Friday, August 3, 2018

Editors' Panel: Elizabeth Law

Elizabeth Law


Elizabeth Law is an editor at Holiday House who specializes in mining their backlist and acquiring middle grade fiction. She has worked in children’s and young adult publishing for thirty years, including most recently as publisher of Egmont USA and as a freelance book doctor and editor at ElawReads. Elizabeth was previously associate publisher at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and Viking Children’s Books. She has edited and published every genre from picture book through nonfiction and YA and new adult. Some of the many authors and artists Elizabeth has worked with include Dan Gutman, Andrew Clements, Michael Grant, Tony diTerlizzi, G. Brian Karas, Holly Black, and the estates of Ludwig Bemelmans and Don Freeman. Check out Elizabeth’s blog at Elawreads.com and follow her on Twitter @Elawreads.

Highlights of what Elizabeth shared:

When reading a submitted manuscript, to consider it for acquisitions:

"I have to bond with that character... It's the character wanting something or needing something or having a problem."

What makes her stop reading:
"Dialects (that aren't well done.)"
and for picture books, nonfiction in particular:

"When they stop to talk to the kids to make it more exciting: She was the first woman doctor in her village. Isn't that interesting?"
Elizabeth is very clear about what she likes, and what she's not so enthusiastic about, but making the point that while there are rules, when someone is really great at something the rules can be broken, she says:
"I never want to see another dystopia... but you never know."

The things that she's noticed need the most work from writers?

"Plotting and pacing."

She suggests some resources that she's seen help in the five years she ran an editorial business working with writers:

Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication by Ann Whitford Paul

and

Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder


The panel also discusses first person versus third person, covers (and what boys will read versus what girls will read and how that's targeted —Namrata brings up how that mindset is very binary), #OwnVoices and how reductive that hashtag can be in terms of pigeon-holing people from marginalized backgrounds, secrets to author success, and so much more!

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