very young children?

JulieSG: When I think about beautiful writing for the very young, I find I'm thinking about beautiful poetry

JulieSG: Does the work -- even if spare -- have a poetic spirit to it? Is it lyrical?

opus4u: do you mean rhyming?

JulieSG: No - doesn't need to rhyme

JulieSG: Rhyme is something that gets talked about a lot, I know

JulieSG: Perhaps this is not true of every really young title out there - but I do think there's a poetry to most of the young books on our list, and to the spare texts I'm drawn to

Verla: (By the way, please do not panic about the time, folks. Julie has graciously offered to stay a little past our normal stopping time in order to answer all of your questions)

JulieSG: I don't think rhyming is taboo - by any means -- but the reality is that people tend to fall back on it too much, so that taints the general mass of submissions in rhyme

opus4u: Thank you julie, and thank you for staying longer

ClaraRose: Is there a 'hole' as in a particular type of manuscript you don't see enough of? And, is there something that you see way too much of?

SandyKC: How would you "define" Clarion's needs?

JulieSG: Clara - hmmm.

JulieSG: Well, I think that every editor likely has her own personal "hole" - things they love to see

JulieSG: In general - personally, I'd like to see more YA submissions

JulieSG: We've traditionally had fewer of these

JulieSG: But, of course, they're harder to get to quickly - that's hard too

JulieSG: I think we all have personal wish lists though - often based as much on our own lingering needs as young readers as on the needs of the market

JulieSG: I'm so tempted to go running for the catalogs I have in the other room!

SandyKC: How would you "define" Clarion's needs? - In my question I am wondering more about adjectives that you would use to describe the types of books Clarion seeks.

JulieSG: The Clarion list has always been strong with nonfiction, so that will always be a staple of our list

JulieSG: I think it's a thoughtful list

SusetteW: What is 'hot' right now? As in, what are you looking to see or what would you like to see? Are you interested in pb's in rhyme?

Nchanted: Peer into your crystal ball, Julie, and tell me what you see...what kind of children's stories -- fiction and NF -- will be hot in the next 5 years?

JulieSG: Hot is a hard question . . . YA for older readers, I think, is hot . . . but we probably all know that

JulieSG: I think we are starting to see some more interesting books addressing the needs of older boys

JulieSG: a little different from the traditional "reluctant boy reader" ms.

JulieSG: I think people are getting more adventurous with illustrative styles, too

SusetteW: Julie, are you willing to look at religious material or romances for YA?

JulieSG: We don't really publish religion, or more mass market romance

JulieSG: We have published ms that address religious themes - from folklore to old testament - but we definitely don't publish "religous" books

Patmc: Do you ever work on biographies, Julie? Is Clarion looking for them?

JulieSG: We work on biography a lot

JulieSG: And we're always looking for wonderful new biographies

JulieSG: But I think it needs to be about a compelling and resonant subject

JulieSG: And, of course, intelligently written, well researched

JulieSG: the bar tends to be rather high

JulieSG: We publish Russell Freedman, James Cross Giblin, Dennis Fradin, etc

TimD: 2What do you think about the middle grade market? Where do you draw the line between MG and YA? How often do you have to pass on a ms you like? In a house that lists many editors, which editor should an unknown choose? How often do you request revisions and then not buy a ms? How can we know whether an agent is good or bad? And thanks for taking the time to be with us.

JulieSG: Wow Tim!

TimD: 2Do you ever get PB submissions that are good poetry but not really good PB material?

JulieSG: Let me try to go one by one

JulieSG: Sometimes--for a multitude of reasons--yes, I do have to pass on a ms I like

JulieSG: And, yes, it does often pain me

JulieSG: Clarion's YA fiction tends to be a little more middle grade

JulieSG: I think the line lies with language, theme

JulieSG: Sometimes it's because an author has a diff. vision, or won't revise, or maybe it's just not the kind of book we can best support on our list, etc

JulieSG: If you don't know anyone - best thing is to submit to whomeever submission guidelines instruct you to submit to

JulieSG: always good, though, to see what younger editors are at conferences, mentioned in SCBWI newsletter, etc

JulieSG: We're the ones looking for folks

TimD: 2What about "hard" topics like abuse, drugs, prejudice, etc?

