Spring 2022 Titles: Editor Q&A with Emily Stewart
Our spring 2022 titles have hit the shelves! To celebrate the release of The Math Kids: The Triangle Secret and Lucy & Dee: The Silk Road, we thought we'd give you a glimpse behind the scenes by talking to the folks who made these titles happen. First up is the editor of both novels, Emily Stewart.
How do you juggle editing multiple books at the same time?
In short, calendars, to-do lists, and communication.
When an author or publisher engages me, we discuss due dates and priorities, which helps determine how I set up my schedule. Generally, I try to stagger projects so I don't get too busy. If I have to work on multiple books in the same period, I try to set things up so I can switch between different kinds of editing. This helps me avoid mixing things up. For example, I did the developmental editing of Lucy & Dee: The Silk Road in the same period I was copy editing The Math Kids: The Triangle Secret.
Luckily for me, editing is a collaborative process. This means that I can usually arrange to hand off a manuscript to an author, and while they're doing their half of the process (rewriting, reviewing suggested changes, responding to queries), I can start work on another manuscript. Then when I finish on the second manuscript, the first author can return their revised manuscript, and so on.
I also keep different trackers and to-do lists so that I always know what work I've done already and what's still left to do. The rest is just making sure I'm on the same page as the authors I work with. That means emails, meetings, and checking in with one another regarding plans, expectations, and delays.
How do you stay motivated with repetitive tasks like proofreading, fact-checking or source-checking?
I don't know if those are necessarily repetitive tasks. They might look like that from the outside, but there's variety within them. Proofreading, for example, requires checking the writing as well as the design. Fact-checking varies greatly depending on what facts you might need to look up, as does source-checking.
I do sometimes feel like things get repetitive if I'm doing multiple passes on the same text. That can be a problem because if you're too familiar with a text, you start reading it as you expect it to be rather than how it actually is. That's why authors need editors in the first place; they're often too familiar with their own writing to spot mistakes. I try to give myself space between rounds of editing and use a few tricks like changing fonts, changing background colours, or switching which device I'm using to view the manuscript.
In the case of both The Silk Road and The Triangle Secret, I didn't do the proofreading because I'd already become quite familiar with them. Instead, I passed those off to a different proofreader so we could have another set of eyes on them.
Which are your favourite style guides?
I most often use the Chicago Manual of Style. This is the style guide used most often in traditional publishing in Canada and the US. I supplement this with other style guides or resources like Editing Canadian English or The Copyeditor's Handbook, and I try to stay flexible to accommodate author preferences. Copyeditor Amy J. Schneider recently announced that her book, The Chicago Guide to Copyediting Fiction will be coming out in spring 2023, and I'm quite excited for that one.
Aside from strict style guides, I consult a bunch of other resources in my work. In the last few years, there have been some cool ones created to help editors and authors write more inclusively, for example Greg Younging's Elements of Indigenous Style or Crystal Shelley's Conscious Language Toolkits. I think these are well worth checking out.
How do you keep your authors motivated?
I would say that the authors I've worked with have been quite capable of motivating themselves. They've entered into the process with the desire to see their work published and they know that'll require work. That said, I still try to be encouraging. I know that sharing your writing with someone else can be an incredibly vulnerable experience; sharing it with someone who is being paid to "fix" your "mistakes" can be doubly so. Thus, I make sure to point out things I enjoy about an author's work and give praise where praise is due.
Do you have a different approach to editing a middle grade book vs a young adult book?
As with editing anything, I approach editing MG and YA books keeping the intended audience in mind. What will the audience expect from the book? A MG reader might expect shorter chapters than a YA reader, for example. There's also education and reading level to keep in mind. Both MG and YA can be intricately plotted, and tackle tough subjects, but they might have tonal differences and a YA book might have more space and audience acceptance for addressing complex topics.
From a purely logistical perspective, when I'm editing YA I usually have to budget more time than for editing an MG novel simply because YA books tend to be longer.
What do you think is the strength of Lucy & Dee: The Silk Road?
I love a good journey or quest narrative, and Lucy & Dee: The Silk Road definitely has that. Kirsten paid a lot of attention to plotting out an action-filled narrative that allows her characters to grow and learn. I have a particular soft spot for Yidi. He's led a sheltered, privileged life, but he's also faced tragedy, and he doesn't really know what to do with his emotions or his position. Seeing him learn over the course of the series is going to be a rewarding experience.
What do you think is the strength of The Math Kids: The Triangle Secret?
With each addition to the Math Kids series, we get to know a little more about the characters and we learn new things. David Cole is constantly impressing me with his ability to integrate math lessons into narrative, and The Triangle Secret builds on this while adding the exciting elements of international travel and high-stakes mystery.
Lucy & Dee: The Silk Road and The Math Kids: The Triangle Secrets are now available. Order your copies today!
Lucy & Dee: The Silk Road
by Kirsten Marion
“Unexpectedly trapped in a fantasy kingdom, best friends Lucy and Dee embark on a quest. An enthralling, fast-paced adventure, hinting of more to come.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Lucy and Dee is an appealing fantasy novel in which two friends go on a wondrous adventure in a magical land.” – Foreword Clarion Reviews 5/5
“A fun and engrossing read, perfect for middle-grade readers who love a new adventure.” – The Children's Book Review
The Math Kids: The Triangle Secret
by David Cole, illustrated by Shannon O'Toole
"Sure to excite and engage our young math enthusiasts" – Story Monsters Ink