Spring Children’s Books
colleagues. Even when you have disagreements or things don’t
go your way, saying something positive will pay you back many
times over where a negative comment will not. I don’t believe
I was very good at this in my early career, but it’s something I’ve
come to value highly and overall I am much less cynical than I
used to be.
One other piece of advice, which is somewhat related: strive
to be creative at solving problems and know, even when you feel
your last option has run out, there is always—always—more
than one solution to affect the outcome for the better. You just
have to put your mind to it and believe you can come up with
Move to Brooklyn sooner. You’re going to need the money you’ll
save in rent.
It will be a constant challenge to separate yourself as a reader
from your tasks as a publisher, especially when you have kids
of your own. It’s easy to use yourself or your child as a focus
group of one. “Kids are obsessed with vacuum cleaners! Why
are there not more picture books about vacuum cleaners?”
Umm, no. Kids aren’t obsessed with vacuum cleaners; your kid
(or sister, or niece, or you when you were a kid) is obsessed with
vacuum cleaners. You’ll also have to take steps back from books
you really love, and ask yourself, “Who is the reader?” Can you
imagine the kid that will light up when a parent, teacher, or
librarian puts this book in their hand? Spend as much time as
you can around people who read books with actual kids—that’s
where the rubber hits the road. Teachers, librarians, parents,
booksellers, authors, and illustrators do a lot of reading with
kids and have a lot to say about what
works, what doesn’t, and what makes kids’
eyes light up.
Ask a ton of questions, read as much as you
can, tell editors when you love their books,
and work your butt off.
Simon & Schuster Books for
Here’s some simple advice that has served me well. You need to
be able to describe each of your books in one sentence, in a
paragraph, and at length. That way, when someone asks you
about your books, you can give them the abbreviated version,
holding the expanded version for those titles in which they show
interest. This will particularly come in handy when you are in
your company’s booth at a conference. I picked this up when I
worked at School Library Journal, and it has benefited me—and
those who ask about my books—ever since.
Publishing is a team sport. Always be proactive and volunteer
to lend a hand with projects, even if it is for something you don’t
have experience doing. The colleague you are helping might just
be your boss someday.
Running Press Kids
Try to remember that everyone’s job always encompasses more
than you think and to appreciate the time that a job may take.
As an editor, my job is comprised of more than just acquiring
and editing books. I also write tip-sheet, flap, and sales copy;
review sales materials; speak at conferences; hire copy editors
and proofreaders; process contract paperwork; and do countless
other tasks. Our designers not only design the interiors and
covers for new books, but also handle reprint files and corrections, certain sales materials, and eight million other things.
The same could be said for any other person in any department.
All of these things take time, and the overwhelmed feeling you
may have at times is likely shared by all.
Also, always share praise that your colleagues receive, particularly with their managers. If you don’t share the compliments that the designer, copy editor, or publicist receives from
your author or illustrator (particularly if you are the liaison
between the two parties), often no one else would ever know.
And how sad would that be?
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
A piece of advice I would give my much-younger self is to enjoy and appreciate every damn minute of it! We are so fortunate
to be doing this creative and ennobling
work with such awesome, talented colleagues, authors, illustrators, librarians,
booksellers, and educators. Having watched
many friends and colleagues vanish into
more lucrative but often soul-destroying
jobs over the years, I thank my lucky stars every day that I am
an English major who landed in this wonderful industry and
stayed with it.