“Good Enough” Versus Fit: Executive Editor Erica Finkel On Improving Your Odds Of Yes

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We’re thrilled to welcome Abrams editor Erica Finkel to the podcast to discuss editorial board meetings, the top reasons writers get rejected–and how “fit” means far more than you’d think.

Book a meeting with Erica here: manuscriptacademy.com/faculty-members/erica-finkel

Erica Finkel (she/her) is an Executive Editor for Amulet Books and Abrams Books for Young Readers. Before starting at Abrams in 2010, she was, among other things, an English teacher in France, a theater-camp counselor, and an ice-cream scooper. Erica focuses primarily on chapter books and middle-grade novels and is honored to work with many bestselling and award-winning authors and illustrators, including Andrea Beaty, David Roberts, Mac Barnett, Tom Angleberger, and Ellen Potter. Some books she’s edited that are particularly dear to her include Sidetracked by Diana Harmon Asher, Game Changer by Tommy Greenwald, The Chance to Fly by Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz, Once Upon an Eid edited by S. K. Ali and Aisha Saeed, Fraidyzoo by Thyra Heder, and a picture-book biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (her hero) by Jonah Winter. When she gets the chance to read a non-Abrams book, she particularly enjoys the work of Gary D. Schmidt, Maggie Stiefvater, Kristin Cashore, and Rainbow Rowell. Her favorite genres are contemporary realistic, fantasy, and magical realism, and she is not the best fit for thrillers or nonfiction. Check out her work here: www.pinterest.com/ericafinkel/books-ive-edited/

Transcript: manuscriptacademy.com/podcast-erica-finkel

Erica Finkel’s background (00:00:42)
Erica Finkel, an executive editor at Abrams Books for Young Readers and Amulet Books, discusses her role and experience in the publishing industry.

Career in publishing (00:02:55)
Erica Finkel shares her journey into publishing, from internships to her current role, highlighting the value of education and personal growth.

Editorial autonomy and collaboration (00:08:02)
Exploration of the balance between an editor’s individual taste and the imprint’s identity, discussing the collaborative process of shaping a list.

Book acquisition and fit for the list (00:09:35)
Insight into the importance of a book’s similarity and difference within the imprint’s list, considering marketing, sales, and readers’ perspectives.

Editorial decision-making process (00:13:37)
Erica Finkel shares the challenges of evaluating and selecting manuscripts, highlighting the emotional and practical aspects of the decision-making process.

Advice for writers (00:18:05)
Erica Finkel’s advice for writers, emphasizing the value of industry education, extensive reading, and understanding market demands.

The vision (00:21:20)
The risk and reward of seeing the potential in a manuscript despite potential rejection.

Understanding the child reader (00:21:36)
Considering comprehension, readability, and authenticity in children’s literature.

Avoiding stereotypes in children’s literature (00:22:22)
Emphasizing the need for nuance and authenticity in portraying childhood experiences.

Editorial and acquisitions meetings (00:29:32)
Insight into the casual and collaborative nature of editorial and acquisitions meetings.

Pub board decision-making (00:31:18)
The process of evaluating and deciding on book acquisitions involving multiple departments.

Book success and in-house support (00:35:29)
The importance of in-house support in setting a book up for success.

The role of Twitter in book promotion (00:39:12)
Discussion of the impact of social media and conflicts in the book industry.

Overcoming writers’ fears (00:40:15)
Addressing common fears of writers and dispelling misconceptions about the publishing process.

Tips for querying agents (00:44:01)
Advice for writers on targeting junior agents and personalizing query letters.

Making queries compelling (00:46:03)
Insight into what agents can do to make their queries stand out and be more likely to be read by editors.