Performancing Metrics

There's A Book

Today as part of my Book Publishers 101 feature I have the wonderful opportunity of sharing an inside look into the world of Walden Pond Press through the eyes of editor Jordan Brown. An editor at Walden Pond Press and Balzer + Bray, two imprints within HarperCollins Children’s Books, Jordan Brown knows all about the goings on at one of my favorite publishers. Not only that, but he’s someone who obviously has a passion for children’s books that developed from a very young age. So, without further hesitation on my part, Jordan Brown, editor at Walden Pond Press…

First, it’s a pleasure and an honor to be here at There’s a Book!  Thanks so much for having us.

Walden Pond Press is a chimera of sorts, a joint venture between HarperCollins Children’s Books, publisher of fine literature for young people, and Walden Media, the children’s entertainment company which, up until recently, has concentrated primarily on producing some of the best children’s-book-to-film adaptations around.  You’re likely familiar with some of Walden’s movies, many of which were based on classic HarperCollins middle grade titles: The Chronicles of Narnia, Charlotte’s Web, Bridge To Terabithia, and more.  Walden Pond Press, however, is exclusively a book publishing imprint, and our goal is simple: to publish exciting new books that kids can fall in love with, right at that age when they’re primed to fall in love with reading.  All of us at WPP (which we call it for short, even though I realized just now that it’s more syllables than “Walden Pond Press”) have fond memories of what we read between the ages of about eight and twelve – these were the books that stuck with us.  And these are the kinds of books that we aim to publish: books that challenge readers while at the same time entertaining them, the kinds of books that will turn young readers into lifelong ones.

Why the focus exclusively on middle grade?  For one, we see a need in both bookstores and schools for books for this age group that are built to last, and can engage readers on multiple levels: to provide a fulfilling literary experience while also being darn fun to read, grabbing readers while they’re at that incendiary moment where they begin picking out books for themselves.  But on a basic level, we just love how much freedom there is in publishing for the age group.  We get to work on books for boys and girls, realistic and fantastic, funny and serious, set in the past, or the present, or the future, written by an exciting list of debut authors as well as seasoned veterans.  We have found that the middle grade reader is one who is open to and excited by anything and everything – which is convenient, since we are, too.

One of the things that those of us at HarperCollins and Walden Media figured out even before we founded WPP is that kids books—and especially middle grade titles—benefit from a lot of individual attention.  Harper has been in the children’s publishing game longer than anyone, and we’ve built our reputation on the philosophy that we are in the business of publishing authors, not books.  That is, we want to work with people who we can publish for a long time to come, whose careers we can help shape long after trends have come and gone.  And Walden realized quite early on that to be in the business of creating films out of beloved children’s books means starting with an author’s original vision for the story, and making sure that vision is carried out in all aspects of production.  It is this care that we try to bring to every book that we publish.  And the fact that we publish a relatively small list—currently six to eight books a year—means that we can be selective about the authors we take on, and give those authors a ton of attention during the editorial process.  This also means that we can give a ton of marketing attention to each book as well, something we have found is increasingly important these days.  The aim is the same—hooking up books with readers, one reader at a time—but the tools are changing, and this is something we’re always thinking about, from the moment of acquisition all the way through publication and beyond.  The way we see it, we’ve done our jobs if and only if we can begin a pitch for any of our books by saying “if you only read one book this year, it should be this one, because…”

I’ll close by saying that the best way to get to know us is through the books we’ve published.  Books like Frank Cottrell Boyce’s widely acclaimed, down-to-earth and yet out-of-this-world romp Cosmic; Richard Newsome’s epic murder-mystery trilogy that kicked off with The Billionaire’s Curse; Chris Rylander’s middle school noir The Fourth Stall; M. P. Kozlowsky’s chilling contemporary fairy tale Juniper Berry; and Jon Scieszka’s definitive library of short stories that began with Guys Read: Funny Business.  All of them, and all of our upcoming titles that we’re just as deliriously excited to be publishing, are the kinds of books that we would have loved to read when we were kids, the kinds that turned us into avid readers, be they thrilling, funny, scary, emotional, or, sometimes, all of those at once.  This is what keeps us excited, and this is why we love what we do!

Thank you so much Jordan for stopping by There’s A Book today! It was an absolute pleasure getting to hear a little more about Walden Pond Press as well as why it is they do what they do.

What I loved most of all was why WPP puts the focus on their authors and on the few select books they publish each year. When most of us recall our early years of reading, as you mention, our all-time favorites come from those “middle grade years.” Which makes them all the more important for the publishers who print those books. It’s evident in every WPP book I’ve read that there is great care when it comes to this concern, making these some of the absolute best books out there. Not only for middle grade readers, but readers of all ages!

Again, thank you so much Jordan! It was wonderful having you stop by today!

Today’s post is part of our month long celebration of Walden Pond Press for our monthly feature “Book Publishers 101“. Make sure to stop by the Walden Pond Press Site for more information about this title and more. For more information about our Book Publishers 101 feature take a look at this month’s opening post.

Make sure to stop by our huge month long giveaway from Walden Pond Press, including a chance to win many of the books Jordan references in his post above!

Thank you to Walden Pond Press for providing this book for review! Find Walden Pond Press on Twitter and Facebook!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.

8 Responses to Book Publishers 101: An Inside Look at WPP with Editor Jordan Brown

  1. Gina says:

    Fascinating post from one of my favorite publishers as well. Thanks for sharing guys! I couldn’t agree more on the market for great middle-grade titles. They can certainly help draw young minds to the thrill of reading at an age where long-term habits & hobbies are starting to form concretely in their minds. ^_^

  2. Awesome post! WPP has become one of my favorite publishers lately because of the amazing books that they are putting out. Wonderful stories that cover a wide range of readers. I hope for much continued success to them and I am always looking forward to the next book. Yay for middle grade!! Thank you, Jordan and Danielle for this awesome insight.

  3. Jen says:

    Hey, chica! I love your Publishers 101 series. Getting into the book blogging world has been so much fun. I’ve learned so much more about publishers and I pay attention to publishers more now. I think it’s great that you’re sharing your favorite publishers with us. Great post! 🙂

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  5. […] by 8:00AM Monday to receive a FREE COPY. What I do have is a delightful exchange between editor Jordan Brown and Neversink’s author Barry Wolverton. JB: The first thing that grabbed me when I read even […]

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