Workshop Transcript

Behind an Editor's Door

with Julie Strauss-Gabel


Note: Many thanks to Kathy Rapp for editing this transcript.


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*** JulieSG has joined channel #Kidlit

Verla: YAY! Julie has ARRIVED!

*** Verla has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to Behind an Editor's Door - Workshop IN PROGRESS

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: Tonight we will be using a special moderated session. You will not be able to talk in the chat room until you get "voice." When a PLUS sign (+) is by your name, or it changes color, it will be your turn.

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: (When you get "voice" if you don't have a question, please post "no question now"

Verla: Julie has agreed to stay late if we run out of time before we run out of 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" questions of interest to everyone are fine to ask. Thank you.

Verla: Okay... and now, let me introduce our workshop leader for tonight

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.

Verla: Is there anything you'd like to say at the beginning, before we start asking questions, Julie?

JulieSG: Why don't we start - and if something doesn't come up, we can talk about it later.

JulieSG: And thanks for having me!

Verla: We will now to go moderated status and you will be able to talk only when you have been given voice the first four people may ask questions now

amy_lynn: I'd love to know more about the selection process: how many manuscripts would you say you pluck from the slushpile for further consideration, and, of those, how many do you ultimately choose for publication? Thanks for coming here to talk to us!

JulieSG: Hi amy - manuscripts come into Clarion in various ways

JulieSG: Each editor does get submissions sent directly to him/her

JulieSG: those we go through on our own - sometimes we'll share them with colleagues

JulieSG: The slush is a little different - if a manuscript comes in unsolicited (or from someone not known to us) it goes into a sep. pile

JulieSG: and the editors sit down together once a week and go through that pile - if we happen to see something that catches our eye, we'll pull it and log it in.

Adrianne: what makes it "catch your eye"?

JulieSG: adrienne - voice usually - use of language

JulieSG: and a good idea - but it's usually something in the writing that needs to grab us - of course, it's just chance who picks up each ms

amy_lynn: Thank you, Julie. How often do you find something you like from someone unknown to you?

JulieSG: Amy - sometimes. I'm always finding people whose work interests me . . . whether it eventually goes the distance depends

Agy: Is it alright to sub chapters and outlines or do you prefer the whole ms? What is a good hook in a query to you?

NOTE: ms = Manuscript

JulieSG: I think with picture books it's best to submit the whole thing

JulieSG: Of course, some houses don't allow that--or ask for a query--but for us, submit the whole thing

JulieSG: Nonfiction and fiction are harder

Agy: what about mg, and ya

NOTE: mg = midgrade novel

NOTE: ya = young adult novel

JulieSG: I think it's fine to submit the whole thing - but a query letter and some sample chapters will probably get as much attention

JulieSG: Again - we're looking for how you write, your voice. With nonfiction I'm going to think more about whether I respond to the idea and whether I think that will work on the list

JulieSG: The same is true of fiction - it's often possible to tell very quickly if the topic or approach isn't suited to the list

JulieSG: With query letters and with cover letters--especially cover letters--I always feel that less is more

JulieSG: A brief, professional letter can't go too wrong - with a query I'm looking for a sense of the story, characters, and your approach and style

Argiope: I am new to the Children's Book writing scene and had one question. If someone submits something to your company which seems to discredit information from an earlier book, would you consider it seriously? For example, if someone did not do their research and told the reader the wrong way to care for a dog (but your company published the book), would you consider a manuscript which teaches the right way?

JulieSG: hadn't seen that one . . .

JulieSG: Argiope - are you specifically speaking about a Clarion title? If so, that might be a particular situation

Argiope: no I am not

Argiope: just in general

JulieSG: But if you've written a nonfiction project that you feel advances an area of study that we have covered before I don't think that we WOULDN'T consider it

JulieSG: But it's always best to be up front about your intentions

JulieSG: make clear what you're addressing

JulieSG: I'm sorry if I'm being vague - is there a particular situation that you're dealing with?

Argiope: to my question?

JulieSG: yes argiope

Dani257: What are some of your great recent finds? A book that knocked the socks off of you?

