By Emily Evans-Miller
Here at Mascot, we think it’s high time to recognize the unsung heroes of the publishing community: illustrators and editors. We have an extensive network of freelance professionals who do fantastic work for our authors. This month, our featured freelance publishing professional is editor Abby Mergenmeier.
How did you get into editing books? What made you decide to pursue this career?
I somewhat stumbled into the editing world, by way of journalism. I’d always wanted to be a journalist and began reporting for my hometown’s local newspaper in high school. I would often self-edit, attempting to perfect everything as much as I could, and I always secretly took pride in how few edits my editor would make to my work. Over time, I wrote for other newspapers and soon incorporated video editing into my professional work (that may seem unrelated, but I believe editing soundbites and narrative in a video is very similar to doing so in print). It wasn’t until I was working on the night desk at The Washington Post, arranging and editing the sports scoreboard page for the daily print edition of the paper, that I realized editing dense content on deadlines was where I thrived and felt fulfilled. Eventually, my dear friend and former college roommate who works at Mascot (shout-out to Kristin!) recommended I apply and take the editing tests to become a freelance editor for Mascot. Again, in a way, I serendipitously stumbled upon the editing profession. Now, in my video-focused day job, I’m extremely grateful for Mascot because it’s allowed me to execute and further hone my knack for editing print content.
What do you enjoy most about being an editor?
Helping authors find their voice and enhance their personal writing style is what I find the most enjoyable. In the same vein, the opportunity to read so many different manuscripts also offers me the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of subjects—from lessons learned on a personal journey to financial wellness tips.
Are you a writer as well?
Unfortunately, I don’t currently do any writing of my own, primarily because I lack the time. I did attend journalism school and worked as a reporter for two years, and I was typically the one tasked with writing video scripts in past video production jobs. While I enjoy writing, I feel my editing skills are stronger at this point in my career.
What is your favorite Mascot Books project that you’ve worked on recently? Why?
I recently edited a memoir titled These Got Me Punched, and it was a real page-turner. It was funny but also made me think.
What’s your favorite kind of book to edit?
My personal favorites are memoirs. I typically choose memoirs for my personal reading, so getting to read a memoir for work is a perk that’s always appreciated.
What is your biggest grammar pet peeve?
I see this all the time and it, admittedly, makes me cringe: beginning a sentence with “and” or “but.” One may think it makes his/her writing seem more conversational, but I think it does the opposite; it’s somewhat halting to read. Sentences are more powerful if they begin with words other than “and” or “but.” Only the most seasoned writers can make those words work most effectively at the beginning of a sentence.
What are you currently working on?
I’m about to begin editing another memoir for Mascot Books, and besides that, my job with Discovery, Inc. keeps me very busy.
What are you looking to do more of?
Fantasy as a genre isn’t typically what I choose to pick up, but the two fantasy books I’ve edited with Mascot thus far have been some of my favorites! I’d definitely be open to working on more of that genre.
What types of books do you like to read in your free time?
I’m a sucker for an autobiography. My bookshelf is primarily filled with biographies and memoirs. I’m currently reading Katharine Graham’s Personal History; as a woman and former journalist, she’s one of my idols, and her writing style is wonderfully smooth and self-aware. Every once in awhile I like to pepper some quirky classics into my reading list. For example, I’m also slowly but surely working my way through Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. This book has been a struggle for me to get through, probably because the style is so different from most other things I read, and every paragraph is unpredictable and chaotic…but that’s what’s so genius about it, considering the book’s setting and the author’s intended theme (that’s all I’ll say to avoid giving other details away!).
What’s your favorite book (in general) and why?
Ernest Hemingway is my literary crush, and A Moveable Feast will probably always be my favorite book. His other works are arguably more famous and critically acclaimed, but A Moveable Feast was my first introduction to Hemingway’s world and style, therefore it will always hold a special place in my heart. His narratives are so smooth, clean, and honest; the former journalist in me swoons.
What are some of your other interests (hobbies, alternate day job, etc.)
My full-time day job undoubtedly takes up the majority of my time. I work for Discovery, Inc., preparing shows for broadcast and for distribution on digital platforms. When I’m not working or editing, I can usually be found running or going on long walks, or exploring my neighborhood in Washington, D.C.
What’s something you wished your authors knew about you?
Having someone else read your words is terrifying, but—even as an editor—I can totally relate. I think most editors come from writing backgrounds, so we can certainly empathize with any apprehension an author may be feeling about releasing their work to others.
About Abby Mergenmeier
A graduate of the University of Virginia and University of Maryland, Abby is an experienced writer and video producer, cultivating content for high-level institutions like Discovery, Inc. and The Washington Post. A journalist turned editor, Abby has worked on over 30 projects with Mascot Books.
Don’t forget to check out Abby’s recent projects