Saturday, April 8, 2017

Jessica Anderson: Behind the Scenes of a Middle Grade Novel: From Submission to Finished Book

Jessica Anderson is an assistant editor at Christy Ottaviano Books, which has an affinity for illustrated middle grade books.

To share a few (both fiction and nonfiction):

Illustrations and photographs break up the narrative, complimenting the text but not distracting from it.

Jessica takes us through the process (submission to finished book) with SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB.

When ready to bring a manuscript to table, editors also prepare a pitch for the book to bring to their publishing house. An  acquisitions meeting then takes place. The editorial team must present a publication schedule, outline comparative titles, and provide additional sales hooks. 

If the deal is done, the editorial process begins. 

An editorial letter is delivered to the author which includes preexisting strengths and what work needs to be done. There are usually multiple revisions over 4 to 6 months. This starts with developmental edits, followed by line editing on a more micro-scale. 

Once editor and author are feeling good about the manuscript, it's time to put the manuscript into production. The book will go to copyediting, looking at consistency in plot details, discrepancies between text and art, repetitions and errors in text, formatting consistency, and accuracy of factual information. This takes about a month.

When the manuscript is fully edited, it's time to hire an artist. At this stage, editors and designers are looking for someone who has a fresh interpretation of the story, will be a tonal compliment to the genre and age range of the project, as well as a masterful range in landscape, action, and portraits. 

Once an illustrator is brought on, character sketches begin. Illustration continues, taking it through to final illustrations. 

Next step: creation of the book jacket. Several concepts will be created before the final is decided on.

Advanced reader copies are then produced (about 8 months pre-publication) which includes design for first page passes, mix of interior sketches and final art. 

Final checks are made with first, second, and third pass pages and then final files are prepared. 

Finishing touches include the packaging, jacket finishes, and the jacket case.

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