Friday, July 30, 2010

Editor Panel: Nick Eliopulos (Scholastic)

Before Nick joined Scholastic in April, he worked at Random House for five and a half years. He grew up reading comic books, and today, is a middle grade and YA guy who tends to do “guy” books because he’s a guy editor.

His mission at Scholastic is to do MG novels and graphic novels (but also some YA).

Plot or voice? 

He describes himself as more of a plot guy than a voice guy, but you want both.

"If I’m sitting on 10 submissions, the one I want to read next tends to be the one with the hook," he said. "I don’t think that a great plot is enough if the writing isn’t there. I’m not going to champion publishing a book that’s a great idea that doesn’t fulfill that idea. When I do get to that quiet, voice driven book, sometimes that will really speak to me and it doesn’t matter that it isn’t a high concept plot."

It's easier to envision going in and championing that really cool plot—that high concept idea with the rest of the acquisition team, he said.

What book makes him drool?

One book he wishes he'd been involved with: The Hunger Games. And even though he works at Scholastic, he has to wait with the rest of us poor fools to find out what happens to Katniss (and Peeta and Gale). He also loves John Green and Scott Westerfeld.

Nick is specifically looking for "guy high concept."

"If you can show off the bat that you have an original idea, I'm going to be excited to put your submission at the top of the stack," he said.

What should you avoid doing in a submission?
He loves to get a sense of the author--the relationship is such a big part of the job. On the flip side, if something has been blindly sent out and isn't the sort of thing he's doing--say picture books--in that case, he's not inclined to pass it along to a colleague. It's a taboo to make more work for other people. Sometimes people contact him via Facebook, which he finds "kind of awkward." But he responds to it.

If someone read an interview with him on a blog, for example, and is sending him something he is looking for, that's OK.

Not everyone is going to be able to convey their high concept in one sentence (Nick says he has a team of colleagues to rely on, which helps). With something like The Book Thief (a high-concept book narrated by Death), it comes down to writing the inventive query letter.


  1. What exactly is a 'high concept'? No one has sufficiently clarified that for me. Is there a succinct definition beyond the idea that a high concept is something you can express in a single sentence??


  2. And what, in particular, defines "guy high concept"?

  3. Holes and the Harry Potter series are both "guy high concept."