Carolee: What got you interested in the field of publishing?
Anica: I stumbled into my first editorial assistant job (working for David Levithan at Scholastic) through pure dumb luck, but I have always been a reader, a storyteller, and obsessed with words. I started out editing mostly middle-grade novels and series, including Candy Apple Books and The Princess School (a series I’m still proud of!), then moved to Simon Pulse in 2007 to focus exclusively on YA. This job is amazing. I get to work with words, stories, characters, and ideas, and with smart, interesting, creative people.
Carolee: Sounds like a dream job. Tell us what you do at Simon Pulse and what distinguishes a book as a Simon Pulse title.
Anica: Simon Pulse is a hardcover and paperback imprint with a focus on commercial fiction that appeals directly to teen readers. Our books range from dark to light, voice-driven to high-concept, realistic to paranormal, contemporary to dystopian, verse to prose.
One of my favorite things about being an editor is the opportunity to nurture and develop the careers of debut novelists. Debut novels from my 2009 list included two-time RITA nominee Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick, Crash Into Me by Albert Borris, Pure by Terra Elan McVoy, Break by Hannah Moskowitz, The Hollow by Jessica Verday, Beautiful by Amy Reed, and Stupid Cupid by Rhonda Stapleton. Many of those authors already have second Pulse novels recently published or on the way. In 2010, look for debuts Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson, The Deathday Letter by Shaun David Hutchinson, Losing Faith by Denise Jaden, and Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales.
Carolee: You've said in the past that you like discovering new talent and new voices. What kind of new voices have caught your attention?
Anica: When I read submissions, I’m looking to fall head-over-heels in love. I am a sucker for quirky or dark humor, smart writing, compelling storytelling, and characters that I can’t get out of my head. My tastes tend toward the dark and edgy. I look for truth in character and stories that tap into universal emotions. My favorite kind of voice to encounter is one that could have only come from that writer, that character.
Carolee: What advice can you give to writers trying to create a unique voice for their work?
Anica: You shouldn’t try to create a unique voice, you should write the story the way you know how to write it. Be inspired by others’ work and the world around you, but tell me the story that you were meant to tell, and stay true to your characters. Voice should never feel forced. My advice is, keep at it. All aspects of good writing, voice included, require practice. Writing is hard work!
Carolee: You’re absolutely right. Writing is hard work. So is marketing. The internet has opened up many new vistas for marketing books. Simon Pulse recently created Pulse It, a website where teens can get early access to books, read them online, and write reviews. How is this helping to market new titles?
Anica: Pulse It (simonandschuster.com/pulseit) is an online community for teens ages 14 to 18 who love to read. It’s a great place for them to connect with each other (and sometimes with authors), talk about books they’ve loved or hated, hear about what’s now and what’s next in YA, give us their feedback, and get free access to fantastic new books. It’s also a great way for us to generate buzz for our books amongst a community of teen readers, many of whom are also bloggers.
Carolee: Authors are doing more and more of their own internet marketing. What advice would you give to authors wanting to create an "internet presence?"
Anica: Join the conversation! Blog, vlog, tweet, or join facebook, not just to spread the word about your own books, but to be part of the online community that’s talking about reading, writing, and the publishing world. The internet isn’t a place to market to readers, it’s a place to connect with readers, and like with successful face-to-face human interactions, those connections don’t happen through monologues.
Carolee: That’s good advice and an important distinction. Tell us about some of your favorite upcoming titles.
Anica: Am I allowed to talk about your book, Take Me There?
Anica: I can’t wait for readers to meet Dylan—I know they’re going to fall for him just as hard as I did. I still remember reading this manuscript for the first time, how I was pulled in and swept up by this sweet-hearted bad-boy’s story. It was July 2008, and I’d printed out the first 50 pages to read at home over the weekend. I emailed Sara that Monday morning to tell her I was kicking myself for not having printed out the whole thing. There’s just something about Dylan that made me want to keep reading and reading. Take Me There is sometimes sexy, sometimes sad, and always intense—a dark and surprising novel about a boy on the run who’s headed nowhere fast.
A few other favorites coming this fall:
Leila Sales’s Mostly Good Girls is a smart, wickedly funny novel about a girl navigating the cutthroat world of an all-girls prep school, trying to figure out how to talk to boys without choking on her own saliva, and attempting to set things right with her suddenly-distant best friend. Did I mention smart and funny?
Denise Jaden’s Losing Faith is a lyrical, emotionally intense debut about a teenager who encounters more questions than closure while mourning the death of her sister. There are some real twists and turns to this plot, and moments of unexpected humor throughout. It’s awesome.
Lauren Strasnick’s Her and Me and You has first love, broken friendships, heartache, and twincest. It’s moody and gut-wrenching, and if you’ve read Lauren’s first book, Nothing Like You, you already know that her writing is sparse, haunting, and lovely, and her dialogue is sharp and superb.
Carolee: Anica, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit with us here at the Crowe’s Nest.
Anica: Thanks for having me on the blog, Carolee and Sara!