Week of January 1, 2012: An Interview with Maria Modugno
Thursday, January 5—An Interview with Maria Modugno, Part IV
This is the final installment in a four-part interview with Maria Modugno, Vice President and Editorial Director of HarperCollins Children’s Books.
Rob Sanders: I hear that you have a secret time test for determining if the length of a picture book is spot on. Do you care to share your secret?
Maria Modugno: I use one of those old-fashioned egg timers as a rule of thumb. I don’t want a story to last longer than a wiggly little kid can stand still.
RS: Are there any great picture books out there that wish you had acquired? If so, what and why?
MM: Oh you want to know about “Editorial Envy.” Every publisher has at least one book on every list that I wish were mine. A recent favorite is The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers. I think it’s important for a book to have the full support of everyone involved in the process—the publisher, sales people, marketing people, finance, design, production, etc. While editing is a one-person occupation, you need everyone to get a book published properly
RS: What percentage of your writers are new writers?
MM: At least half.
RS: What percentage of the books on your list are by author/illustrators?
MM: About 60 %. No one believes this, but it’s harder to find good writers than to find good artists.
RS: Maria, my readers are going to ask about your submission policy. I don’t want you inundated with unwanted manuscripts. What is the HarperCollins policy about unsolicited manuscripts?
MM: I do look at unsolicited manuscripts and email is fine. As you can tell by the interview, my responses tend to be terse.
RS: Maria, thank you for spending time answering my questions. I know the readers of Picture This! have benefited from your wisdom and candor. I can’t wait to see what fun picture books HarperCollins will be releasing next!
I believe I just heard you licking stamps for your submission to Maria. Before you fire off that manuscript, make sure you’ve followed Maria’s advice and know the HarperCollins’ list inside and out. Then . . . good luck one and all!
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