JulieSG: tim - we tend not to publish very hard content

JulieSG: not a lot of SMACKs on our list

JulieSG: depends on the ms though

TimD: 2Sorry for trying to shove everything into my bit of time with you. :)

JulieSG: Yes, we often do request revisions and it doesn't--eventually--work out

JulieSG: that's okay tim

JulieSG: as for agents - it's hard

JulieSG: I realize there are so many sham folks out there

JulieSG: Through SCBWI and Children's Book Council you can find the names, through friends, through recs of other agents

Verla: On the YA books, Julie... do you publish sexual topics as long as they aren't graphic?

JulieSG: verla - depends

JulieSG: I guess it's like nudity in movies

JulieSG: does it speak directly to the story - or for shock value

JulieSG: shock value, no

Verla: ah... thanks, Julie

tem2: 2,As an editor and as a reader, what is it that makes you care about a character?

JulieSG: I think it's the same things that interest me in people

JulieSG: Do I want to keep reading about this person? Are they likeable? Are they realistic?

JulieSG: Are they tough to like, but there's value in the investment?

JulieSG: I think it all comes down to what makes me keep reading

ToniBuzzeo: Julie, hi. I'm most interested in how you would characterize the Clarion mg fiction list. I know it as a librarian, but I'm looking for your view from the inside...what you all love (besides good writing) in mg ficiton.

JulieSG: Toni - we really address a hugely varied number of topics on the fiction list, and I think it's changing and expanding with every list as new editors add their style

JulieSG: I do think that it's all rather literary, if I may be so bold :)

ToniBuzzeo: I'd agree about that, Julie. Anything else?

JulieSG: Toni - I really don't think there are generalizations, especially as the lists evolve

JulieSG: We do tend to have a lot of historical fiction

ToniBuzzeo: And is that something you all care about enough to continue? The historical?

JulieSG: Toni - I think the concentration of historical fiction represents a love of the editors who are at Clarion, so I think it will always play a role in the list

Tova1: If you come across a submission with writing that you love, but you don't need another book about butterflies, do you just pass, or ask to see something else?

JulieSG: Tova - depends, perhaps if it's written well, then it has the insight to be saying something about butterflies that has never been said before

JulieSG: But, yes, we might also encourage further submissions

Windy2u: How many first time authors are published annually by Clarion?

JulieSG: A fair number - we're willing to take chances

JulieSG: How many are pulled from slush is a little different - maybe 1 or 2, tops

^Laura^^: Hi Julie! I sent one of my picture books out to publishers almost two years ago with no luck. Since then, I have made major revisions to it (changed from verse to prose.) Can I send my revised manuscript out to publishers who rejected the original?

JulieSG: Laura - were they slush - or requested?

^Laura^^: Slush, I'm afraid.

JulieSG: Laura - send 'em again

JulieSG: If it's a house that requires queries, probably should mention that you sent it before, it's been substantially revised, may you send again

JulieSG: otherwise - just send 'em

^Laura^^: Great! Thanks.

wusu2: For Folklore PB's . . . are you open to higher word counts than what is typical for contemporary PB's?

JulieSG: wusu - yes, I do think that folklore tends to produce longer narratives

wusu2: thank you, Julie

^GailM: Have you learned anything by being on the #Kitlit channel that would help other editors? Should other editors sign on so they hear real writer's voices?

JulieSG: Gail - personally, I benefit a lot from talking to writers, I really enjoy attending SCBWI conferences and talking to people and doing critiques

JulieSG: It helps me as an editor, reminds me of the full picture

JulieSG: I also enjoy chatting online with authors and reading the boards (despite my fears of complaints about turn around time!)

JulieSG: Every editor is different - but I think most people would enjoy it

Windy2u: So most first time authors are brought to you by agents?

JulieSG: Windy - relatively few

Windy2u: Thanks Julie.

^Libby: How much would it help a new writer to have an agent? How much does having an agent help a writer in being published?

JulieSG: Libby - this is a tough question that I get asked a lot

JulieSG: An agent I know said it best - you need an agent if you think you need an agent

JulieSG: people want agents for myriad reasons - for selling, for dealing with business stuff, contracts, rights

JulieSG: and, as houses consolidate and our time is really, really tight

JulieSG: more and more agents are serving as first string editorial advisors

JulieSG: though my personal feeling is that it's not really neccesary--especially in the beginning--to have an agent

JulieSG: I think it's always worth at least trying to sell yourself first

^Miriam: Thank you for being here, Julie. I think you answered this question but I timed out-wondered if you're interested in Historical Fiction(MG/YA)? Mainly women in WWII.

