On Confidence and New Books

I recently read an article in The Atlantic called “The Confidence Gap.” In it, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman discuss differences in how self-assured men and women are in their professional lives and what that ultimately means for their careers. There’s a lot to think about, but as often happens, I got to thinking about writers and confidence.

The world gives writers—especially children’s writers—plenty of reasons to not be confident. It’s easy to give up or to think that the work isn’t important or that if you’re not getting published what you’re doing has no value.

Every so often a writer will ask me for suggestions for what to write about. “I can write about anything!” they promise.

I’m never quite sure how to answer this question. Because anything is just too big. I don’t want to read about anything. I want to read about something very specific. That something could be poems about animals that gather at an African water hole over the course of a day.

It could be animals with wickedly clever ways of outwitting predators.


It could be the seasons of the year, described in language both beautiful and accessible.

Or it could simply be monsters. Really adorable monsters.

When it comes down to it, I look for authors who are passionate about whatever topic they’re writing about. I love a book that gets me interested in something I never knew I wanted to read about. I love a book that shows me the world as I’ve never seen it before.

As I look over our books for fall 2014 that will very soon be heading out into the world, I’m excited and—dare I saw it?—confident. It’s always a pleasure to work with writers (and illustrators and photographers, for that matter) who believe in their books and are equal creative partners in the long and sometimes difficult process of bringing a book into being. I’m also thinking ahead to spring 2015 and beyond, looking forward to working with new authors and learning about new subjects that I never knew would be so fascinating.