Chronicle Books has appointed Ginee Seo as children’s publishing director. Seo will attend the Bologna Children’s Book Fair next week on behalf of Chronicle, and her first day at the publisher’s San Francisco offices will be May 12. Chronicle has been without a director for its children’s division since Josalyn Moran left last May to become publisher at Albert Whitman.
Seo was most recently v-p and editorial director at Simon & Schuster’s Atheneum, where she had her own imprint. She stepped down in October 2008. Before her eight-year tenure at S&S, she worked at HarperCollins for 10 years, ultimately as v-p, editorial director, where she launched The Series of Unfortunate Events. Among the books Seo has edited are Nic Sheff's memoir, Tweak; Eisner Award-winner Hope Larson’s graphic novel Chiggers; and Garth Nix’s fantasy, Lirael.
Chronicle publisher Christine Carswell said the house’s children’s list is enjoying its best year ever, “critically and commercially,” and said Seo will further “enhance the creative experience we offer our authors and artists.”
Seo told PW she would be acquiring for the list as well as directing it, and said she was “definitely interested” in developing and expanding its range. “They are already adding in some middle grade and YA fiction, and I’ll probably be looking to boost that, and will look to add narrative nonfiction and even comics.” During her tenure at Atheneum, she said, “I was moving toward visual storytelling,” citing the two Hope Larson books she published. “Somehow that really makes sense because kids are moving that way anyway.”
Since leaving S&S, Seo said she took some time off to be with her young son, and also worked on some of her own writing. “It really came home to me,” she said; “writing is hard! I’ve always admired writers for their courage but I came away with a deeper, more intimate appreciation for the process.”
The Chronicle job appealed to her, she said, because of “the company’s aura of doing books differently and looking at the world differently. It feels like a small company with a big scope.” One of the most exciting parts, she said, is what she calls the “culture of creativity” at Chronicle. “They really believe in creativity and taking risks, at the same time being sensible about profit. And if you have the right property and it’s successful it can go out in many directions – you can really get creative with different formats.”
She also applauds Chronicle’s digital efforts, saying, “I feel as if they’re really ahead of the game in thinking about digital publishing and embracing it when applicable. They’re developing in-house apps so that’s exciting and encouraging. We have to look ahead.”
Seo and her family will be relocating to San Francisco at the end of April.