Andrew Karre was one of my first-page editors at the Santa Barbara Mission retreat this year. He was smart, funny and had great insights into all the manuscripts. Andrew also is a blogger and gave us some wonderful promotion tips. It was a pleasure to meet Andrew Karre and get an interview for the blog.
When and why did you become a children’s book editor?
I began working on children’s books in 2003 (I think). I did not set out to work on kids’ books. I wanted to be an editor, but I wasn’t picky about the category initially. Once I started editing and acquiring YA, though, I knew kidlit was my calling. When I moved to a position that allowed me to do picture books, middle grade and YA, I thought I’d gone to heaven.
There’s no short answer to this question and I’d be remiss to try to suggest a universal approach. The house, the book, and the author are all variables, and success will follow when the author and the house are collaborative and deliberate about their promotion.
That said, I believe there are a few fundamentals that every author needs to address before publication.
1. Own your web and social networking real estate. By this I mean own your domain name and link it to a free blog (Blogger, WordPress, whatever) and then acquire all social networking addresses associated with your name. This should cost you no more than $30 so just do it now.
2. Unless you’re deeply uncomfortable with participating in the online community that’s booming around children’s books, I suggest you come on in now, before you’ve got a book to promote. People are more receptive to books from community members than they are to books from outsiders. I’ve blogged about this extensively: http://carolrhoda.blogspot.com/2009/07/cocktail-party.html
3. If you’re a kidlit author, I think Skype visits to schools and reading groups are in your future. Get comfortable with this technology.
4. Don’t neglect non-digital promotion. Introduce yourself to your indies and your librarians.
Can you name some of your favorite Kidlit books?
I’m only going to name books I didn’t publish:
The House in the Night and All the World are two of my favorite recent picture books. Both are masterpieces.
For middle readers, I still love the Tripod series by John Christopher. Given all the attention to dystopias, this decades-old series really ought to be seeing a resurgence.
For YA, I love M.T. Anderson. Peter Cameron’s Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You is a masterpiece. Marcus Sedgewick’s Revolver was probably my favorite YA from last year. Last year, I lost books by Megan Crewe and A.S. King to higher bids, but I take solace in the fact that both of the books are in good hands and will be making upcoming seasons very exciting for readers.
What are you working on now?
Lots of things. I’ve got an anthology project with three crazy-talented authors that I’m keen to see come to fruition. <http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/44138-lerner-lands-unconventional-book-from-three-ya-authors.html> There’s a book about a demented hand puppet that’s going to be very exciting this coming fall. I could go on.
What are you looking for in a manuscript?
Something unexpected. This answer will be maddeningly simple, but that doesn’t make it less true. Yes, I have broad categories that I favor, subgenres I think I’m good at. But what I look for is an author who can surprise me with a voice or a story. Beyond that, I look for evidence of careful craftsmanship. A manuscript is an audition for a working partnership, and those partnerships are more fun and more successful when the worker is skillful.
What is your favorite dessert and why?
I’m not picky, as long as it’s got chocolate and butter and it’s well made. Chocolate chip cookies from local bakery Cocoa & Fig are pretty close to perfect.
Editorial Director, Carolrhoda Books, Carolrhoda Lab, and Darby Creek
Lerner Publishing Group
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