Home > Blog > Month: April 2014

Month: April 2014

  • CBC Diversity — Ann Dye: How I Got into Publishing

    Associate Director, Brand Marketing at Little Brown Books for Young Readers

    Many times over the years I’ve been asked this question – what’s the one book in your life that turned you into a reader?  Not just a casual reader, but a SERIOUS reader.  An obsessive, might-miss-my-subway-stop-to-read-this-last-chapter READER.  I could say Jane Eyre (because Jane is absolutely my literary personality match), Toni Morrison’s Beloved (fellow Cornell alum!), or Wuthering Heights (I’m a Bronte girl – what can I say?).  But my answer is always the same.  Eloise by Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight.


    Growing up, Eloise was my hero, and I forced my mother to read the book to me every night from the age of six until the binding wore all the way through.  Always recited to me with a sigh (because, come on, for a picture book its length is EPIC), I loved hearing my mother recite the story nightly of this eccentric little girl and her life in the Plaza, imaging all the while just how much I wanted to step inside her shoes (personality, lifestyle and all). 

    There’s a reason that to this day, Eloise in particular still resonates with me, along with so many other amazing children’s books.  The imagination, the heart, and spirit that Knight and Thompson have funneled into this character is something so tremendously special.  Eloise, and so many like her (Madeline, Babar, A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh) shaped my imagination and spirit from such a young age and set a passion that’s made me a reader for life.  So it was inevitable to me that this love would naturally translate into my adult career. 


    For years I was convinced I would become a children’s author, but I was never interested in the creation of a story so much as a desire to work day in and day out in a world where books were celebrated.  I wanted to work where they made Miss Nelson is Missing! (Miss Swamp gives me nightmares to this day); see behind the scenes how Rain Makes Applesauce was born.  The books that inspired me and made me who I am the most were children’s books, and I wanted to fit into a career that gave me a place to continue that cycle for the next generation of kids.

    The marketing field wasn’t a given entry point for me.  I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, went to college in Ithaca, NY at Cornell, and took a chance attending the NYU Publishing Institute the summer after graduation in 2005.  With little in my savings account and no real game plan in place, I hoped at NYU I would be able to make the right networking contact to get my foot into the publishing door.  Like many graduates in the field, I assumed editorial would be the best entry point.  I had naïve visions of sitting in a secluded office all day, reading amazing manuscripts and getting paid for it.

    Reality soon set in that while the publishing community is certainly a warm and inspiring one, it’s not the easiest to get into right off the bat.  The first real bite I received was a marketing assistant job at DK Publishing.  While my access to the children’s books of my dreams weren’t quite realized there, what I did discover in my first job was a sincere appreciation, and love, for marketing in the publishing realm.

    From that first job to my second jump, working as an Associate Marketing Manager at Disney-Hyperion, I learned why marketing is (in my opinion) one of the often overlooked gems of the publishing industry and a natural fit for me.  It was clear from the start that marketing offered everything the Eloise-loving girl in me could want.  At Disney I was regularly gifted with beautiful books from our very talented editors, tasked to creatively position them to the best of my ability to be discovered out in the world.  I had the opportunity to devour incredible manuscripts, and then devise and compose creative copy and promotional campaigns, working hands-on at consumer trade shows and events to connect with real parents and young readers to help them discover new books and create REAL readers.

    I worked at Disney-Hyperion for five amazing years, with the pleasure of working with some incredible authors and even more incredible colleagues, before I made a shift to my current position at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.  I now oversee all consumer marketing efforts for LBYR’s picture book and middle grade list, where I have had the honor of working on books by Julie Andrews, Lemony Snicket, Andrea Davis Pinkney, James Patterson and many more.

    Of course, as with every job, there are stressful days and long weeks, with tight budgets, challenging deadlines, and fierce competition.  But I look back on that little girl who could recite by heart Eloise and Nana’s trips through the Plaza at the age of six, and I feel a special sense of privilege that I now get to play a small part in putting characters like that out in the world.  The bookstore landscape may be changing day by day, but I know I’ll never lose the passion I have for this business, and the very talented people within it.

  • Join Joelle Charbonneau, Author of ‘The Testing’, for a Week of Reading, Dreaming, and Imagining – Celebrate Children’s Book Week!

    Follow our YouTube playlist for fun videos from children’s book creators celebrating children’s books and the joy of reading — now through Book Week!  Stay tuned for wonderful videos from: …

  • Ally Condie Pens New Stand-Alone YA Novel

    “In Atlantia, the heroine, Rio, is thrown into a precarious and upsetting situation after her twin sister, Bay, opts to leave their underwater world for ‘Above’ first. Since only one …

  • Little Reader Snapshot Contest Aims to Promote Children’s Literacy and Children’s Book Week

    The contest will culminate along with Children’s Book Week on May 18. The photos with the most votes in the categories of ages Newborn to 4, 5 to 9, 10 …

  • Download the 2014 Children’s Choice Book Awards Finalists Now!

