Friday, November 14, 2008

Fact vs Fiction, Men vs Women, and Brian Lies vs the World

How does an editor go about editing a nonfiction book? (e.g., does she read up on the topic, etc.?)
I'll send nonfiction out to be proofread and fact-checked, and possibly to a specialist for verification. Certainly if I acquired a book about a nonfiction topic, I'm interested in that topic--but I don't have the time to do the reading that would make me an expert. And anyone who is an expert in something knows that sometimes it's the people who have only done some reading that make the worst mistakes.
Why do men get more Caldecotts?
That's an interesting question. And by "interesting", I mean "something I am trying very, very hard not to jump to conclusions about".
If you want to look at the list yourselves, it's here. The score rests at 51 to 24, which in other arenas might be called a landslide. I honestly wish I knew why men have won 68% of the time, and if anyone has an explanation that doesn't involve name-calling, I would be so grateful.
Can you ever publish with more than one imprint at one house? (say, a picture book at Schwartz & Wade, a novel with Random House?)
Yes, of course.
What marketing efforts have made a difference to anyone? (website? school visits? signings?)
Who can read this question and not think of Brian Lies? I know it's disheartening, but in self-promotion it does seem that more is more. But off the cuff, my recommendations would be: DO: put up an attractive, easy-to-use, and informational website. It gets easier every year, and you can do it from home, so you really don't have an excuse. DON'T: enough with the cheesy bookmarks, ok?
What are your early Newbery, Caldecott, Printz picks? Who's got buzz?
I'm sure you realize how unpredictable the awards are. But if I have to name some names:
The Underneath
River of Words
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
The Trouble Begins at 8
We Are the Ship
...there are other front-runners, too. Sign yourself up for a mock if you're very interested.
How will the economy affect children's publishing? What's the climate like?
Nervous. Children's books are a bright spot for many publishers, though, and historically books fare better in economic downturns than more expensive entertainment (like movie tickets). So while we're all keeping a weather eye on the economy, we aren't building bonfires and discussing the end of publishing as we know it (I mean, not more than we normally do).


Sarah Miller said...

Every now and then I stir up this can of worms:

Why hasn't a solo African-American artist ever won a Caldecott GOLD medal?

Anonymous said...

Wow! That website of Brian Lies...I was pretty happy with mine, but wow!

Anonymous said...

On the question about the economy & children's publishing - do you think it might make publishers more reluctant to take on first time authors?

Anonymous said...

So, the Caldecott thing interested me, so I did some math - here's the percentages:

From 1980-2008, 22 solo men (@76%), 6 solo women (@21%), and one male/female team (@3.5%), have won.
(and, anecdotally, 3 of 6 solo women who won were both author and illustrator).

From 1960-1979, 11 solo men (55%), 7 solo women (35%), and 2 m/f teams (10%) won.

From 1938-1959, 13 solo men (@59%), 6 solo women (@28%), and 3 m/f teams (@13%), have won.

So, I was wondering what could have happened post 1980 that has skewed things in favor of solo men? I have some hypos, but nothing that can be quantified...

As for books with buzz, Hunger Games seems to be getting a lot of talk...


czar said...

Bravo on your initial comment about editing and proofreading. Editing is a skill that translates to many subjects; topic knowledge is the responsibility of the author, unless you're dealing with a developmental edit. As a proofreader/copyeditor/indexer, I feel good if I catch a factual mistake in a nonfiction tome (the nyah-nyah effect), but that's not what publishers are paying me for . . . although it does keep them coming back.

Sabina E. said...

what kind of moisturizer cream should i get for my peeling, drying skin?

Ugh, I hate winter and I hate how winer ruins my poor delicate brown skin.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Sarah Miller-- Your Question SHOULD be:
"Why hasn't Kadir Nelson won the Caldecott gold yet??"

Because, seriously, someone gave us "Please Puppy Please," and his fabulous illustrations are the ONLY reason that dud of a story hasn't ended up in the trashcan.

Or, even more importantly, "Does Kadir Nelson make at least as much for his work as Spike Lee does for his crummy rhymes?"

If I ever have a picture book published, i want him for my illustrator!

Chris Eldin said...

I LOVE Brian's website!!

Thanks for this very informative post!

Sarah Miller said...

Dierdre: Actually, that kind of is my question. I was oblivious to this state of affairs until Nelson's illustrations in MOSES took a silver medal instead of gold. I've been poking at this issue from time to time ever since and haven't hit on a really good explanation yet.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Maybe people don't really notice because they all assume Ezra Jack Keats was black?

(I assumed he was for YEARS...)

Deirdre Mundy said...

Actually, is "We Are the Ship" eligible for a Caldecott medal this year? I haven't seen it yet, but it seems to be racking up awards, and the cover is gorgeous!

Sarah Miller said...

I believe so. It's got a jillion starred reviews, so maybe...

Anonymous said...

No, Ezra is not black and Gorey is not English.

Deirdre Mundy said...

But Gorey WAS a trekkie!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm surprised by the answer to the imprint question. I always heard that this is a major no-no and avoided doing it.

