Saturday, February 3, 2018

Editors' Panel: Caitlyn Dlouhy

Caitlyn Dlouhy is the VP/Editorial Director of Caitlyn Dlouhy Books at Atheneum/Simon and Schuster. Some of the books she’s edited or acquired include:

She’s been at S and S long enough (15 years) that they know when she’s going to implode if she doesn’t get a YES on a project right away. The other side of the coin is getting every department in on the ground floor of the project from Day One, so everyone has seen it prior to the acquisition meeting. Sometimes this can mean 10 to 15 comments that evolve into a variety of talks (maybe arguments!) about the manuscript. Caitlyn never thinks of it as acquiring by committee, but more as lots of great discussion meant to make a project better and more unique. That said, if the comments aren’t positive, Caitlyn won’t let go of something she believes in and will keep arguing to her publisher on the project's behalf:

“I don’t just give up quickly, ever.”

Caitlyn gets more and more nervous NOT happy/excited when reading a manuscript with the fear that a story that starts out well might fall flat in the middle or end in a way that she can't fix or help an author fix. If she remains nervous to the end without the story losing steam, then she's thrilled and knows this is a project she wants to acquire or put work in on to get it up to snuff for the acquisition process.

Caitlyn weighs in on the revision process. Knowing you can work with someone on revision is the most important part of the editor author relationship. You need to know you've developed enough trust with someone that you can go through the revision process many times (like maybe seven times). Revision takes a book to new heights that you didn't dream were possible in the original draft. If the author can't embrace the revision process, the novel doesn't reach its potential and the publisher can feel stuck and discouraged with the book and the may question working with the author again.

Emma asks about manuscripts that are rejected and the idea that that means they are bad, which is not true. Caitlyn says she's written rejection letters while crying, "I won't publish well for you if I don't have the right space for you, if my publisher doesn't have the right space for you, if I know other houses are doing a similar book at a similar time..."

"Many many things are very very good but there are other factors that can keep me from saying yes to them."

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