    Visit www.iTunes.com/CCBookAwards to download these titles directly to your Mac, iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, then encourage all the young readers in your life to vote for their favorites at ccbookwards.com …

  • “Baffled” Cops Called to Police Teen Book Giveaway

    Parents, concerned that teens would read the book without their parents’ permission, called the police to the scene. Still, all but 20 of the 350+ book copies were successfully given …

  • In the Pages of a Book, a Wimpy Kid Can be a Hero. See Why Jeff Kinney Loves Children’s Book Week!

    Follow our YouTube playlist for fun videos from children’s book creators celebrating children’s books and the joy of reading — now through Book Week!  Stay tuned for wonderful videos from …

  • Internationally Bestselling Book, ‘Pay it Forward,’ to be Published as New Middle Grade Novel

    NEW YORK, NY – Paula Wiseman Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, has announced today that Pay It Forward, an adult novel that inspired a highly successful movement of …

  • Free Author Readings for PreK-8 Classrooms and Young Readers at Home Nationwide on April 30 to Celebrate El día de los niños, El día de los libros!

     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Shira Schindel, Qlovi(551) 697-1983sschindel@qlovi.com New York, NY- April 25, 2014—Qlovi, the classroom eBook and literacy company, partners with leading organizations and companies to bring free virtual …

  • Children’s Book Week Has Gone to the Dogs with Author Jenny Hubbard and Special Guest, Oliver!

    Follow our YouTube playlist for fun videos from children’s book creators celebrating children’s books and the joy of reading — now through Book Week!  Stay tuned for wonderful videos from: …

  • A New Feature Film Adaptation of The BFG, Directed by Steven Spielberg, is Planned For Release in 2016

    Roald Dahl’s much-loved children’s classic The BFG is set for the big screen in 2016. Renowned film director Steven Spielberg will direct the new adaptation with Melissa Mathison, who last worked with …

  • Picture Books Are for All Ages: A Bookstore Tip Sheet

    “The term ‘picture book’ simply refers to a book format in which art and text depend on one another for the full meaning of the book to emerge. Picture books …

  • Author John Green Named One Of Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People’

    “Some say that through his books, John gives a voice to teenagers. I humbly disagree. I think John hears the voices of teenagers. He acknowledges the intelligence and vulnerability that …

  • Calling All Kids’ Book Creators! Kate DiCamillo Gives Top 10 Reasons to Be Part of Indies First Storytime Day

    This event was inspired by Indies First, an initiative invented by Sherman Alexie last November, which asked established authors to act as booksellers at their local independent bookstore for a day.   Kate give authors …

  • CBC Diversity: A Considered Response

    So what happens now? Book Expo will likely respond with another apology and promise to do better. But it’s too late. The damage is done. “We’re sorry” is no longer acceptable. It is clear that diversity is not a priority for ReedPop and BEA. Either they are not thinking about it at all, or they are actively choosing against diversity because they believe they can make more money with an all-white line-up. These are not our values at Book Riot, and so we will not be supporting, promoting, participating in, covering, or encouraging our community to attend BookCon. We can’t control ReedPop and BEA’s choices, but we can control this. No diversity = no support.

    Rebecca Joines Schinsky, director of content and community for Riot New Media Group

    We admire any person or company that appreciates and promotes authors and the creation of more representative stories. Standing up for what you believe in is important as is educating the masses on the issue at hand.

    This month, though, story upon story in the news covering the “lack of diversity in children’s literature” have said the same thing. Enough already. Writing one article after another that “talks” about the diversity buzzword isn’t solving anything.

    Last month, a list highlighting what each group in the book purchasing process could do to change the situation was circulated—originating from the CCBC listserv post by Sarah Hamburg (bravo!). Let’s continue what Sarah started and come up with action items we can each undertake as editors, parents, librarians, booksellers, literary agents, publicists, etc. and then work together.

    Awareness has been raised. Now the conversation needs to change. CBC Diversity is all ears on how we can help create and sustain that change.

    • We were told that parents, teachers, and librarians couldn’t find the diverse books they were searching for so we created the CBC Diversity Goodreads Bookshelf, a quantitative, not qualitative, list compiling the diverse titles submitted by our members.
    • We were told that a major reason why more diverse books weren’t ushered into houses was because the employees of those houses were not diverse. We answered this concern by attending the Baruch College Career fair in February, hosting a recruitment panel in March for publishing professionals, and representing the children’s publishing industry at a virtual career fair in April, which hosted 3,416 students and alumni from schools across the country.
    • We were told that agents need to be a larger part of this conversation, so we welcomed agents to join the discussion at an Editor/Agent CBC Diversity Dialogue.

    How else can we continue to grow and support an industry that is committed to reflecting our society in a representative way? What programs need to be put into place and what connections need to be forged to keep moving forward instead of stirring the pot and hoping that will be enough?

