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Feb 10, 2021

Editor Spotlight Series - Caitlyn Averett

Caitlyn Averett is an Assistant Editor at Hachette with Little, Brown and Company/Jimmy Patterson. She’s worked on bestselling series by James Patterson, such as Max Einstein and Middle School, Rebecca Rode’s Tides of Mutiny (9/7/2021), and Maeeda Kahn’s Nura and the Immortal Palace (Summer 2022). She is also a writer and has a background in dance, and when she’s not reading, writing, or editing (which is rarely), she’s probably over-analyzing movies/TV shows or playing with her kittens.

CritiqueMatch: Tell us two truths and one lie about you.
1) I’d never been to NYC before moving there to start working in publishing. 
2) I grew up in a solar-powered house. 
3) I was a theater kid growing up. 

(Number 1 is the lie! My house growing up was completely powered by solar energy, I was always at dance class and musical theater rehearsals, and had visited NYC a few times over the years before moving to the city.) 

: How did you become an editor? Can you describe the career path for those looking to enter the publishing industry?
Caitlyn: I started off as an intern with Laura Dail Literary, commuting from upstate (where I lived at the time) to the NYC office every week for about three months. But I loved it! (Not the commuting, but the glimpse into publishing.) A couple of years later, I finally moved to NYC to attend Pace University, and started an internship with Macmillan’s Wednesday Books. I met fantastic editors at Macmillan, and the people there were immensely helpful as I was trying to land my first full-time editorial job.  

I was applying to everything, hoping to end up in children’s editorial, and then I got an interview for Jimmy Patterson Books. It was a dream come true! Before the end of my first semester at Pace and the conclusion of my internship, I had a job offer. 

CM: Walk us through the editing process you go through with authors before a book is released.
Caitlyn: It’s different with every author and every book, but with the books I’ve acquired, my process has typically been to, first of all, start early because you never know when you’ll need that extra time. I don’t like to rush people, so I want my authors to take their time with revisions. 

As for the editing process itself, I like to start with a phone call where the author and I talk and get to know each other. Often we will have already talked while discussing the publication offer, but that might have been a few months back, so I like to touch base again. Collaborating on something as personal as a book is much easier if the editor and writer feel comfortable with each other, and I want my authors to know that we’re going to be working as a team, with open communication. If they get a note that they don’t understand or have a different idea than something I suggested, I want them to feel like they can come to me and we can talk about it. 
After that is the actual editing. Again, it depends on the book, but I aim for three rounds of editing: 1) a developmental edit focusing on characters, big plot points, structure, pacing, and things like that; 2) another pass that gets onto the smaller details on a more scene-by-scene level, like whether we need to keep tweaking a chapter now that we moved it from act three to act two; 3) and finally—if all goes according to plan!—a final line edit, checking for any last details that don’t match up. After that, it’s off to the copyeditor and my job editing is done. Of course, there’s still a ton left to do before the book publishes, but the editing stage is over. 

CM: How involved with a book are you, past the editing stage?
Caitlyn: My imprint is small, which means I’m pretty involved. There are typical areas an editor is involved with, such as interior design and cover direction, as well as writing the jacket copy (one of my favorite parts!), but I’ll also often have discussions about publication dates, and conversations with marketing and publicity, too. Talking pre-order prizes is always fun.

CM: Who are some of the rising stars in Middle Grade or YA that we should keep an eye on?
Caitlyn: Can I say my own authors, haha? Because you should definitely keep an eye out for Rebecca Rode and Maeeda Kahn. They’re fantastic writers, and their stories are really impactful. Rebecca’s got this great feminist YA pirate book coming out in September 2021 (Tides of Mutiny) that is this really thoughtful, powerful take on female pirates in a typically male-driven world. She does a wonderful job of showing complex female characters who make their own way in the world, not simply changing themselves to fit into roles created for their male counterparts. Throughout it all, Rebecca creates this suspenseful, twisty seafaring adventure with a super swoony romance!     

Maeeda Kahn’s debut MG fantasy is coming in 2022 (Nura and the Immortal Palace), and she does such a wonderful job mixing the real world with a wildly imaginative jinn world. Her debut follows a young Pakistani girl, and is a story of magic, hope, friendship, and spunky girls who’re ready to take on the world to do what’s right. I’m thrilled I got to work with both of these authors and can’t wait until everyone gets to read their books and fall in love the way I did.

CM: What is the demand for stories set in a COVID-19 world?
Caitlyn: Well… I personally don’t want them, and I know a lot of colleagues in the children’s and teen space who don’t either. Now doesn’t seem like the right time for Covid-19 stories when we’re still in the middle of dealing with it in the real world. However, I’m sure they’ll be here sooner than later. There’s definitely the opportunity for some interesting scenarios and relationships, but I think people are still looking for an escape from Covid-19 right now. We might not be quite ready to read about it yet.   

CM: How do agents pitch books to you in a world that requires social distancing?
Caitlyn: A lot of agent-editor communication has always been through email and phone calls for me. Many agents are outside of NYC, though a quick phone chat was sometimes easier to schedule than an agent-editor lunch even back when those were a thing! (Though I definitely miss those IRL chats.) So pitching has remained pretty similar in my experience. 

Even before the pandemic hit, most pitches I received were via email. Occasionally I’d get a pitch over the phone, or during a lunch or coffee date with an agent, but the majority came through email. At the beginning of the pandemic, I think a lot of people were unsure how things would change, and there was this brief pause where we were waiting to see what would happen, yet we’ve all figured out how to keep doing our jobs even if they require virtual lunches now.   

(Note: Jimmy Patterson Books is no longer accepting submissions.)     

CM: Describe the path to publication for one of the books you acquired. 
Caitlyn: With my second acquisition, I actually saw the pitch during Twitter’s DVPit event and retweeted it to let the author know that when she got an agent, I’d love to see the manuscript. A few months later, this amazing pitch showed up in my inbox and I jumped on it immediately. There are so many steps to acquiring a project, but after I read it and got all the approvals needed to preempt, it was a couple of days later that the author accepted my offer. The book, Nura and the Immortal Palace, is scheduled for Summer 2022, with a sequel out a year after that, so the author and I have already worked together to create an outline for book two. 

The funny thing is, I didn’t remember about that DVPit tweet until after I’d acquired the book. But it didn’t matter because the pitch was so good that it hooked me all over again. 


Wish List

Genres/sub-genres you’re acquiring:
  • Children’s, Middle Grade, Young Adult.
  • Contemporary YA, Diversity, Fantasy Grounded in Reality, Humor, Issue-Driven, LGBT YA, Magical Realism, Middle Grade Adventure, Middle Grade Humor, Middle Grade Mystery, Multicultural, Psychological Thrillers, Speculative Middle Grade, Urban Fantasy, YA Thrillers, YA/MG graphic novel, light Sci-Fi.
What you’re not interested in:
  • High fantasy, space travel sci-fi, plots that revolve entirely around high school drama, or stories about a chosen one.

Do you accept un-agented submissions? No

Client Examples
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