I could heap many praises on Twitter, but I’m going to list one for today. It’s the fact that Twitter presents a forum in which writers AND publishing folks (like myself) get to meet virtually, chat about all-things-publishing, and of course be able to show off our offbeat personalities. This is one of the main reasons The Red Sofa Chats were established, and it’s has already been a wonderful experience.
For the newest installment of the Red Sofa Chats, I’m excited to introduce you to Emily Steele. I have enjoyed her perspective and banter on Twitter, and especially appreciate that she is part of a publishing house (YA-YA ) that caters to young adult writers. Yes, we’re talking about teens getting an opportunity to get their books published. Imagine being a teen in today’s publishing climate, armed with a good book idea, a good writing voice and a wide social media reach. The question is are we ready? I hope so, many of those kids who grew up on Harry Potter are now writers themselves. (Did J.K. Rowling ever know this would happen?)
So enjoy! For the next two weeks we’ll be answering questions about young adults entering today’s publishing industry. Post your questions and thoughts. A random name will be drawn from those comments, and that person will receive a free copy of THE WHITE FOX by James Bartholomeusz (the 1st YA-YA release).
Emily Steele is the editorial director at Medallion Press, an innovative book publisher based near Chicago in Aurora, Illinois. In addition to its adult fiction and nonfiction lines, Medallion Press has launched an imprint for teen authors and readers called YA-YA and a revolutionary digital reading platform called TREEbook™. Emily works from her home office in sunny Los Angeles, where her husband works in the feature animation industry.
1. Why did you choose to work in publishing?
At about five years old while walking home from school on a crisp winter day, stepping on the ice and watching the leaves press through, I knew I was a character in a ginormous author’s story. Only now do I realize that was probably because of the ridiculous number of times my parents must have read Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day to me and my three siblings, whetting a voracious appetite for story in all of us.
I spent summers avoiding the boisterous activity in my house by opening quiet books on the porch, which looked out on a street in the smallest town you can imagine in the middle of America. From there I learned about people who lived far away or long ago and in conditions completely unlike my own. Every story made its mark, reflecting and then shaping me. I knew this deep human connection was something that only the written word could achieve, and I wanted to be a part of it any way I could. Encouraged by my high school counselor, I pursued a degree in secondary English education, but I always knew I was too soft-spoken to be an effective speaker even in a small classroom.
When a low-paying proofreading position opened in a publishing house soon after I earned my BA, I accepted it with the greatest sense of relief and excitement. I opened the Chicago Manual of Style and put my red pen to a thick stack of pages for the first time thirteen years ago. I’ve worked in an editorial capacity with book publishers ever since.
2. Are there any projects you wish you could have edited and/or worked on?
No, but I would love to get my hands on a collection of edits of various works to learn from. Some authors whose edited works I’d especially like to see are Matthew Gregory Lewis, Zora Neale Hurston, J.D. Salinger . . . Oh, just send them all to me, please.
3. What are you reading right now (for personal reading, for fun)?
The weekend after Ray Bradbury’s passing, I read Fahrenheit 451, and it rejuvenated my passion for books and for life. I’ve also been listening to Les Misérables on audiobook while working out every day—er, most days. (Audiobooks make tedious squats and sit-ups so much more endurable.) I’m also reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and How to Write a Damn Good Thriller by James N. Frey. Okay, that last one is helping me do my job, but it’s fun too.
4. How do you utilize Twitter? How do you believe it has changed the way we go about publishing books?
What I love about Twitter is the community of readers, writers, and word nerds I’ve found. They inspire me and point me to great books and resources I may not have discovered otherwise. Twitter also breaks down a wall between readers, publishers, and authors, facilitating connections and conversations. That’s what I love most and what I see shaping the industry. I see huge potential for kids growing up with this sense of community surrounding books. They’re able to follow their favorite authors and learn tricks of the trade from people in the industry. What kinds of prolific readers and writers are developing here? I can’t wait to see.
5. If you had a crystal ball, where do you think (or hope) publishing will be in 5 years?
I think we’ll be reading on digital devices almost exclusively. Some books will have more dimensions and be more interactive. Writing will flourish, and more community will develop around books. Bibliophiles will dominate the world.
Thanks so much Emily!
To our readers, let’s get this figurative party started. Do you know young adults who are hoping to get their books published? How has the experience been for them thus far? How do you see publishing being affected as this new crop of young writers join an already thriving industry? We can’t wait to hear your thoughts. . .