Saturday, February 13, 2016

Jon Anderson: Big Picture Panel, Simon & Schuster

Jon Anderson, President and Publisher of the S&S Children's Division, has been at his job for seven years, but in the book business since high school—as a B Dalton bookseller!

At Simon & Schuster Jon presides over the nine different children's imprints, which publish for toddlers to teens: There is Little Simon, which is predominantly preschool/boardbooks, all the way up to Simon Pulse, which is the S&S teen imprint.

Jon says S&S has five publishers who oversee the nine children's imprints. Each imprint reflects the tastes of their individual editorial directors. The nine editorial directors also share a sales force and two marketing teams. The editorial directors are nine, living/normal human beings, not to be confused with any other famous group of nine, they are absolutely not Tolkienian ring-wraiths—could a person as delightful as someone like Justin Chanda ever be allied with something as evil as Mordor? I don't think so.

Justin Chanda works for Jon, this is how he greets Jon at the office every day.

Lin asks about the health of the market:

Jon says his adult colleagues are very jealous of the never-ending revenue stream that is a children's book publisher's backlist.

Lin asks for Jon's interpretation of the S&S mission statement and it is:

Do good books. 

"We always look for quality first. We have a huge commitment to cover diversity with our books, cover all age ranges with our books."

All of the presidents/publishers on the panel ask for authors and illustrators to have realistic expectations in all areas of publishing: advance amounts, marketing, potential sales...

Jon mentions a surprise success story, a book that everyone on the publishing team loved, but was bought for not too much money (a realistic amount) as it was considered a bit of a niche book that would only reach a certain sales level. But that book—look at all the awards it's got on its cover(!)—has gone on to sell over 200,000 copies.

How do you break in and/or succeed in a children's book career? Jon says attending events like this can help, not only because there are opportunities to learn about the craft and the competition, but to be in proximity to the industry professionals and gatekeepers. And at events like this, you are much more likely to meet those people in person in organic ways (unlike the less organic way of accosting an editor in a bathroom at a tradeshow like BEA).

Maybe, if there is time for Q&A, Jon will finally clear up the age-old riddle: Is this a picture of Simon? OR SCHUSTER?

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