JulieSG: Dani - I'm working on a few manuscripts--not yet acquired--that I think are fantastic

JulieSG: can't say much more about those right now

JulieSG: working right now with some wonderful people - one is Carol Matas - our first book together will be out in the Spring

Dani257: I love Carol Matas

Argiope: I have not submitted anything yet, but wrote my book in response to a book which had poor information on animal care. I just wanted to see if I would get a fair look. The book was not with your company

Argiope: my book is a story which includes care information

JulieSG: argiope - you're in a very unique situation - the best you can do is just be upfront when you submit it

Chari_Smit: Yes, Julie in your opinion, what are three key elements in a good cover letter that accompanies a picture book manuscript?

JulieSG: Chari - brief, professional, honest

JulieSG: Other editors may feel differently, but I skim the cover letter for basic information and then let the manuscript make up my mind

Chari_Smit: I typically include a brief bit about the book and myself, and it comes to a page. Is that too much?

JulieSG: I don't, personally, think that there's anything you can say in a cover letter that could possibly convince me to pursue a manuscript I don't love/believe in

JulieSG: And it's important to give writing credits, etc. but be brief, and be honest

JulieSG: Chari - I think a bio--when it applies to the manuscript-is okay if very very brief

JulieSG: But better to be cautious, I think, don't give me a reason not to like the project

dystar: Hi, Julie. Do you like receiving "laundry list" query letters? -- A listing of 5-6 books with brief synopses?

JulieSG: dystar - no, I don't

JulieSG: I don't think that any of us at Clarion really respond to them - hard to tell what you're responding to

dystar: Is that the general consensus among editors? At Clarion and other houses?

JulieSG: Dona - we're always looking for great, innovative nonfiction

JulieSG: Unique topics, unusual angles - areas unexplored, of particular interest to kids, and handled with scholarship

JulieSG: dystar - can't speak for other houses, sorry

dystar: thanks

JulieSG: But, to me, I think it's best to carefully target submission by submission

elsbet: If you see a manuscript that you like, but think it is too quiet, or doesn't have enough action, do you ask authors if there are any changes they could make to it, or do you just reject it and hope they submit something better/ more expanded. Thanks.

JulieSG: elsbet - If I see something that I think has promise, I will always try to figure out--for myself--what isn't working and let the author know

JulieSG: Usually that would mean a rejection with pointed comments and an offer to consider a revision

JulieSG: It's important for me to know what's not working FOR ME

JulieSG: sometimes if I can see that an author has something more, but the particular project isn't even close, I may reject and ask for future submissions

fritter1: If you could list three things that would give a beginning author a better shot at getting published, what would they be?

JulieSG: Interesting question . . .

JulieSG: #1, learn as much as you can about the business and the submissions process

JulieSG: I don't think you have to be an insider, but I think you have to understand the process in order to use your time and resources well and to have realistic expectations

JulieSG: know how to work the basic system and use your contacts

JulieSG: #2, Expect to revise

JulieSG: Expect to revise on your own, expect to revise with an editor

JulieSG: get comfortable with the process and understand that the revisions process/editorial process isn't adversarial

JulieSG: it's a partnership, not a battle

JulieSG: #3, become a part of a community of writers, both for critique and support

JulieSG: Be a part of a writers' group to practice giving and getting revision suggestions

ginger_kat: What is the current quality of the slush -- HONESTLY? What percentage of people would you say follow most ms guidelines, write quite well, provide a good query/cover, etc.?

JulieSG: Ginger - hmmmm

JulieSG: probably 90% is pretty awful

ginger_kat: wow! I thought it would be lower!

ginger_kat: awful grammar, awful ideas...???

JulieSG: People who obviously haven't done their homework, very low quality

JulieSG: but there are also some fantastic things in there

JulieSG: because many folks get their start that way

ginger_kat: so, if it is part of the 10%, will it get a full read?

JulieSG: ginger - yes - and, as I have repeated many times, pictures of their pets in clothes

JulieSG: ginger - probably, yes

JulieSG: those are the manuscripts that we pull off for further consideration

Guest54508: DonnaB here. Have the events of 9/11 prompted any changes in policy, especially regarding handling of unsolicited submissions, at Clarion?

