Andrew Karre is the editor of Flux books, a teen imprint that publishes some fantastic books. At Flux, “young adult is a point of view, not a reading level.” As I said before, I’m trying to cover more aspects of publishing, so here is an interview with a book editor! Thanks so much to Andrew for doing this.
It doesn’t seem like there are many aspiring editors out there. Why is this a career more book lovers should consider? (In other words, what do you love about it?)
Actually, I think there are a fair number of us. It’s just there aren’t many jobs and most of them are in New York (and, for one, don’t want to live there). It’s not a job for everyone, but if you love books and, more importantly, getting your hands dirty while they’re being made, it’s a good gig. The best part, by far, is helping authors do their best work and then reach an audience.
What do you not love about it?
The meetings. The financial headaches. Good books that don’t sell.
Do you have any advice for any aspiring editors who might be reading?
Read lots and read well. Take any job you can get in the book industry and go from there.
You read lots of manuscripts as an editor. What makes a book really stand out for you?
The quality of the writing. In teen fiction, this usually means memorable, infectious narrative voice. But if you can write a book’s worth of beautiful sentences, you’re well on your way. I’m less impressed by a cool idea blandly executed than I am by a simple story perfectly told. That said, there’s nothing to beat a cool idea gorgeously told.
What would be your dream book to publish?
Do you mean one that’s already published? I’d be extremely happy to be MT Anderson’s editor. My dream book that doesn’t exist is probably a literary, realistic YA full of wordplay and neurosis that ends with the reader questioning every assumption he made about the teenage narrator. Something like Peter Cameron’s latest, which is a masterpiece.
What are some of your favorite YA books not published by Flux? (I know you’ve got to love all of those!)
SOMEDAY THIS PAIN WILL BE USEFUL TO YOU by Peter Cameron
FEED by M.T. Anderson
KING DORK by Frank Portman
CLAY by David Almond
I AM THE CHEESE by Robert Cormier
DUNE by Frank Herbert (I’m kinda thinkin’ this is a YA, now)
AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES by John Green
And many others.
Why have you chosen to work with young adult literature (instead of books for other audiences)?
It chose me, more than anything. And then I chose to stick around. The writers are wonderful and full of energy and talent. There’s a great enthusiasm for risk taking.
There have been criticisms of writers choosing to write for teens, as if it isn’t “real” literature. What do you have to say to those critics?
Nothing. That’s nonsense unworthy of reply.