Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Liz Waniewski: How I Got into Publishing

While at Boston College and trying to decide what I wanted to do with my English major degree, my parents asked me, pre-Avenue Q, “What do you do with a BA in English? Because you are not moving home.” (Well, this is how my 20-year-old brain interpreted a very loving conversation about the importance of being able to support yourself and not needing to depend on anyone else to live the life you want to live.) 

And I realized that I wanted to get paid to read. Actually, I wanted to get paid to read books for kids because the books I read growing up shaped me and touched me in ways that nothing else could. Diana Wynne Jones, Lloyd Alexander, Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume – these were authors who didn’t know me but somehow understood me. They made me feel connected to people, places, and ideas that were new, different, and bigger than my own world. To be part of the process of bringing a book to life for someone else to connect with, well, that was my dream job. 

So how did I get that dream job? First I was lucky enough to get an internship in the children’s department at Little, Brown while still in college. (Alvina, thanks for interviewing me!) The talented group there was so excited and passionate about all books for kids – not just the ones they were publishing. They introduced me to Toot and Puddle, Speak, Harry Potter, and Holes, and that sealed it for me. 

After graduating, I took the Columbia Publishing Course, which was amazing and introduced me to the world of New York City publishing. I was able to interview at Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Group, the imprint that published Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears, a book I loved and was featured on my all-time-favorite show, Reading Rainbow. I’m lucky to have been at the same house for over 11 years, working my way up from editorial assistant to executive editor. I work with the most intelligent, generous, kind, thoughtful, and creative group of people who are all so dedicated to making books that kids will love. We want our books to reach every kid, so they know there is someone out there who understands them too. 


  1. That was my fave Reading Rainbow, too!

  2. Great interview! I have an oddly distinct memory of watching that specific episode of Reading Rainbow in third grade. It was definitely one of my favorites.