Friday, August 3, 2018

Editors' Panel: Laura Godwin and Francesco Sedita

Laura Godwin is vice president and publisher of Godwin Books, an imprint at Macmillan.

She was the publisher of Henry Holt Children's Books for 20 years, and has been with Macmillan for more than 25 years.

Her authors and illustrators include: Mike Curato, T.L. McBeth, Kenard Pak, Margarita Engle, Nikki Giovanni, Karen Katz, Peter McCarty, Eric Carla, and Misa Saburi.

She and Francesco Sedita were among the six editors on a panel informally called Six Editors, Five Questions. A long SCBWI tradition, the panel is a spot for editors to get together and share insight about the industry from their unique perspectives.

Francesco Sedita is the president and publisher of Penguin Workshop at Penguin Young Readers (formerly known as Grosset & Dunlap). His authors include Ann Hood, Dolly Parton, Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead, Giada De Laurentiis, Nancy Krulik, Lin Olver and Henry Winkler.

The imprint focuses on the Who Was? series, Mad Libs, and middle grade.

Francesco is also the author of the Miss Popularity series and is an executive producer of The Who Was? Show based on the New York Times best-selling series he publishes. It airs on Netflix.

Here are a couple of the answers they gave to Lin Oliver's questions.

What makes you stop reading a manuscript? What drives you to continue reading? 

Francesco: What we really look for—we love a wink or a smile in a manuscript we're reading. We'll never publish a book that has a baby in a dumpster. The thing that keeps me going is if I'm smiling, and if there is a pulsing heartbeat throughout that story. Is there real passion, and is it pace-y?

Laura: She wants to be intrigued by a story, a voice, a topic, a take on a topic. She would stop reading if something thinks chest rhymes with sick. (KIDDING! SHE'S KIDDING!)

What don't you want to see? 

Laura: Seeing a lot of books on refugees. It's a very important topic, but it tends to be a little one note, and it things are being rushed out to touch on the topic. It needs to go deeper than just being on topic. Another thing that's similar... "strong female character." Of course it's important, but it has to be more than just mentioning that as a category.

Francesco: Unicorns. We get a lot of unicorn stuff. How much do we need? He thinks there are too many books that are overtly for girls, and that's wonderful, but it's a lot. "Let's figure that out."

There are other ways to think about books besides just for boys and for girls.

He wasn't a reader as a kid. "I hated reading." His mission is to make books fun for kids.

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