Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 16, 2017

Featured Editor of the Month – Allison Wortche Interview – Part One

Many of you will remember Allison Wortche, since she attended many of the NJSCBWI events during my 10 years as Regional Advisor. Allison is a very good editor and a very nice person. When Allison contacted me about her new company Allison Wortche Editorial Services, I asked her to be our guest editor this month and critique four of our first pages. I was happy to introduce her to everyone – especially since many of you ask for my advice on finding someone to help you polish your manuscript for publication.


Allison Wortche is a freelance editor with over twelve years of experience in children’s publishing. As a senior editor at Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House, Allison acquired and edited picture books and middle-grade and YA novels. She worked with bestselling and award-winning authors including Jennifer Niven, Cath Crowley, Amy Timberlake, Deborah Hopkinson, Jean Reagan, Barb Rosenstock, Jen Bryant, and Il Sung Na. The books Allison edited in her years at Knopf garnered over 50 starred reviews and included New York Times bestsellers, a Caldecott Honor Book, a Newbery Honor Book, Edgar Award winners, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book, ALA Notables, and YALSA BFYAs.

Allison is also the author of Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine, illustrated by Patrice Barton. She graduated summa cum laude from the College of William and Mary with a BA in English and Psychology. She lives in New York with her husband, three-year-old, and new baby.

Allison has recently launched Allison Wortche Editorial Services. With her knowledge of the children’s marketplace and publishing process, she offers editorial and creative guidance to authors of picture books through YA. She loves words, characters, and stories—and she loves working with writers to help strengthen their manuscripts. For more information, please contact her at

Here is Part One of my interview with Allison:

What inspired you to open your own company?

I was at Knopf Books for Young Readers for over 12 years, and I loved it—I loved the books I edited and the authors I worked with. Editors at the major publishing houses are involved in so many aspects of publishing and book-making, but my favorite part of the job was always the actual editing. When my second daughter was born earlier this year, I made the (difficult!) decision to pursue something with a more flexible schedule that would also allow me to continue doing the part of an editor’s job that I love most.

Are there any genres that are less interesting to you?

I’m really up for anything. My list at Knopf included character-driven picture books, young concept books, picture-book biographies, historical and contemporary novels, mysteries, and some magical realism. I guess the one thing I am not a huge fan of is sci-fi.How do you decide if you want to work with a writer?

When I first connect with an author, I ask to see 10 manuscript pages plus a synopsis for novels, or the full manuscript/dummy if it’s a picture book. That way I can confirm that we’re a good fit, and feel confident that I can help strengthen the work before we begin.

What type of things do you feel you can help a writer improve?

I pay close attention to voice, plot, pacing, narrative arc, character development, and dialogue. With picture book dummies, I consider layouts, page turns, and how the text and art work together to tell the story. I also think about the audience and the market, and where a book might fit in, and what will make it stand out. I can help with early-stage manuscript development up through final polishes. I’ve ushered many books through to publication and enjoy helping authors wherever they are in the process.

When finished with the editorial work, do you think you can provide guidance on where to submit? 

I don’t give specific names, but I am certainly happy to offer advice about the industry, submissions process, query letters, etc.Any tips on how an author can get you to ask to see more?

As an acquiring editor, I looked for fresh voices, layered characters, and emotionally compelling stories, and I think that’s what I’ll always be drawn to, as an editor and a reader.

Do you think you can work to improve a writer’s voice?

Voice is probably the trickiest thing to “fix,” but yes, I do think I can help writers improve. I can point out places in their manuscripts where the voice isn’t working and explain why (for example if it feels inauthentic, too young or too old, etc.), find places where it is working, and recommend books with particularly strong voices that might be helpful to take a look at.

If you were not drawn to a story, would you let the person know – pass on the project or talk about working together to make it better?

If for some reason I am really not connecting with a manuscript—and don’t feel like I can offer feedback that will move it closer to publication—I will let the author know I’m not the right editor for the project.



In the subject line, please write “June 2017  Critique” and paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it’s a picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top on both the email and the Word document (Make sure you include your name with the title of your book, when you save the first page). REMEMBER: ATTACH THE WORD DOCUMENT AND NOT GET ELIMINATED!

Your First Page Word document should be formatted using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines – only one page. Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com.
PLEASE FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES: Your submission will be passed over if you do not follow the directions for both the pasted email and the attached Word doc. This is where most people mess up.

DEADLINE: June 22nd.
RESULTS: June 30th.

Please only submit one first page a month, but do try again if your first page wasn’t one of the pages randomly picked. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Kathy: Thanks for the opportunity to submit one page. One questions, when you way “but do try again if your first page wasn’t one of the pages randomly picked.” do you mean to this same editor or will you introduce us to a new one in July. Thanks again.


  2. How wonderful 😀 Congratulations, Allison, on your daughters AND your new business! Good luck and I’m looking forward to hearing more 😀


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: