The Teen Press Corps was lucky enough to get an interview with the Editorial Director of Soho Press’s new imprint Soho Teen, Daniel Ehrenhaft. With much excitement, here it is:
What do you look for when you are selecting a book for your line?
[DE] Above all, I look for a unique, compelling voice at the heart of a great and surprising thriller or mystery. I would say that voice is paramount, because a great author can always tweak a plot—but voice is what grabs a reader; it’s where the artistry lies.
How are you planning on marketing your books to teens?
[DE] Soho Press is very lucky to have a tireless, ingenious marketing and publicity team that crafts individual campaigns around each book. It’s one of the perks of working at an Indie Publisher. But here’s a neat thing that distinguishes us from other teen imprints: In addition to all the traditional advertising and social media outreach (extensive blog tours are always key component) we are specifically targeting Common Core aligned schools and libraries with educator’s guides. Vetted by a team of experts—teachers, librarians, and school administrators—every one provides a comprehensive, ready-to-go classroom curriculum centered on a specific Soho Teen title. In short, we aim both to help overworked teachers and librarians do their jobs and to spread the word about our list.
What genre do you pull or look for the most?
[DE] Every Soho Teen title involves high-stakes mystery in some way: a secret or a hidden truth that must be revealed by book’s end. That said, I look for mysteries in any genre. Mostly I am looking to be surprised. A Soho Teen book can be historical, contemporary, absurdist, fantasy-driven, dystopian…I’d happily publish a vampire or zombie mystery if it felt fresh. And I am a firm believer that most great YA, with a few notable exceptions, involves romance—again, provided that it’s not derivative.
What is or will be your primary goal for your imprint?
[DE] The primary goal will always be to publish exceptional YA; quality matters above all else. Not unrelated, we aim for the Soho Teen line to be associated with a broader mission of promoting teen literacy. Per the above, our educator’s guides are an example of our commitment to that mission, as is our star-studded Who Done It? Anthology (our highest selling book in our nine months of existence!), whose proceeds benefit the literacy nonprofit 826nyc.
Do the Authors get any say in the covers?
[DE] We try to give them a say; we really do! Most contracts require “meaningful consultation,” with an author on this issue, which as any publishing professional will tell you can be broadly interpreted. (“Here is your cover; do you like it? Too bad; it’s the cover.”) As an author myself, I am particularly sensitive to cover choices. Soho Teen always has a conversation. Some or more contentious than others, but to date, we’ve managed to come to a consensus that makes everyone excited about a coming release.
Who Done It? by Jon Scieska
The anthology opens with an invitation to a party, care of this insufferable monster, where more than 80 of the most talented, bestselling and recognizable names in YA and children’s fiction learn that they are suspects in his murder. All must provide alibis in brief first-person entries. The problem is that all of them are liars, all of them are fabulists, and all have something to hide…
Escape Theory by Margaux Froley
Sixteen-year-old Devon Mackintosh has always felt like an outsider at Keaton, the prestigious California boarding school perched above the Pacific. As long as she’s not fitting in, Devon figures she might as well pad her application to Stanford’s psych program. So junior year, she decides to become a peer counselor, a de facto therapist for students in crisis. At first, it seems like it will be an easy fly-on-the-wall gig, but her expectations are turned upside down when Jason Hutchins (a.k.a. “Hutch”), one of the Keaton’s most popular students, commits suicide.
Strangelets by Michelle Gagnon
(Coming to the Austin Teen Book Festival!)
On a day like any other, six smarter-than-most teens wake up in the same hospital after having experienced a traumatic event that they can’t quite remember … other than being forcibly sucked into an abyss at the moment of their deaths. Somebody or something seems to be pulling the strings. With individual clocks ticking─and with each guarding an individual secret─they band together and conspire to piece together the whole of what happened.
The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble
(Signed Copies available)
“I found out two things today: One, I think I’m dying. And two, my brother is a perv.”
So begins the diary of Jenna Samuels, who is having a very bad year. Her mother spends all day in bed. Dad vanished when she was nine. Her older brother, Casey, tries to hold together what’s left of the family by working two after-school jobs—difficult, as he’s stoned all the time. To make matters worse, Jenna is sick. Really sick. When she collapses one day, Casey tries to race her to the hospital in their beat-up Prius and crashes instead. Jenna wakes up in the ER to find Casey beside her, looking pretty good. Better than ever, in fact. Downright… angelic. The flab and zits? Gone. Before long, Jenna figures out that her brother didn’t survive the accident at all, and she isn’t just sick; she’s being poisoned. Casey has been sent back to help Jenna find out who’s got it out for her, a mystery that leads to more questions about their mother’s depression and their father’s disappearance.
Deviant by Helen Fitzgerald
When sixteen-year-old Abigail’s mother dies in Scotland—leaving a faded photo, a weirdly cryptic letter, and a one-way ticket to America—she feels nothing. Why should she? Her mother abandoned her as a baby to grow up on an anti-nuclear commune and then in ugly foster homes. But the letter is a surprise in more ways than one: Her father is living in California. What’s more, she has an eighteen-year-old sister, Becky. And the two are expecting Abigail to move in with them… Soon, Abigail uncovers something unimaginable: a plot with vast implications, one that is aimed not only at controlling her sister, but the behavior of rebellious teens across the globe.