Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Kendra Levin- Senior Editor Viking Children's Books

Remember to visit today's stop on The Emerald Ring Blog Tour- I am a Reader, Not a Writer.

For Inside the Publishing World Wednesday, let’s meet Kendra Levin- a senior editor at Viking Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA). I had the chance to meet Kendra at the spring 2013 SCBWI WWA Conference.

What is Kendra’s background in publishing? Kendra spent many years as a teacher and certified life coach before joining up with Scholastic Books. For the last eight years she has been with Viking working on children’s literature from picture books to young adult.

Viking is a stalwart imprint. How does Viking look at acquiring new titles? Kendra told us that the editors at Viking “feel passionate about what we do.” Viking has many awards and classics from long ago, so for new books to be acquired, editors must consider, “how they will sit next to those classics.” They must stand the test of time. They don’t want to see trends. They want, “writing that endures.”

What type of books does Kendra herself acquire? First off, she told writers to look at her list mania pages on Amazon to get to know her likes and dislikes. She has a very boutique list.  Beyond that, she wants empowering stories. She likes, “bringing voices to a public forum that don’t usually get heard.” Her list is very YA heavy at the moment, with YA taking up 60% of her list.

What about literary fiction? Kendra likes literary fiction. She told us, “Literary doesn’t mean high-brow and boring, but driven by quality of writing and voice more than plot or concept.” However, if submitting literary fiction it must stand out from the other submissions that they receive.

Her advice to aspiring writers- “Research what other authors are doing to get out there.” An online presence is great, especially twitter and Facebook. However, “go online only if you’re comfortable.”

Some of Kendra’s pet peeves- “Please do not follow up with me by phone or email. If you haven’t heard from me, I haven’t read your manuscript, but I will.”

Don’t send extra stuff! “All correspondence outside of the submission itself will most likely be ignored.”

Do not send original artwork, “please send facsimiles”.

Viking Children’s Books is located at 345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014. Kendra prefers email, but you’ll probably only get her direct email if you attend a conference. Otherwise, check out the Penguin US website-

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