What an incredible 2012 thus far! The Red Sofa Chats have been an absolute treat, and I’m excited to include Stacy Abrams from Entangled Publishing on the newest installment. She’s smart, energetic, loves children’s and YA books even more than me, and is very active on Twitter. It’s evident that Stacy not only enjoys being an editor, but also sharing her writing and publishing advice with writers. Her desire to help writers succeed is evident, and we are fortunate to have her on the Red Sofa Chats. 🙂
Stacy Abrams 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. Stacy is the editorial director of Entangled Select and Entangled Teen (the simultaneous print/digital lines), as well as of the Bliss, Flirt, and Ever After digital-only imprints. In addition to editing, she has been a freelance copy editor for several major New York publishing houses. She earned her Bachelor’s in English at Northwestern University and currently resides in New York City with her husband and too-cute puppy. Find out more about Entangled at www.entangledpublishing.com.
1. Why did you choose to become an editor?
In college, I started out wanting to be a writer. I took the prerequisite courses to enter into the writing program, but found I enjoyed critiquing others’ work much more than I enjoyed having my own work critiqued. So I guess you could say I didn’t have a thick enough skin to be an author; I could dish it out but I couldn’t take it! Also, I interned at Penguin’s Viking Children’s division one summer during school and loved every second of it, even though I was almost solely reading the slush pile. I knew after that summer that I wanted to work in publishing.
2. Are there any projects you wish you could have edited?
Tons! Though of course, that’s a loaded question. The projects I wish I could have edited because they’re so good? Probably The Hunger Games, any book by John Green, The Help, anything by John Irving. The project I wish I could have edited to make it better? 50 Shades of Grey. 🙂
3. What are you reading right now (for personal reading, for fun)?
Hahahahahahahaha. Phew. *wipes tear away* It’s been a while since I was able to sit down and read a book from start to finish solely for fun, to be honest. Editing and overseeing the editing department for Entangled is a 24/7 job! But in my very limited spare time, I have been reading Jennifer Miller’s The Year of the Gadfly. It’s very different from the sort of books I work on at Entangled, which I think is part of why I’m enjoying it so much as an escape from work. Also, it’s really good.
4. How do you utilize Twitter? How do you believe it has changed the way we go about publishing books?
Though my husband yells at me to get off Twitter all the time, I always retort that it’s become part of my job. Not just tweeting about my books as sporadically as I can (there’s a lot of temptation to do it constantly, but I try not to!), but engaging with my authors, agents, and prospective authors. I’ve gotten some great submissions based on either sub calls via Twitter, pitch contests via Twitter, or just casually mentioning something I like and getting a sub that speaks to it.
That means that in addition to selling my books, in some ways I’m selling myself—who I am as an editor, what I like, why it would be cool to work with me and my company. Which is, in and of itself, a 24/7 job. I’m not sure anyone really cares what movie I saw this past weekend, but engaging followers with those sort of personal tidbits in addition to professional stuff allows us to engage with each other, and it also hopefully keeps followers from feeling like I’m solely here to market to them. And maybe uploading a few pictures of my puppy will keep them coming back. 🙂
I think the success of social media has definitely changed the book publishing world. “Word of mouth” isn’t only limited to your *actual* social circle anymore—it involves your followers, their followers, their followers, etc. A few strategic retweets can reach literally tens of thousands (or more) of people, which can be really important to a book’s visibility factor, thereby giving it a better shot of being picked up and purchased when someone then sees it on the shelf. It’s also meant that digital-based advertising and promotions has become as important as the traditional methods.
5. If you had a crystal ball, where do you think (or hope) publishing will be in 5 yrs?
I hope that publishing in 5 years will be as exciting as it is now. I’ve heard experts say publishing is dying since I started in it (though back then it was all about the death of the picture book and the fact that nothing would ever take the place of high fantasy) and so far, so good.
Sure, the medium by which we read is ever-evolving, and I’ve chosen to accept that with excitement rather than fear. As long as people want to read stories, I know I’ll always have a job. And though e-books are wonderful in that they’ve revitalized many, many people’s love of reading through proliferation and availability and price, I truly believe print books will never fully go away. There is just something about holding that book in your hands that transcends time and place.
Stacy, thank you so much! To our readers, what are your thoughts on the importance of a personal touch in social media; and effectively using it as a tool in the writing life? What are your fears, expectations and excitement regarding the future of books? I completely agree with Stacy that there is nothing more special than holding a book, smelling its pages, and curling up with it in a comfy spot. One name will be randomly drawn from comments or questions, with the winner receiving 1 book (of choice) from the Stacy Cantor Abrams Collection.