Thursday, September 28, 2006

first books and relationships

I was looking for the exact quote but I think it's long gone. A few years back (I think!) I'd read in PW about Mark Brown's first book memory. He said his editor sent a limo and Champagne to his door on the book's release date. I was SHOCKED when I read this. Was publishing THAT much better back then? When a book of mine gets released, it gets zero fanfare. I've grown accustomed to this fact. But boy would a little fanfare be nice! Picture books have also changed a lot since then. They've gotten bolder... edgier. Is this a good thing? A bad thing? When I was little there weren't any books like the ones I create so I must wonder what *I* would have thought of them. Hopefully I would have liked them.

A friend of mine just gave me Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom. It's clear from reading the letters that Nordstrom really valued her author/editor relationships. So here's another random question-editors and authors out there: what are your relationships like with the people you work with? Do you think having a close, friendly relationship helps? I've talked to so many authors who've told me they've never met their editors! Wow. I don't know how I would operate if that were the case. I like the face-to-face contact. I like to know who's on the other end of the computer/phone. Do you think face-to-face contact matters? Does it make a book better?

Well, those are my rambling thoughts for now.



Grace Lin said...

gee, limo and champagne? Times HAVE changed. I'd settle for root beer and a subway token at this point...

alvinaling said...

I like to have a friendly relationship with the authors and illustrators I work with, and like to meet them at some point in person if I can (I think there are only a few of my authors and illustrators that I haven't met). I consider many of the authors I work with my friends (including a few of the BRGs!), although I do understand that this can be problematic when dealing with money and other business issues.

As for the limo and champagne... yes, I suppose times have changed.

Anonymous said...


Do you work with more than one editor at the same time? How often do you communicate?

I think meeting with editors in person, at least once, is the best. There is something about the sense of the other person that one gets face to face, that is hard to substitute in any other way.


Anonymous said...

I'm with Alvina--I like to have a friendly relationship with my authors. It's rather lucky that we have four Mirrorstone authors who are local to Seattle, so we get together for lunch from time to time, usually one on one but sometimes we get two authors from the same line together to brainstorm.

Now that we're expanding, it's going to be tougher to meet all my authors because most of them live all across the country, but I often meet prospective authors at conferences, and I plan on meeting authors I found in other ways at shows we feature their books at, such as ALA. Even if it's only one meeting and we never get a chance to sit down together in the same room again, I think it makes a difference in how we work together because we've both had a chance to get to know the other as a real person on the other end of our communications--which I think can often be the weakness of our more global society, not thinking of the other person, who we've only corresponded with electronically, as a real person.

Greg Pincus said...

I don't know that face to face contact can make a book better. I do know that a solid relationship can make any working environment better, so it would follow, I think, that if there's a comfort level (defined as friendship or whatever), that's for the better. I'd also point out that I enjoy the whole process more if I respect the person giving me notes. In my various film projects, there have been instances where I'd receive the equivalent of editorial notes from someone I felt had little to no idea of what they were talking about. It didn't matter if I was friends/friendly with them (and in some cases I was and still am). So I don't think there's any one panacea.

Well, other than limos and champagne (and chocolate).

Meghan McCarthy said...

I do meet with my editors face-to-face. I've worked with 4 different editors and each have different ways of working. One editor always liked to have me come in to talk about the dummies while a others would prefer to get some coffee and discuss various things at once. I like to keep things light and chatty because then if I get pissed about something I won't want to strangle that person on the other end of the computer!


p.s - I'm a big fan of the free lunches. Editors who take me out for lunch get bonus points for that (not that I can be bribed!). But I do worked harder to find projects if an editor keeps some contact w/me and asks to see me from time to time.