Editor Panel Moderated by Arthur Levine...
Four editors took the stage for a discussion led by Arthur Levine (in case you don't know, he's VP of Scholastic and has an eponymous imprint): Lee & Low Editor-in-Chief Louise May; Harcourt Editorial Director Liz Van Doren; Alvina Ling, editor with Little, Brown; and Michael Stearns, HarperCollins Children's Books Editorial Director.
Arthur posted a question about all the talk in the industry of the difficulty of selling picture books (both to publishers and to the end consumer). Here's what the panelists said in a nutshell:
- PB sales are hurt by a lack of children's-only booksellers. (One editor estimated that there's been a loss of 70% of children's-only booksellers in the U.S. since big chains came on the scene.)
- Just because the PB market is soft, doesn't mean there's not an opportunity for big titles. (As Michael said, an editor's list is "like a classroom of kids--you like them all, but you can pick out one of two who have a chance to be President.")
- Michael blames bestseller lists to some extent--they make bookseller's choices too easy when it comes to hand-selling titles.
- Alvina confessed it's easier for her to hire an author/illustrator for a PB project than using a separate author and illustrator.
- Liz said there's more attention than ever to profitability.
- Louise said Lee & Low has been doing well with picture book biographies.
Arthur asked the panel to name some editorial "young guns," up-an-coming editors to watch (I'm leaving this info for conference-goers--so ask your conference-goer friends; I'm not going to give away the store) and asked editors to be sure to update SCBWI's "Edited By: A House-by-House Listing of Editorial Credits." SCBWI members should check the website to review this resource.