To kick off our Insider Interview series, I am proud to introduce Marissa Fuller, Senior Editor at Anaiah Press. She works directly with Middle Grade authors as part of Anaiah Adventures. I was excited when she accepted our interview request.
Middle Grade Mafia: What was your path to becoming a Senior Editor with Anaiah Press?
Marissa Fuller: I connected with a fantastic writing community on Twitter, which introduced me to the illustrious Jessica Schmeidler, managing editor to several of Anaiah’s imprints—including their MG imprint, Adventures. We got to talking and instantly connected. I fell in love with the community of Anaiah, full of positivity and welcoming arms.
MGM: As an editor, what are the benefits of working for a small press?
MF: I love the experience of working with a small press, because, as cliché as it may sound, it’s like a family. I’ve always felt that books, as pieces of their creators, shouldn’t be produced with only money on the mind. Anaiah offers a thoughtful, faith-infused approach to publishing wonderful books that make the publishing world a little bit brighter.
MGM: What do you see as the pros and cons with working with a smaller press?
MF: I feel that small presses offer the best of both worlds, sort of a bridge between the intimidating “Big” publishing houses and the brave road of self-publishing. Though there are arguably less people working with your book at a small press as apposed to a big one, I feel that it’s quality over quantity. At Anaiah, every single person who looks at a manuscript really cares; about the book, the author, the people who would read it were it to be published.
MGM: Anaiah states it is a digital first publishing house, what trends are you seeing in the middle grade market with e-books vs. the traditional physical format?
MF: A few years ago, the idea of middle grade books in e-format would have been received with a quirked eyebrow and shaken off. Because, a few years ago, every eleven year old didn’t have an iPad. The publishing market is changing because the world is changing— the consumer is changing. Now, kids are almost more likely to read on an electronic device than an actual book. Schools are implementing mandatory laptops, with all textbooks online.
Although I will always be a hard-copy advocate, it is truly amazing to watch the shape of publishing change. And who are we to argue how a child is reading? I think we can all agree we want children to read. E-publishing seems to be a fantastic way to reach more early reader and middle-grade children.
MGM: Recently, you participated in a Twitter “pitchfest”, #JustPitchIt. Can you give any advice to an author who is looking to get noticed by an editor or agent?
MF: I recently wrote up a blog post for Pen & Muse regarding the craft of a pitch, and it’s connection to a query. You can read it here:
Can you share your three favorite middle grade books?
MF: The Giver!!!!!! It’s probably a tired favorite call-out, but ever since I read it, in middle school English class, I was absolutely smitten. I still give it a reread every year or so.
I also really, really, really adore the Percy Jackson series (& Heroes of Olympus, but that’s skewed a bit older). I have always been interested in Greek mythology, if only because of its art of storytelling and the creativity of ancient minds that it points to. I actually have a xiphos, a Greek short sword (Riptide, anyone?) tattooed on my person.
And of course, though I do so hate to be predictable, Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone. I’ll limit it to the first installment alone, because I was eleven when I picked it up, and it made a reader out of me. Heck, it made a good person out of me.
MGM: What middle grade character do you most relate to?
MF: I’ll say it—Hermione. For so many reasons. I have always adored school, and of course, books in particular. I’m even married to a fella who has the emotional range of a teaspoon. 😉
MGM: Any words of advice to our readers?
MF: Just keep doing what you’re doing! Thanks to you, MG fiction is flourishing, growing every day. I can’t wait to see what Middle Grade Mafia brings to the table!
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The Middle Grade Mafia wanted to thank Marissa for taking the time to share her insight and advice. She is a great person to follow on Twitter. Marissa is currently accepting queries from MG writer through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also read her MSWL posted on her blog.