  • ‘Harry Potter’ Fans Create the ‘Hogwarts is Here’ Website

    Each course consists of nine lessons. The curriculum for first-year students include Charms, Potions, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Astronomy, Herbology, History of Magic, and Transfiguration. “The website works as …

  • Elizabeth LaBan’s Favorite Children’s Books Provide Food for Thought. Share Yours for Children’s Book Week 2014!

    Follow our YouTube playlist for fun videos from children’s book creators celebrating children’s books and the joy of reading — now through Book Week!  Stay tuned for wonderful videos from: …

  • CBC Diversity: Lesson Learned?

    Sometimes what I learn about myself in my work as a children’s book editor is downright embarrassing and cringe-worthy: that despite my best intentions, my predominantly white upbringing, educational background, and chosen profession have not adequately prepared me to be as racially and culturally sensitive as I would like.

    I don’t want to admit that about myself. And I really don’t want to admit it publicly on a diversity-themed website in front of the children’s literature community.

    But I’m never going to make progress if I don’t call myself out and invite others I work with to call me out as well. And more to the point, since it’s not all about my personal development here, the books I help make aren’t going to reflect reality or drive change in our society if this important process doesn’t happen.

    So let me share three lessons I’ve learned from working with Mitali Perkins, a writer as talented as she is kind and ebullient. Her books are terrific: vibrant characters, exciting and believable plots, natural pacing, clear themes—the whole literary package. Mitali is also a passionate advocate for inclusive literature, and she’s not afraid to let me know, in the nicest way possible, when I get in the way of that goal.

    Lesson #1: Acknowledge That I Have Biases

    In working on the book Bamboo People (published 2010), I suggested that one of the characters, who was of Burmese decent, could show his embarrassment in a key scene by having his cheeks redden. Mitali gently informed me that the character’s brown skin just wouldn’t redden up like a white person’s would. I felt horrible, stammered something in reply, and let the floor under my desk open and swallow me up. My own cheeks flamed red in ironic retribution.

    Lesson #2: Think About How I Position My Books

    One of the key tasks I perform as editor is to write the text for the inside flap of the jacket. This writing, called flap copy, positions the book for the market, forms the basis for many book reviews, and with any luck entices the reader to purchase the book and enjoy the story within its pages.

    Mitali’s next book with us, Tiger Boy, will be published in Spring 2015. I wrote what I thought was pretty decent flap copy (introducing the main character, setting, and plot conflict) and sent it off to Mitali for her opinion. Her gracious and polite response: “Could you write it so that it reads more as ‘mirror’ than ‘window,’ so that it appeals to a universally shared sense of adventure and love of animals from the start?” What she didn’t say, but could have, was “You’re positioning the main character as ‘other’ right from the get-go and limiting the book to a niche multicultural market.”

    Ugh! I had screwed up again, even after becoming a CBC Diversity committee member and taking other steps to educate myself. Super embarrassing. But the solution was clear. I opened the Word doc, inverted the flap copy to lead with the book’s action-based content, and the result was better.

    Lesson #3: Notice What I Don’t Know

    My unconscious bias isn’t exclusively contained to matters of race or culture. My religious upbringing was secular, and I grew up in a town where religion was considered a private matter—not for public discussion. So when Mitali peppered Bamboo People with references to the parable of the Good Samaritan (not exactly an obscure tract of the Bible), I was clueless.

    But by the time we got to Tiger Boy, I knew how to ask better questions, and the author’s note includes a short line acknowledging the influence of the parable from the Gospel of Matthew about the talents given to three stewards. My thought process is that an understanding of the novel’s source material is valuable for readers—if they know the parable, there’s greater insight into the story, and if they don’t, the wonders of the internet or library might educate and inform them as I wish I had been informed.


    These three lessons drive home this point to me: If I’m showing my ignorance or am being unintentionally offensive in my editorial process, I really do want to know about it. I need to stop being afraid of messing up, accept the fact that I will, and figure out how to have a meaningful dialogue about it.

    Bottom line, a big part of the diversity issue in publishing is white editors like me. The reason why there aren’t enough inclusive and representational children’s books is a systemic societal problem, to be sure, but editors have the power to decide what is brought to acquisition and how a project is shaped and positioned for the market. That power can be used to change our industry for the better, and that change will happen by learning from our mistakes and applying those lessons to our everyday work.

  • Deborah Halverson Asks: Setting, Wherefore Art Thou?

    “Above all, characters need a sense of place to know how to behave. Don’t just give them somewhere to be; show how that particular place influences their mood and actions. …

  • Parenthood’s Mae Whitman to Narrate a New Edition of ‘City of Bones’ Audiobook by Cassandra Clare

    NEW YORK, NY — Simon & Schuster Audio is proud to announce that actress Mae Whitman will narrate a new edition of CITY OF BONES by bestselling author Cassandra Clare. The audiobook will be available on April 15, …

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