JulieSG: Hi Donna - that's a good question - especially since it has impacted the way many houses accept mss now

NOTE: mss = manuscripts

JulieSG: We didn't touch our unsolicited ms for a few weeks during the peak of the Anthrax panic, waiting to see how things would develop

JulieSG: But we kept them all and eventually read them all - just being as careful as possible

JulieSG: but some houses closed their doors or were, at least, really impacted for a while

JulieSG: I think things are slowly returning to normal - but it hasn't been a normal few months

JulieSG: Best to check with a house and see how they are processing subs -

Guest64975: How do you feel about simultaneous subs of young adult fiction? How should we indicate that a ms has been sent out to more than one publisher at a time? Should we send the full ms or a query and sample chapters?

NOTE: subs = submissions

JulieSG: Guest - simultaneous subs area way of life these days, and editors understand that it's a necessary

JulieSG: BUT - some houses won't accept sim subs, so you need to be sure which ones those are

JulieSG: Also - I think that editors understand what it means to have a sim sub (and that if they wait they may lose out) so it's not really necessary to remind them that there's competition

NOTE: sim sub = simultaneous submission (sending the same manuscript to more than one publisher at the same time)

JulieSG: People often do that, and I don't think it's effective

JulieSG: As far as full ms versus sample chapters - depends on what you're most comfortable with and what that houses' submissions guidelines are

Harazin: When you ask to see more work from a writer, should the entire manuscript be subbed, and should the writer mark it as requested? (novel length)

JulieSG: And I'd say it's fine to write "requested" - remind them in the cover letter of your previous correspondence

jamf : If someone has books under consideration with other publishers can it motivate you to consider their work? What helps a book like that survive the editing process? If you ask for further drafts do you feel a commitment to work with an author?

JulieSG: question 1 - NO

JulieSG: It won't persuade me - and I don't think it's helpful to try playing editors/houses against each other

JulieSG: of course, we're human--and competitive--but it could seriously backfire

JulieSG: #2 - I think that a book survives the editing process when it becomes clear that editor and author are seeing eye-to-eye and working in collaboration

JulieSG: when it becomes a two-way street and the author and editor understand one another and can have a dialogue that advances the quality of the project

jamf: How much progress do you need to see between drafts to stay interested in a particular project?

JulieSG: #3 - if I ask for more drafts then I'm--hopefully--interested in the project and interested in taking it further

JulieSG: but sometimes revisions work out to a wonderful conclusion and sometimes they don't

JulieSG: Hard to know how that process will turn out from the beginning

JulieSG: jamf - I think each draft needs to be moving forward - sometimes revisions can raise brand new questions, and that's okay

JulieSG: But I think I need to sense that we're communicating well and improving the ms

J_Colwell: Does an unpublished writer/illustrator submitting a manuscript, dummy, and a few final illustrations hurt or help their chances for acceptance? (Given that it is stated in the cover letter that the ms and illustrations may be considered independently.) Thank you.

JulieSG: JC - Honestly, it will most likely make your life a lot harder

J_Colwell: How so?

JulieSG: By submitting ms and illustrations you are giving the editor something else about the project to say "no" to

JulieSG: You, statistically, are going to do better if you only give me one thing to evaluate

J_Colwell: Is there a way around subbing them together?

JulieSG: BUT - if you feel that you want to write and illustrate, then go for it, just be aware that it may take longer

JulieSG: Sometimes I suggest that writer/illustrators submit to different houses in different ways and see what kind of response you get - are people responding to your ms, but not the dummy? Are you getting more positive response to one form of submission - experiment and see

JulieSG: Of course, this is assuming that you are a professionally trained illustrator

JulieD1: When researching places to submit my manuscript I noticed that some publishers have definite illustrative styles. Does Clarion have a specific illustrative style? ie watercolor pastels? How would you classify their style? Thanks for coming!

JulieSG: Julie - I think that you'll probably notice a consistent level of quality and many illustrators with whom we like to work on a regular basis, but there's no "style" in terms of chosen medium, etc.

