From The New York Times:
John Green still vividly recalls the opening line of a stinging critique that his editor, Julie Strauss-Gabel, delivered after reading an early draft of his novel “The Fault in Our Stars.”
“The first sentence was, ‘I really enjoyed reading the first draft of this promising and ambitious novel,’ and the rest was 20 pages of her tearing it apart,” Mr. Green said. “Her editorial letters are famous for their ability to make you cry and feel anxious. They’re very long, very detailed and very intimidating.”
One of her more memorable barbs described an overwrought climactic scene as reading “like bad John Green fan fiction,” Mr. Green recalled. He changed the ending.
Mr. Green didn’t suffer an ego bashing in vain, at least. In its revised and polished final form, “The Fault in Our Stars,” a novel about two teenagers with cancer who fall in love, became a monster hit.
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In the cosseted world of children’s book publishing, getting an editorial letter from Ms. Strauss-Gabel, the publisher of Dutton Children’s Books, is the literary equivalent of winning a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. It virtually guarantees critical or commercial success, and often brings both.
She doesn’t hand out many of them. “I am naturally exceedingly picky,” she said. “If I’m not in love with someone’s writing at the sentence level, then I’m not going to sign up the book.”
Her knack for spotting and developing talent is apparent on this week’s New York Times young adult best-seller list, where novels that she edited hold five of the top 10 spots. She has edited 22 New York Times best sellers.
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Over the last decade or so, as publishers have been battered by sagging print sales, shrinking retail space and e-book pricing wars, children’s books have become one of the industry’s last bastions of sustained growth. Eight of the top 10 best-selling print books were children’s and young adult titles, with Bill O’Reilly and Gillian Flynn standing out as the anomalous authors of adult books. In 2014, revenue from young adult and children’s books rose by 21 percent over the previous year, while adult fiction and nonfiction fell by 1.4 percent, according to the Association of American Publishers.
Ms. Strauss-Gabel’s unconventional taste and eye for idiosyncratic literary voices have helped her identify and build up some of young adult fiction’s biggest breakout stars.
In addition to Mr. Green’s books, which have more than 30 million copies in print worldwide, she’s shepherded best sellers like Ally Condie’s “Matched” series, which has 3.3 million copies in print in North America. She has shaped the careers of emerging stars like Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins and Andrew Smith, whose surreal novel, “Grasshopper Jungle,” won comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut.
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In its latest financial earnings report, Penguin Random House, which operates nearly 250 imprints globally, cited “The Fault in Our Stars” as the company’s biggest hit last year, and said that “major best sellers, especially in the field of children’s books” had helped produce a 25 percent increase in revenue in 2014.
Link to the rest at The New York Times