Wednesday, February 16, 2011

FEATURED SWEETHEART: Elizabeth Law




We’re downright honored to announce that our newest Featured Sweetheart is the outgoing, smart, and savvy Elizabeth Law!


Elizabeth Law is Vice President and Publisher of Egmont USA, where “we turn writers into authors and children into lifelong readers.” Although she lives in New York City, Elizabeth is the proud daughter of two Texans—her dad was from Dallas and her mom is from Celeste, in Hunt County. Her great grandmother even pledged money early in the last century to help build SMU. Some of Elizabeth’s favorite books she has edited recently include Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have by Allen Zadoff, Bitter Melon by Cara Chow, and The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal.


Texas Sweethearts Jessica Lee Anderson & PJ Hoover with Elizabeth Law


TXS&S: What is something you've gained from your experience as an editor?

EL: One of the best things about being an editor is that it’s constantly surprising—authors come up with solutions to questions I raise about their manuscripts that are richer, deeper, and funnier than anything I could have imagined. And when art comes in for a picture book—that’s the most exciting thing in the world. It so surpasses what I envision when I read a picture book text. So to answer your question, a big thing I learned is that I don’t know everything—writers and artists bring a lot more to the table than I could ever picture.

Another thing I’ve learned is to always speak up, always say what I think, though as gently as possible, when I’m editing a manuscript. I’ve learned to ask about something, or to bring up an issue a reader might have, for a second or third time. Of course it is always the author’s book, and the author has final say, rightly, about everything that is in his or her story. But my only regrets in 25 years of working on books are the times I let something go, or didn’t raise something again, or didn’t go back into a manuscript one more time—even though I often made that decision because the book had to make a deadline. The only things that haunt me are the times I didn’t try hard enough.

The Egmont team with VORDAK THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE


TXS&S: We love how candid you are when you speak at conferences, Elizabeth! Is there any advice that you repeatedly give to attendees?

EL: I speak about this a lot, but the longer I’m around, the more I believe in persistence. I believe in just showing up, doing the work, and submitting your material. I saw a documentary on Joan Rivers recently where someone said “To get struck by lightning, you’ve got to be willing to stand in the rain. And Joan will stand in the rain longer than anyone.” I totally get that! It’s easy to be discouraged when we compare ourselves—someone else’s book is always selling better, or another publisher has a hit with a book that I wish we were publishing, but the important thing is to do your best work and just keep going. That always works in the end.


TXS&S: With publisher purse strings tightening in this economy, what is an effective, affordable way an author can promote him or herself?

EL: That is the million dollar question. We hear so much about social networking, and I myself do a lot of it, but I find it all a little unproven. I hope it goes without saying that the best thing you can do for your career is to write a really good book. Taking that as read, one tip I can give is, if you are active online, be sure to compliment and support other people’s work as well as your own—nothing is more boring than people who advertise relentlessly for their own work but don’t tweet or blog about anything else.

I look at the Shrinking Violets blog a lot—they have a lot of good ideas for promoting yourself and helpful interviews. That link is http://shrinkingvioletpromotions.blogspot.com/

Also, authors in this field are very supportive of each other. If you are reading this blog, you probably know some writers or artists and maybe have attended an SCBWI conference. Ask other writers what they’ve done that has worked. I know that may sound lame, but there really is no easy answer here—if there was, I would share it!

The Egmont team with FOOD, GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN'T HAVE


TXS&S: If you could make a wish for the future of publishing, what would it be?

EL: I would wish for a gloriously diverse and thriving field, where everyone could afford physical books and ebooks and know how to read them. Picture books, easy-to-reads, and chapter books would be selling just as strongly as YA novels, and I would be editing and publishing an author who made as much of an impact on generations of readers as Beverly Cleary did. And Stephenie Meyer would publish a new novel about Edward Cullen every couple of years, just so I could read it.

Edward Cullen in the shredder


TXS&S: Would you consider yourself a Sweetheart or Scoundrel, and why?

EL: A sweetheart! I’m a total pussycat. I can’t believe you even have to ask.

TXS&S: While we knew the answer, the question is too tempting not to ask.
Thank you, Elizabeth!



*****

Please email us your nominations for featured sweethearts.

17 comments:

  1. Great interview! And who doesn't love a shredded sparkly vampire?

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  2. I love this! Elizabeth is one of the best resources we have right now, and always so forthcoming. Looking forward to this weekend's Austin SCBWI conference for sure!

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  3. So true, Karen! Thanks for the comment. Thanks, too, Emily! I couldn't agree more. The conference is going to rock!

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  4. Elizabeth is so smart and quite a sweetheart. Thanks for doing this interview.

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  5. Great interview, ladies. I can't wait to hear about the conference.

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  6. This is how my life works. I remember two women coming up to me at the end of a conference last year, but I had no idea it was Jessica Lee Anderson and PJ Hoover until I saw the above picture today when you posted the blog! Now I know who to look for at the airport on Friday. You two are very slim.

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  7. This is a fantastic interview. Thanks for posting it. I follow Elizabeth Law on Twitter and always appreciate her advice on the #asked chats.

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  8. Azang, thanks for reading! I love this interview, too!

    Kristin, we'll make sure to do a whole report on the conference. Can't wait!

    LOL, Elizabeth. We'll see you Friday. Now I'll have to make sure I wear jeans that make me look slim.

    kelley, I love all the advice she gives, too. It's so great to get the insider perspective.

    Thanks for reading, all!

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  9. Gals! The link to the super helpful website is wrong and I'm sure I mistyped it when I answered the interview questions. Can you fix it? If not, voila:

    www.shrinkingvioletpromotions.blogspot.com

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  10. Elizabeth is candid and accessible. It is appreciated by those who get to know her in the industry. Her passion for what she does shows. Great interview.

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  11. Yet another great interview by the incomparable Elizabeth Law! AKA Patron Saint of Introverts. :-)

    I loved hearing about her passion and insight that she gains from her editorial experience. What an inspiration to us all to be that open to the joy and wonder of our jobs!

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  12. Thank you again, Elizabeth! I'll need to find my slim fitting jeans too, Tricia (assuming they still fit). Gae and Robin, love your comments!

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  13. What a great interview! I love love love the bit about standing in the rain. I'm taking this and chanting it to myself.

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  14. As should we all, Francesca!
    Thanks!

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  15. Great interview!!! Lots of gems of wisdom in here. :) And the pic of Edward Cullen in the shredder is hilarious!!

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  16. Thanks, Tabitha! I loved this interview :)

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