Stacey Barney of G.P. Putnam's Sons kicked off the Editor's Panel at the SCBWI Summer Spectacular by reassuring the publishing community that although she is eager to return to the office, business continues as usual on her end during the pandemic. She quoted Publisher Jennifer Klonsky in reiterating their ongoing mission to "publish books for every reader." She mentioned her experience as an educator prior to becoming an editor, and highlighted books on her list including the award-winning Firebird by Misty Copeland.
She talked about how the heart of her work lies in the writer-editor relationship, specifically working with a full and trusted list of talent ("repeat offenders"!), emphasizing the push-and-pull of collaboration, and how fun it can be to shape a book together with her authors.
She talked about her criteria in seeking new talent: LOVE. Stacey wants to fall in love with an author's voice and vision, and to see longterm potential in working together, noting that she invests in authors for a career, not just for a debut.
Although she loves a debut! She said finding new talent "is like the bloom of a new romance."
Stacey also mentioned that although some authors may come to her as best-selling in their genres, if they're new to Children's Publishing, she sees and works with them in the same way as she does with debut talent.
Penguin colleague Julie Strauss-Gabel also noted that Penguin does not a separate acquisitions board, so acquisitions are mostly editor-driven. That effort can be seen and felt in Stacey's passion for seeking authors she wants to collaborate with for a lifetime.
Q: What's one thing you wish authors did more often?
A: "I wish authors would take more risks with their craft & execution." Stacey mentions that editors read a lot of submissions, and seek a fresh voice and style that jumps out at her – which is the magic that happened when she read the manuscript for Ziggy Stardust and Me by James Brandon.
When asked about authors seeking to begin their publishing career over the age of 50, Stacey mentioned that she won't look at the submission letter first. She emphasizes it's about the words on the page, not the age of the author. If she gets about 25 pages into the submission itself and begins to get curious about the author's identity, "that's when you know you have me!"
Sidenote: Last night at the Illustrator's Social on Twitter, we established a tea club #SCBWITea, so here that is referenced in my drawing! All tea lovers welcome. Despite the virtual format for this conference, we're still finding ways of connecting and building community!