Thursday, December 4, 2008

MINI-VIEW: MEREDITH MUNDY WASINGER

MINI-VIEWS:
Pint-sized interviews that leave you smiling.
MEREDITH MUNDY WASINGER has been a Senior Editor at Sterling Publishing since 2005, following eleven years with Dutton Children’s Books. A Colorado native, she is a big fan of pugs, poetry, and gardening (guerrilla and otherwise). She is currently looking for character-centered picture books; original non-fiction with pizzazz; and unusual activity books for children of all ages. Sterling does not publish original fiction (aside from picture books) or non-fiction that would be geared purely toward schools and libraries.
I had the pleasure of meeting Meredith at our recent Ventura/Santa Barbara SCBWI Writers' Day and am so pleased that she agreed to do an interview for us!

What does your job entail as an editor at Sterling Publishing?
It’s a job filled with variety—never a dull moment! I spend much of my day writing and answering emails from authors, illustrators, and agents to keep projects that are already in process moving along. Part of each day is devoted to requesting contracts, reviewing catalog and jacket copy, compiling editorial notes for authors whose manuscripts have been accepted, or reviewing and commenting on sketches/final art that have come in for particular books. Our editorial team has an acquisitions meeting every two weeks to discuss future projects we hope to acquire, and we meet every month or so to read new submissions that have arrived. The mail is very hard to keep up with—so many manuscripts!—but we do everything we can to avoid making authors wait interminably.

Could you give an overview of Sterling's list and its philosophy?
Our list is quite eclectic, and reflects the interests of our small staff. Our range is from board books for babies to sophisticated biographies for older readers to puzzle-and-game books to picture books of all kinds. We are publishing our first middle-grade chapter book series next year (The Doyle & Fossey Science Detective series, by Michele Torrey, illustrated by Barbara Johansen Newman), and if that is well received, we may consider acquiring more chapter books. But for now we are not accepting any chapter books or novels.
Our philosophy is simple—we want to publish only the very best books to be read by the widest possible audience. This makes reading submissions pretty easy, really, since we can rule out anything that’s too generic, or too slight, or too specific in terms of its topic, or too much like anything that’s already out there. We look for originality, excellent writing, unforgettable characters, clever twists on familiar themes, and humor.

I'm reading more and more about the economy affecting book sales and the publishing industry. Is the economic downturn affecting Sterling in any significant way?
We have been asked to be exceptionally careful with our budgets, as has everyone in publishing. We are cutting costs everywhere possible—from sending out electronic Christmas cards instead of paper ones to avoiding using overnight mail unless absolutely crucial. We know how tough the retail environment is right now, and we are hopeful that next year will bring brighter news to all retailers, not just booksellers. It does seem that the children’s book market has more resiliency than other sectors. People tend to buy for their children (and their pets!) even if they are not buying for themselves.

On the lighter side, what is your favorite children's joke?
One morning a traffic cop is directing traffic in a busy intersection. A guy pulls up in a fancy convertible filled with penguins.
“Hey, mister!” the cop calls out. “I want you to take those penguins directly to the zoo!”
“Sure thing, Officer,” says the driver.

Later that day, the cop sees the same carload of penguins pull up in the intersection.
“Hey, mister!” he yells. “I thought I told you to take those penguins to the zoo!”
“I did,” says the driver. “We had a great time. Now we’re going to the movies!”

Thanks so much, Meredith!

10 comments:

tammi said...

Ooh! Great interview. :)

I have one book currently out with Sterling (COWBOY CAMP) and another that will be out next fall (CHICKEN DANCE).

Working with Sterling has been a wonderful experience.......

Terry P. said...

Hi Tammy,,

Yes, I've seen Cowboy Camp's cover on the blue boards. And Chicken Dance sounds like something to crow about!

Thanks for the comment--I've enjoyed working with Sterling on my joke books and hope to work with them again in the future.

Jill Corcoran said...

love your mini-views. Thanks, Terry.

hey, my word verification word is 'unsigh'--I'll take that as a positive sign:)

CHILDREN'S BOOK AUTHOR, MEMBER of the SYDNEY TAYLOR BOOK AWARD COMMITTEE said...

Terry,

Meredith was a wonderful speaker at Writer's Day. It's great to learn more about Sterling in your interview.

Barbara Bietz

Annette Gulati said...

Great interview, Terry. I love our mini-view concept!

Solvang Sherrie said...

Nice mini post! I enjoyed Meredith's comments on the First Pages during the Writer's Day. It was nice to read more about her here.

Lisa Schroeder said...

Yay, Meredith is my editor at Sterling! She's wonderful. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the interview, Terry. It was nice to hear Meredith at Writers' Day.
And to satisfy my curiosity, what is guerilla gardening????
Rebecca L-G

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for these fun interviews. I'm a Sterling author, and I've been amazed at their great distribution.

Ellen Jackson
www.ellenjackson.net

mtorr said...

Wow, I had no idea this interview was here . . . Super interview, which is no surprise coming from such an outstanding editor.

As an update on the DOYLE AND FOSSEY: SCIENCE DETECTIVES chapter book series that Meredith refers to, Sterling released the first four books in June and September, 2009, and I am THRILLED with the quality. Wowie wow WOW!! I feel so fortunate to be working with Meredith and that Sterling was willing to take a chance on a fiction chapter book series. Let's hope it sells gangbusters!

Thanks for posting the great interview.

Michele Torrey
Author, Doyle & Fossey: Science Detectives