Saturday, August 3, 2013

Editors Panel: Donna Bray

Donna Bray is co-publisher and vice president of Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins, and she's a speaker on the editors panel: What Makes an Evergreen, What Makes a Hit. Some of Donna's titles include the Wildwood series by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis, Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen, and Heart and Soul by Kadir Nelson. 

When it comes to the books she looks to acquire, Donna is drawn to books that break new ground.  She looks for stories that are bold and have heart. And she's very interested in books that cross genres.

Publishers can try to recreate a hit, but that doesn't guarantee the book will work. Success is dependent on so many things: the story, the publisher, the timing. Sometimes a publisher doesn't know what will become a hit until it happens. And it's good to go back and see what made the book successful.  

Donna points out some of the common qualities of hit books. They explore universal emotional truths, hitting the reader's heart in some way. The story speaks to a moment in time. And it's her belief that quality is what makes a story stick around.

Children's books are so different from each other and there are a lot of ways to be successful in the industry. If a book gets on a state list--which may not come out until two years after the book was published--it can revive sales and give the book staying power.

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