Sunday, April 1, 2018

Meet my EDITOR - Alice Jerman

The next in a series which will let me introduce you to the 
most important people in my writing life...

Editor - Harper Teen, HarperCollins

Pocket bio

Where are you from?
New Jersey

Where do you live now?

What genre do you read for pleasure?
YA Fantasy, true crime, graphic novels 

Favorite book ever?
The Winner's Curse trilogy, by Marie Rutkoski

How did you get to where you are now? Did you always want to edit books/work in publishing?
I loved books and writing, but my favorite part was always talking about books. So I knew I had to be an English major in college. It wasn't until my sophomore year, though, amidst generalized "what will I do for a career" panic that I realized "Oh wait, there are people who make the books. I would like to do that!" I got an internship at an agency and after working there for a few years, decided I'd like to be an editor, so I can talk about books and their intricate inner workings and character motivations and everything I loved from English class (minus the tests) for the rest of my life. 

What’s involved in being an editor, that is, how much more to the job is there than just line editing a manuscript?
Ha! Quite a lot goes on behind the scenes. It's always fun to explain to my family and friends that I do more than just fix the commas. Before I actually acquire a manuscript from an agent/author, there is lots of networking, reading queries, and then negotiating dealsplus paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. Then once I’ve acquired the book, there is reading drafts and doing rounds of edits, author phone calls, writing copy (flap copy, internal copy, catalog copy, galley copy, selling copy). In house, I am the author's and the book’s champion, which means I coordinate with various departments about the book, making sure it's in front of everyone it has to be before it goes out into the world. (And then more paperwork). It's a lot, but it's all for really great books I love, so it's all worth it! 

How many queries and submitted manuscripts do you read each month, and what is it that you are looking for?
This number varies depending on the time of year, but in an average month I'd say I read about 50 submissions per month.

I'm looking for primarily diversity, own voices, fantasy, and any sort of forbidden romance. I also love historical fiction, stories about friendship, family, and coming of age. I look for middle grade and YA. 

Of the books you have bought for publication, what key factors made you want to take that particular book over the others you read that week?
It's a combination of a few things, really. On a practical level: will this book work on my list? Will this book stand out on the list at Harper? Will this book be a good fit for the market now? Then there's the technical stuff: how is the writing? Is the plot strong and hooky? Then questions like: do I connect with this book? Does it speak to me in some way? Do I feel passionately about it? Do I love it? Because that leads to the biggest question of all: Is this a book I want to read over and over and over again? We spend hundreds of hours on a single book, so if it's not something you don't see yourself pouring a good chunk of your soul into, even if everything else about it is technically perfect, you shouldn't go for it!

Would you talk us through the process from start to finish – submitted ms to book on shelf – as far as your work is concerned? And which is your favorite part of that process?
For me, once I get a submission that I like, I need to run it by the members of my editorial team and then run it by my department heads. If they also like it, then I can offer on it. If all goes well, I buy it. Yay! Then I go through a few rounds of edits with the author, while I work with design to coordinate a cover. I work on packaging the book--that means coming up with catchy copy. Then I launch the book to my team, telling them the big highlights, how I feel about the book, etc. Then my marketing team is coming up with plans and my copy-editors are copy-editing the book. Then when it's perfect, the book is sent to the printer and turned into a physical book. 

My favorite part is definitely editing! I love working with the book at the text level.

What is on your manuscript wish list?
Diversity! Especially Own Voices. I also am looking for fantasy, forbidden romance, friendship stories, or coming of age stories.

What advice would you give to a teenager who is interested in becoming a book editor?
Make sure you LOVE it! This isn't a job you do lightly, you pour your heart and soul into it at every step: buying the book, editing the book, cheerleading for the book. It requires your everything, so make sure the job is right for you. 

What book do you wish you could have worked on?
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgewick or Counting By 7's by Holly Goldberg Sloan.

Do you write too? Would you every write/have you ever written a novel?
I write only on occasion. Writing takes a lot of time, so I guiltily have to say I don't really have time for it. I love writing, and I have a minor in Creative Writing, so I should put that to use, after all! I suppose there’s always next year to pick up a pen…

Alice and me at the Harper offices in New York
Of all the books you’ve worked on, which did you enjoy the most?
So many of them! I got to help edit Jodi Lynn Anderson's books, and I love her. And I really enjoyed editing Connect the Stars by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague, as well as David’s most recent novel How Oscar Indigo Broke the Universe (and Put it Back Together Again). I really loved working on Pretty Little Liars and The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard, as well as Jessica Leake’s Beyond a Darkened Shore, and Laura E Weymouth’s The Light Between Worlds. And, of course, Wait for Me by Caroline Leech is incredibly close to my heart. <3

Alice first came across my WAIT FOR ME manuscript when she was one of the judges for the RWA Emily Contest in 2014. She read the first twenty pages and immediately requested the full manuscript. She was very patient while I finished off some revisions, and was wonderfully enthusiastic when I sent the manuscript to her. Within two weeks, she had offered me a two book deal. I still sometimes read that first email from her to remind myself that this whole book deal is a real thing!