Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Editor Interview: Stacy Abrams, Editorial Director at Entangled Publishing

Stacy Abrams is a Senior Editor at Entangled Publishing. She started in the publishing industry in 2002, most recently leaving a seven-year stint at Bloomsbury Publishing’s children’s division to join the Entangled team. In addition to editing, she has been a freelance copy editor for several major New York publishing houses. Find her on Twitter at@StacyAbramsEdit.

What book(s) spoke to you most during your teen years? Do any of them continue to influence you now as an adult, or in your career as an editor?your teen years? Do any of them continue to influence you now as an adult, or in your career as an editor?

One of my favorite books as a teen was Paul Zindel's My Darling, My Hamburger. Something about the quiet, shy girl becoming friends with the exuberant, outgoing girl really spoke to me—a quiet, shy girl. I really related to Maggie and I fell in love with Liz. Even though the book was a bit old-fashioned when I was a kid (and is even more so now!) I found the characters and their situations and feelings so incredibly real. And so I think that's what I look for now as an editor—even if the situations the characters are in are sensational or un-relatable, if the feelings they are going through read as realistic to me, I know teens will find something to love in the book.

When you receive requested pages, is there one specific thing you're looking formore than any other (story, voice, character)? And is there anything that'sgoing to make those pages an automatic pass?

As an editor, I believe pretty much anything can be worked on except voice. Characters, plotting, motivation, those things are things I can usually "fix," so if I'm reading something and finding one of these elements problematic, I know I'll be able to work on it to make it better. But if the voice isn't there, that's when I often find myself passing. 

I'm so glad you brought up "voice" - we talk a lot about it here at Honestly YA. How do you define it? And do you have any tips to help aspiring writers develop it.

Aah, the elusive "voice!" I know writers often find it frustrating when editors talk about voice, because it's a difficult thing to define, and if you asked ten editors, you'd probably get ten different answers. For me, it basically boils down to how you—or your character, essentially—describes their world. Maybe the best way I can explain it is with an example. Lisa Burstein, the author of one of my first books with Entangled, Pretty Amy, has one of my favorite voices in YA, and it's because I just love the way she (through her protagonist, Amy) describes the world. For example, the night of Amy's prom, she says:

I had to forget tomorrow, when I would wake up in one of the three hotel rooms we’d rented, alone in that big bed, my dress crumpled up on the floor like a discarded attempt at a love letter. 

I just love the imagery she provokes of a discarded attempt at a love letter—it says something about the dress image itself, but also about Amy. If the same manuscript just said, "I'd wake up in a hotel room with my dress crumpled on the floor," it wouldn't have the same impact. To me, THAT's voice.

We keep hearing how crowded the YA market is. How can aspiring YA authors ensure their work stands out from the masses?

I think, beyond having a great voice, a YA novel trying to stand out from the crowd needs to be high-concept. By this I mean it needs an essential, bare-bones hook, or elevator pitch, if you will. Can your story be summed up in one sentence? If so, is that sentence immediately intriguing and unique? If you think of some of the biggest books out right now, they're all very simple to define, and they draw you in. I always think about teens in today's culture—where they're constantly being bombarded with advertising, social media, etc. They have short attention spans, and usually small amounts of disposable wealth. If you want them to use that attention and allowance on your book, it's going to have to be something they absolutely can't pass up.

Is there anything on your current wish list? Anything you're not interested in seeing at this time?

My list is generally pretty open—I'd say probably the only things I'm not looking for are genres I feel I'm already full up on at the moment, which is dystopian and, to some extent, contemporary. I'd love to find a fantastic paranormal series if it features an idea or creature we haven't seen in YA before, and I'd love to find something that successfully manages to "mash up" more than one genre. Though Entangled does focus on romance, on the YA list that focus is a bit more general. The book doesn't have to be "a romance," but it does need to include a romantic element somewhere in it.

One thing that might be worth mentioning is one of our brand-new category romance lines that I'll be managing for Entangled. The Bliss line is a great opportunity for authors of younger fiction who may be looking for a way to break into the lucrative romance market but aren't necessarily looking to write something super steamy. Check out the Bliss submission guidelines if that sounds like something right for you. I'm definitely in the market for some fantastic Bliss books!

These sound great, can you tell us what your submission requirements are? 

Here are submission guidelines for the two lines I manage:
Thanks so much for being here, Stacy. This was great! We really appreciate you taking the time to share so much with us.


CareyCorp said...

What a great interview Stacy! Thanks for stopping by Honestly YA and sharing.

Melissa Landers said...

Thanks so much for visiting, Stacy. Great interview!

Lea Nolan said...

Thanks so much for sharing this great information, Stacy! The new Bliss line sounds very intriguing!

Erin said...

A great interview, Stacy! The new Bliss line sounds perfect for YA I just started writing. :) Thanks for all the great information!

Ophelia London said...

Very nice interview. Thanks for posting!

Lisa Burstein said...

Can I just say woot! What a surprise to be mentioned here Stacy! Thank you and ANYONE thinking of subbing to Stacy- do, do, do- she is AMAZING :).

Aubrie said...

I really enjoyed this interview and the extra insight into the industry!

Traci Hall said...

Great interview - made me think of stories I loved as a kid...and the emotions evoked. But I read everything. I lived for the book mobile during the summer, lol

Kimberly said...

Thanks so much for the information on Entangled! And also for explaining your idea of "voice." That was a great example you gave.

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