Friday, April 29, 2016

From Submission to Offer with Alyson Heller

Super excited to share my interview with Alyson Heller, the editor at Aladdin who worked on Dee Romito's THE BFF BUCKET LIST. Ms. Romito's debut is set to drop next Tuesday, so it felt like the right time to get a behind-the-scenes peek into the acquisition process. Enjoy!

KV: First off, tell us a bit about THE BFF BUCKET LIST. What is it about, and what did you love about it?

AH: Skyler and Ella have been best friends since kindergarten, but lately, Ella feels like they are drifting apart. The solution? Ella comes up with The BFF Bucket List, and the girls must complete all the tasks together. As new friends, epic opportunities and super-cute boys enter the picture, the challenges on the list aren’t the only ones they face.

What I loved about The BFF Bucket list is that it speaks to the universal experience of the angst and struggles with friendship, particularly during these tween years. In this story, the girls are about to go off to high school, and the separation in interests and other friend groups starts to become more and more apparent. We’ve all been there, and Dee Romito does a wonderful job of showing this experience.

KV: Once you decided to take THE BFF BUCKET LIST to your acquisitions meeting/editorial board, did you inform Ms. Romito’s agent of your interest in the manuscript? Do you typically keep in contact with the agent throughout the process, or do you prefer to have a final decision in hand before you reach out?

AH: Yes, once we got in the pages from Dee, I shared with our immediate Aladdin editorial team, who read and loved, and we let Dee’s agent, Dr. Uwe Stender, know that we would be taking the manuscript to our acquisitions meeting. I usually let the agents know that I am taking something to acquisitions, just in case the status on their end has changed. Happily, our acquisitions board also loved the pages we presented, and I was able to make an official offer, which is always so exciting!

KV: Any last words of advice or encouragement you’d like to share with us?

AH: In some cases, I have seen a previous submission that hasn’t quite worked for my list or Aladdin’s list overall, but loved the voice and writing of the author--and there are a few instances where I have then signed them up for something down the line, whether it’s a new project they come back with, or a project we approached them for. That is a long way of saying don’t be discouraged if the first submission your agent goes out with doesn’t quite stick--we certainly keep note of those authors who we would love to work with someday on the right project if the opportunity comes along!

Wonderful advice, Ms. Heller. Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions!

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