Welcome to Part III of Book Country’s Ask an Editor blog series. Alexandra Cardia, Assistant Editor at Riverhead Books, talks about the most rewarding thing about being an editor and deciding whether to work with a particular manuscript. Read Part I and Part II of Ask an Editor.
1. Generally how far do you read into a submitted book before deciding it’s trash or good enough to work with? – BoJo Johnson
It really depends on the project. Nonfiction projects are generally submitted as a proposal, and I read proposals front to back; you need to, I think, to get a full picture of the work. For fiction, how far I read into a work is generally dependent on two things: First, if I connect to the writing. If I don’t, I’ll know that pretty quickly and know that the work is probably a pass for me. Second, if I like the writing, I’ll read for story. This can take anywhere from a couple dozen pages to the entire manuscript. Sometimes I’ll read an entire manuscript and only then know that it’s not the right fit for me. So it really does depend on the work!
2. What is the most challenging and most rewarding about being an editor? – Anni Eayrs
I’d say the most challenging thing about being an editor is knowing that while some books are going to be runaway success stories, others aren’t going to reach as large of an audience as you’d like them to. Some of it is timing, some of it is luck, and those things you just can’t account for. But the most rewarding thing that comes with being an editor is building a relationship with an author, helping that author see their book through to a polished, meaningful work, and then sharing that book with the world. Anyone who has written a book knows just how hard it is, and I love being a supportive part of that process.
3. Does a writer need to have proper schooling to get you to give them a second look? – Tiffany Thordal (@TMThordal)
Whether a writer has an MFA, or any other type of creative writing degree, is not something I concern myself with when reviewing submissions. If a work is good, it will speak for itself, regardless of the author’s academic credentials.
About Alexandra Cardia