Monday, October 26, 2015
Interview With Bloomsbury Executive Managing Editor Melissa Kavonic
1. What do you love about serving as the executive managing editor at Bloomsbury? I love that I get to work on a huge variety of books, from youngest board books and picture books to middle grade and YA novels, as well as some nonfiction. Every day is different, and even though I’ve been here for nine years, I still learn new things all the time. I also work with a fantastic group of people who pull off miracles daily!
2. How do you help writers produce better books? My team is responsible for copyediting and proofreading all the books, along with the help of freelancers, so we try to polish the writing to help it be the best it can be, watching out for basic spelling/grammar errors as well as continuity.
3. What challenges do you overcome in order to do a great job? Time! That’s our biggest challenge. There never seems to be enough time in the day… We are under strict deadlines and unfortunately book schedules often run late for various reasons, but we cannot miss our pub dates, so my department—along with the help of the Production department—just has to make it happen.
4. Where do you see book publishing heading? I’ve been hearing about the death of print since I started interviewing for my first job, twenty years ago. But books are still here (thank goodness)! Sometimes we struggle, and sometimes we flourish. It’s gratifying to see teen readers still buying print books, and I hope they will continue to do so.
5. What have been some of your more interesting or successful books while working at Bloomsbury? Our biggest, most-successful series is Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, along with the first book in her new series, A Court of Thorns and Roses. Shannon Hale’s Books of Bayern series and graphic novel Rapunzel’s Revenge, E.D. Baker’s Frog Princess series, and Jessica Day George’s Tuesdays at the Castle series are all very successful on the novel side, while Salina Yoon’s Penguin books and Found are wonderful on the picture book side. We also do some middle-grade nonfiction, and I always learn a lot from those. A couple of the most fascinating are Poop Happened! A History of the World from the Bottom Up by Sarah Albee and How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg—check them out!
6. Your role is more behind the scenes – do you mind not getting the glory for an author’s success? Not at all! (Although it’s much appreciated when my team gets a shout-out in the author’s acknowledgments.) It’s always exciting when our advances get delivered from the printer—it’s actually incredibly rewarding to hold a finished book in your hand and know that you played a part in getting it made; it makes all the blood, sweat, and tears worth it!
7. How did you find yourself working in book publishing? What went wrong!? My first job was as an editorial assistant at Oxford University Press; I loved working there but I realized I did not want to be an editor. I started freelancing as a copyeditor and proofreader because I was pretty sure that’s what I had a passion for (I enjoyed fixing friends’ papers in college), and I continued to do that on the side for almost twenty years. But I had been a cinema major in college and decided to try pursue that route for my day job, so I actually left publishing for many years. I got back into it after being laid off from a film production company—a week before September 11. For a long time after that, film and TV jobs were just not available in the city, so I fell back on my copyediting skills and got a job at Scholastic, working on their Book Club flyers. After four years there, I became a production editor at Bloomsbury—and from Day 1, I knew it was what I should’ve been doing all along. Over the years, I worked my way up to executive managing editor, my department has doubled in size, and I feel that coming here was the best career decision I ever made!
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