Andrea will give a talk entitled, “The Antagonist, a Striking Alternate Reality of Your MC”, about two characters vying for the same external goal and their flaw-revealing, stake-raising journeys. She will also have a break out session entitled, “The First Steps in Creating Award-Worthy Books”, which is aimed at people new to the children/teen publishing world.
Andrea Hall is an Associate Editor at Albert Whitman & Company where she works on picture books through young adult. She is particularly drawn to stories that have layers of meaning and diversity. Andrea started her publishing career at Pearson Education and is a former ARA of the Central and Southern Ohio Chapter of SCBWI.
To help us get to know her even better before the conference, Andrea agreed to answer some questions we received from some of our SCBWI OK members.
Valerie Lawson: Welcome to the blog, Andrea! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our members’ questions, today.
Question #1 – If you could tell a writer one thing to help them get published, what would it be?
Andrea Hall: Don’t give up! Keep writing and trying. One never knows which project will be the one that will get published.
VL: Ah! Persistence is so important.
VL: Question #2 – Have you ever found a manuscript at a conference that you went on to publish?
AH: Not yet. But I’ve heard stories from other editors.
I did have a published author pitch me the novel of another member of her writing group at a trade show, and I did go on to publish that.
VL: What a nice friend! (Another reason to join a critique group!)
Question #3 – What makes you cringe in a query letter?
AH: Not following directions.
Telling your life story when it doesn’t pertain to the book. Mentioning that family/friends/your kids love your book. Calling the submission the next “best-seller.”
If only we could predict that!
VL: Yes, it’s always important to follow the submission guidelines!
Question #4 – What words would you recommend authors replace in their writing?
AH: This is going to be different for each writer.
For picture books, every word needs to count. Eliminate the words that are unnecessary.
For novels, look at words or phrases that are overused and try to avoid repetition.
VL: Question #5 – Do you prefer picture books written in past or present tense?
AH: I don’t have a preference.
VL: Question #6 – Could you explain what goes on inside an acquisition meeting?
AH: This is where the editor pitches the book to the rest of the group and works to get everyone (hopefully) excited about it. We discuss how the book fits into our list and get feedback from sales and marketing. This determines whether or not the editor gets the green light to acquire the project.
VL: Question #7 – How do you feel about sensitivity readers? Who is expected to obtain the services of sensitivity readers, the author or the publisher?
AH: Sensitivity readers serve the necessary purpose of ensuring authenticity when writing outside one’s own cultural group. I feel it falls to both the author and publisher—the author needs to do their due diligence to make the work as authentic as possible, and the publisher needs to also double-check and verify accuracy.
VL: That makes sense. Double-checking is always a good idea.
Question #8 – In Middle Grade historical fiction, is it a problem if the action of a story begins when the main character is very young? (Knowing kids who read Middle Grade like characters that are a little older than they are, and also wanting to stick to the facts as much as possible without turning off readers.) Any suggestions?
AH: This is tricky without knowing the context of the story. If something significant happened to the MC as a young child, which impacts the overall plot or helped shaped the character, than it makes sense to include. I suggest looking at other historical fiction titles that have done this and then find the best approach for your story.
VL: Question #9 – How many titles that you’ve published have come from un-agented submissions?
AH: Personally, three books I’ve acquired have been un-agented submissions.
VL: Question #10 – What are you NOT seeing from submissions right now that you would like to see?
AH: I’m not seeing enough cultural/diverse/#ownvoices stories. I’m always looking for more of these!
VL: Thank you, Andrea! It’s been a pleasure! We all look forward to hearing you speak at our conference.
And thank you to everyone who submitted a question!
Learn more about Andrea and her publishing house here.
Follow Andrea on Twitter here.
**While Albert Whitman & Company DOES accept unsolicited manuscripts from unrepresented authors, you MUST follow their submission guidelines.
CLICK HERE for their guidelines on Picture Book, Middle Grade, and Young Adult submissions.
Want more? You can hear Andrea speak in person at our conference in Oklahoma City this April!
For more details on our 2018 SCBWI OK Spring Conference or to register online, CLICK HERE.
See you there!