Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 6, 2010

Editor Cheryl Klein Answers Questions

I found this picture on agent Jill Corcoran’s blog.  Don’t you love it?  I think we should print it out.  Maybe it will help us feel better when we are waiting forever to hear back from an editor.  

Now let’s talk about Cheryl Klein, editor at Arthor A. Levine.  I am sure most of you are familiar with Cheryl and already visit her blog, but if you haven’t visited you should.   She posts a lot of great information on her blog and website.  Last week Cheryl answered nine questions from writers.  Jill Corcoran liked number two.  I didn’t need anyone to point out the importance of getting an agent, but if I was an agent, I am sure question two and the answer would be my favorite, too.

I listed question five and six.  Six because we were talking about synopsis last week and I totally agree with Cheryl.  Question five, because I like the way Cheryl gives you an insiders view of what publishers consider before offering a contract for a book.  Click the link at the bottom to read all nine questions and answers.

5.  In a review for *House Rules* by Jodi Picoult, a critic referred to Asperger’s as the “disease du jour” (which shows some measure of ignorance since AS is not a disease.) There do seem to be a number of books, movies, TV shows, etc that have characters on the Autism Spectrum. When does the market become saturated? Is it like vampires (although I cringe to make the comparison) and there is room for more protagonists with different ways of being? How do publishers gauge which underlying topics have room left to explore and which do not?

We publishers know the market is saturated when (a) bookstore buyers start rolling their eyes and passing on the books when sales reps present them (a dangerous warning sign we try to avoid before we get there), or (b) the books stop selling (ditto). Another warning sign is when a manuscript involving the trend du jour presents all the cliches of that trend rather than any original thought involving it, but then that could just be the fault of one unimaginative writer rather than the fault of the trend. . . . Maybe many manuscripts like that would form sign (c).

With something like Asperger’s, which is (or should be) a factor of a character’s personality rather than the whole plot itself (in contrast to vampirism, where a vampire’s mere existence in the real world alongside regular humans usually becomes the central problem/plotline of the book), I think there’s still a lot of room to explore, because there are so many plots that might involve it in so many different ways. Also, the most recent statistic I’ve seen regarding autism said that 1 in 110 children born today are somewhere on the autistic spectrum — which is up considerably (and distressingly) from the 1 in 150 statistic I saw when I was working on Marcelo in the Real World a couple years ago. If that’s true, the interest in autism isn’t going away anytime soon, though the subject will need to continue to be covered relatively well in order to be respectable. (Though those numbers should certainly be taken with a grain of salt: “lies, damned lies . . .”)

6.  For a YA novel, what length of a synopsis makes you smile?

One page, single spaced.

Read the rest by clicking:


  1. Great photo Kathy!


  2. It is, isn’t it? Did I hear you right? A flu can cause pain up the arm?


  3. Jeannine,

    You must think I am goofy. Jeanne Balsam sent me an e-mail about getting the flu. I meant to ask her that question. I see you are coming out to the Conference in June. It will be good to see you again.



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