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A Profile of Disney-Hyperion Editor Arianne Lewin
(This profile is an online extension of Chapter 26 of The C.I. Guide to Publishing Children's Books,
in which you will find other editor profiles)
by Harold Underdown
Update as of January 2011: Ari has moved to Penguin. I will revise this profile as soon as possible.
Hyperion Books for Children was the original name of a new children's imprint founded in 1991 by the Disney Corporation, as part of a new trade books division; it is now called Disney-Hyperion. Amidst the closing and consolidating of the past twenty years, it has the distinction of being the newest general children's imprint to be started from scratch and to aim to compete with the heavyweights of children's publishing; more recent entrants to the market are either small and focused on one type of book or age group, or were launched as the American division of an existing European publisher. Their senior staff, as a result, have tended to come from other publishers, and the imprint has gone through several management changes in its short history. Most recently, in 2008, the top two editorial staff, Alessandra Balzer and Donna Bray, left to start their own imprint at HarperCollins. Stephanie Owens Lurie of Dutton Children's Books was hired as editorial director later in the year.
At present, they publish about 65 new titles per year, mostly fiction and picture books, though including some non-fiction and poetry, covering the age range from very young picture books to sophisticated YA. Their authors include Mo Willems, Lane Smith, Eoin Colfer, Rick Riordan, Ally Carter, Melissa De La Cruz, and Cinda Williams Chima. Like other large children's publishers, they publish both commercial and literary books, and have produced both N.Y. Times bestsellers and an Newbery Medal book (Avi's Crispin, in 2003).
Can You Keep a Secret?
For Ari's thoughts on fantasy and some books she has worked on, read this interview.
For Arianne Lewin, Disney-Hyperion has been a good place to start a career: "Right out of college, I started as an assistant for two great executive editors, Donna Bray and Alessandra Balzer and worked my way up to senior editor. It took me five years (an average amount of time, I think)." Early accomplishments included the time "when B&N requested displays of Cinda Williams Chima's second book, and a starred review for one of my first acquisitions (The Brothers Torres, by Coert Voorhees)." She regularly edits YA titles, such as Chima’s Heir Chronicles and Yvonne Woon’s upcoming paranormal romance Dead Beautiful, because "I like reading YA, and since I read every book I acquire dozens of times, it seems like a good fit for me." Her interest in YA led her to speak at the first BEA YA Editors Buzz at BookExpo America 2009, and she says this about the experience: "Preparing for it was harrowing. Although it might be easy to get me chatting, you have to pull me kicking and screaming (in my own mind, if not literally) to the podium. Still, it was an amazing experience to be on a panel with Arthur Levine and David Levithan, and I was very happy to be able to tell people about Sarwat Chadda's book."
Editing children's and YA books is a dream job for her. As she says, "I'm pretty selfish--I'm glad to be doing something that's important for children, something that will touch them and change their lives--but I really like the books. I like reading them, I like editing them, and I like talking about them. Am I immature?" I would say she isn't, just self-aware, as good editors need to be. Sadly, to work with Ari you'll either have to find an agent first, or make contact with her at a conference, as Disney-Hyperion, like the other large publishers, only looks at submissions from agents or published authors.
This profile supplements Chapter 26 of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books, which introduces the people who work in those "ivory towers," with general information about the kinds of people who work as editors and what they do, and profiles of specific editors and the company where they work.
Copyright 2010 and 2011 by Harold Underdown. Copyright policy
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