Awesome Editor Emilia Rhodes Talks Must-Have Author Traits, Books She Covets and Tiny Pretty Things

Emilia Rhodes bio picToday I have the great honor of introducing you all to my editor at HarperTeen, Emilia Rhodes!

Emilia came on board as editor for TINY PRETTY THINGS just as we were wrapping up book one, and we really got to work together as we hashed out the plot for book two — a five-hour brainstorming session that was actually super-fun! (And we were so well-fed!) She’s very chatty, incredibly smart, and has a collaborative style that Dhonielle and I just love.

A bit of background on Emilia, straight from the source: Emilia Rhodes is a senior editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books where she edits young adult and middle grade fiction. Her list over the years has included New York Times bestselling series THE VAMPIRE DIARIES by L.J. Smith, THIRST by Christopher Pike, and KISSED by an Angel by Elizabeth Chandler, as well as National Book Award finalist OUT OF REACH by Carrie Arcos and LET’S GET LOST by Adi Alsaid. She lives in Brooklyn. Find her on Twitter: @emiliarhodes.

And herewith, Emilia’s take on the Deb Interview!

How many pages into a manuscript do you know it’s something you want to acquire? 

This varies project-to-project, but I usually can sense there’s something special in a manuscript from the very first page. Voice more than anything will pull me in! Of course, page one is not always the perfect indicator. There have been many manuscripts I’ve started reading and loved that I’ve ultimately passed on for various reasons, often with the interest of seeing revisions or other work by that author. If the voice is there, sometimes it’s just not the right project or stage to commit to it. And there are books that have really surprised me — projects I went into thinking I’d never acquire and then one hundred pages later, still reading, finding myself fully in love with them. I wish there was a formula for when “you know”, but years into this, I’m constantly surprised. That’s the best part. My e-reader is always full of possibilities!

When you’re looking to work with an author, what are the three things that are most important to you? 

There are so many important aspects to the author/editor relationship and every relationship I have with my authors is different depending on their personality and sometimes the project. But, I feel like the core of my most successful author/editor relationships boils down to these three things:

Communication! Don’t be afraid. If something in a revision isn’t working, or you’re stressing about meeting a deadline, or you have questions about promotion or marketing, don’t hesitate to reach out. It’s always easier to talk about these things sooner rather than later. I can prep my team, and I can help the author through whatever it is. It’s usually not a big deal! But you don’t know unless you ask.

Hard work! The road to publication is not easy. By the time you’re working with an editor at a publishing house, you’ve likely already been through several revisions with your agent, gone through an extensive querying process, the whole works. But, your journey is just beginning. Authors who are willing to roll up their sleeves on revision and willing to help promote their books in small and big ways always makes us happy. It can sometimes take years, and it takes a village, truly. Authors who dive into this with a positive attitude help keep that village standing!

Kindness! It might sound like a given, but as much as this process is a lot of emails with “hooray” and “congrats” and too many exclamation points, sometimes there are tough discussions we have to have, too. Being nice and open to the process at these points goes a long way. We’re all in this together because we all love the book and want the best for it. Sometimes those visions and perspectives don’t match up initially, but I’ve found there’s not much that can’t be talked through if everyone is open and professional. I try to hold myself to this same standard!

What was it about TINY PRETTY THINGS that made you say, “YES!” 

Do I have to pick just one? There are too many! I wasn’t actually the initial acquiring editor of TINY PRETTY THINGS. That was the awesome Sarah Landis, who should get credit where credit is due. When I joined HarperCollins last summer and TINY PRETTY THINGS needed an editor after Sarah moved over to another house, I jumped at the chance on concept alone. Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars? Yes, please! It didn’t hurt that I’d already seen the gorgeous, stunning, beautiful (I could do this all day) cover for the book. When I started reading, I knew I was really in love. Sona and Dhonielle both have great voices and a smart, savvy vision for this series and these characters. I love that this series is helping fulfill the need for more diverse books and characters in the market, but it’s a fun, soapy series more than anything else. They didn’t shy away from any scandal or drama or intrigue, and the read was just…delicious. Helping plan out all the twists and turns of book two with them has been so much fun.

If you were a drink, what drink would you be and why?  

Hmm…this is a really tough one! I feel like I need someone to answer this on my behalf. I think I’d say I’m a Dark and Stormy. It’s a sweet drink that seems innocent at first (I’m from the Midwest, after all) but still packs a punch. I’m not everything you might guess at the surface. Or maybe I just want a Dark and Stormy right now? Yeah, that might be it.

Which recent book do you wish you had acquired? 

Book envy is the story of my life! There are so many. I’ve recently been on a Jennifer E. Smith binge reading THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE and THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT. And thankfully, I still have a few to go! I love how real her characters are, how effortless but strong her voice is, and how much heart is in these books. She’s great at swoon-worthy romance, too. These books are the whole package! At least I can still enjoy them from afar.

Want more from Emilia? Find her on Twitter here!

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An entertainment and lifestyle journalist published by The New York Times, People, ABC News, MSN, Cosmopolitan and other major national media, SONA CHARAIPOTRA currently curates a kickass column on YA books and teen culture for Parade.com. A collector of presumably useless degrees, she double-majored in journalism and American Studies at Rutgers before getting her masters in screenwriting from New York University (where her thesis project was developed for the screen by MTV Films) and her MFA from the New School. When she's not hanging out with her writer husband and two chatter-boxy kids, she can be found poking plot holes in teen shows like Twisted and Vampire Diaries. But call it research: Sona is the co-founder of CAKE Literary, a boutique book development company with a decidedly diverse bent. Her debut, the YA dance drama Tiny Pretty Things (co-written with Dhonielle Clayton), is due May 26 from HarperTeen. Find her on the web at SonaCharaipotra.com or CAKELiterary.com.

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