So, what you're saying is if my editor at Simon & Schuster rejects my middle grade, I can send it to Atheneum after?

Is there any etiquette around this? If it gets accepted at Atheneum, do I give my editor at S&S the heads-up that I just sold to another part of the house?


Anonymous said...

I'll be interested to see if the recent article by Anita Silvey in School Library Journal about how recent Newbery picks lack true kid appeal, despite their literary merits, is reflected in any way in this year's winners. She made some really good, provocative points.

After reading Meg Cabot's recent Ally Finkle series, I was totally bowled over by her use of voice. She completely nails what it is to sound like a 9-year-old. It's quite an accomplishment and one that I wonder would matter in the eyes of a prize committee.

So many of the books that win the big awards feature quirky, regional voices--I'm thinking Because of Winn-Dixie, The Power of Lucky, and Savvy. Does anyone know any kid who "muses" like the characters in these books do? I'd like to see a truly kid-oriented, seamlessly written, yes, even commercial book do well this year.

As for Caldecotts ...I'm down with Kadir Nelson (he should be in the Newbery running too), Carrie Meade (for On the Farm-- beautiful woodcuts), and Ed Young (Wabi Sabi). I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting!

Anonymous said...

Me again, from above. I realized it might be nice if I included the link to the Silvey article for those who hadn't seen it.

Anonymous said...

Whoops, it's getting weirdly cut off. Try #2:

Dal Jeanis said...

About the Caldecotts - The last twenty years, one-third by women and one-third involving guys named David.

Gotta wonder about that.

Peggy Collins said...

Men and awards - Am I EVeR glad somebody else has made a call on this! I was looking over the illustrators in a current 'best of'exhibition - almost ALL men. And my favourites... pretty much all male author/illustrators... I was somewhat horrified when I realized that.

My theory (I am an A/I - new in '09)... men generally are much more able to run with a style that may be a little more edgy, a little more fun... and are confident in pursuing it. Women, I am one, feel the need to play it a little more safe (generally), and feel we need to PROVE we can draw(just like we have to prove so many other things as well)... which sometimes may not be as playful and daring or as award-winning as our male counterparts. I noticed this back at Sheridan 10 years ago when I envied my male classmates their ability to be so different and not CARE.

Ok, just my two cents. Boy am I ever glad to get that out!

That being said, many of my favourite books are NOT the favourite books of the kids I know - or my child, who think they are just weird and the drawings don't make sense...

Pretty much all of these awards are judged by adults, after all... I own most of the winners and my son asks for.. ok.. oliver jeffers, david shannon,richard scarry, maurice sendak, Lane SMith... uhh... damn. oh yeah.. Me. But he is also biased. We are big fans of Brian's too!

Chris Eldin said...

about how recent Newbery picks lack true kid appeal, despite their literary merits,

Anon, I'm the only one in my house reading the Newbery books. I had to bribe my 8 year old to read Hatchet. He ended up liking it, but getting him started was soooo hard. Same with his older brother.

They are both pouring through Goosebumps, the same way they did Junie B. and Captain Underpants.

Not sure where I'm going with this, just that I agree with you.

Anonymous said...

"So, what you're saying is if my editor at Simon & Schuster rejects my middle grade, I can send it to Atheneum after?"

Ed Anon is right, you can totally publish with more than one imprint. But DO NOT query more than one imprint within a larger house, esp not at the same time. This is a huge no-no.

Most of the time, if an author is pubbed by two different imprints of the same house, there's some sort of divide: middle grade goes to imprint A, picture books to imprint B--and these situations have been worked out beforehand between imprints. Or, published author at imprint A submits a project that while great, is so not right for A--but would be perfect as a paperback original at imprint B--so the editor at A may pass it within the house to someone at B, and voila, you have a two-imprint author.

While you don't want to assume that a rejection from one imprint automatically means the rest of the house is off-limits to you, also don't assume that editors don't talk to each other, and may get tweaked off if they hear that so-and-so already rejected this for another imprint. Part of this depends on how closely the imprints work together--some are more tied into each other than other houses.

Now, if the imprints are SEPARATE houses, all bets are off. Though if you're published, check your option clauses before you go submitting your next middle grade novel elsewhere.

Christine Tripp said...

Why do men get more Caldecotts?

Peggy, good thoughts on why all the guys. I agree with you and offer up some other possible reasons. In general, if a man persues children's book illustration as a career (so "girly" in a way, compared to say ditch digging or being a broker on Wall Street), he may very well take the JOB more seriously (though yes, still having fun with his art and a freedom with it that many woman do not allow themselves to have). I also think Editors/Art Directors may take male illustrators more seriously as well and that may aid in their getting published.
I don't know the actual numbers but I would venture to guess that there might be one male for every 10 females illustrating. So yeah, when there are so many more woman working in the field then men, the wins do not make any sense.
A pal (illustrator) offered up a humorous reason for more men winning then woman... the voting Librarians are, for the most part, female:)

Sam said...

Sorry, can't give up the cheesy bookmarks. True, they do not translate into book sales, but the kids love them...

Thanks for the answer on the economy.

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