Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SCBWI Exclusive with…Arianne Lewin, Executive Editor, G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Ari headshot black and white


Arianne Lewin is an Executive Editor at G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House USA. A native New Yorker, Arianne started her publishing career in 2002 at Disney-Hyperion Books for Children, where she worked on picture books with Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Laura Numeroff; chapter books with Deborah Underwood and Whoopi Goldberg; and young adult novels with Cinda Williams Chima; Chris Bradford; and Julie Anne Peters.

Since joining Penguin Random House in 2010, Arianne has acquired and published the work of the Geisel Award-winning picture book author/illustrator Ethan Long; middle-grade and young adult fiction from New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins; and Rick Yancey’s #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling 5th Wave series.


 What are the elements in a query letter that reel you in to make you request a full manuscript?

I most want to hear what a story is about, so I can consider whether it will be a good fit for my list (or entice me to dip into an unfamiliar category).  If an author has a bit of knowledge about the market, I’d be interested in hearing about who they think the book is for, or other stories the work might evoke.  PRO TIP: Query letters are more like business letters than getting-to-know-you opportunities, so I’d avoid saying anything that feels too wacky or personal.


Once you read the full manuscript, what makes you say Yes, I have to acquire this book?

Reading a full manuscript instead of just a piece of the manuscript is evidence that I’m already halfway to a yes.  The characters will be authentic and believable, the world well-realized, and the pages will turn.  After ticking those boxes I think through why the book needs to be out in the world. Moving forward to acquisitions means I’ve come up with a good reason.  


Walk us through your editorial process once you do acquire a manuscript.

After acquisitions I’ll deliver editorial notes (between two and six pages), along with a marked-up manuscript.  I aim to do more querying than line-editing in first drafts, since the work will likely change in revision.  Once I receive the revised draft I’ll do the same thing again.  Possibly again.  And then we’ll go back and forth on a round of line edits before submitting the manuscript to copy editing.

The timeline is something like: two to six months for post-acquisition notes (depending on my schedule and the anticipated pub. date); three to four months for the author to return the draft (sometimes more, depending on how much work the author needs to do; sometimes less, if we don’t have a lot of time until the pub. date); one to two months for me to return notes on the second draft; then we can do another round if we feel that the manuscript needs it, or move to line edits. Altogether, about eight months to a year from acquisition to copyediting, and a year from copyediting to publication.   


What's on your current wish list?

I work mainly on middle grade and young adult fiction, and am always eager to see writing that is fresh and original.