Quick Questions: An Interview with Executive Editor Lisa Yoskowitz

Lisa YoskowitzLisa Yoskowitz is an Executive Editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, where she edits middle grade and YA fiction from authors including Pseudonymous Bosch and Melissa Marr. She recently joined LBYR from Dutton Children’s Books and Disney-Hyperion, where she had the pleasure of working with New York Times bestselling authors Cinda Williams Chima, Victoria Laurie, and Elizabeth Wein; along with many fantastic debut authors, including Tamara Ireland Stone (Time Between Us), Michael Fry (The Odd Squad: Bully Bait), Tess Sharpe (Far From You), and Ami Polonsky (Gracefully Grayson). Drawn to voice- and character-driven stories, she has a soft spot for misfit, maverick, and mischief-making characters, and for books that can comfortably be called both literary and commercial. She is not able to consider unagented/unsolicited submissions.

And now to our questions!

What book has come out in the past year that you wish you’d been the editor on? Why?

I don’t know if it’s fair to say I wish I’d been the editor of El Deafo by Cece Bell (because surely the process of Cece and her editor working together contributed to the stellar finished product!), but it is definitely one of my favorite reads of the past year and a book I deeply admire for its originality, emotional honesty, brilliant storytelling, pitch-perfect voice, and powerful narrative.

What’s something you’d like to tell aspiring authors, that perhaps they haven’t yet heard from anyone?

I’m afraid that my advice for authors who hope to have their work published might not be original, but I do think it holds true: (a) write to your passions and be true to your characters and story—chasing trends or forcing yourself to write in a particular way because you think it will get you published often results in inorganic, unappealing storytelling; (b) when you finish your manuscript, put it in a drawer—metaphorical or literal—for a few days or weeks and read it with fresh eyes. Revise and repeat until you have the manuscript you love and feel is ready to submit to agents; (c) approach every critique, editor/agent meeting at conferences, and even rejection as a learning experience. Be open minded and truly listen to and synthesize feedback and writing/publishing advice from those in the field and/or whose opinions you respect.

If you could travel back in time for one day, where would you go, what would you do, who would you hang out with?

I’d visit Krakatoa right before it erupted in 1883, to spend a day with Professor William Waterman Sherman, his diamond-discovering friends, and their houses of wonders. Wait, The Twenty-One Balloons was nonfiction, right? 🙂

If you won 50 million dollars, what would you do? Would you still work in publishing?

I’d like to think that I’d give a bunch to charity, buy a modest place in the City, save whatever is left, and stay in publishing (I do love my job a lot!), but I wouldn’t mind finding out for sure…

What’s currently on your manuscript wish list? What’s definitely not on the list?

I’m open to any manuscript with a voice and characters that grab you and don’t let go. That said, I’m not looking to acquire new picture books at the moment, and am especially on the lookout for a pitch-perfect middle grade puzzle book in the spirit of The Westing Game and epic middle grade fantasy that feels fresh.

 Thanks for participating, Lisa!

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