Saturday, February 2, 2013

Nancy Siscoe, Senior Executive Editor with Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House)

Nancy Siscoe is a senior executive editor with Knopf Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House. She publishes everything from picture books to young adult fiction--and she described what sounded like a dream publishing experience for writers.

"We really do think of ourselves as an author-driven imprint," she said. Knopf is looking for books that stand the test of time, not what’s cool now. “We’re all about the great writing.”

Her list includes such wonderful books as AN ANNOYING ABC by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Michael Emberley, LAWN TO LAWN by Dan Yaccarino, CHOMP by Carl Hiassen, JUMP INTO THE SKY by Shelley Pearsall, THE BRIDES OF ROLLROCK ISLAND by Margo Lanagan, and THE MONTMARY JOURNALS by Michelle Cooper.

Knopf is a small imprint within the much larger Random House. They only publish about 60 books a year. Of these, Nancy edits 12 to 15 herself, lavishing each with attention. “We take time with each one,” she said.  

Her taste is varied. She loves mysteries, historical fiction, and books about how things work. No matter what the category, what really hooks her are characters and voice. With books she truly loves, the characters feel like part of her family. (She told us a story about a trip her family took to Venice, and her mother pointed out the favorite church of a character as though he were a real person.)

She's looking for storytelling approaches that feel fresh. 

With each category, she mentioned what she was looking for. With picture books, she loves stories that blend personal details with universal themes. Dan Yaccarino’s ALL THE WAY TO AMERICA is a good example of this.

She also looks for compelling characters and would love to find one who could be a recurring character. She looks for real kid concerns and kid emotions. How does this reflect a child’s world and a child’s point of view? She often sees books where an adult “wants to teach a kid manners. But these aren't for her: “I’m not into bibliotherapy.”

Nancy also talked about her middle grade and YA titles, making everyone in the room yearn to be on her exclusive and wonderful list.

1 comment:

  1. I have enjoyed reading your titles. Wonderful work by such talented artists. Looking forward to New York!!