Monday, December 7, 2009

NY SCBWI Annual Winter Conference Official Interview: Starring Ben Schrank

I’m here with Ben Schrank, President of Razorbill —a division of Penguin Group USA. (Which also happens to be my publisher!) Ben will be doing a breakout session at the NY SCBWI Annual Winter Conference, and we are intensely curious about him!

Ben, thank you so much for the interview. This is a total score for me, so thanks for making me look cool. Let's begin!

1.) Many Razorbill books have been incredibly successful, namely the Vampire Academy series and Thirteen Reasons Why. Why do you think teens are responding so well to your novels? And what type of books is Razorbill currently looking to acquire?

We think teens are like everybody else. They love great stories. We are obsessed with story here at Razorbill and we make sure that story drives everything we do; The cover, the marketing—really everything to do with the book comes from the story and we think teens understand that and appreciate it. We never like to be too specific about what we’re looking for. But I can say that right now we’re not looking for much since we feel pretty well booked-up right into 2012!

2.) There’s been a lot of internet discussion on author marketing lately. Personally, I love to blog, occasionally vlog, but some authors are uncomfortable with putting themselves out there personally. What are your thoughts on authors marketing their books?

I have heard our marketing people say that ‘it depends on the author’ and I agree with that. We know that Sarah Dessen has been blogging forever and is enormously successful at it. But there are authors who do not blog, who are also very successful. I do not think you have to put yourself out there personally all the time and more importantly: I think readers understand that. It’s cool when an author says ‘I’ll be writing a book for the next several months, for you, so no blogging!’ But of course at the beginning of a career, it’s smart to figure out what part of self-promotion works for you and helps your cause and then to make sure you really do that. So if you’re good at readings, do that. Good at blogging, do that, ectcera…

3.) What will you be talking about at the Annual Winter Conference? Can we have a sneak peek?

I want to talk about books I love and why Publishers do what we do. I try at all times to be really honest about the business of publishing so I won’t do much sugar-coating. It’s just not my style. I’ll also want to focus as much on story, since, as I said above, story is what keeps us going everyday. So in sum, I will talk about the triangle between writer, story, and the business of publishing. I’ll try to tell some war-stories, too. Those are always fun! Remind me to tell the one about the Wal-Mart buyer!

Thanks again for the interview, Ben. I hope I kept it short and painless. To learn more about Razorbill and their books (including mine!) check them out on the Penguin page or their Razorblog.


Kim Harrington said...

I'm attending this breakout session and now I'm even more pumped for it! :)

Lee Wind said...

"the triangle between writer, story, and the business of publishing"

sounds like it needs a catchy, somewhat mysterious title:

How About...The Bermuda Triangle - oh, Drat! That's taken, isn't it?


I enjoyed the interview - thanks, Suzanne and Ben!


Angie Frazier said...

Great interview Suzanne! I can't wait for your NY SCBWI blog coverage...wish I could be in NY!

Donna Gambale said...

Thanks so much for the interview, Ben and Suzanne! I'll be attending that breakout session - can't wait.

Jenna said...

Thanks, Suzanne and Ben! Great interview.

Sadly, I can't be at the breakout session (no money, no means of transport), but I look forward to hearing all about it. ;)

Keri Mikulski said...

Great interview, Ben and Suzanne!! :)

Yay, Razorbill!! :)

Suzanne Young said...

They have good taste, right Keri? haha

Shelli said...

i hope i can go :(

Kelly H-Y said...

Awesome interview ... thanks!