Meet the faculty of the 2017 Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference. We’ve asked all our faculty members to answer 4 quick questions so we can get to know them better.
Kendra Levin, Executive Editor, Viking Children’s Books
Kendra Levin is an executive editor at Viking Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, where she has spent eleven years working on a wide range of children’s literature from picture books to young adult novels. She has edited New York Times bestseller Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, Theodor Seuss Geisel award winner Don’t Throw It to Mo! by David A. Adler, Society of Illustrators Gold Medal winner The Lost House by B.B. Cronin, and the work of authors including Janet Fox, Julie Berry, Deborah Freedman, and others. Kendra also helps writers as a teacher and certified life coach, and is the author of The Hero Is You, a grounded self-help guide to a healthier writing process. Visit her at kendracoaching.com and follow her @kendralevin.
What attracted you to children’s books?
I was lucky to get read to a lot as a child. When you have an English professor and an elementary school teacher for parents, that kind of comes with the territory! So I loved children’s books when I was a child, and I just never stopped.
What’s the best part of your job?
A lot of people outside the publishing industry probably imagine editing as a solitary job, but my favorite parts of my work are the social interactions: brainstorming with authors, helping colleagues problem-solve, and mentoring our junior staff who are just at the beginning of their editorial adventures.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
The biggest challenge comes when someone’s expectations don’t line up with reality– whether that someone is an author who’s expecting more attention, an agent who’s not getting what they want, or sometimes me, when I don’t see a book getting what I believe is its due.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given that helped drive your career?
This wasn’t advice given to me personally, but I’ve noticed that all the key mentors in my life conduct themselves in the spirit of this quote by Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The mentors I most admire are kind and good listeners to everyone, from the intern to the CEO. That’s the kind of professional and person I want to be at every stage of my career. I want people to remember that I made them feel heard, appreciated, and understood.
Come see Kendra at the 2017 Austin SCBWI conference, May 20-21, 2017