On Monday, I had the pleasure of interviewing author, Anna Staniszewski about her newly-released book, MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE. Today, I follow-up with an Assistant Editor at Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Aubrey Poole, who stepped right in and helped put Anna’s debut novel into the hands of readers.
LBS: Speaking for Sourcebooks, what was it that first attracted you to MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE?
AP: Anna’s agent sent over a great pitch about an adventurous girl that saves magical kingdoms (I loved that Jenny did the rescuing in this fairy tale), but it was the first few lines that grabbed me: “You know all those stories that claim fairies cry sparkle tears and elves travel by rainbow? They’re lies. All lies. No one tells you the truth until it’s too late. And then all you can do is run like crazy while a herd of unicorns tries to kill you.” How can you not love Jenny after reading that? And who knew Unicorns were so bloodthirsty?
LBS: How did the revision process work between publisher and author?
AP: Generally we go through two rounds: First is the developmental edit that looks at the story arc and second is the line-edit where I look more closely at sentence structure, word choice, etc. Anna is a terrific writer and she put a lot of work into it with her agent before we even got it. I suggested a few tweaks to the pacing and the final showdown with evil Klarr, which Anna skillfully incorporated, but I can honestly say it was a pretty light edit. Also, I just have to thank Bill Gates for Microsoft Word’s Tracked Changes.
LBS: I understand that Anna’s original editor left to attend an Oxford writing program. Did you become the primary editor, and if so, what was that like for you?
AP: Yes, Rebecca Frazer was the acquiring editor. She has a fantastic eye and really helped me learn the ropes. This book is one we worked very closely on from the beginning – I actually read it first and when Rebecca heard me laughing hysterically from the next room she called me to find out what I was reading. Since I was such a big fan, Rebecca let me take point on this project while overseeing the process. I’m very grateful for her trust and direction, and it turned out to be a smooth transition once she left. I was incredibly pleased when my MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE was officially transitioned to me – I love working with Anna!
LBS: From a publisher’s perspective, what is the most challenging part of bringing a debut novel to life?
AP: Getting the word out! I think it’s obvious how much I love this book, and I want everyone else to love it too! But they have to read it first. Anna has been just amazing about getting out there and promoting this book, and so has our marketing team. It’s also important to get the packaging right because we’re hoping to establish a successful career for Anna—not just this one book. So we want to get the title, cover, and back cover copy just right not only for the book but for Anna’s author brand.
LBS: I know a lot of readers and authors wonder why it can take years between an acquisition and its release date. Why is that?
AP: There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes! As an independent company, Sourcebooks is a bit more nimble and we can actually get a book to market more quickly than is sometimes typical. We’ve just finished acquiring for Fall 2012 and are moving to Spring 2013. But we need time to edit the book, get the packaging right, manufacture the final product and then build up interest. We print advance reader copies five or six months before the actual publication date to send out to reviewers and bloggers like you. They need time to review the book and get it into their magazines, etc. I get anxious to see my author’s books in print, so I can only imagine how they feel, but it doesn’t help to print the book faster if no one’s heard of it.
LBS: I’ve always wondered, is it easier or harder to work with debut authors?
AP: Oooh, good question. I think there are pros and cons. Previously published authors know the ropes and have experience with the editing and publishing process. But there’s nothing more exciting than that first call to an author to tell them that we want to acquire their book(s). That’s the best part of my job.
Good luck with Anna’s book, Aubrey! I am sure it will reach the hearts of many middle-graders. Thank you for taking the time to stop by Emu’s Debuts and share your side of the publication experience with us.