An Interview With Editor Cassandra

The complete Ravenclaw package, EDITOR CASSANDRA specializes in YA novels, and will accept upper middle grade, New Adult, and adult crossovers. She earned her BA in English from Rochester College (Now Rochester University) where she taught the creative writing group, and her MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University. Cassandra can be found drinking tea, practicing MMA, taking ballet classes, and playing with her lab mix Mollie and corgi Moo in Capac, MI.

It’s Sunday. Do you know what that means? It’s interview day! Let’s read, learn and connect with this year’s fantastic bunch of writers, editors and agents. Today’s interviewee is Editor Cassandra.

Cassandra’s Advice for Other Writers

“My best advice is to follow your own arrow. Don’t write to trends. Those come and go. Write the books of your heart. A good story is always a good story, no matter what’s popular with readers or in bookstores. Those trends in bookstores are often about two years behind the query-pile trends anyway, as it can take that long to go from query to published book.

Be diligent in how you shape your writing time. Even if it’s only an hour a day, fiercely protect that time. It might mean you have to say no to things you want to do. But keeping that habit will help your mind to stay productive. Be sure that you read widely, not just in your own genre. Getting a fuller and more complete grounding in the many types of stories and how they’re put together can only help your own writing. 

Let’s start out with your history. How did you get into editing? Is it something you always wanted to do?
I helped found the campus writing group Ex Libris (I got to go back and teach the group as adjunct faculty last year! So cool!) during my undergrad years at Rochester College (Now Rochester University), and I would often edit papers for my friends. They started recommending me to their friends, and it kinda snowballed from there. I had so many people asking for help and not enough time between school and work, so I began charging a bit to help supplement my income.

After getting my masters and getting laid off from a local factory job, I decided to officially hang out my shingle and haven’t looked back. I maintain a part time job as a church secretary to get me out of the house, and I take ballet and MMA classes to keep me active. 

What’s the most satisfying part about your job? The most disappointing thing?
Most satisfying is seeing books being transformed. Seeing those clunky and choppy books published as shiny and well-developed, and well-received by readers, that’s my proudest moment. Placing those printed copies on my shelf of client books is something I savor every time!

The most disappointing is probably when I can’t work with a book I love. Like doing contests and only being able to pick a single winner, that just kills me that I can’t let everyone win! 

Your website lists all the genres you’ll work on, but what are your ultimate favorites to indulge in when you’re able to just read?
A good post-apocalyptic like Midy McGinnis’ NOT A DROP TO DRINK (I’m also a Walking Dead fan!) or spacey story like Beth Revis’ ACROSS THE UNIVERSE (I adore Firefly!) or the classic HARRY POTTER series that I read through at least three times a year. I’m also a huge Jane Austen fan–I even rewrote her NORTHANGER ABBEY set in space ☺

Now for one of my favorite things: it’s an either/or game!
Science Fiction or High Fantasy? Science Fiction
Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla
Harry Potter or Twilight? Harry Potter
Anime or Manga? Anime
Netflix or Disney+? Netflix
Anne of Green Gables or Jane Eyre? Anne of Green Gables
Music or Television? Music
Coffee or Tea? Tea
Coke or Pepsi? YUCK
Summer or Winter? Winter
Spring or Fall? Fall
Better Homes & Garden or Southern Living? Better Homes & Garden
Cake or Pie? Pie
Podcasts or YouTube videos? YouTube videos
Spaceships or Sailing ships? Spaceships

What do you look for when vetting clients? Is there ever a time you won’t continue working with someone? How important is it for you to maintain integrity in your line of work?
Most almost-clients take themselves out of the running. There’s an element of trust that needs to exist, and refusing to send sample pages so I can give an accurate quote, or refusing to sign a contract that protects both of our interests… I’ve been an editor for over ten years now. It’s in my best interest to do the best job that I can in order to keep my good reputation. Like when you send queries, agents won’t have time to sign NDAs just to read your sample pages. You just have to do your due diligence in making sure they’re the real deal and then take the leap of faith.

If there’s ever an agent or editor that you get a shady vibe from, by all means don’t sub to them. There are plenty of them out there, and you want to find the one you mesh the best with. My integrity is paramount. It’s so easy to get caught up in the online herd-mentality. I know what I stand for and where I draw my own lines, even if that means I’m not one of the popular crowd. At the end of the day, the only person you have to answer to is yourself. Sure there’s my own reputation to protect, but also for my clients too. I want to be someone they are proud to say they work with.

Check back next week to meet editor Michelle Rascon. In the meantime, have a read of last week’s interview with David Rae, as well as my interview swap over on his website.

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