Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 16, 2018

Page Street Publishing – YA Editor’s Interviews

Lauren Knowles and Ashley Hearn

Interview with Ashley Hearn and Lauren Knowles

Ashley how did you find your way to Page Street Publishing?

Well…it’s kind of a long story, lol. The highlights version is that I realized upon graduating college with a film degree that being a sports producer (what I went to school for) was not actually what I wanted to do, and then I began a four-year process of transitioning out of that and into publishing. Because I didn’t live in either NYC or Boston, I took on as many remote opportunities as I could, such as freelance editing, mentoring in online writing contests like Pitch Wars, and working remotely as an editorial assistant. After a few years of apprenticing and building up my resume, I started looking for a full-time position and my search landed me at Page Street!

Lauren, can you answer that question, too?

I actually left NYC to pursue publishing, oddly enough. I originally wanted to be a teacher and I received my MA in English Literature. When I moved to NYC, it was to teach ESL and work at the New York Public Library. A few years and one too many subway delays later, I wanted to escape the commotion of New York and started looking for jobs in the Boston area. I think it was some combination of job postings, frame of mind, and old dreams that inspired me to transition to a career in publishing. I’ve always been interested in editing—I had an internship with a small press while in graduate school—but it wasn’t until I left NYC that I decided to switch gears. Page Street turned out to be the perfect fit.

The book covers of the YA novels you have put out are fabulous. Do you utilize Kristen’s art director background with your book covers?

Thank you! And yes, sometimes we use Kristen’s art background with our covers. We did with the cover for Home and Away (which isn’t it stunning?!). It all depends on the book. Each one has its own needs.

How many YA novels do you think you will publish next year?

We will publish 12 books in 2019 and are hoping to publish 16 in 2020!

Once you have found a manuscript you would like to publish, how long does it take to get to the bookshelf?

Typically around 18 months from initial offer, through development edits, production/ design, and then at least six months of pre-publication publicity.

Do you accept unsolicited submissions?

Yes, we do!

What defines a young adult book at Page Street Publishing?

We want to publish books we believe in, and that we feel are going to make a difference in teens lives. We don’t acquire to “trends” or have certain content criteria our books must have. The only requirement is that it’s a story we’re passionate about.

Are there any topics that would not fit with your imprint?

Not really. There are certain topics we’re tougher sells for—particularly stories about drug abuse, physical or sexual abuse, and cancer/ “sicklit” books—but we hate putting hard and fast parameters on what we’re looking for. Neither of us know for sure until we read the pages.

Your guidelines say your manuscript must be edited and proofread. Does that mean you need to hire a professional to do this before sending or just that you need to get enough eyes on it before you submit something not highly polished?

The latter. You don’t need to hire an editor—that’s our job. But if that’s what you need to help realize the full potential of your manuscript, then go for it. Freelance editors can help take your manuscript to the next level, but critique partners can be just as great an asset. All that matters is that when you submit, you’re putting your best possible work out there. We can tell when someone sends us a first draft.

It sounds like you are willing to work to improve a manuscript in progress with your call for YA proposals from marginalized creators. Is that a correct assumption? Any words of wisdom or hints to help?

We are committed to publishing an inclusive list of authors, stories, and topics, which is the purpose of the call for proposals. We’re willing to work with marginalized authors to develop ideas we’re passionate about.

How is your sales team doing getting your YA books in libraries and bookstores?

Macmillan is our sales team, so as one of the ‘Big 5’ publishers we have a fantastic sales force behind us that has done well with getting our books in stores. We also work with a fantastic school and library publicist to raise awareness for our titles in those markets.

Do you think you will eventually add MG books to your line in the future?

Possibly. We both love middle grade, but right now we’re focused on establishing ourselves in the picture book and young adult markets.

What do you like to see in a submission?

We like to see that the author has done their research and understands the audience they’re writing for.

How important is the query letter?

It’s important. Typically, we read the query first to get an idea of the concept and gauge whether or not it’s something we’d be interested in reading more of. If an author is struggling to explain their concept in the query, it can be a sign it’s not well-honed in the pages, too. Though we do always take a look at the sample pages to see if we can be proven wrong.

Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?

Authors either talking down to their audience or talking down to the age category in general. We don’t want to work with authors who think their better or superior to their fellow authors, and if you’re trying to teach “the youths” a lesson, teens are going to see right through that. Telling a compelling story always comes first.

Do you let people know if you are not interested in what they submitted?

We have a “no response means no” policy, though we do try to post regular slush pile updates on our social media feed.

Would you be willing to work with an author on an interesting manuscript that needs changes?

Possibly. It all depends on how deeply in love with the concept we are, how strong our vision for the story is, and how much work we think it’s going to require.

Are you interested in writer’s conference invitations?

Absolutely! We love opportunities to connect with prospective authors.

Thank you Ashley and Lauren for taking the time to answer the interview questions!


In the subject line, please write “JULY 2018 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE” (Also indicate YA PB or NF in Subject line) Example: JULY 2018 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE – PB or NF or YA. 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: July 20th.
RESULTS: June 27th & 30th

Talk tomorrow,


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