Welcome to Book Editors: Close Up at http://www.authorlink.com . This regular Authorlink column provides an intimate look at important book editors in New York and elsewhere. Interviews focus on editors as real people. The columns explore their likes, dislikes, preferences, prejudices, and why they buy the books they do.

An Exclusive Authorlink Interview with Amy Hsu
Associate Editor at Little, Brown and Company Children's Books

April 2003


Amy is most interested in acquiring trade picture book fiction and nonfiction.


AUTHORLINK: What recent acquisitions have you made?

AMY: Pop Pop and Me and a Recipe, by Irene Smalls; Blue Aliens, by Tony Porto and 3CD; an untitled book of explorations by The Exploratorium (San Francisco)

AUTHORLINK: What categories particularly interest you?

AMY: Trade picture book fiction and nonfiction, trade middle grade and YA novels.


This editor's biggest turn-offs: overly didactic text; flat, sterotypical characters, and stilted dialogue.


AUTHORLINK: What are your three biggest turnoffs when you're considering a manuscript?

AMY: I don't like overly didactic text; flat, stereotypical characters; stilted dialogue (and incorrect use of the contraction "it's" instead of the possessive "its").

AUTHORLINK: What was it about the last three manuscripts you've acquired that caught your eye? Made the decision for you to buy?

AMY: Pop Pop has a delightfully rhythmic text and the kinds of images that give an illustrator plenty of possibilities; Blue Aliens is a follow-up to Get Red, which we recently published; The Exploratorium is a fantastic interactive museum that will create a challenging and fun book.

AUTHORLINK: What advice, if any, do you have for the new writer trying to break in?

AMY: Research, research, research—know everything you can possibly know about the market and the publishers. Also, read and absorb as many books as you can get your hands on, especially in the market you're targeting.


Amy "sort of fell into publishing," but would rather do this job than any in the world. 


AUTHORLINK: How did you first become involved in publishing?

AMY: I sort of fell into publishing, through a neighbor who carpooled me to a volleyball clinic. She told me to apply for an internship. I did, miraculously got hired, and never looked back.

AUTHORLINK: What job would you do if you could do any job in the world?

AMY: This one!

AUTHORLINK: Who influenced you most as a child to read?

AMY: My parents—they gave me audio storybooks and took me to the library all the time.


Little Brown Children's doesn't accept unagented queries.


AUTHORLINK: Who is your favorite author?

AMY: This is too tough to answer! But I'll forever admire Shakespeare for having written texts that are still alive and meaningful after hundreds of years.

AUTHORLINK: Does Little Brown Children's accept unagented queries?

AMY: Unfortunately, we don't. We have only seven editors, and we receive thousands of manuscripts every year. Turning away unagented submissions is simply the easiest (though not necessarily the best) way of reducing our reading piles.

AUTHORLINK: What do you want to see in a query? How long?

AMY: A query should be simple, succinct, and not too flashy. One page is optimal, plus a synopsis for a novel.

AUTHORLINK: Do you accept e-mail queries? If so, are there any length restrictions or other tips?

AMY: It has become much too easy to send e-mail. I receive at least a hundred email messages a day and queries would be too easily swamped by current-business e-mail that gets priority.

AUTHORLINK: Any other tips or advice?

AMY: Again, research, research, research. You can never know too much.


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