JulieSG: We're always looking for new ways to break out new illustrators and expand the limits of our look and our design sensibility

^Calliope_: Glad to have you here. I was wondering what your favorite *type* of poetry is, and what are your favorite *well-known* and "not-yet well known" poets? Thank you.

JulieSG: calliope - that's a tough question

JulieSG: poetry is so personal--like music--that I think I'm just looking for an emotional and a melodic connection

^Calliope_: Character driven, or plot-driven poems?

JulieSG: rhythmic without being singsong, thoughtful, emotionally telling without being saccharin

JulieSG: calliope - perhaps more about character - but mostly about language

JodyF: Some editors say they can determine their personal interest in a manuscript with the first page of a YA. Others hold out until the end of the first chapter. How does it work for you, Julie?

JulieSG: Jody - I think it's easy to tell VERY quickly when something isn't working

JulieSG: But if there's some gray area - then I have to keep reading . . . see how the characters and plot develop over the course of a chapter

JulieSG: I only need a few words of something bad to say "no," but I'd need the whole ms to know if it worked

Verla: By the way... Julie agreed to stay until everyone's questions are answered... so just because the hour is "up" you will not miss getting your questions asked

KathyD: In general, are you interested in math concept books?

JulieSG: Kathy - if it were part of a narrative picture book, perhaps . . . but just as a stand-alone concept book, it's not really the kind of book we do

Keely: How much contact do you have with the editors at Houghton Mifflin? Do you pass manuscripts on to each other or are you a very separate entity?

JulieSG: Keely - Houghton Mifflin children's books?

Keely: yes sorry pb in particular

JulieSG: keely - no, we don't

JulieSG: Clarion is in NYC, HM Children's in Boston - we maintain personal friendships with editors that we get to see a few times a year, but we don't share work - though we do try not to overlap editorial efforts/lists

katrapp_: Hi Julie, good to see you again. Verla mentioned in her opening spiel that you liked funny books. I write books that are a bit on the quirky side. Do you do quirky?

JulieSG: kat - quirky is always of interest

LisaMullar: When should a writer stop subbing to a particular editor? After how many form rejections? When do you hope a writer "moves on?" Is there a magic number for you?

JulieSG: Lisa - I think that's a great question

JulieSG: It's tough because, at first, you might not know who's actually reading the sub

JulieSG: if it starts as unsolicited, that is

JulieSG: But it's a really tough call when you've been getting responses to someone who slips back to form letters

JulieSG: It may be a signal . . . it may also be that she still sees that same spark that caused her to first reply to you personally, but that nothing she's seeing is clicking

JulieSG: It doesn't mean that the next thing won't . . . but it's hard to know

JulieSG: After a few form rejections, you might consider querying or maybe just taking a break

JulieSG: does that help?

LisaMullar: Yes, thank you!

NewPaula: Hi Julie! If an unsolicited manuscript arrived at Clarion with the envelope marked "SCBWI Member," would that affect its placement in the slush pile?

JulieSG: No, it wouldn't

JulieSG: Hopefully - the advantage you gain as an SCBWI member is that your submission will be better and more professional and we'll look at it a bit more closely

Nimby: As an unpublished writer I have no credits to include in a query. What can I do overcome that disadvantage when an editor reads my letter? Would a synopsis help? Or an outline? Or just the first 3 chapters?

JulieSG: Nimby - Don't worry about it! Unless it's a really significant credit, it's not going to sway me much anyway

JulieSG: brief and professional is always best

PamelaRoss: Hello Julie. We met at the NJ writer's conference in December. An inspiring day and you were a wonderful guest editor. I found I agreed with your First Page critiques and it was good to see I could think like an Editor. <g> Do you find the First Pages exercise mirrors what you do when digging into a pile of unread submissions? Was it the story or the voice of the main character that would compel you to read on? Thanks so much-

JulieSG: Hi Pamela - nice to "see" you again!

PamelaRoss: Same here.

