Here in Eastern PA we’re looking forward to spring! To get into the spring mindset, we’re offering two “Spring into Nonfiction” webinars with author Annette Whipple (March 3) and Beach Lane Books Executive Editor Andrea Welch (March 7). Both webinars will occur live at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time. Learn more about them and register here.
In preparation for the March 7 webinar, which will be all about back matter in nonfiction children’s books, we reached out to Andrea Welch to find out a little more about her and her work. Here’s what she had to say:
Laura: Hi, Andrea! Welcome to the EasternPennPoints Café, a virtual café where you can order virtually anything! I’m having a warm cinnamon roll and a cup of Earl Gray tea. How about you?
Andrea: Hi, Laura! So lovely to join you today. I’m having a big mug of super-hot black coffee and an almond croissant.
Laura: Sounds delicious! Let’s start at the beginning. At what point in your life did you know you wanted to work in publishing?
Andrea: I studied journalism in college, and I realized pretty early on that I preferred helping talented writers tell their stories rather than writing my own. I thought I’d work in magazine publishing, but after a few internships, I decided the pace of the industry was just too darn fast for my liking. So, I began exploring book publishing, and here I am, many years later, in a job I absolutely love.
Laura: I understand you are one of the co-founders of Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. How did that come about?
Andrea: Beach Lane’s publisher Allyn Johnston and I had worked together for a number of years at Harcourt Children’s Books. After Houghton Mifflin acquired Harcourt, Rubin Pfeffer, then senior vice president of S&S Children’s Publishing (and now a top literary agent), invited us to come to S&S and start a new imprint. It was an exciting—and challenging!—opportunity, and we were thrilled to accept. Beach Lane will celebrate its fourteenth birthday this year. (Fun fact: Allyn and I have been working together for almost 22 years!)
Laura: Wow! Sounds like a great partnership. In our March 7 webinar, you’ll be delving into the topic of back matter in nonfiction books. I know you’ll cover a lot of information in the webinar, but let’s just get basic for moment. What is back matter, and do all nonfiction books need it?
Andrea: Good question! And yes, I’ll definitely be digging into this in my talk. Back matter is the additional information located in the back of a book that helps round out the story the author and illustrator have told. It can include things like an author’s note, an illustrator’s note, a timeline, a list of sources, resources for further reading, photographs, etc. I think the best back matter gives context to the story, answers any lingering questions a reader might have, and inspires further thinking, learning, and discussion. I do think most nonfiction books should have back matter.
Laura: In terms of your nonfiction acquisitions, are there any subjects you are particularly drawn to?
Andrea: I tend to gravitate toward books about nature, biographies of little-known people who did (or are doing) big things, and books that illuminate different cultures.
Laura: What else makes you want to say, “Yes, please!”?
Andrea: A fascinating topic (especially one that I almost can’t believe is true!), a fresh voice, a unique perspective, and writing that’s perfect for reading aloud. I also look for manuscripts that have lots of illustration possibilities.
Laura: Okay, time for our lightning round! Quick as you can!
Last book that made you laugh out loud: Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig
Last book that pulled at your heartstrings: Cougar Crossing: How Hollywood’s Celebrity Cougar Helped Build a Bridge for Wildlife by Meeg Pincus, illustrated by Alexander Vidal
A good beach read: Vladmir by Julia Mae Jonas (this one’s for grownups!)
Favorite thing about spring: Oh, where to begin?! The birdsong, the flowers, the moody weather, and the wonderful feeling of a new beginning and of everything springing back to life.
Laura: Whew! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me. We’re looking forward to welcoming spring with our “Spring into Nonfiction” webinars. See you on March 7!
Andrea: Thanks, Laura. I’m looking forward to it!
Andrea Welch is Executive Editor at Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. She has the pleasure of working with a long list of wonderful authors and illustrators, including Liz Garton Scanlon, Ashley Wolff, and Jennifer Ward. Books she has edited include What Do You Do With a Voice Like That? by Chris Barton, illustrated by Ekua Holmes; Life by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel; The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater, illustrated by Terry & Eric Fan; and the New York Times bestselling LMNO Peas series by Keith Baker.
To find out more about our “Spring into Nonfiction” webinars on March 3 and March 7, and to register, please visit the events page at https://epa.scbwi.org/events/spring-into-nonfiction-webinars/.