It’s been a fun, fabulous and creeptastic week here at Emu’s Debuts as we continue celebrating the release of our own Peter Salomon’s debut, Henry Franks. To round out the party we’re thrilled to have Peter’s editor, Brian Farrey here at Emu’s answering a few questions. Welcome, Brian!
Emu LBC: What was it about Henry Franks that inspired you to acquire it?
BF: In many ways, I found Peter’s writing to be a perfect storm of lyrical language, viscous atmosphere, and an increasing sense of foreboding. It’s the first book I’ve read where I HAD to skip to the end to see what was going on (and then my brain exploded). If you read HENRY FRANKS, I highly recommend NOT skipping to the end like I did (I’m a professional editor, kids, don’t try this at home).
Emu LBC: What is your favorite part of working with first-time authors?
BF: My favorite part of working with any author is the collaboration: sharing ideas, talking through problems, and just overall setting the vision for the book.
Emu LBC: How far would you say you usually get in reading a submission before you know it’s not for you?
BF: “How far I get” can vary. What I typically tell people (and this scares them) is: I know after 1 page if you can write, I know after 10 pages if I’m going to keep reading, I know by page 50 if I’m going to finish. And finishing doesn’t always guarantee that I’ll still be interested (but it’s a pretty good sign). Like I said, though, it can vary depending on the kind of book. Some voices just resonate with me better than others. I’m not a fan of snarky girl voice (where the protagonist’s sole defining trait is to spew snappy one liners, often insulting someone). Most often when I quit 10 or 50 pages in, it’s because I couldn’t connect with the writing and/or the voice. Some beginning writers will say, “But it gets really good later.” It can’t get really good later. It has to be really good at the start.
Emu LBC: How far into reading a submission before you realize you will probably be making an offer?
BF: Not to cop out but it varies. Sometimes I finish a book and have to mull it over for several days. Sometimes I’ll give it to an internal beta reader for feedback. On really, really, super rare occasions, I know ten pages in that this is a writer I want to work with. But even then, there’s a lot to consider. I highly recommend Scholastic editor Cheryl Klein’s recent blog post about “why everything in publishing takes so long.” It’s got good insight into why I can’t always act immediately, even with something I’m desperately in love with a few pages in.
Emu LBC: Can you share a little about the acquisitions process at flux?
BF: It’s pretty straightforward. When I find something I’m interested in, I may show it to others at Flux for their thoughts. Sometimes, I may arrange to call the author to discuss some of my editorial thoughts. If the author and I are on the same page, I’ll take it to our acquisitions board for review. In that meeting, I talk about the book, how I see it fitting in with our line, how it fits within the market, etc. The board votes yay or nay. Then sales does an estimate of first year sales and, based on that, I make my offer.
Emu LBC: Pretend it’s your first day of work as an editor. If you could go back in time, what’s the most important piece of advice you’d give your former self? (Besides “Buy Henry Franks” of course.)
BF: “Trust your gut.” In those early days, I didn’t do NEARLY enough of this. In many ways, I’m still learning how. But I’m much better at it today than I was back then.
Emu LBC: Everyone is familiar with Flux’s slogan “YA is a point of view, not a reading level.” I have no question associated with that statement other than to say that it is awesome.
BF: It IS awesome. I wish I could claim that it was mine but it was in place before I came on board.
Emu LBC: Because many of our readers are writers, is there a specific type of book you’re pining for at this time?
BF: I tend to be drawn quickly to books with observant narrators. I don’t mean that every two pages they pause to tell us every article of clothing the person who just walked into the room is wearing (BIG pet peeve of mine). I mean they have insight into not only their environment but also their own mind. I don’t need them to brood and expound for pages on this insight. I’m most impressed when complex thoughts are boiled down to a single, solid image or feeling.
Emu LBC: Any final word of advice for YA writers?
BF: Read widely. Read books published in the last 3-5 years. Let others inspire you but find your own voice.
Thank you so much, Brian!!
And readers, please note that Flux accepts material only from agents. Sorry, it can’t be a party around this place all the time. Then again…
WOO HOO for Henry Franks lurching into the welcoming world!! Party on Emus!!