JulieSG: First pages (such as at conferences) do somewhat mirror the experience of going through the slush pile

JulieSG: but I don't think we necessarily analyze WHY something isn't working if we know immediately that it's not working for us

JulieSG: so first pages are a bit different in that we do try to have a reason, an explanation

PamelaRoss: Agreed. I thought the panel was being overly kind to the authors of said first pages.

JulieSG: But I think it's very helpful for writers to see that process and be a part of that process - because it's so important to be a critical reader!

PamelaRoss: And that's the part I most enjoy: thinking like an editor. Thanks again- Pamela

ponytailmo: What turns you off and what don't you want to see in a manuscript, cover letter/query?

JulieSG: Well - the basic thing it to be clean, professional, knowledgeable about the submissions process

JulieSG: poor spelling, grammar, etc. catches my eye immediately

JulieSG: especially in the cover letter

JulieSG: a clean, professional presentation is always going to be best - spotlights your work - you want the editor to read your words, not focus on your errors or a long personal story in the cover letter

patmc: I've sold several biographies, but would like to do some nonfiction on nature topics. Would that be something Clarion might be interested in?

JulieSG: patmc - Clarion certainly does nature, but I'll admit that we do have long term relationships with some wonderful authors

JulieSG: So it needs to be something unique and different, expertly written and researched

patmc: Then Clarion might not be the best place to submit nature books. Thanks.

shaner: Julie, what is the most outrageous thing an author has done in an attempt to get you to read their ms?

JulieSG: shaner - personally? Nothing too wacky . . . when I'm at conferences, etc. I try to make myself available (so no ms slipped under toilet stalls, etc.) :)

JulieSG: But we do see a lot of sad stories in cover letters

JulieSG: It's hard, but it doesn't really make a difference in the long run :(

seaskull: How does agented material differ from slushpile? How greatly do you depend on your relationships with agents?how does agented material differ from the slushpile? What's that level like? How greatly do you depend on your relationships with agents?

JulieSG: seaskull - material from legit agents will come directly to us and will, probably, be read a little faster

JulieSG: but we give equal consideration to agented and unagented writers

JulieSG: Relationships with agents are certainly important but we like to build a variety of publishing and author relationships

JulieSG: I think there's been some expansion of nonfiction pb, though mostly it's biography and history

NOTE: pb = Picture Books

SkepticRob: Hi Julie! Is there any market for science type PB that aren't about animals or plants? or is it generally felt that other types of science for children in that age group is too complex?

JulieSG: I certainly think there's a place for well done science pb that are also narrative pb, and not just academic

Scott11111: The type of stories I have been writing need/require supporting illustration to convey the true meaning of the action. In other words, the wording may not reveal the humor that I intend to be portrayed through a illustration. I am not an illustrator, so how in the submission process do I share the "joke" with you so you can understand the manuscript? Kind regards, Scott

JulieSG: Scott - you can try to add some very simple parenthetical cues so that the action is understood

JulieSG: but try not to rely on them, or make them too extensive, if

JulieSG: but I understand that sometimes it's necessary

Terin: Writers are often advised to send a manuscript to a specific editor at a house. Do you get annoyed when you receive a manuscript from someone you don't know? Is it better to send it to the Submissions department if there is one?

JulieSG: Terin - I think it's always good if you can target a certain editor for a reason - you saw her at a conference, you admire a book she worked on, you share an interest . . . that targets the submission and shows hat you've done your homework

JulieSG: But, absent of that, we often get submissions from people we don't know

JulieSG: In some cases, that ms might still go on the slush pile - but most likely that editor will look at it herself and I think that's always slightly better odds - we understand that our names are listed in places we aren't even aware of

Taloola: If an editor invites an author to revise and resubmit, does the editor expect an exclusive submission? If so, would it be off-putting to let the editor know that while she is free to consider the manuscript as long as she wants, you will start submitting elsewhere in 2 months? Thanks!

JulieSG: Taloola - If an editor has given you her time, especially if there's been some extensive revision suggestions, I think it's respectful to make that an exclusive sub

JulieSG: I think that--after a while--it's okay to consider making it a sim sub (or asking about making it a sim sub), but I don't think that should be used as a "threat" and I think you have to be really realistic about turnaround times

JulieSG: You've hooked someone - give that relationship some time to grow

Verla: What IS a realistic turnaround time right now for Clarion, Julie?

