A Conversation With Editor Wendy Lamb
The first eponymous imprint at Random House, Wendy Lamb Books (WLB) was established in 2002. Focused on middle grade and young adult fiction, WLB publishes a diverse array of literature, from debut to veteran authors. Some of the wonderfully talented authors WLB has published include: Christopher Paul Curtis, Patricia Reilly Giff, Gary Paulsen, Graham Salisbury, Eoin McNamee, and last year’s Newbery Award winner, Rebecca Stead.
Today we are fortunate to have one of my favorite editors, Wendy Lamb, of Wendy Lamb Books stop by to answer a few questions about herself and the world of publishing!
What were some of your favorite books as a child? Did you have a favorite author or genre you liked to read?
I adored OZ books—I read the whole series over and over, those by L Frank Baum and those by his niece, Ruth Plumly Thompson. My “Harry Potter books.” I also loved A WRINKLE IN TIME, Freddy the Pig mysteries, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books, horse books, Nancy Drew books, Louisa May Alcott, Laura Ingalls Wilder, E. Nesbit. Oz books were best because they made me feel that there truly was magic in the world, and maybe I could find out how to use it. I still feel this way…ha! I’m sure that’s one reason I went into publishing for children.
How did you ‘arrive’ in the publishing industry? Had you always planned to go into publishing?
I was a creative writing major in college, and publishing seemed like a natural path. I was inspired by the fact that I grew up knowing the family of Maxwell Perkins. My first job was at Harper Junior Books—a great place to learn.
What is your publishing philosophy/ what types of manuscripts do you look for? How do you go about making those publishing choices?
I think about: does this make me want to keep reading, it is a true YA or child’s point of view and voice, do I care about the characters, do I believe in the world of the story, will it reward rereading, are there fresh ideas and surprises, is it a new kind of story that will find its way among competing books at RHCB and in the marketplace?
Can you describe what a ‘typical’ day is like for you as an editor/publisher?
Meetings, preparing for meetings, discussions and emails between departments, authors, agents, about things like cover art, marketing sales figures, contracts, revisions, illustrations. Paperwork: P&Ls, TIs, contract details, schedule changes, pricing changes. Logging in submissions, trying to read. Writing flap copy and presentations. Looking over copyedited manuscripts, art, reading first pass, checking various stages of [manuscripts] and covers. Reading manuscripts and editing usually happen at home, and weekends.
What do you predict will be the next trend in children’s publishing OR what would you like to see as the next trend in children’s publishing?
I can’t predict, but I wonder if children who like novels will continue to be book readers, or become ebook readers. Right now, most Kindles, etc, are sold to adults.
What do you love most about editing/publishing?
Working with an author to create a book children will enjoy, and reread. When authors are happy about their books, and how they are published. Eternal hope: To publish a book that is loved by people at RHCB, reviewers and booksellers.
If you could change careers tomorrow, to any occupation outside of the arts, what would you choose to do?
Political speechwriter. Editing children’s books is good training: how to deliver the most powerful emotional message and key information in the most economical and memorable way.
What type(s) of music do you enjoy?
My husband, Paul Moravec, is a composer of classical music, so his work is my favorite—of course!! I love SONGS–musical theater, and singers such as Barbara Cook and Sting. Jazz.
What/ who do you like to read for pleasure?
Alice Munro! Right now: Nora Ephron’s I REMEMBER NOTHING, Antonia Fraser’s MUST YOU GO? about her life with Harold Pinter, and AT DAY’S CLOSE: how our experience, and interpretation, of night time has changed over the centuries.
Can you give readers any hints about upcoming projects?
Some highlights from 2011: Spring: FLIP Martyn Bedford’s powerful YA; Summer; the magical THE SUMMER I LEARNED TO FLY by Dana Reinhardt; Fall, EIGHT KEYS, by Suzanne LaFleur, whose first book was the touching LOVE, AUBREY. And there will be more stories about Graham Salisbury’s Calvin Coconut, Pat Giff’s ZIGZAG kids, and three books from Gary Paulsen.
Many thanks, Wendy! I should note that Dana Reinhardt’s The Summer I Learned to Fly is the Field Representatives’ Pick of the Season for Summer 2011. Comment below for a chance to receive an advance copy when they become available (US Residents only, please).