JulieSG: miriam - I am open to most things, and Clarion definitely. publishes historical fiction

^Miriam: thank you

^Pamela: I recently read a great article about the heavy-handed editing Raymond Carver's manuscripts received by his long-time editor Gordon Lish. My question, then, is, what do you think an editor should do with a mss? Carver felt Gordon Lish re-wrote his work and made it more his own. What is your take on your role as an editor? How much editing is enough... or not enough? ;>Thanks so much, Julie and... (Whewsh. Typing too much, too fast!)

JulieSG: Well - I think that depends on the working relationship a particular editor has with a particular writer

JulieSG: some people are very hands on, some hands off

JulieSG: some are different depending on the author

JulieSG: It's a tough balance beam

JulieSG: tough also for the author to learn how to judge when an editor is simple taking over, versus when an editor is presenting some very real issues that need to be addressed

JulieSG: revision is hard

JulieSG: it's hard to disengage from the emotions of writing

JulieSG: I think especially hard when people see copyeditor queries!

^Pamela: Do you think the author has a say in how much or is it how many mss this author has behind him or her that dictates the role? Thanks-

JulieSG: Pamela - certainly, a track record doesn't hurt

^Pamela: That is perfect-- we should "disengage" from the writing when it comes to the editing stages. Thanks!

JulieSG: We always try to respect the author's feelings - but, yes, it can be tough

JulieSG: I think every issue needs to be carefully balanced and discussed

^Pamela: Understood 100%. Thanks. Done.

Verla: Is there anyone that has not had a chance to ask their question? If so, please post it now.

Verla: Did anyone get missed?

Cazinbama: Aside from good clear facts and reliable sources, what makes a non-fiction book appealing to you? What do you look for in one?

JulieSG: cazinbama - interesting, unique topic

JulieSG: relevance to kids

JulieSG: timelessness

JulieSG: relevance to history

HolsandMom: I've been dying to ask: Julie, if you were an unpublished author, what would you do? How would you go about getting published?

JulieSG: Hols - being me, or being out of the industry?

Hols: Hmmm. Either one. Probably being you.

JulieSG: Being me, I'd probably start by soliciting the opinions of friends and colleagues

JulieSG: being on the outside

TimD: 2Or, in other words, if you recommend that a new writer try to get published without an agent at first, how would he/she get out of the slush pile?

JulieSG: I'd join SCBWI, writers' groups, etc.

JulieSG: Try to make contacts and find the right editors while also trying rounds of slush submissions until I had names

^Miriam: tim, are you looking for an address? LOL

JulieSG: And I'd read a lot, know what's out there

JulieSG: Tim - my feeling is that it's worth a shot on your own first

JulieSG: and if you find it's ineffective, you can search later (or at the same time) for a rep

JulieSG: but if you get lucky you'll save 10-20%

JulieSG: or, hopefully, get some good editorial input for revision

Hols: I just can't believe how few mss. are pulled from the slush pile. Without any contacts, it almost sound impossible.

JulieSG: Hols - I do think good slush shines through

BGLit: Hols, if it makes you feel any better at all: Judy Blume was found in slush =)

Hols: Thanks BG. That makes me feel a teensy tiny bit better. :)

Verla: (I was pulled from the slushpile, too)

SandyKC: Gee Verla, that makes me just want to jump right into the pile with you and Judy!! :-D

^GailM: Hey, I'm in that slush, too!! Join me!!!

SandyKC: By All Means Gail!! We'll have a slush party

^GailM: We have a slushpile party every night, here! Join us!!!

^Pamela: (JUDITH GUEST'S "Ordinary People" was pulled from the slush pile not too long before I took over that job at Viking 1000 years ago.)

JulieSG: That statistic is as much about all the REALLY BAD slush that's out there, as it is about the difficulty in getting an editor's attention

JulieSG: the downside, of course, is probably that you will wait longer for a response

ToniBuzzeo: Depending on how you define slush, I was too big!

wusu2: reading is so important to zeroing in on GREAT work and also houses prefrences

Hols: I agree Wusu.

Windy2u: Would a successful query on a picture book manuscript submitted with REQUESTED MATERIAL on the envelope by-pass the slush pile?

JulieSG: windy - yes, it would go to the editor who requested it

lorrier: would an agent make a difference in terms of the money though - ie. negotiate a better contract?

NOTE: This question was not answered at this time.

Amishka: It's harder to get a good agent than it is to find an editor interested in your work (most times)

Tova1: What is the usual turn-around-time at Clarion?

JulieSG: With slush, at Clarion, we endeavor to turn it around within a week or two

Hols: Can I just say? I think that is WONDERFUL that Clarion has such a short response time. Much appreciated here.