JulieSG: That's a good question

JulieSG: It's longer than any of us would like, personally

JulieSG: We all wish we could get to everything really quickly, but that never happens

JulieSG: Slush actually turns around within a week or two

JulieSG: but when it's with an editor, several months is realistic

Taloola: What does it mean if 6+ months goes by with no word?

JulieSG: taloola - it doesn't necessarily mean anything at all

JulieSG: probably just still being considered

JulieSG: but it's okay to write a polite note asking for status

Taloola: Thanks so much.

ToniB: Hi Julie! Talk a bit about what you love in a middle grade novel and where you think MG fiction is headed in general.

JulieSG: Hi Toni :)

JulieSG: I love smart, funny, honest MG novels

JulieSG: nothing maudlin

JulieSG: I think now is an interesting time, as the lines blur between MG and YA

JulieSG: I think mostly I'm looking for an honest voice, a real child's experience

ToniB: I think so too, Julie.

JulieSG: a book that would have fed and satisfied me as a young reader

ToniB: So, it sounds like you like contemporary mg?

JulieSG: Toni - I do - but it's tough to do . . .it's like an amazing revelation when something crosses my desk that just clicks

JulieSG: But, yes, I think that's my love

wyllys: All my questions were answered already; thanks very much, Julie!

windy2u: Thanks for being here tonight Julie. Do you see any movement toward emotionally comforting/quiet types of books since 9/11...AND do you think publishers will turn to email submissions in the future if mail terrorism continues?

JulieSG: windy - no, I don't think so

JulieSG: We're still looking for the same things - and have always been open to quiet books

JulieSG: Some houses are turning to e-mail (and I, personally, am fine with e-mail once I have an established relationship with someone), but I think,in the end, things will remain more traditional than not

_Lyra: I often hear editors rave about new authors they've discovered. Would they be less likely to contract a published author with only a moderate sales record?

JulieSG: Lyra - that's always tough

JulieSG: A mislist backlist can mean so many things

JulieSG: So it may be a question, yes - but one does have to consider how it was marketed, edited, etc.

Tracie: Hi Julie! What is the process Clarion goes through to match a manuscript with the illustrator, and the design of the book?

JulieSG: Hi Tracie

JulieSG: after a ms is acquired the editor will think/dream about illustrators who might be right for the project

JulieSG: Eventually that ms will be offered to an illustrator

JulieSG: hopefully he/she will accept - then the illus will create sketches and/or a sketch dummy and work with the design department on a trim size, text design etc.

JulieSG: the editor will help direct the content of the art, but the designers will be the main art contact and technical contact

^GailM: I know Julie, and I've heard all her responses. I just want Julie to look for my book in her own personal slush. Julie, I hope you like it!!!

JulieSG: Gail - me too!

Verla: okay... anyone who hasn't yet asked a question, may ask it now...

Bloomerson: "When something isn't working" - will you continue to see if there's something worth keeping - (i.e. if you enjoy the character or the writing) or do you reject it at the point it's not working and say nada?

JulieSG: bloomer - if it's at the beginning of the process/relationship I'd probably be inclined not to pursue it . . . but I may say something in my rejection that calls attention to the best part, or my fav character, etc.

JulieSG: I think that's the point at which the writer needs to become skilled at reading between the lines, thinking of ways to take the beginning of that relationship to the next level and find a project that will work for what that editor is responding to

JenniferJ: What, in your opinion, is a significant credit in a cover letter? Are poems pubbed in Highlights and Carus mags significant?

JulieSG: Jennifer - Those are natl. publications and worth mentioning, I think

JulieSG: I'll admit that a major trade book credit will be what gets my attention most (and might keep something off the slush pile), but magazine credits etc. show me that you're serious about writing and that you've been working hard and that you know other outlets available to you - so I'll notice

Libby1: How much effect does an author's school visits and book signings, etc. have on their book sales? Do you have advice on how authors can find balance between having time to write new manuscripts and how much promotion work they should do?

