Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Interview with Stephanie Lurie: Editorial Director Disney-Hyperion

 I met Stephanie on Facebook. I reached out for her for an interview, and she graciously accepted. 

And, by the looks of this picture, she's up for a challenge any day!
And, by the looks of the one below, where she's pretending to be a Toy Story toy, she'd be a super fun editor to have on your side!! 

Below are the questions I asked her:

  1.     Describe your day to day duties in 5 words:

            Making books and helping editors.


  2.     What has been the most challenging change in publishing in the past 5 years?

             The consolidation of power in one online account.

  3.     Do you think it is easier or more difficult to find true talent now that everyone is self-publishing?

    Self-publishing hasn't had an impact on our acquisitions as of yet, perhaps because at Disney-Hyperion we can only consider submissions from agents. Some of those submissions were written by authors who have been self-published, but all that matters to us is the particular project at hand and whether we see potential in the concept and the writing.

  4.     What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?

        I get up at 5:15 am so that I have time to walk the dog, get showered and dressed, and have breakfast before my 7 am train. I usually have coffee, juice, a muffin, and a pro-biotic yogurt. (Isn’t that exciting?) I'm usually at my desk by 8:15 m.

  5.     Do you think Middle Grade will become as saturated in the market place as YA did? Or are publishing houses taking it slower this time?

Everyone wants to find the next WIMPY KID and Rick Riordan. Publishers will continue to follow trends, because readers do, and we are all under pressure to make a profit.

  6.     Who are you reading right now?

Kristin Cashore.

  7.     At a recent SCBWI conference, a picture book author said, "It's better in today's market to have 3 – 5 books in a series, than to come out with a stand alone book." Do you believe this statement is true? Why or why not?

        It is easier for us to sell series to our retail accounts, because booksellers are more likely to promote an author when they know more books are coming, especially if the books are going to be published on a regular schedule, e.g. the same month every year.

  8.     Where's the best place to get a cup of Joe/tea in your town?

       My husband and I have a Saturday morning ritual of walking the dog to our local Starbucks. Does that count?

  9.     Staff writers vs. Independent writers: What do you think about publishing houses looking inward for stories, as opposed to finding new, fresh talent? Is it easier? More ideal for the bottom line? Does it hurt creativity?

        Publishers are creating their own “IP” (intellectual property) in order to control more rights and make more profit. It isn’t easy to do, and so I don’t see it replacing quality content from authors.

  10. I've seen a lot of book trailers lately. How do they help or hinder book sales? And, does every writer/illustrator need one?

       We create video trailers for our lead books, because they are a great tool for online marketing. I wouldn’t recommend that any amateur try to create one; poorly produced ones can backfire on an author.

  11. Should all writers invest in an editor before they submit in today's tough publishing market?

        There are many different paths to publication. In some cases an editor might help; in others a critique group could be just as helpful. My concern would be return on investment, because paying for an editor’s services doesn’t necessarily guarantee publication.

  12. What are the top 3 things you look for in new talent? In other words, what's the whole package for you?

1) Concept; 2) voice; 3) promotability.

  13. Complete this sentence: If I see one more pitch about (blank), I'm going to scream.

     “a paranormal romance” or “a post-apocalyptic world”

  14. Do editors get to enjoy a relationship with writers anymore? Or does the day-to-day business keep that from happening now?

       My workday is taken up with responding to requests from authors and my colleagues. I read and edit outside of the office. As long as an editor doesn’t expect to work only 9-5 Monday-Friday, he or she can have a good working relationship with his/her authors.

  15. What has Disney-Hyperion changed recently to help make publishing a more competitive place for their clients?

        I’m not sure this answers your question, but one new thing we’ve all taken on this year is the promotion of our authors and illustrators via our own Facebook posts and tweets.

  16. What do you think about writers/illustrators having blogs? Needed? Not needed?

        I believe that every author working today must have an online presence of some kind, whether it be a website, a blog, a Facebook page, or a Twitter account.

  17. What's the funniest thing someone has asked you about your job?

       My OB-GYN once pitched a book to me—while I was still in the stirrups!
(Oh my!)

  18. Writers think there is no money for marketing, even if they get a great publishing deal. Is this true? And, what does the writer have to do today to help with marketing?

        There is money to market the lead books, but not every book can be a lead. As I said above, an author must have an online presence. In addition, authors need to get out and meet their readers through school visits, library appearances, teen panels and the like.

  19. What 6 words of advice do you have for newbie writers/illustrators?

       The process can take many years.

  20. What's the best thing about being an editorial director?

        I’ve been making children’s books for more than thirty years now.  All kinds—picture books,   nonfiction, middle grade, YA. To this day, each project remains a thrill for me.

  21.  What one word best describes you?



   22. Any big news?

        We’re proud that we just had four books reviewed in the November 11 issue of the New York Times Book Review!


  1. Thanks for the great interview, Angie! You got Stephanie to provide so much useful information and we also got to see her as a person! (Plus she's my terrific editor on TESLA'S ATTIC, the book I co-wrote with Neal Shusterman, coming from Disney-Hyperion in Fall 2013.)

  2. Great! She was awesome...and quick with her questions. Will I be seeing you at Big Sur?

  3. Thanks for the interview. It provided some valuable information about the inner workings of the children's publishing industry. I just wish more publishing houses took submissions from writers as opposed to just agents. Beryl