Editor and publisher Alessandra Balzer (Balzer&Bray/HarperCollins) gave a workshop today called You Can Handle the Truth: Honest Advice on What Editors are Looking For. Fast-paced and funny, Alessandra blasted through true or false questions for the audience.
True: Editors love first time authors
False: Pictures books have to rhyme
Alessandra had great advice for pitching your books, reminding the audience that the query will not make or break your career. But she did suggest using "meets". As in Harry Potter meets StarWars or Roald Dahl meets Blade Runner. Visualize how to pitch your books, know comp titles, and mention your hook.
As a publisher, some of the things Alessandra is looking for are:
Voice-A fresh voice, point of view, flavor.
High Concept-A great hook with high stakes
Crying-If you can make her cry then the book is emotionally true
Heart-Something that resonates. Alessandra read from Mo Willems book, Hooray for Amanda and her Alligator. And the room went, "Awww....."