Chat with editor Deb Reber
Posted by inkpop on January 9, 2010
The editor of the first teen memoir series hosts inkpop Forums Event on January 9 at 4 p.m. EST
Deborah Reber, editor of the first teen memoir series Louder Than Words, hosts a live chat on inkpop Forums on Saturday, January 9, at 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. CST). Reber will answer inkpoppers’ questions about editing, writing, and the publishing industry. To participate in the Forums Event, visit this inkpop Forums thread.
Reber identified the “5 Most Common Teen Writing Mistakes” for the inkpop blog. Here, she talks about her experiences of editing teen writers’ autobiographies.
inkpop: What was it like to edit the autobiographies of teen writers Marni, Chelsey, and Emily for the Louder Than Words series?
Deborah Reber: Editing the series has been one of the coolest jobs I’ve ever had. All three writers had such different stories and unique processes for writing their books. I tailored a different way to work with each one, which was challenging, but also kept my life interesting.
I had weekly check-ins with each of the authors as they were writing to make sure they were on track and see if they needed any support or guidance. Once they turned in their first drafts, I gave each author a lot of detailed feedback. That’s when the most communication happened; we had a lot of back-and-forth emails and some long phone meetings to talk about how to get the draft into a manuscript that was ready to submit to the publisher. Even though it was intense at times, the whole process was incredibly fulfilling for me. I loved getting to work one-on-one with these talented writers on a project that I knew would result in pivotal experiences for them, and I also feel honored to have gotten to know these young women so well and be a part of their journey.
That’s not to say it wasn’t stressful at times. It was, especially because Louder Than Words was a new series and Marni, Chelsey, and Emily were the very first three books to come out. So there was a lot of pressure to get it right and make sure that we launched a series with great potential to grow.
How did you select the authors? What characteristics in their submission applications were you looking for?
To find a pool of candidates to choose from, I put out a call for writers to my network of teen advocates, other YA authors, writing organizations, and organizations that work directly with teen girls, telling them I was looking for teen authors who were interested in writing a memoir. I asked interested writers to send me writing samples and a brief synopsis of the story they wanted to tell, and share a little with me about the role writing plays in their life.
From there, I started poring through the submissions, which began trickling in soon after the first announcements went out. When I found Marni, Emily, and Chelsey, I felt like I struck gold—all three are fantastic writers with unique voices and different life stories. It was important to me that the writers have good grasp of storytelling and a strong writing voice, so that readers would get the sense they were inside these girls’ heads.
What are your goals for the future of Louder Than Words?
I would love to see Louder Than Words become a long-lasting, continuing series, giving many more girls outlets to share their unique stories and experiences and giving readers more opportunities to see their own experiences reflected in the books. I really think these books have the potential to kind of pull back the curtain on the many challenges teens are facing today, and empower teens to know that they’re not alone.
The next three books coming out in August 2010 deal with some intense issues that many teens will no doubt relate to, including severe anxiety, drug abuse, and online exploitation. I also think it would be cool to start including boys voices in the mix, and publish the memoirs of teen boys either through LTW or another series under the same umbrella.
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