I’ve long thought that a book cover should be more like a DVD cover with credit given for sleepless nights and tireless right-word hunting to editors. Writers get jittery when editorial letters arrive, but we couldn’t survive without them. Our books wouldn’t breathe without the hard work and dedication of editors. We owe them everything. So if you’re thinking, How can I get me one of those essential editor people? then read on because on the sofa today is the brilliant Martha Mihalick from Greenwillow Books, Harper Collins.
Hi Martha, thanks so much for joining me. So, what’s the one thing every aspiring author (and perhaps even published authors) should know about editors?
That we get just as anxious about sending editorial letters as authors get about receiving them. I always breathe a sigh of relief when I hear from an author that the letter was clear and “clicked” with her. What I want most is to be on the same page as the author so that the book can meet her vision of the best it can possibly be.
And what’s the thing people believe about editors that you would say is wholly untrue?
That we don’t edit anymore! Though you know that’s not true.
The submissions inbox … what’s the one thing you’d love to find in there today?
The manuscripts that get me most excited are the ones that feel like a story only that author could tell, could see the way they do. Those always ring with truth and are the freshest and most original. That’s something that’s true for every age level, from picture book to middle grade to teen.
And the one manuscript you’ve recently acquired that you adore?
I have to pick just one? But I love all my babies! Okay, okay: a teen debut called Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin. It won’t be out for about a year, but I promise it will be worth the wait.
Your work day… what’s the one physical thing you need in your life to be able to work well?
A fresh yellow PaperMate Sharpwriter mechanical pencil.
And an immaterial thing that makes being an editor easier?
The ability to read anywhere, any time.
Ok, you’re on a desert island (probably not for the first time). You can bring one of each of these things.
One book: JUST ONE? IS THIS ISLAND A CIRCLE OF HELL? If I have to choose…Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins. No, The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. No, Persuasion by Jane Austen. Ok, this is really hard.
One album: High Violet by The National
One TV series: West Wing
One luxury item: Sunscreen
One person: My sister.
Access to one website: Twitter, so I could still talk to people. (You know, when my sister and I start annoying each other after about a day.)
And finally, what do you enjoy about being an editor? Give us as many reasons as you like!
The authors. The books. The readers. The smell of a book fresh from the printer. Getting to talk about stories all day. The incredibly thrilling feeling of being the first person to read something special. The incredibly thrilling feeling of handing the right book to the right reader.
Thanks so much for your time, Martha. Now, get back to work