How did you end up as an editor at Little A?
I worked for Wiley Publishing almost 10 years before joining the Waterfall Press and Grand Harbor Press imprints at Amazon Publishing in 2015. I was really excited about the opportunity to work on more narrative-driven nonfiction but also fiction titles as well. I worked with a wide variety of authors, and so I had the chance to better understand the nuanced goals and aspirations of authors across different categories. After three years and more than 40 titles acquired between those two imprints, I joined the team at Little A, which has established itself as a home for high quality nonfiction and fiction. I’m really jazzed about being on this squad because I’m back to focusing on nonfiction books, specifically author stories that are approachable, relatable, and memorable.
What types of books have you been acquiring for the imprint?
Little A’s mission is to publish books that drive understanding across cultures and people. For me, that means showcasing compelling narratives that highlight extraordinary accounts while also having an uplifting message. More than 75 percent of my upcoming list are stories by and/or about women overcoming tragedy, persecution, abandonment, or patriarchal oppression. My authors are dedicated to telling their stories in a way that inspires and motivates rather than blames. Enjeela Ahmadi-Miller’s debut, The Broken Circle: A Memoir of Escaping Afghanistan (coming out in spring 2019), is a great example of this. We know the heartbreaking stories of refugees around the world—but this account really highlights the life of a young girl during the height of the Afghan-Soviet war, determined to survive and reunite with her family despite the obstacles laid out by war and bureaucracy.
What is the biggest piece of advice you’d share with an aspiring editor?
Recognize the differences between what’s important to the author, what’s important to the reader, and what’s important to the industry, and prioritize accordingly when deciding what type of projects you want to pursue. You have to know who your customers are and remain steadfast in how you’ll best serve them.
What’s something you do every day as an editor that people would be surprised to hear?
I edit while listing to music (It has to be instrumental, or I may find myself slipping lyrics into a manuscript!). While editing filmmaker Keele Burgin’s memoir, WHOLLY UNRAVELED,I queued up the soundtrack to Wonder Woman. Its powerful score really put me in the head space to navigate this author’s harrowing story of brutality that morphed into unwavering self-love. And while working on The Warner Boys: Our Family’s Story of Autism and Hope by Curt and Ana Warner (releasing this fall), I went with the soundtrack to Remember the Titans. Curt Warner is a former Seattle Seahawks running back, and the story he and his wife tell in their book centers on the upbringing of their twins Christian and Austin, who are both autistic. The music has a blend of struggle, pain, triumph, and hopefulness that is shared with the Warners’ story.
Shepherding a book from acquisition to publication and beyond is an enormous amount of work. What makes this rewarding?
Being an editor can feel just as creative and personal as writing your own story. I’ve published every kind of nonfiction you can think of: memoirs, self-help, business, cooking, etc. There’s no better feeling than helping authors bring their stories, ideas, and passions into the world. At Little A, I’ve been fortunate to foster an intimate and collaborative rapport with each of my authors. Every time one of my books publishes, I know that I’ve contributed, along with the author, to the greater conversation and history of our culture.
Erin Calligan Mooney is an editor of nonfiction for Little A, Amazon Publishing. Her upcoming titles include The Warner Boys: Our Family’s Story of Autism and Hope by Curt and Ana Warner with Dave Boling, The Broken Circle: A Memoir of Escaping Afghanistan by Enjeela Ahmadi-Miller, and an untitled biography about the remarkable life of librarian Ruth Rappaport by Kate Stewart. Erin lives in Sunnyside, Queens, with her husband, Aaron.