You might know Little, Brown from such little-known works as Twilight and Gossip Girl, and such small-time authors as James Patterson and Chris Colfer.
You might know them as the publishers of Libba Bray, Sherman Alexie, Matthew Quick, A.S. King and Malinda Lo. Or as the US publisher of NZ-but-we-claim-as-Oz-in-the-time-honoured-way, Karen Healey.
Part of the huge entity that is Hachette Book Group, Little Brown Young Readers has retained its own identity, publishing picture books, middle grade and YA. And they have fairly recently branched out into licensed publishing - collaborating with Mattel and Disney.
I spent two very full days in their offices, meeting with lots of people in editorial, marketing, publicity, digital and design, and trying to absorb their wisdoms. (Full disclosure: my attempts to ask meaningful and relevant questions in the afternoons may have been somewhat hampered by the excellent lunches I was also trying to absorb.)
It was very interesting being a fly-on-the-wall in a couple of key editorial and design meetings. (One of the take-home messages for me from those meetings was: boy, Americans sure are polite to each other.)
I’m still mulling over my time At L,B, but a few disjointed thoughts include:
- Young-adult memoirs are definitely about to be A Thing.
- Even a bad movie is good for book sales. But a market dominated by a few mammoth bestsellers is a tricky place to publish into.
- A bookselling landscape dominated by one (bricks-and-mortar) retailer is a tricky place to publish into.
- Despite the difficulties, there is still a place for strong, literary, mid-list YA.
- Editors do a LOT of reading in their own time. (This is true the world over, but wow… yeah...)
Other things I’ve learned so far this week:
- Uniqlo’s heattech tights are WITCHCRAFT. They are WARMER THAN PANTS.
Thank you so much to everyone at Little, Brown Young Readers - you were all so helpful and generous with your time!
Special thanks to Alvina Ling for opening the door for me to come to L,B, to Nikki Garcia for organising my schedule so beautifully, and to Connie Hsu and Bethany Strout – for showing me the secret ways of karaoke-singing NY editors. My eyes have truly been opened...