Thursday, July 25, 2013

SCBWI LA 2013--Pre-conference interview with Donna Bray!

The SCBWI summer conference in LA kicks off in just a week! (!!!) Today I have an exclusive pre-conference interview with editor Donna Bray. Donna is co-publisher of Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins. B+B has published numerous award-winners and bestsellers in picture books, middle grade fiction, teen fiction, and nonfiction. Some of Donna's titles include the New York Times best-selling Wildwood series by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis; New York Times bestseller, Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen; the Coretta Scott King Award and Honor winner Heart and Soul by Kadir Nelson.
Donna took the time to give us some insight into this year's conference:

1.) What do you think authors can learn from editors when attending a SCBWI conference?
SCBWI conferences are invaluable in helping authors gain understanding of what is happening behind the scenes at publishing houses – how editors think about manuscripts, what appeals to them, how they work with authors and communicate with their colleagues, etc. It’s also great for authors to get a sense of the variety of personalities, literary tastes, and points of view in the editorial field. I believe it’s critical to be as informed as possible about the business you’re in (or hoping to enter).

2.) What will be the focus of your workshop, and do you think it’s best suited for published or aspiring authors?
I actually have two workshops, both of which I think would be useful for published or aspiring authors.
One is “Inside Balzer + Bray: 5th Anniversary Edition.” In this workshop I’ll be talking about how our imprint works, our mix of titles, and what kinds of books we’re looking for. This will be more than just a rundown of the books on our list (for that, folks can go to our Facebook page, where we have covers and reviews of all our titles by format and age group); I think authors can gain insight into the way a publisher shapes her list and how she thinks about books. And since the B+B list is both selective and diverse (we do everything from very young picture books through edgy teen fiction), it serves as a good introduction to a high-quality trade list.
The second workshop is “The Top Ten* Things Editors Are Looking for in Authors and their Work (*or More!).” I added the “or More” because I knew that once I got started, the list would get a lot longer! Everyone wants to be the author who is beloved by his editor and everyone in-house (right?) – I’m aiming to share the characteristics and best practices I’ve seen work so well for many of our authors, pre- and post-publication.

3.) Is there any advice you can give writers on how to reach out to editors or agents they’ve met through SCBWI?
Most editors and agents at the conference will let you know their individual policies for contacting them after the show – for instance, anyone who attends my workshops can send submissions for up to 6 months afterward (and I’ll give out my email address during the workshop). If they don’t, you can certainly ask. But in general, just be respectful and professional!

Thank you so much, Donna! I’m definitely looking forward to both of these workshops. Attendees can check their schedule for times. And as always, if you can’t make the conference, you can follow the official SCBWI Team Blog site for up to the minute updates. 


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