“I was taken out to lunch and offered, with great ceremony, the opportunity to be an editor in the adult department? The implication, of course, was that since I had learned to publish books for children with considerable success perhaps I was now ready to move along (or up) to the adult field. I almost pushed the luncheon table into the lap of the pompous gentleman opposite me and then explained kindly that publishing children’s book was what I did, that I couldn’t possibly be interested in books for dead dull finished adults, and thank you very much but I had to get back to my desk to publish some more good books for bad children.”–Ursula Nordstrom
Currently reading Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom by Leonard S. Marcus and loving it. Nordstrom worked closely with authors and illustrators like E.B. White, Maurice Sendak, and Shel Silverstein. Pretty awesome career, right? And I love her commitment to children’s literature as a whole, as indicated in the quote above.
“To get to the million-dollar mark for debut fiction this year, it apparently helps to have a female teenage protagonist. In February, Riverhead bought 30-year-old Washington University writing professor Anton DiSclafani’s first novel called The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls. The book is about a 16-year-old named Thea Atwell during the Great Depression who is sent to an equestrian boarding school in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. And just out in hardcover is The Age of Miracles by 32-year-old Karen Thompson Walker, who worked on the coming-of-age story for about an hour each morning before going to her editorial job at Simon and Schuster. That is, until she received a million-dollar advance from Random House.”
Coming-of-age stories have always been popular, but I wonder if this trend is part of YA becoming more accepted as a genre. The Katniss effect?
Movie pet peeve #312: how children’s publishers are depicted in movies. Whenever I watch Elf or You’ve Got Mail, I turn to the person next to me and say “That’s not how children’s book editors act.” (I’m a lot of fun to watch movies with.) Sure, maybe that’s how some editors act, but certainly not all or most of them. Most people who work in children’s or YA publishing are people who love these books.
So I was happy to see this video about Random House’s staff, in which they talk about what they do on a daily basis and what they love about their work. Like every industry, there are frustrating days and disillusioning moments, but I think for the most part, people in the children’s publishing world feel this kind of dedication and enthusiasm.
I’ve had the opportunity to interact with editors in a few different settings–at conferences, during work or internships, as a writer–and I’ve never felt like they didn’t care about the books they published.