What does your job entail as an editor at Sterling Publishing?
It’s a job filled with variety—never a dull moment! I spend much of my day writing and answering emails from authors, illustrators, and agents to keep projects that are already in process moving along. Part of each day is devoted to requesting contracts, reviewing catalog and jacket copy, compiling editorial notes for authors whose manuscripts have been accepted, or reviewing and commenting on sketches/final art that have come in for particular books. Our editorial team has an acquisitions meeting every two weeks to discuss future projects we hope to acquire, and we meet every month or so to read new submissions that have arrived. The mail is very hard to keep up with—so many manuscripts!—but we do everything we can to avoid making authors wait interminably.
Could you give an overview of Sterling’s list and its philosophy?
Our list is quite eclectic, and reflects the interests of our small staff. Our range is from board books for babies to sophisticated biographies for older readers to puzzle-and-game books to picture books of all kinds. We are publishing our first middle-grade chapter book series next year (The Doyle & Fossey Science Detective series, by Michele Torrey, illustrated by Barbara Johansen Newman), and if that is well received, we may consider acquiring more chapter books. But for now we are not accepting any chapter books or novels.
We have been asked to be exceptionally careful with our budgets, as has everyone in publishing. We are cutting costs everywhere possible—from sending out electronic Christmas cards instead of paper ones to avoiding using overnight mail unless absolutely crucial. We know how tough the retail environment is right now, and we are hopeful that next year will bring brighter news to all retailers, not just booksellers. It does seem that the children’s book market has more resiliency than other sectors. People tend to buy for their children (and their pets!) even if they are not buying for themselves.
On the lighter side, what is your favorite children’s joke?
One morning a traffic cop is directing traffic in a busy intersection. A guy pulls up in a fancy convertible filled with penguins.
“Hey, mister!” the cop calls out. “I want you to take those penguins directly to the zoo!”
“Sure thing, Officer,” says the driver.
Later that day, the cop sees the same carload of penguins pull up in the intersection.
“Hey, mister!” he yells. “I thought I told you to take those penguins to the zoo!”
“I did,” says the driver. “We had a great time. Now we’re going to the movies!”
Thanks so much, Meredith!