Editors Panel: "Success Stories: Four Editors Distill the Secrets of a Successful Book:
Focus on: ARI LEWIN, Senior Editor of Disney/Hyperion
Ari Lewin discussed the popular and award-winning stand alone fantasy series, "THE HEIR CHRONICLES" by author Cinda Williams Chima. The first book was a contemporary fantasy set in real world Ohio called THE WARRIOR HEIR. Ari discussed how the book did not have a huge marketing campaign - there was no big book tour. It was "just your basic big publishing house campaign" in which they gave out bookmarks and galleys at various conferences and bookstores.
But she said the book began winning many awards, such as the Kirkus BBYA in 2008 and the Voyas Perfect Teens 2007 list and positive reviews. Unlike other fantasy novels, Cinda's series were a collection of stand alone novels. The second book was not a sequel but a stand alone book featuring a different character. She called it a "companion piece."
Ari stressed that a series of stand alone books often have an advantage over actual series because new readers are more willing to read the latest book because there's no pressure to have read the previous books. In addition, awards committees are reluctant sometimes to give awards to books that readers need to have read the previous books in order to understand and enjoy the latest one.
Air said Cinda's real world fantasy setting was real and familiar to kids - it featured "a familiar world of a teenager with a huge secret" and that made it accessible to kids who normally did not read fantasy.
She also showed some sketches of the original cover of the first book versus the final version, and explained how the original cover was a sketch and looked too "manga" and did not fit the tone of the book (it skewed too young). She said book covers are very important when it comes to books succeeding and finding an audience.
BUT ultimately, Ari concluded that "at the end of the day, I know how hard Cinda has worked to perfect her craft and promote her work. The biggest secret to a book's success sometimes is that the book is good and the book is worthy."