By Susan Kravlovansky
I’d like to introduce you to Nina Kooij, editor-in-chief of Pelican Publishing. I have had the pleasure of working with her on How Fire Ants Got Their Fire, and my forthcoming picture book, We Really, Really Want a Dog. Both books are fiction with nonfiction elements.
Nina, what path led you to editing as a career? My mother was a freelance editor for organizations (not publishers), and I always excelled in English classes. I served as editor of my high-school and college literary magazines. I earned bachelor's and master's degrees in English and interned at a book publisher. After that, I was accepted to the Denver Publishing Institute, where I met the vice president of Pelican. I interviewed for an open editing position there and my career began.
In your current position, do you wear other hats besides the editorial one? Since we are a midsize imprint, yes. I am involved in production (cover decisions, checking interior layouts, monitoring inventory, etc.) and sales (recommending backlist titles for upcoming store promotions, for example).
Are most of the projects you deal with fiction, nonfiction, or is it an equal amount of both? These days it is about 2/3 children's fiction.
How is editing nonfiction material different from fiction? Sources are important, as well as vetting of the material by experts and potential buyers.
What is the market for nonfiction like currently? The market is good, both for adults who are quarantining and for online classes with children.
What advice would you give a writer about breaking into the nonfiction market? Build up some publication credits in nonfiction children's magazines, which you can then list in your submissions to book publishers.
A huge thanks to Nina from the Nonfiction Ninjas for the helpful information!
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