Saturday, February 10, 2024

The Outlook for Children's Publishing in 2024: Mallory Loehr

Mallory's first person bio: I'm an EVP and Publisher at  Random House Children's books, working with the five trade imprints (20 editors): Random House trade, Doubleday, Random House Studio, Labyrinth Road, Little Golden Books, and Crown Books for Young Readers. I've been with Random House for over three decades! As an editor, I've shaped the careers of many authors, including Mary Pope Osborne, from the inception of the Magic Tree House series and New York Times Best Selling Author and Illustrator, Emily Winfield Martin. I continue to edit books, including Jimmy Kimmel’s THE SERIOUS GOOSE and Rachel Ignotofsky’s WHAT'S INSIDE A CATERPILLAR COCOON.  My house is full of books, 3 kids, a partner, an English Shepherd, and too many art supplies (in no particular order).

Mallory Loehr on the big screen

When asked to share your proudest moment in publishing, Mallory cites The Magic Treehouse Series, because it "created so many readers."

Mallory suggests - if you're going to submit a rhyming picture book text, make sure it really works--that it really rhymes. That someone else can read it aloud and it rhymes for them (and not just in your mind).

What she's looking for: "I feel like I read like a 12 year old. That's my inner reader... If you don't get me on page one, you're not going to get a 12 year old. Or an 8 year old... Something has to happen." She continues to explain that she wants the characters in the first pages to be people you want to hang out with, you want to be friends with, that at minimum you are curious about.

Mallory shares about how her editorial style is different with different authors, and how for picture books, she once asked the author to write out separately what they thought their book was about, to better be able to help them realize their vision and make sure it was on the page.

There's also a story Mallory tells us about how one of the editors on her team received a picture book manuscript from an agent, and they liked it but didn't love it. They turned it down. But then the manuscript was paired with an illustrator and re-submitted together -- and the editor was now able to envision the book and acquired it! (Lee's note: This is fascinating, as it goes against the "rule" about not submitting a book with illustrations if you're not also the illustrator. Perhaps it worked because the matching was done by the agent, but proceed with caution on this one...)

Advice on a publisher choosing to pay for someone to go to a conference is an investment. Publisher wants to know it will be worth it. Have you been going to schools? Building your speaker chops locally? Hard to know if you'll be comfortable in front of a room of people. Work on it. Take videos. Share those videos with your editor/publisher so they know you'll be amazing.

Figure out your thing. What can you do? You are your best advocate.

The discussion also touched on the blurring of the boundaries of age and categories, a discussion on romantacy, representation, and lots more!

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