Quick Questions: An Interview with Disney-Hyperion Senior Editor Rotem Moscovich

0In her role as Senior Editor at Disney-Hyperion, Rotem Moscovich feels lucky to work with so many talented picture book and middle grade novel creators, including Ann M. Martin & Laura Godwin, Brett Helquist, Mac Barnett, Adam Rex, Greg Pizzoli, Kate Hannigan, John Hendrix, and Heidi Schulz. Rotem loves picturebooks with clever characters and inspired/ing art, and connects with middle grade novels that have transporting writing with creative use of language, and characters with inherent motivation and earned agency. She cares about every facet of bookmaking: from type to case cover art, and everything in between. Before her tenure at Disney-Hyperion, Rotem worked at Scholastic, where she edited books for kids ages 0-6. She has a master’s degree from the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College, and lives in Brooklyn, NY. Visit her online at rotem.nyc.

And now to the questions!

What advice do you have for writers to improve their craft?

Read! Not so much to see trends or anything like that, but to notice which books you connect with, and then figure out why: what in the structure is working? How is the author layering themes or beads of text throughout? How is the dialogue handled? The more you read with a writer’s eye, the more you can become aware of the tools in the writer’s toolbox that resonate with you most—and then, how to use them. So after you read a lot, write a lot!

What’s the best part and worst part of the editorial process for you?

There are so many best parts! I love the moment of excitement when I first read something incredible and feel the need to tell everybody at the office about it. I love the puzzle of a story and making the pieces fit together to help the reader get the full narrative and emotional picture, whether that’s making chapter-by-chapter flow charts for novels or literally cutting and taping picturebook spreads. I love working with so many incredibly talented, passionate people. I love choosing specs, and working with illustrators to make special case covers and ultimately, the feel of the book in my hands when it comes from the printer. The worst part is the guilt: not finishing that editorial letter yet, taking forever reading submissions, you get the picture.

What did you read when you were a kid? Does it stand up to the test of time? If it were sent to you now, would you publish it?

Books that I remember reading and really striking me at the time: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh—gah, that moment when they find her notebook; Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor—I was so unsettled by the injustice; The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder—I’ve reread this at least ten times, and am surprised and delighted every time. Everything by E. L. Konigsburg, because she never talked down to her readers. These all stood the test of time for me, and I will continue to press them into other people’s hands for the rest of my life. I hope I get to publish books like these in my career!

Taking the need to make money out of the equation, if you could work at any job in the world, would you stay in publishing? If not, what would you do?

I would definitely still be a children’s book editor. Though I will say that my alternate-life dream job would have been to make muppets for Sesame Street.

What’s currently on your manuscript wish list?

At the moment, I’d most like to find a middle grade novel that will make me feel a spectrum of emotions and leave me with a happy cry. I recently read The Penderwicks in Spring and boy, does it do that well. And I’m always on the lookout for positively exceptional picturebooks that will become touchstones of the genre.

Thanks for participating, Rotem!

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Book Expo Recap: Books in the wild, a squee, and a T

Happy June! I’m just about recovered from going to the Book Expo last week. I had a great time, sneaking out of the Javits Center to have a quick lunch with my rockstar client Bill Konigsberg. Bill gave me a present! Check it out…

CGIromNUQAAbvZ6It’s a PORCUPINE OF TRUTH t-shirt! I know, I know. You wish you were as lucky as me. In case you didn’t know, THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH came out last week and is already garnering starred reviews (School Library Journal and Booklist). Check out some of the places you might see Bill in the next few weeks and through the end of the year, where he will be reading and signing and you can get a copy of the book. Or, order one here.

CGLcgNiWYAAnn-LWhile at BEA I also got to hold an actual copy of Joe McGee‘s debut picture book, PEANUT BUTTER AND BRAINS: A ZOMBIE CULINARY TALE (Abrams, 2015) for the very first time! I loved seeing PB&B out in the wild! We’re eagerly looking forward to its publication on August 11th. You might even want to preorder it.

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Nicole Frail (editor), Natasha & me

I was lucky enough to be trudging around the Javits Center all day on Friday with my lovely client Natasha Sinel. Natasha’s book, THE FIX (Sky Pony, 2015) comes out September 1st and we were so excited to hold the first advance reader’s copies that I actually squeed. Literally made a “squee” noise. Loudly. Seriously. You can preorder THE FIX here.

I also nabbed a bunch of great ARCs, some of which I’ve already dipped into. Brian Selznick’s THE MARVELS doesn’t disappoint. What a talented man and a lovely story. I just started GEORGE by Alex Gino, and am liking it very well. And I’m packing A.S. King’s I CRAWL THROUGH IT and Ali Benjamin’s THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH, to take on my vacation next week!

For now, that’s all I’ve got for you good folks… Anybody else go to BEA?

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Inside Scoop: Dish from a Literary Agent Intern – On Motivation

Today I want to talk about that thing called motivation, something that might be hard to find when you are feeling defeated, lost or unsettled, like nothing in life is going to work out. Sometimes these times feel insurmountable to me, like I want to crawl into a hole and never come out again. For you writers this might happen while sending out queries, trying to finish up a manuscript or when you get another rejection letter. In these moments, I like to remember there are things I can do to remain motivated. Staying motivated in the face of rejection can be difficult, but I’ve taught myself some little tricks to keep me on track.

  • Create a mantra – When I’m feeling particularly unmotivated and sorry for myself, I pick out a mantra. It can be as simple as ‘just be’ or as specific as ‘you can finish this chapter.’ Finding a mantra that works helps in conquering those feelings of defeat.
  • Write a goal/gratitude list – Sometimes I forget what I’m doing or why I’m doing it. Getting rejected, not hearing back from anyone, or hitting a road block, are things that can make us forget what we’re doing in the first place. In order to battle those feelings, I make a list to remind myself of the goals I’ve already reached, my hopes and dreams, and what I have in general. These lists help me remember why I’m doing what I’m doing.
  • Take a break – Rejection, constant critiquing, or even silence sometimes feel like too much. That’s when I like to take a break. And no, I don’t mean a 6-month hiatus while I wallow in despair. I mean a day or two where I can collect myself, focus on the positive and recharge my battery. If I don’t give myself the time I need to appreciate my end goal, I get bogged down in the rest and forget what I’m doing in the first place.

I recently went through a time where I was questioning what I was doing with my life (ahh!) and I had to take some time to remind myself of my end goal: getting a paying job in publishing. I’m back on track now, and looking forward to the day I borrow Linda’s blog to let you all know about my new job in publishing!

I would love to hear some tips & tricks that you use to stay motivated!

Kim Photo BioKimberly Richardson is currently interning for Linda Epstein at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, while pursuing her Masters degree in Pace University’s Publishing Program. She also interns at the National Association of Professional Women. You can follow Kimberly on Twitter @kimberly_ann688.

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