Saturday, August 18, 2007

Editor's Thoughts on Perfect Books

Ever wonder what editors think makes the perfect book?

Duh? What writer hasn't?

At the recent SCBWI National Conference, we had a chance to hear straight from the mouth of five highly respected editors in children's books, and I thought some of you might be interested in what they had to say.

One thing that struck me was that they all enjoyed the search for the perfect book, but didn't expect to find it. Would, in fact, be disappointed if they found a perfect book because then there would be no role for them to play in the process of creating the book, which was a perspective I hadn't really considered before. As Julie Strauss-Gabel explained, they weren't interested in just being copy editors.

Dinah Stevenson of Clarion Books
  • Original, not derivative
  • Good story that leaves her perfectly satisfied
  • No indifferent reactions to the book, love it or hate it
Emma Dryden of Antheneum
  • Peeling away layers to tell the story
  • A book that has clearly been well planned, but also has room for surprises
  • Word play
  • Non rigid text that is open to many interpretations
Rachel Griffiths of PUSH (Scholastic Imprint)
  • She responds to honesty
  • A peek into a fascinating mind
Julie Strauss-Gabel of Dutton
  • The author of her perfect book would be independently wealthy and would consider editing to be a non-adversarial process
  • Ambition in terms of structural and emotional goals of the story
  • She is specifically looking for older YA literary, contemporary fiction
Allyn Johnston of Harcourt
  • Loves picture books
  • Wants a book to cast a spell around those reading it