Sunday, February 12, 2023

Arthur A. Levine and Patricia Ocampo - The Outlook for Children's Publishing in 2023

Moderated by the amazing Martha Brockenbrough!

Arthur A. Levine is the founder and editor-in-chief of Levine Querido, a small independent company devoted to publishing excellent books by people from communities that have traditionally been under-represented. He identifies as Jewish, Disabled, Queer, a Parent, a Writer, and someone who continues to be amazed by the power of a great read.

Arthur A. Levine

Patricia Ocampo is a senior editor at Kids Can Press. In her almost two decades in publishing, she has worked in editorial, sales, rights, and production. She also worked “the other side of the desk” as a children’s literary agent. Patricia is past president of the Canadian chapter of the International Board on Books for Young People.

Patricia Ocampo

Highlights from the panel's insights and wisdom:

3 words that define Arthur's taste: emotional, riveting, personal

Patricia tells the story of being 18 and watching a stranger give birth. It helped her realize that she didn't want to be an OB-GYN, and also felt amazing - it was "completely personal, intimate moment" that also had universal emotions of wonder and joy... and she feels that way about working in children's publishing!

Advice from Patricia: Don't just consider the size of the advance - also consider earning out, longevity, committment to sales and marketing (and how creative that marketing plan might be.)

Arthur speaks about sales and marketing, and how "Editors usually have very little control of what happens, other than editorially."

What sort of work stands out to them?

Patricia: "something different" - inbox overwhelming, there's so much coming in, with all respect to how hard authors work on their manuscript, it all starts to read the same. Any different approach gets her to pay attention.

Arthur: yes, and... we also mean not different for different's sake. (Don't put it on pink paper.) "To me, something that feels authentic. If you go into a room and everyone's dressed identically, and there's just one person dressed as themselves, you would notice them." And this also applies to illustration - how a lot of the current Disney/Pixar influenced work starts to seem seems similar - and you're looking for things that stand out.

Arthur speaks of the mission of his publishing company, searching for and giving platform for historically underrepresented voices, fighting against the single story.

Patricia discusses that in acquisitions, no matter how good a project is, there's a question - do I want to work on this for five years?

The conversation covers auctions (not a panel favorite), Barnes & Noble's health (with less returns), BookTok, and much more...

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