JulieSG: libby - I think that anything an author can do to support her book is in her best interest

JulieSG: school visits are a huge element of promotion for some people . . .

JulieSG: and a huge source of income

JulieSG: each author I know is different

JulieSG: some thrive from life on the road, some have a harder time balancing it

JulieSG: but you are a critical part of the marketing process and being a "big mouth" for your book

druzy: I'm contemplating entering an MFA in Writing for Children program and wonder if you have had many acceptances from people in such programs? Or perhaps they don't mention it? Have any of your published authors told you (or other HM editors) that they felt their acceptance for pub. was due to studies in such a program? Thank you.

JulieSG: druzy - I think it's like SCBWI

NOTE: SCBWI = Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators

JulieSG: of course, it should help you to master your craft and will therefore make your writing and submissions better and give you an edge

JulieSG: Will it explicitly catch the attention of an editor - I think that depends on the editor and his/her experience.

JulieSG: But you will surely make important contacts and--if you feel that it's the right step for you, personally--I'm sure it would be rewarding on several levels

Dawn_C: I see a lot of books published because of a heavy theme. Is there any chance of a writer getting published if he/she just wants to entertain? I like to tell a good story, but it's not the life changing issues that are seen in a lot of Newberry Medal books. Thanks.

JulieSG: Dawn - I certainly think good, entertaining writing has a place

Dawn_C: but....?

JulieSG: Personally - I think what makes a ms most effective is when it touches its reader (doesn't have to be heavy)

JulieSG: I think I always look for that emotional resonance

JulieSG: But that doesn't mean it has to be a "problem" novel - and certainly many silly and entertaining things have been finding a huge audience

LisaMullar: How many manuscripts, on average, do you read in a week?

JulieSG: Lisa - tough question

JulieSG: Some weeks I get to spend a lot of time working on manuscripts, which I love - but sometimes there's so much housework to be done that we don't get to read as we'd like to

JulieSG: and really delving into an editorial letter can mean days dedicated to one thing

JulieSG: but, slush wise, we probably go through about 100 ms a week (?)

Libby1: Would you ever reject a manuscript because you didn't like working with the agent who was representing it?

JulieSG: Libby - hopefully not

amy_lynn: Is there any one thing that, as you're reading pbs, you wish you could say to writers?

JulieSG: amy - not that I'd repeat in public

JulieSG: just kidding

Verla: LOL, Julie!!!!!

NOTE: LOL = Laughing Out Loud

JulieSG: Every ms is different -

JulieSG: often my biggest frustrations are simply about form, presentation, when things aren't professional

JulieSG: Sometimes, yes, it would be more expeditious to be able to be brutally honest

JulieSG: But we don't do that

LisaMullar: Do you recognize names from slush over and over again or do names blur ?

JulieSG: lisa - yes - in my own pile and even in the Clarion slush pile

JulieSG: some people submit several manuscripts each week

LisaMullar: Yikes! Each week?

JulieSG: lisa - oh yes!

LisaMullar: Will you be at SCWBI Feb Conference?

JulieSG: I hope to be able to be at the SCBWI conf if they open it to


Verla: Dawn_C: What's your opinion on e-books?

JulieSG: Dawn - I think the major houses are rethinking their ebook programs

JulieSG: As far as these small, vanity type e-book publishers, I don't think they're to a writer's advantage

Dawn_C: Major houses rethinking -- good or bad? Are they behind it?

PamelaRoss: Lisa-- Not NJ. Long Island. But I travel for friends. ;>

JulieSG: Dawn - I think they're finding it not to be profitable, the

public isn't embracing the medium

katrapp_: Julie, most of my stories are in poem format rather than paragraph. Is this a hindrance?

JulieSG: katrapp - I don't think that's a hindrance

dystar: Do you work with many non-U.S. authors?

JulieSG: dystar - some from Canada, not many overseas, though some

dystar: do you find cross-border contracts to be a problem?

