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Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you a behind-the-scenes look into the life of an editor at a major publishing house, Lerner Publishing Group. Carol Hinz who happens to be the Editorial Director for Millbrook Press, A division of Lerner Publishing Group, agreed to take time out of her very busy schedule to answer some of my most burning questions. I’d like to thank her in advance for her time and spectacular answers! There’s A Book readers are in for a treat today, so sit back and enjoy a look behind-the-scenes at one of the best in the publishing business!

1. What makes Lerner Publishing different from other publishers?

I think the diversity of Lerner’s list really sets it apart. Lerner became established as primarily a series nonfiction publisher, but we also publish single title nonfiction, picture books, middle grade fiction, YA fiction, and graphic novels. In addition, Lerner is a mid-size family-owned publisher based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. People who work at Lerner truly care about making the best books we possibly can for kids.

2. Why the focus on Children’s books as opposed to incorporating adult titles as well?

While a number of our titles are sold in bookstores, our main market has always been schools and libraries, so I think that’s a big reason for the exclusive focus on children’s books. Interestingly, Lerner has published a couple of adult titles— Undefeated: The Life of Hubert H. Humphrey came out in 1978. And Harry Lerner wrote a memoir that came out in 2009 to coincide with the company’s fiftieth anniversary.

3. Lerner Publishing has numerous imprints. Do you work with each of them or focus on a specific imprint?

I’m editorial director of Millbrook Press, so that’s my main focus. However, our acquisitions meetings, cover approval meetings, and other meetings cover the whole range of imprints. The editorial department is also small and many of our editors work on books for several imprints, so we’re all aware of what the other imprints are up to, which is nice.

Millbrook is a lot of fun; we publish illustrated series nonfiction, picture books, and single titles for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Our books cover curricular and high-interest topics, and we try to present those topics in playful or unconventional ways.

4. What do you love most about the editing process?

Hmmm…I love the moment of discovery when I read a manuscript for the first time and know it’s a book that I just have to have on Millbrook’s list. I love seeing when a revision comes in and the author has completely understood what I was getting at and has made the book even better than I expected. I love the point near the end of the editing process when the text is in good shape and the author and I are polishing the text make sure that every word is just right.

5. Is being an editor a solitary task, or do you have a lot of opportunities to collaborate in-house?

There are times when editing is definitely solitary, but I’m a big fan of collaboration. When I’m stuck on something, I’ll drop by a colleague’s office and read something aloud or ask for a second opinion. I also enjoy working with our graphic designers—from brainstorming illustrator ideas for a picture book, to reviewing initial cover designs and sharing my feedback, to seeing how a great interior design can bring together text and images in such interesting ways.

6. What’s something that people might be surprised to learn about being an editor?

-You don’t need have memorized every last rule regarding grammar, spelling, or punctuation to do this job. (Copy editors and proofreaders need these skills.)

-How much of the day is spent communicating about various aspects of the books—with authors, illustrators, photographers, agents, as well as in-house colleagues—but not actually editing.

-Just because children’s books are short, that doesn’t mean they’re easy!

7. Of all the books you’ve edited, which has been your favorite?

Danielle, what a difficult question! They are all my favorites. But here are two that I’m very proud of:

Journey into the Deep, by Rebecca L. Johnson

This book was a big undertaking for all involved. We knew from the beginning that the sea creatures photos in this book would fascinate readers, but Rebecca came up with an equally interesting text and was able to weave together the text and photos seamlessly. This book is also available, with a few extras, as our very first iPad app!

Spiky, Slimy, Smooth by Jane Brocket. I read Jane’s blog, yarnstorm, and admired her photographs for several years before it occurred to me that she might do a nice job with a children’s book. I sent her an email from out of the blue and lo and behold, we’ve now started a little series called Jane Brocket’s Clever Concepts. Jane is fantastic to work with and just as nice as you would expect from reading her blog.

8. What trend have you seen in submissions lately, and what do you wish you’d see more of?

I see too many submissions that take a very straightforward approach and simply present topic X. While the writing may be clear and at the proper reading level, I don’t believe that it’s enough to simply choose a good topic. I want to see more books with an interesting hook to draw readers in, whether it’s a different type of narrative, a quirky point of view, or just a fresh take on a topic.

9. Is Lerner Publishing Group currently accepting submissions for any of their imprints and what are you looking for?

Andrew Karre occasionally has a call for submissions for Carolrhoda Lab HERE.

Kar-Ben also accepts submissions—see info HERE.

10. What are some books that you’ve edited that are coming out soon?
Just out now is “Miss Pell Would Never Misspell” and Other Painless Tricks for Memorizing How to Spell and Use Wily Words by the incredibly clever Brian P. Cleary.

This month we’re releasing What to Expect When You’re Expecting Joeys: A Guide for Marsupial Parents (and Curious Kids) by Bridget Heos with illustrations by Stéphane Jorisch. It’s hilarious and adorable!

In spring 2012 we’re going to be releasing the most gorgeous picture book I’ve ever worked on. It’s called A Leaf Can Be . . .  and it’s by Laura Purdie Salas with illustrations by Violeta Dabija.

Thank you again Carol! This was such a marvelous peek into the life of an editor and at Lerner Publishing. I’m thrilled to see so many wonderful books continuing to come out and especially excited for A Leaf Can Be, it looks gorgeous!

Today’s post is part of our month long celebration of Lerner Publishing Group for our monthly feature “Book Publishers 101“. Make sure to stop by the Lerner Publishing Group 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.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Lerner Publishing Group, for coordinating many of this month’s features and reviews! Connect with them on Twitter and on Facebook!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.

7 Responses to Editor Interview: Carol Hinz, from Lerner Publishing Group

  1. Check out Millbrook Editorial Director @CarolCHinz on the There’s a Book Blog: Thanks @the1stdaughter!

  2. Read what an editor seeks in NF for kids in this interview with my @lernerbooks editor @carolhinz by @the1stdaughter!

  3. Great question darling. Especially asking her which was her fav.

  4. Danielle, I always appreciate publisher interviews and your Q&A is no exception. Thank you for featuring them on your blog.

  5. Great! Editor Interview: Carol Hinz, from Lerner Publishing Group –

  6. Editor Interview: Carol Hinz, from Lerner Publishing Group | There’s …

  7. […] was a book that I first heard about during my interview with Lerner Publishing Group Editor Carol Hinz and I’ve been looking forward to it ever since. She said, “We’re going to be […]

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