Great Editors Still Want Great Writers

Editorial friends: ever wish you could have been the person to work on books by JK Rowling, Philip Pullman, Tomie dePaola, Jerry Spinelli, and more? Arthur Levine has you beat. Check out this fantastic interview with him about his experience as an editor and how a hopeful writer can approach the world of publishing. A few nice points:

OLSWANGER: Do fiction editors want to find new writers?
LEVINE: Sure. The lists get full, but there’s always room for a new, special voice. There’s nothing more exciting than coming across that. I can’t imagine a point where I will have covered every possible form of great writing, not only serious literary fiction but humorous literary fiction, fiction from many different cultures, and mysteries, and . . . you know, there’s so many genres and so many types! I can’t imagine a time when I would have a writer that is the last word in every possible form of writing. There’s always going to be room for somebody new.

OLSWANGER: You’ve worked with many writers over the years. In your opinion, how does a writer grow?
LEVINE: I think writers grow by pushing themselves to be more honest and revealing about themselves in their work. They grow by reading and turning outward, not by turning inward and becoming self-referential. The writer who says, “Oh, I only concentrate on my own writing–I don’t read other people’s books” is missing out on the opportunity to be exposed to new voices and approaches that help one grow. And taking risks. That’s another way that writers grow.

OLSWANGER: Do you believe good writing always gets published?
LEVINE: “Always” is too strong a word because nothing happens always. But I think if a person is determined, smart and professional enough, in addition to having that piece of writing, then they have a great chance of getting published. A person who has a truly original piece of writing will have their choice of opportunities. With enough persistence, they will wind up getting published.

Overall, I think there’s a lot of hope in this interview for upcoming writers. Rowling and Pullman may be great, but even Levine is excited about what’s next. Make sure to check out the rest of the interview, too!

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