Candlewick Press Assistant editor Melanie Cordova, with questions provided by summer editorial intern Isabella Corletto.
Interning at Candlewick has been my first experience in publishing. What made you want to get into publishing? How did your career begin, and how long have you been working in the industry? Did you always know you wanted to pursue a career in publishing?
I didn’t know I wanted to work in publishing until my freshman year of college. Back then, I desperately needed a job and after many attempts, my boyfriend (now husband) convinced me to apply to a bookstore. Luckily, the bookstore I applied to needed a children’s bookseller immediately and they hired me on the spot. The experience changed everything. At the bookstore, I rediscovered my love for books, especially children’s books. By the end of my sophomore year I had changed my major from Journalism to Writing, Literature, and Publishing. After that, I interned and worked at a couple of publishing houses until I finally landed at Candlewick. If we count my bookstore experience, which I obviously do, I’ve been working in publishing for a decade now.
To be able to work with a text when it’s in its earliest drafts and then see it published has to be an incredibly special experience. So much more time, care, and hard work is put into every single book than I could’ve ever imagined. What is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ve had during your time in publishing?
When I was a sales assistant at Candlewick, I saw a press release about Candlewick acquiring Juana and Lucas. The story appealed to me so much, and I was so excited we had taken it up. After transferring over to editorial, I found out that my boss was the book’s editor and had just started working on it. From admiring this project from afar to working with the incredibly talented Juana Medina to seeing it win the Pura Belpré Award, working on this book has been one of my most rewarding experiences so far.
You have the opportunity to work on English, Spanish, and bilingual texts. I particularly connect to texts that somehow incorporate English and Spanish, because that’s the way I grew up speaking. I live in Guatemala, so I speak Spanish with my family and friends, but I went to an American school, so English has always been my academic language. Before entering the industry, did you expect or hope to find a job where you could take advantage of your knowledge of Spanish? Have you always appreciated translations, and has your perspective changed now that you get to work with Spanish and bilingual books?
As a kid, I loved a bilingual picture book called Moon Rope / Un lazo a la luna by Lois Ehlert. I loved that book specifically because like me, it spoke two languages. It felt like home. But there weren’t that many bilingual books growing up so I never thought that knowing Spanish would be essential to my career. It was during my senior year in college when I was working for a non-profit that I somehow became their Spanish translator. Since this was my third job, I wasn’t seeing this as anything other than another gig. After a while, I realized how much I liked working with those two sides of my brain. When the opportunity presented itself at Candlewick to work on their growing Spanish-language list, it felt like it was meant to be.
This summer has opened my eyes to ways in which I can take advantage of my background and my language skills within the publishing industry that I hadn’t previously considered. Do you have any advice for people from diverse backgrounds such as myself who wish to pursue a path similar to yours?
That’s a hard one - my advice would be to keep at it. It
sometimes feels like it takes too long to get your dream job. There were a
number of times when I just wanted to give up, but I’m so grateful that I
didn’t. Because it really was worth the wait. I would also say to not sell
yourself short. If you know two languages, if you know three(!), make sure
people know that, make sure that you’re showcasing all the unique qualities
that make you you.
Melanie Cordova is as an Assistant Editor at Candlewick Press. She graduated from Emerson College with a degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing and started her career as a children’s bookseller. When not reading, Melanie likes to train for triathlons and go on adventures with her husband and her dog.
Isabella Corletto is an Editorial Intern at Candlewick Press. She grew up in Guatemala City, Guatemala and is now a rising senior at Wesleyan University double-majoring in English and Italian Studies. Apart from reading and writing, she enjoys horseback riding, traveling, learning languages, and trying new foods.