Verla: I second that, hols! (I waited for ten months for rejections from two houses for my first manuscript)

Verla: ten months from EACH of those houses, I mean... almost two years

JulieSG: CLARION is fast with slush (usually)

JulieSG: I, however, am always slower than I want to be :(

Hols: Julie, does your response time differ between rejections and acceptances? In other words, if a manuscript has been out a long time, does that mean anything? Good or bad? I've heard several authors say they received acceptances quite quickly. Cazinbama: how do some ms's end up in the slush pile, and others on an editor's desk? If, for example, I sent one to your attention, where would it normally go?

JulieSG: Hols - that's tough

JulieSG: with stuff on my personal pile, time can mean nothing or something

JulieSG: sometimes I have not gotten to it

JulieSG: Okay - here's the general answer - for Clarion

JulieSG: every house is different, I'm afraid

JulieSG: When our dept. assistant opens the mail, if a ms. is addressed to Dinah and has not been requested and we don't know who it is, it goes on slush

JulieSG: Then we sit once a week and try to read through all of the slush

JulieSG: if something catches our eye, we pull it and log it in

JulieSG: then we go back to it later

ToniBuzzeo: Julie, don't you have first readers there, though?

NOTE: This question was not answered at this time

JulieSG: sometimes I am still mulling, and mulling some more, about an editorial letter

JulieSG: sometimes I am showing it to others at the house

JulieSG: It can really mean anything

Elsbet: Another dumb question- but when people talk about the slush pile I get this mental image of a room full of loose paper- what does the slushpile really look like? : )

SandyKC: And how high are your piles Julie?

JulieSG: Elsbet - at Clarion it's a pile of manuscripts on a table

JulieSG: generally - by week's end - about 2-3 feet high

^GailM: Not piled around your desk? Dang, my mental image has been dashed.

JulieSG: Gail - oh, no - I have three of my own piles

JulieSG: and one on the floor, too

Elsbet: Same here, Gail! There goes that room full of paper!

BGLit: Gail: That describes my desk pretty well, though, alas...I wish I had a table to put it on

Amishka: Julie, is it normal to wait six months for a response on requested revisions (this is not from Clarion)

JulieSG: Amishka - yes, six months is, sadly, probably pretty normal

Verla: Julie... if folks wish to submit to you, how should they do it? Where should they send their submissions and what should they send?

Verla: Or do they need to query first?

Cazinbama: yay Verla!

ClaraRose: I'm sold -- you get my manuscript! (grin)

^Miriam: mine too! where do we send it?

Verla: so if someone has sent a query to you, Julie, and a manuscript has been requested, it is IMPERATIVE to make sure you say so in your cover letter? And also, put REQUESTED MATERIAL on the outside of the envelope?

JulieSG: So - regarding submissions

JulieSG: Yes, if it's requested - ALWAYS note in cover letter that it's requested, and by whom

JulieSG: gets to them faster

JulieSG: Folks are welcome to submit to me directly

JulieSG: note in the cover letter that you were in the chat

JulieSG: but be warned that I'm pretty backlogged

JulieSG: so I'm not as fast as slush

^Libby: Are you sure you want to ask that, Julie? You might get flooded!


Julie Strauss-Gabel, Associate Editor

Clarion Books

215 Park Avenue South

New York, NY 10003

Verla: Julie, I want to say a BIG thank you for all your time tonight! This has been absolutely terrific and I know it's been VERY informative for everyone!


ClaraRose: Thanks for putting in the extra time to stay late too

^Miriam: Thank you VERY much!

BGLit: Thanks a lot, Julie! Nice job...hope I do as well in May =)

Tova1: Thanks for your time, Julie :-)

^Libby: Thank you very much, Julie!

^Laura^^: Thanks so much, Julie!

misskopelk: Thanks Julie! Thanks Verla! Goodnight to you all.

Elsbet: (*it just sounds like my desk.*)

Elsbet: Thankyou for coming, Julie!

^Miriam: APPLAUSE!!!!!

TimD: Thanks, Julie.

tem2: Thanks, Julie! Hope to see you around #kidlit

JulieD1: Thank you, Julie

Windy2u: Thanks Julie. Very informative.

JulieSG: sadly

Hols: Yes, thank you, thank you, Julie. This means a lot to us.

Elsbet: THANK YOU!

^Libby: It's so nice to get to know the person behind the name!

JulieSG: Anyway

Cazinbama: Thanks Julie!

SandyKC: Oh, I thought that was the slush pile and not Julie's personnal piles

wusu2: many thanks, Julie, excellent info packed work shop

lorrier: Thanks so much Julie! Great information - and you make the process much less daunting than it seems!

