On Wednesday, March 2nd, Susan Katz (http://mspub.blogs.pace.edu/?s=susan+katz), former President of HarperCollins Children’s Books and the 2015/16 David Pecker Distinguished Professor, will be hosting a mentoring session open to all students and alumni from the MS in Publishing program.
In the session Ms. Katz will share some of her stories about crafting a successful publishing career and in particular discuss the importance of mentoring, as a key to success, in the publishing industry. While Ms. Katz’s has extensive experience in Children’s Books, students interested in any aspect of publishing are welcome and encouraged to attend.
This is a wonderful opportunity to hear directly from one of the most successful publishing professionals in the industry and we hope to see many of you on there!
Space is limited so please RSVP early. Come prepared with questions!
Interview with Susan Katz, David Pecker Distinguished Visiting Professor
for the 2015-2016 Academic Year
It is an honor to have Susan Katz serving as the David Pecker Distinguished Professor for the 2015-2016 academic year. Ms. Katz joined Harper & Row in 1987 as President and Publisher of the College Division and as a member of the Executive Committee. In 1996, Katz made the transition from educational to trade publishing and became President of the HarperCollins Children’s Division, which is the position she held for 19 years until her retirement this past September.
Katz was a member of the Advisory Board of First Book and a member of the Children’s Book Council. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Boston University and a master’s degree from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Her first lecture will take place on Thursday, October 29th, 2015 at Pace University, 163 Williams St, 18th floor, from 6-8pm, where she will be discussing her experiences in Children’s Books Publishing as well as what goes into the making of a bestselling book with two of her colleagues, Jane O’Connor, the author of the Fancy Nancy picture book series, as well as her editor, Margaret Anastas, Professor Jane Denning had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Katz as she assumes her new role at Pace. The pair discussed what she hopes to accomplish as the David Pecker Distinguished Professor as well as some advice she has to offer to current Pace M.S. in Publishing students.
Prof. Denning: Hi Susan and thank you for agreeing to do this interview! Congratulations on being named the Visiting David Pecker Distinguished Professor for the 2015-2016 academic year. Can you tell us a bit about what you hope to accomplish this year at Pace?
Susan Katz: Thank you. I am very excited to have the opportunity to share some of my experiences with students here at Pace. I have always enjoyed hearing an “insider’s view’ of any profession that interests me because it becomes less mysterious and yet more interesting the more I learn. I hope students will find the information as well as my stories and anecdotes useful and entertaining in equal measure.
Prof. Denning: As the Visiting Professor, you will be giving two lectures throughout the course of the year. What do you want students to take away from these lectures? Any pearls of wisdom you can impart for us now?
Susan Katz: I have asked colleagues to join me during both lectures. I am sharing case studies which I think will be exciting to hear because in both cases the books turned into major bestsellers. I want students to get a feel for “what it takes” to make a book into a major success. I’ve asked two of my colleagues to join me because they were key contributors to creating the successes.
Prof. Denning: Many of our students here at Pace have varied interests within the world of publishing. When you were first starting out in the industry, did you know that you wanted to end up working with Children’s books?
Susan Katz: Many folks call publishing the “accidental profession.” I didn’t start out with an interest in publishing, which I will be happy to explain at the first lecture. I did start out with a passion for reading, and a love of children’s books. I never thought I would be lucky enough to have the opportunity to work in the world of children’s books, which came midway through my career.
Prof. Denning: If a student is interested in the children’s book industry (or any other aspect of publishing) what is the best way for them to break in?
Susan Katz: Start with an internship or an entry level position. Make sure you use all of the resources at Pace to make your first connections. Attend Industry events. Talk to bookstore staff. Build relationships. More advice to come.
Prof. Denning: As our students gear up to enter the workforce, what sort of skills should they develop while in the MS in Publishing program so they can embark upon a successful career in publishing, whether in editorial, marketing, sales, or production or any other aspect of the business?
Susan Katz: It’s important to learn as much about the field as possible. So much information is available on line! Read the relevant business publications and research the publishers by visiting their websites. Bone up on the industry by reading newspaper articles in the area of publishing that interests you. Be sure to study the challenges the industry is facing so that you are prepared to focus on the thriving areas.
Prof. Denning: Can you tell us a bit about our lecture that will take place on Thursday, Oct. 29th ?
Susan Katz: As I metioned earlier, Jane O’Connor, the author of the Fancy Nancy picture book series, as well as her editor, Margaret Anastas, will be joining me. I thought it would be interesting to break the session into two parts. First, I’d like each of us to talk a bit about our careers, our experiences and how we got to the place we are today, and then I thought we would explain the picture book market and each describe our specific experiences in creating this fantastic picture book franchise that has sold over 30 million copies and is still selling today.
Prof. Denning: Thank you Susan! We are really looking forward to your lecture.
On Wednesday, April 14th, Susan Katz, the President and Publisher at HarperCollins Children’s Books, delivered the annual Eliot DeYoung Schein Lecture.The title of her talk was “The Changing World of Children’s and Teen Publishing.”
Ms. Katz began her lecture on the children’s book market by stating that it has not yet been affected by the economy; due in part to parents being willing to spend money on children’s books. “One of the last expenditures parents will cut is books for their kids,” Ms. Katz said. “Parents will continue to buy books for their children even when they don’t buy for themselves.”Parents are still buying print editions and the sales of children’s ebooks account for less than 5% of the digital market today.
Ms. Katz also discussed how ‘content is key’.Series books such as Harry Potter, the Twilight series, and The Wimpy Kid, have become billion dollar franchises because of the high quality of the content that was given to their target audience.
Ms. Katz also noted that publishing houses, including HarperCollins, will eventually have to change the way they publish in order to accommodate the consumption habits of their audiences as they age.According to the 2008 Scholastic Friends and Family Reading Report, kids between the ages of 5-8, 30% read books everyday and 8% go online every day.However, between the ages of 9-11, only 22% read books everyday and 34% go online every day.The numbers continue to increase for online readers; by ages 15-17, 58% of teens go online everyday versus only 17% reading books every day.“We have to deliver our content the way our customers want to see it,” said Ms. Katz.
When it comes to purchasing books, children aren’t the ones the spending the money, parents are.“Children love books and love to read but they aren’t the ultimate purchaser,” Ms. Katz said.Statistics show that 95% of moms are online and 45% buy kids’ products online making purchases 36 times a year.Furthermore, 67% of moms say technology has influenced their child’s ability to learn and 69% of parents list education and learning as the reason they let their child go online.Ms. Katz also discussed different electronic delivery methods used for children’s publishing including; Leapster, Disney Digital Books, augmented reality, and astorybeforebed.com, just to name a few.
Lastly, Ms. Katz touched upon the tweens (8-12) and teens markets.She explained how these markets are becoming increasingly fascinated with the internet and how publishers are using sites like Funbrain.com, Inkpop.com, and PulseIt.comto market to this audience.These methods have shown Ms. Katz that kids want to move from introverted experiences to interactive ones.Publishers must be aware of the changes and deliver content how readers want it, when they want it, and on whatever device do they want it on.“The delivery mechanism for fictional content may change, the business model may evolve, but the content will always be king,” Ms. Katz concluded.