Today I have the distinct pleasure of bringing someone from the writing world, an editor at HarperCollins who worked very closely with me to bring CHOSEN to life, the lovely and talented Maya Ziv. Maya graciously answered many questions, some submitted by readers, some I just dreamed up, to share with you the life of an editor and some inside scoop from the ever-changing world of publishing. Welcome!
1) What was the first book you ever loved?
I feel like I never know how to answer this question! I can say that as a young girl, I was absolutely obsessed with the Cinderella story. I had versions from all around the world and watched the Disney adaptation—and any other adaptation I could get my hands on!—about a million times. I also had a tape deck (so dated now!) on which I played the Disney soundtrack so many times my father almost broke the tape on purpose. It was this fervent obsession that made my aunt, also a book editor, comment that I was a born English major.
2) What originally drew you to the publishing world?
Not to be corny, I was just born a reader. I was one of those kids that ate books, and unfortunately, was not very strong in other areas (read: math and science). When I was nine, we had “Take Your Daughter to Work Day”, and I couldn’t go with my mother, who’s a therapist, so I went to work with my aunt, the book editor. I walked into Simon & Schuster, saw the rows of books, and fell in love. I think what also helped was that for lunch we went to the 21 Club and I ate french fries. I think it was the french fries that really sealed the deal. I still have a note that I wrote that day stating my intention to be an editor when I “grew up.”
3) What is the publishing accomplishment of which you are most proud?
That’s a good question, one that I’m not sure I can answer. I guess a touching moment that stands out to me, was the first time I gave a debut author an early copy of his finished book. It was the first book I had worked on and so, in many ways, I think I over-identified with it. We both teared up looking at it, and it hit me that we had created something tangible that was indeed out there in the world.
4) Readers ask me all the time if it hurts the author when they buy my book for their Kindle or other e-reader. I've always figured a sale is a sale is a sale, and at least it's probably harder to loan someone a book that you bought electronically. What's the inside scoop?
My personal opinion is that sales are sales, and while e-books are undoubtably here and making an impact on the market, I don’t think it’s a negative thing at all. Change is scary (I’ve always hated it!), but in this case I think it’s exciting.
5) As part of a major NYC publishing house, what do you make of conversations like this about prominent writers abandoning their publisher and going out on their own? What about for the everyman?
I’m embarassed to admit that sometimes I’m so caught up with emails and manuscripts that I don’t actually follow some publishing stories enough to form an opinion, so I feel a bit uninformed to make an intelligent answer. Re: the argument that there may not be a need for publishing houses, I always direct people to Laura Miller’s excellent piece on Salon. As someone who has been up to my elbows in slush, I think it makes a great point!
6) Another stock question, but one I know some of my readers will want to hear the answer to: what is your best advice for a new writer trying to get his/her manuscript published?
My best advice is to revise your manuscript until you would want to send it out yourself. And then read comparative titles, see what’s working in the market. And lastly, build a platform: Network with other authors, try to get pieces or stories published, gain a following on a blog, Facebook, or Twitter. I think the best thing an author can do is be informed and engaged in the process.
I actually don’t listen to anything! It’s me time—thinking through things, composing emails in my head, going over a mental to-do list. It’s my only real destresser.
8) What book do you most wish you had been part of?
I’ve never been asked that, what a great question! I know I should be adventurous and name a book that involves time travel or exotic places, but the truth is, I’ve always longed to live in a Jane Austen novel. I want to take walks with Elizabeth Bennett and be friends with Emma. I know those women comparatively had very dull lives, but I’m a sucker for the clothes and for the period language.
Well, when I was in elementary school I won a tea with Judy Blume, which is pretty much the highlight of my childhood. As an adult…I think Laurie Colwin. I just love her books and aesthetic so much, that I envision her making us a delicious homecooked meal while she gives me sage advice. Does that make me sound completely selfish?
10) Which book would you most like to see adapted to film?
Tricky question! Too many that I just can’t think of. I’ll stick to the classics and say that as much as I LOVED the Anne of Green Gables movies, there could be room for a new adaptation.
11) In the movie version of Chosen, who would you cast as the main characters?
After seeing Water for Elephants I am completely confused about casting direction. For now, I can definitively say Rachel McAdams as Chloe. (Chandra, do you want to kill me?) CKH: No, I can see it. I was thinking Claire Danes, because she does such a good job of being an ugly crier and wearing her anguish on her face, but maybe she's getting too old to be Chloe?
Cowboys Are My Weakness by Pam Houston
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin
The Known World by Edward P. Jones
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Diverse enough for you?
Ha—what isn’t?! Bossypants; As Always, Julia; The Saints Will Find Their Way; Persuasion
14) What great question didn't I ask that I should have?
Q: What book has motivated you to do something new? I have to say that Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia motivated me to start cooking more, while Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project helped me implement small changes that made day-to-day life seem more manageable.
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BIO: Maya Ziv grew up in New York City, and after a stint in the Midwest for college, returned to New York to work in book publishing. An avid reader and runner with sadly no other real hobbies, she lives in Brooklyn, NY.
You can find/follow her on Twitter: @Maya784