Amishka: I hope she's more than four feet high otherwise you won't find her in the slush

katrapp_: thank you so much julie :)

JulieSG: thank you lorrier

JulieSG: thank you all

Verla: lol ami!

^GailM: Thanks, Julie, and anytime you return to Seattle, give me a call. I might even drive you up to Mt. Rainier (instead of around the viewpoints on Queen Anne), but Judy will join us and yatter from the backseat. She does that.

Deetie: I do not!

Verla: do too, judy!

Deetie: I do not.

Windy2u: Yes you do Judy!!

Deetie: no I dont!

^GailM: Julie, Judy says she will not sit in the backseat and yatter at you! (But she will, but that's OK.) See above if you don't understand.

Deetie: I do not.

Verla: (she does, Julie. But deetie THINKS she doesn't yatter)

Verla: (we normally allow her to have her dreams...)

Verla: GREAT workshop, Julie.

Hols: Takes some of the mystery out of those names on my envelopes.

^Miriam: thanks again, Julie. Pleasant dreams all. Thanks Verla for

Verla smiles at mir

DonaV: Thanks for the workshop and the submission info, Julie!

ClaraRose: he he he

SandyKC: THANKS Julie!

Hols: Thanks Verla.

ClaraRose: I'm daunted from the day . . . . thanks again, Julie -- and Verla. G'night all!

Cazinbama: ?

Amishka: and that darn office dog could hide behind anyone's desk!

your hard work here, too.

JulieSG: I wish we had an office dog!

Tova1: I have one --but I love him to much to lend him out!

Hols: So you could blame any lost manuscripts on the dog? JK

Merrylegs: Thank you very much Julie, and thank you Verla; this was a great workshop!

Amishka: I'm glad you don't Julie! My mss get lost enough without a dog chewing them up (again not a Clarion)

Verla: I can see it now... Julie will have 6,234 dogs shipped to her....

Verla: by writers hopeful of getting on her good side. LOL

Hols: lol Verla

SandyKC: I have a good ole dog... but I wouldn't trade her for a publishing credit.. so I'll just have to write a story about her instead!

Deetie: thanks, julie!!!

JulieSG: gail - I have fond memories of my tour of Seattle

JulieSG: sadly, no grand trips planned right now

DonaV: No dogs from me! I'm collecting them for MY office! <g>

^Libby: Thanks, Verla, for offering this workshop to us.

Verla: you are most welcome, libby

Verla: but the credit all goes to Julie for giving herself and her time to us tonight

Tova1: Great workshop all, Thanks!

Hols: Linda Sue was published by Clarion, correct?

Hols: I love the way her novels handle very deep themes in such a gentle, simple way.

JulieSG: Hols - Linda Sue Park has 3 books out with us, 4th one soon

JulieSG: more coming!

Hols: Great!

Elsbet: Yay Linda Sue!

Elsbet: Thankyou again, Julie!

wusu2: again, great workshop, Julie and Verla, thanks so much! Good night everyone

^GailM: Dennis says dinner is ready. Thanks, Julie. Seems weird that your tour guide should turn up here, but . . .You remember that whitehaired person. See you all later.

*** Signoff: ^GailM (Quit: I want a book, NOW! It's my turn! The rest of you, keep writing and publishing!)

Verla: lol. I love Gail's exit line!

Verla: This was truly wonderful, Julie. You are amazing. You kept up really well

TimD: 2Julie, you've been a great help to all of us, and we'll be talking about this workshop for a long while I'm sure. Thanks.

^Laura^^: Thanks Julie and Verla. Awesome workshop!

Verla: they threw some HARD questions at you, too. (Specially Tim. LOL! TWO at a time, next time, tim, or I'll have to gag you. GRIN)

BGLit: By the way, folks, I can attest for Julie's speed...she beat me to an author not that long ago, and I was fast! =)

JulieSG: thanks verla - I've broken a sweat

Hols: Yes, this was definitely one of the most interesting workshops I've been too (cyberly-speaking). In case you are wondering, "cyberly" is a new word.

Verla: ha ha, bg

JulieSG: BG - ah, a rare moment of hummingbird-like speed

Hols: I love it when people ask editors to look into crystal balls and predict the future. lol. If only, huh?

Verla: cyberly is a GOOD new word. I like it, Hols

JulieD1: Julie and Verla, thank you again and good night

BGLit: LOL Julie

---------------END OF WORKSHOP----------

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