Daniel Ehrenhaft is an Edgar Award winning author of over 40 books for children and Young Adults, and he has edited many times that number. He has had the honor and privilege of working with such talents as Jodi Anderson, Cecily von Ziegesar, Francine Pascal, David Levithan, and most recently, Kaleb Nation. And of course, Joy Preble! Occasionally he rocks and/or rolls with YA titans Libba Bray, Natalie Standiford, and Barnabas Miller in the only all-YA-author band on the planet: Tiger Beat. He is the YA editor at Sourcebooks, which is about to announce the launch of its awesome new YA imprint…stay tuned.
Michelle Poploff is Vice President and Executive Editor at Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, a Division of Random House. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree at Queens College in Flushing, NY with a major in English and a minor in Communications. Her list of books include Newbery Honor Book Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson, Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award Winner for New Talent Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything In It by Sundee T. Frazier, Suck It Up by Brian Meehl, and Faith, Hope, and Ivy June by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.
What was your journey to becoming an editor?
Ehrenhaft—I started editing the month after I graduated from college--I knew I wanted to work in children's books, and I took the only job I could find: editing and writing cover copy for Sweet Valley High books. (This was 1993...yikes.) I've been in YA ever since.
Poploff—I was an English major in college and always enjoyed reading and creative writing. While in college I had the great opportunity to work at a publishing company during summer, winter, and intercession breaks. After college, I worked as an editorial assistant in the children’s book department and worked my way up the ladder over the years.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Ehrenhaft—Reading!! And of course, discovering something new, or something forgotten, or something that was never quite published right. Sourcebooks does an amazing job with back lists and reprints.
Poploff—It’s all about finding new talent and pitching the books to sales people/teachers/librarians. It’s a terrific feeling when I’m reading a manuscript from a debut writer and feel that this is something I would enjoy working on and would work well on our list. Then it’s great fun making that first connection with the author.
Tell us about your publishing house and imprint. What is unique in the works for you?
Ehrenhaft—We're about to launch a YA imprint, which is very exciting. More on that soon when it's all official!
Poploff—There are several imprints within RHCB. I’m an executive editor at Delacorte Press. We’re known for both strong commercial and literary fiction. Each editor works on a variety of categories ranging from sci fi/fantasy to contemporary fic to historical to mystery/suspense and on and on. I have recently acquired several debut writers including a dystopian fantasy adventure trilogy from a debut Australian author, a YA story about two outsider girls in the Badlands of Wyoming, a YA story about a Mongol princess who has a relationship with Marco Polo, and a historical middle grade novel with a heroine who reminds me of Scout in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.
What are your editorial sensibilities? When do you say to yourself, “Wow, this is a book I really need to acquire!”
Ehrenhaft— If the story strikes me as fresh, if the voice is new and compelling--and if the marketplace data indicates that there's a place for that book--then I want it. As far as my personal tastes go, I'm drawn to anything with humor.
Poploff—I need to hear the character sing to me or at least have a feeling that with some work the characters will eventually sing to me. I’m a sucker for a great southern voice and wonderful historical fiction. I admire a writer who can make that place come alive and become an actual character in the book.
The economy. How do see the long-term effect on publishing in general and your house in specific?
Ehrenhaft—The economy has been lousy for books, no doubt about it. But remarkably, Sourcebooks is thriving, growing, and up 40% from last year. What attracted me to them was their shrewdness: more money on marketing, less on advances that can't earn out. The result is that authors get their books pushed, and they earn out and start making an income.
Poploff—I continue to have high hopes for the world of book publishing. I think parents/educators will always want children to read books and we will continue to publish every book that we feel is deserving of publication. We’re continuing to acquire at a brisk pace.
If you weren’t an editor, what would you be?
Ehrenhaft--"A full-time dreamer." I plagiarized that from David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap.
Any last things you’d like us to know about you, Sourcebooks or Dreaming Anastasia?
Ehrenhaft--I've said this before: I love that somebody finally wrote an amazing novel about Anastasia! :-)