Editor Interview: Lynn Green on BookPage

Lynn Green on Lynn Green: “I was born in Nashville, where I still live. I sometimes feel like one of the few natives around, since Nashville has seen such an influx of newcomers over the past two decades.

“I received my undergraduate degree from Tulane University and a master’s degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Since that time, I have worked as a writer and editor for several publications, large and small, including Nashville’s now defunct evening newspaper, The Nashville Banner.

“I came to BookPage in 2000 and have worked with every category of books, including adult fiction and nonfiction and, more recently, children’s books. It’s been great to be able to use my experience at BookPage to recommend books for my own three children, particularly my son, William (now a teenager), who’s the most avid reader of the bunch.

Could you give us an overview of BookPage: America’s Book Review?

BookPage is a monthly book review distributed to more than 400,000 readers each month through subscribing bookstores and public libraries across the country. We cover a broad range of books, with a focus on new releases. Our goal is to recommend good books for readers of all types, whether they’re interested in literary fiction or romance, history or science fiction, audiobooks or children’s books.

How about the history behind BookPage?

BookPage was founded in 1988 by book industry veteran Michael Zibart, previously an executive vice president of Ingram Book Company. He remains publisher of BookPage today. We’re located in Nashville, which we think gives us an interesting vantage point outside the industry whirlwind of New York City.

Who is your target audience?

To put it simply, BookPage is aimed at people who love to read. With newspaper book review sections on the decline, we’ve found that booklovers are hungry for news about books and recommendations on the best new books to read. BookPage is one of the few national publications to provide that information to a general audience.

Has that changed or expanded over time? Why?

When BookPage was founded almost two decades ago, our subscribers were almost exclusively independent bookstores. As the small independents began to close (sadly) in the 1990s, our market expanded to include public libraries. That move has proven to be quite successful–more than 2,000 public libraries now subscribe and BookPage is extremely popular among library patrons.

In what way do you focus on children’s and YA literature in particular?

BookPage has coverage of children’s and YA books in every issue, typically including an author interview and an illustrator Q&A along with several shorter children’s book reviews. Since BookPage is designed for a general audience, our reviews are tailored not for teachers, librarians or publishers, but for the people who buy children’s books–parents, grandparents and, of course, children and teens themselves.

What do you see as your own editorial role in the process?

I work along with our other editors to select the books we cover and arrange feature articles and book reviews for every issue. We have an established roster of freelance contributors–an extremely interesting group of writers representing a variety of occupations, interests and locations. We match these reviewers with the books we want to cover each month and the results are always lively and sometimes surprising!

What are its challenges?

Our biggest challenge, undoubtedly, is dealing with the volume of material we receive. In the children’s category alone, we get hundreds of books (usually advance review copies) each month, but we have space to cover a dozen of these books in each issue, at most. It’s frustrating that we can review only a fraction of the books that deserve attention.

What do you love about it?

I love getting an early look at what’s coming next in books–and of course it’s a wonderful perk to have access to more books than I could ever read!

I began supervising our children’s book coverage two years ago and have found that I enjoy it more than any other part of my job. The people involved in children’s publishing–from the editors and publicists to the authors themselves–tend to be part of this industry because they love it, not because they’re hoping to get rich and/or famous. The egos on the children’s side of publishing are smaller, but the talent is just as great.

Could you tell us how you evaluate books for review and authors for interview?

BookPage has a long-time New York contributing editor, Sukey Howard, who meets with representatives of most major publishing houses on a regular basis. Sukey’s reports give us an advance look at what’s coming and direct our attention to the major releases and the in-house favorites. With that as a starting point, we read as much as we can, poring over the galleys that are stacked on every available surface in our office. We’re looking for books that appeal to our broad, general audience, books that are beautifully written and compelling.

In children’s books, we hope to spotlight new voices along with established authors. And we’re always looking for talented picture book illustrators to feature in our Meet the Illustrator Q&As.

How should children’s/YA authors and/or publishers connect with BookPage?

Because of our long lead time, we prefer to receive an ARC three months prior to a book’s publication date. Around the time a galley is sent, it’s also helpful if a book’s publicist (or in some cases the author herself) emails us with a brief summary of why the book is special–why it deserves coverage in BookPage. If a book or an author has a special backstory worthy of mentioning, it’s great to find that out early in the process.

To what extent does BookPage online reflect BookPage in print? Are there any content distinctions?

The full content of each print edition is posted online at the first day of every month. The website also has a blog, Buzz Girl, in which our New York correspondent gives advance word on books to be published during the next season. The blog is updated weekly.

BookPage has been on the web for a full 10 years now–all our issues from 1996 on are archived on the site–so draws a lot of hits from people doing research on books and authors.

What do you do when you’re not reading, writing, or editing?

With two children in high school and one in college, most of my “leisure” activities are family-centered, from soccer games to band concerts. My husband would probably tell you that I also spend way too much time tending to the needs of my 11-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, Skipper, and watching TLC (favorite show: “Little People, Big World”).