Amishka: we get more money dy - no problem there

Amishka: I mean when we convert it

JulieSG: dystar - It hasn't been a major issue in my experience

PamelaRoss: An e-book doesn't =feel= like a book to me. A book is... something you can hug in the middle of the night. No batteries required.

Libby1: Do you prefer prose or rhyming pbs?

JulieSG: libby - probably prose, though I'm always open to a WELL DONE rhyming pb

JulieSG: but, then Verla's already taken

Verla: LOL, Julie!

fritter1: Is there any one overly used theme/topic you get in subs you'd be happy not to get for the rest of eternity?

JulieSG: fritter - hmmm, saccharin stuff

fritter1: Any examples?

JulieSG: stuff more about the parents than the kids

fritter1: Beaver Cleaver family stuff?

JulieSG: fritter - yes, I'm sure there's more if I thought about it

ginger_kat: if people submit too often, is it a major turnoff for you?

JulieSG: ginger - not if they're logical, directed

Dona_V: Julie, the new education bill that just passed is supposed to help publishers. :)

JulieSG: about publishers in the changing economy

JulieSG: Verla - I think it was a question from Hols on the Yella Board

JulieSG: wanted to answer it for her

ginger_kat: pubs in the changing economy... i wanna know!!

JulieSG: I think that--in terms of acquisitions--there are no explicit changes right now

JulieSG: but people are increasingly aware of the bottom line as are buyers

JulieSG: and something to be aware of is that houses are consolidated and demands on editors are expanding

JulieSG: the industry is also experiencing layoffs

JulieSG: so things are always in flux

JulieSG: but I think there's always room--certainly with me and with Clarion--for quality ms and new talent

katrapp_: Julie, do you need slushpile readers to weed out the really bad ones?

JulieSG: kat - not at the moment :)

Libby1: Julie, do you read the yella board?

JulieSG: libby - yes, I do

Libby1: Do you think many other editors read it?

JulieSG: Libby - not sure

JulieSG: I don't know of any explicitly- but I'm a web junkie

Amishka: I believe one from Kids Can Press in Canada reads it

JulieSG: and I find it helpful to see what writers are discussing, and what's on their minds

JulieSG: though I'll admit that I sometimes hold my breath when I read it :)

Verla: the directions on how to get to the Yellow Board are on my website on the Writer's Tips page, JulieD

JulieD1: Thanks I will check it out!

amy_lynn: do you post at the yellow board, Julie?

J_Colwell: Do you post on the board, Julie?

Amishka: I think sometimes it gets a little wild

JulieSG: amy - sometimes, when I feel I have some insight to add

Amishka: I don't read it much anymore

dystar: soooo... if we send something to you, Julie, can we say we "met" on this chat? ;-)

JulieSG: dystar - yes

JulieSG: But, I need to forewarn that I have a backlog right now

JulieSG: well, um, a backlog always :)

dystar: I understand that all houses have quite a backlog -- up to two years worth, in some cases

Amishka: I have something at Clarion with another editor already so won't sent to you just yet

JulieSG: ami - If that editor rejects it, then you shouldn't send it to me

Amishka: it wouldn't be the same ms Julie

JulieSG: ami - that's fine - just let me know that you've been working together

JulieSG: so she and I can avoid confusion

Verla: Julie, I can't tell you how MUCH we all appreciated all the time you have given us tonight! You've been "on" for two full hours now!

amy_lynn: Thank you, Julie. These workshops are so valuable - we really appreciate your time!

J_Colwell: Thank you for spending time with us, Julie! It's been fun and


JulieSG: I always enjoy coming, meeting people

Guest64975: Thanks, Julie. With houses consolidating and editors under ever increasing demands on their time, it is great to know that good writing and talent still has a chance. Thanks for all your invaluable info...Deb

JulieSG: thanks for the warm <reception>

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

*** Verla has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to Writers & Illustrators of Children's Literature meet here nightly - WELCOME!

katrapp_: folks we are here every night at 8 CDT, the same time the workshop started

dystar: or at 7pm, MST

Verla: or at 6pm PST/9pm EST :-)


:-) = a sideways smiley face


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