Friday, August 4, 2023

Editor/Agent Panel: Alexandra Aceves (Holiday House), with moderator Laurent Linn

Topic: The Current State Of The Children's Publishing Industry

What an inspiring and informative Editor and Agent panel, moderated by Laurent Linn! This post focuses on Alexandra Aceves of Holiday House, but also check out Justin Campbell's post about Foyinsi Adegbonmire (Feiwel & Friends), Jaime Temairik's posts about Deeba Zargarpur (Simon & Schuster) and Elise Howard (DeFiore and Company Literary Management), and Jolie Stekly's post about Sara Sargent (Random House).

Alex Aceves primarily acquires YA and MG for the Holiday House front list but is also responsible for expanding the publisher's Spanish lists and looking through the backlist for potential translation. See Alexandra's full bio at the end of this post. 

Alex occasionally acquires a book from the slushpile (unagented), but warns creators that Holiday House get a high volume of submissions. Before submitting your mss, be sure to do your research first.

In answer to Laurent's question about banned books, Alex said that Holiday House just recently had an all-company meeting about the issue. She says that editorial is always going to focus on acquiring books that young people NEED, and does not take book banning into account when considering whether or not to acquire a book. 

Alex also addressed the misconception that when a book is banned, there's a sales bump. She says that while this does sometimes happen, it's not the norm. For every banned book that does benefit in sales, there are many more that take a hit as a result of being banned. Laurent agreed - his YA novel, Draw The Line, has been banned in his home state of Texas.

On myth-busting: Alex says that some people feel that third-person in YA is old-fashioned. Alex warns against catering to trends (current is first-person, present tense). If your mss is excellently written, Alex will want to acquire it, no matter what the tense. Above all else, says Alex, think about what the young person is going to want to read.

Laurent Linn added a final takeaway, from one of his early mentors: Don't worry about the journey - you're already there.

Alexandra Aceves
(she/her) is a Latine writer and editor originally from Mexico City and currently based in Brooklyn. She works as an associate editor at Holiday House, where she oversees the expansion of the Holiday House Spanish language publishing program while also acquiring YA and MG fiction and graphic novels for Holiday House's English language list. Alex was the 2015 Honor winner of Lee & Low's New Visions Award for previously unpublished YA fiction writers whose work centers characters from marginalized communities; her debut novel is forthcoming from Lee & Low's Tu Books imprint.


If you want to view this session to hear the full content, along with the rest of the conference, register at Replays of the conferences will be available until September 10th, 2023. See the index to all 2023 SCBWI Summer Conference blog posts.

Also be sure to check out the Faculty Conference Bookshop and the Portfolio Showcase!

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