Performancing Metrics

There's A Book

Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you a behind-the-scenes look into the life of an editor at a major publishing house, Candlewick Press. I’m so excited to have Andrea Tompa and Kaylan Adair here at There’s a Book today and I want to thank them in advance for taking the time to share this with my readers! This is definitely a fun post and you don’t want to miss a single question, so sit back and enjoy!

Candlewick Press is an independent, employee-owned publisher based in Somerville, Massachusetts. Candlewick publishes outstanding children’s books for readers of all ages; including books by award-winning authors Kate DiCamillo, M. T. Anderson, and Laura Amy Schlitz; the widely acclaimed Judy Moody and ‘Ologies series; and favorites such as the Where’s Waldo? and Maisy books. Candlewick’s parent company is Walker Books Ltd., of London with additional offices in Sydney and Auckland.

Andrea Tompa, Editor, and Kaylan Adair, Associate Editor, have worked together at Candlewick Press for six and a half years. In this interview, they attempt to answer some of the most burning questions about working at Candlewick.

Q: What makes Candlewick different from other publishers?

Kaylan: I think the biggest difference is that we are an independent, employee-owned company. This gives us a bit more freedom in terms of the projects we sign up and the way we go about making our books. We put a lot of care into every aspect of a book’s production, from the font choice to the jacket design to the paper we use. People often tell us they can recognize a Candlewick book just by the way it looks and feels, which is a great compliment!

Andrea: Overall, we’re a very creatively-driven house. Our authors, illustrators, and readers always come first.

Q: What do you love most about the editing process?

Andrea: I love looking at a manuscript as a whole, evaluating the way the big picture elements like plot, characters, and themes work together. Working with an author to determine how best to strengthen those elements feels like solving a puzzle.

Kaylan: While I enjoy the entire process, I am especially fond of the line editing. This is the editor’s opportunity to weigh each and every word, making sure the author’s language is not only precise, but beautiful.

Q: Is being an editor a solitary task, or do you have a lot of opportunities to collaborate in-house?

Kaylan: We work with some of the most dedicated and talented people in the industry, and the books you see are the result of many people’s efforts — from the authors and illustrators to the designers, copy editors, production controllers, and the sales and marketing teams.

Andrea: While we do spend a lot of time alone at our desks, there are a lot of opportunities for us to collaborate with our colleagues. One of the highlights of my week is our informal picture book meeting, where editors meet to discuss picture books that we’re thinking of acquiring or to seek advice on picture books we’re working on. It’s incredibly helpful to get other editors’ perspectives!

Q: What’s something that people might be surprised to learn about being an editor?

Kaylan: While many people may know that we get weird submissions, I think few people are aware of just how weird these submissions can get. I once received a manuscript about potty training that featured anthropomorphized poop — complete with illustrations. Let’s just say that I felt the need to wash my hands a lot after reading that one!

Andrea: As a children’s book editor, you find yourself uttering sentences that you’d never expect to leave your mouth. I’ve had very serious conversations about exactly how worked up a pig would have to be to stand on his hind legs, what is meant when a British person says “paddling”, and how to spell the noise a fire engine makes.

Q: What trend have you seen in submissions lately, and what do you wish you’d see more of? Note: Candlewick does not accept unsolicited submissions.

Andrea: I’m still seeing a lot of dystopian novels—which I love—but individual titles really have to be strong to stand out. Across all genres, I’d love to see more submissions featuring diverse characters—characters who aren’t necessarily white, straight, thin, or able-bodied—without diversity necessarily being the focus of the story. I’m looking for books that make me fall in love with the characters and want to keep turning the pages.

Kaylan: I’m also seeing a lot of dystopian fiction, and a lot of proposed series, which can be quite hard to sell in the current economy. I would love to see more middle-grade novels with beautiful, literary writing and an emotionally resonant story. I’m looking to fall in love with the voice, to feel startled—in a good way—by certain turns of phrase or descriptions, but equally to feel welcomed into the world the author has created.

Q: What are some books that you’ve edited that are coming out soon?

Kaylan: In March, Jennifer Richard Jacobson’s heartwarming novel, Small as an Elephant, hits shelves. And then in April, Steve Watkins, the author of Down Sand Mountain, returns with a powerful YA novel called What Comes After.

Andrea: I’ve just seen advance copies of two books that will be coming out in the next few months: Hurry Down to Derry Fair, an incredibly charming picture book written by Dori Chaconas and illustrated by Gillian Tyler, and Cloudy with a Chance of Boys, which is the third (and funniest!) book in the hilarious Sisters Club series by Megan McDonald. I can’t wait to see them on shelves!

For more about Candlewick Press, please visit us at!

Today’s post is part of our month long celebration of Candlewick Press for our monthly feature “Book Publishers 101“. Make sure to stop by the Candlewick Press Site for more information about this title and more. For more information about our Book Publishers 101 feature take a look at this month’s opening post.

Also make sure to take a look at our Giveaways Page for the four giveaways being sponsored by Candlewick press throughout this month!

Thank you to Candlewick Press for providing this book for review! Find Candlewick Press on Twitter and Facebook!
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12 Responses to Editor Interview: Andrea Tompa and Kaylan Adair from Candlewick Press

  1. Gina says:

    Great interview! I always love hearing about the behind the scenes work that goes into creating the marvelous masterpieces we get to read. You can really see how dedicated this group is to delivering quality titles we can sink our reading teeth into (okay so that didn’t really make sense, but you know what I mean…^_^) I can definitely understand the unexpected conversations they have, happens in the bookstore too. You just never know what you’ll walk into once you step inside. Love the sound of a few of those titles still to come…will have to keep an eye out. Fabulous job ladies!

  2. Gigi says:

    What a fun interview! Thanks, There’s a Book, Andrea, and Kaylan.

  3. As a mini/micro/teeny-tiny press, it’s always great to read interviews from those working at successful publishing houses. Thanks for sharing!

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jo Knowles, Cynthia LeitichSmith. Cynthia LeitichSmith said: Editor Interview: Andrea Tompa & Kaylan Adair of @Candlewick from @the1stdaughter: #kidlit #yalitchat […]

  5. […] – Two editors from Candlewick Press on what editors do […]

  6. I’m wondering if Cloudy with a Chance of Boys, is related in any way to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. My kids used to love that book and my students still do. Whatever the new title is about, it sounds like a fun one. I look forward to seeing it!

  7. Today IS Feb 21 – but I hadn’t noticed the YEAR of this post before I sent off my reply. The good news – I don’t have to wait to pick up a copy of “Cloudy with a Chance of Boys” – I already found it!

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