Happy New Month Everyone! We are beginning March with a bang with this very enlightening interview with Assistant Editor Foyinsi Adegbonmire from the Macmillan’s Children’s Publishing Group.
The interview was hosted by Lucia and the questions were put together by all the Path2pub ladies. We hope you find it as insightful as we do!
Path2pub: Welcome to Path2pub! How did you become an editor?
FA: Once I realized publishing was even a thing, one of my goals during my senior year of undergrad became getting a summer internship. I applied to a number of them and didn’t hear from a single one. Luckily for me, I happened to mention my goal to a professor who knew another professor who’d previously worked at S&S and was kind enough to pass my resume to someone in HR. I had a conversation with that HR person (in person at the time) that wasn’t an interview for any specific position, but fortunately for me, they would be hiring soon for Fall interns. I interned at S&S Books for Young Readers that fall, during my grad school year, then FSG Book for Young Readers in the spring. A month after my FSG BYR internship ended, an Editorial Assistant position opened up at Feiwel & Friends and here I am!
Path2pub: Wow, that’s awesome! What is the most memorable acquisition you’ve made and what made it stand out?
FA: Probably YA contemporary thriller Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé. It was sent to my manager, who forwarded it to me to read for her – as I often did – and I ended up finishing it in a matter of hours the very first time, because it had me on the edge of my seat! It eventually became my first official acquisition, which felt even more special because the author and I are both Nigerian and were both at the beginning of our careers.
Path2pub: Nigeria to the world! What is your favorite part of the publishing process?
FA: I love getting to gush to authors directly about how great their story is and also hearing that something I suggested made their story even better! It’s also really cool to see and know what books will be coming down the line!
Path2pub: We usually view editors as mystical creatures up in the clouds and it’s just unexplainable (in the best way possible) learning this! What is your least favorite part of the publishing process?
FA: Hmmm probably the constant feeling that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything, along with the constant guilt about not being more on top of things, especially when it comes to responding to submissions (even though you know in theory that you shouldn’t feel so guilty because there’s a lot going on in the world and there just aren’t enough hours in a day).
Path2pub: Thanks for sharing this—every part of it. What is your favorite book trope to read and edit?
FA: That’s a tough one! I really enjoy some romance tropes like rivals-to-lovers, childhood-friends-to-lovers, there’s-only-one-bed, etc. and anything that’ll heighten the yearning/slow burn of it all. It makes me giggle as I edit!
Path2pub: These are our favorite tropes too! Which is your favorite: developmental edits or copy editing?
FA: We actually have separate people who copyedit for us (true heroes!) so I mainly do developmental edits and line editing; of the two, I think I enjoy line editing the most because that’s when you really get into the nitty gritty details and making sure each one and each word works for the story being told.
Path2pub: What books will you recommend people to read?
FA: I recommend the Adventures on Trains series by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman for a fun middle grade mystery series, AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS by BB Alston for a great middle grade fantasy, CHARMING AS A VERB by Ben Philippe for a swoony and fun young adult romance, and ANGEL OF GREENWOOD by Randi Pink (or any of her books really) for wonderful young adult historical fiction.
Path2pub: What are your views on working with unagented authors?
FA: I’m not opposed to it but this industry can be so mysterious and confusing that I do tend to recommend waiting until you have an agent unless 1000% confident in representing yourself.
Path2pub: From an editor’s POV, what do you think can help writers detect a reliable literary agency?
FA: Hmm, this is generic advice but it really is important to do as much research as you can through their website, social media, current and maybe past clients, etc.; For example, have they been around long (not necessarily an auto red-flag if not but something to keep in mind)? Is there an author who’s worked with them, that you can speak to? Do they have a lot of deals announced (again, not automatically a red flag, as publishing can be so slow to announce something, but another thing to be on the lookout for)? Do they have a plan and procedure in place, in case the agent that signs you can no longer represent you or goes to another agency?
Path2pub: These are extremely helpful! What is one eye-opening insider tip you can give writers about the publishing industry?
FA: Let’s see….this is likely not eye-opening but it’s something that feels squarely in the writer’s control (though a number of things aren’t with traditional publishing): Follow people’s guidelines as closely as possible (as long as they’re within reason, of course). This feels more applicable for the querying stage but generally, if you’re reaching out to an agent or editor unsolicited, follow their guidelines (formatting, in body of email vs. as an attachment, how much to send, etc.) as much as you can. There are so many queries and submissions received, and while I think most of us are pretty understanding, you just don’t want to give someone a reason to automatically count yours out or be negatively biased towards it. For example, if someone says they aren’t accepting queries/submissions at a specific moment, you’ll have a much better chance with them by waiting until they are, even though it might be hard or tempting to just try your luck anyway.
Path2pub. Fabulous advice! What are your tips for agents? And writers?
FA: I’d say this applies to both: it’s totally okay not to be super active on social media; if you’re comfortable with Twitter though, I think it’s a great place to get an idea of what’s going on in the industry and what kinds of stories people are looking for, as well as make connections with others in your field.
Path2pub: What is your non-publishy hobby?
FA: I adore bullet journaling, origami, and binge-watching old sitcoms (just finished How I Met Your Mother for the first time and I have THOUGHTS).
Oh so do I, hehe! Thank you for stopping by and for a wonderful interview!
Foyinsi Adegbonmire is an Associate Editor at Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. She acquires Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, from contemporary to mystery to grounded science-fiction, and enjoys lighthearted stories with conversational narrative voices. She was named a 2021 PW Star Watch Honoree and her acquisitions include New York Times-bestseller Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé. When not reading or thinking about her very large TBR pile, she can be found watching Black sitcoms from the 90s/early 2000s and fictional crime shows, or obsessing over bullet journaling.
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