Saturday, December 12, 2009
Editors are NOT Dragons
When I first began to submit stories for publication, I was somewhat scared of editors. In my imagination, they seemed analogous to fire-breathing dragons, guarding the entrance to the Kingdom of Publication. Getting a story past them seemed an impossible task. Twenty years and almost thirty books later, I see editors a little differently. Yes, they do make judgments about stories that are often hard for writers to bear, but they honestly WANT to find manuscripts they can say "yes" to. And when they do find a story they like--and a story that fits within their company's publication program--they become a writer's best champion. They argue for the story's publication in acquisition meetings, and, once accepted, help writers to reshape and revise their stories to make them better. Editors help in other ways too--like writing the flap copy praising your book, and coordinating with the art department on covers and illustrations. But ultimately, despite all their assistance, and the assistance of many other behind-the-scenes people like copy editors, and others whose titles I don't even know, the credit for the resulting book will go to you.
Over the years I have been blessed with wonderful editors, not one of them even remotely dragon-like. Children's editors, like children's writers are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. They are kind, solicitous of a writer's feelings, intelligent, and hard-working, and they really want to see you and your book succeed.
Here is a list of the fabulous editors--all women, by the way--that I've had the good fortune to work with:
Matilda Welter (Mommy Doesn't Know My Name)
Andrea Cascardi (Edwin and Emily and Emily at School)
Diane Arico (Library Lil, My Dog Never Says Please, Old MacDonald in the City)
Lauri Hornik (The Witch Casts a Spell)
Julia Richardson (Secret Pal Surprises, Marvelous Mind of Matthew McGhee, Age 8 series)
Michelle Nagler (Third Grade Friends series)
Rachel Orr Chan, Rosemary Brosnan, and Margaret Miller (Fairy Blossoms series, Princess Power series, and Ten Naughty Little Monkeys)
Emily Lawrence (Goddess Girls)
These hitherto unsung heroes have my undying gratitude!
P.S. There was a nice article by Jon Bard in CBI Clubhouse about what writers need to know about the lives of children's book editors.