I was so excited to meet Susan Chang, a senior editor at Tor books, at the SCBWI WWA spring conference. If you are like me and grew up on sci fi, then you’ll remember Tor as those skinny yellow paperbacks on your shelf. Tor was, and is, the big name in Sci-Fi, and after all these years going to conferences, this was the first time Tor showed up.
Susan began her publishing career at Harper-Collins Children’s books, where she worked for nine years. Then she spent some time at Hyperion and Parachute. Today she is at Tor Books where she acquires and edits books for the Starscape middle grade and the Tor Teen YA imprints. She has been in publishing for over 20 years.
What does she want? She told us the following: Only YA and children’s, no picture books. She wants to be blown away, to see an idea that she’s never seen before. She loves books that make her laugh or cry. And she wants clean writers. She is not interested in terrible writing. Also, she likes “bad” characters. However the following came straight from her lips, “I don’t know what I’m looking for until I see it.”
Regarding today’s trends- Susan says the Dystopian market is saturated and Paranormal in on the wane. But, she is looking for a good sci-fi. Hint- she mentioned kids going off to find a new home for humanity. She also said anything derived from Star Trek or The Twilight Zone would work.
What does a writer need to make a career out of writing? Passion! Susan also says you need to be a genuine creator and not in the process to just make money. Her advice for new writers is to think of short stories and just start writing and practicing. She told us, “Ideas are easy, writing is hard”.
If you feel like sending Susan a query she accepts email only, no hardcopies. She also mentioned that she has a huge backlog and could take up to six months or longer to reply, if she is interested. Here is the website for Tor's submission guidelines- http://www.tor.com/page/submissions-guidelines.
*I got the really cool "Susan Chang Editor Card" from http://pjhoover.blogspot.com/