Meet Our Assistant Editor

By Erika Dreifus on August 30, 2016

We’re a small (but mighty!) team here at FTB. And we think that it’s time for you to get to know one of our key players, Assistant Editor Emily Greenberg, who does so much crucial work behind the scenes. In this brief interview, she offers a glimpse into what that work involves.

Photo credit: Zack DeZon

Photo credit: Zack DeZon

A bit of background: Emily received a BA in English and a BFA in Fine Arts from Cornell University. After briefly working in academic publishing, she joined Fig Tree in October 2014 as Editorial and Publishing Assistant. Her short fiction has appeared in literary journals including A Bad Penny Review, Matter, and The Copperfield Review, and her artwork has been exhibited in venues across the country, including Phoenix Gallery and AC Institute (NYC), Smack Mellon and BRIC (Brooklyn), ARC Gallery (Chicago), and Intermedia Arts (Minneapolis). She lives in Brooklyn, where she helps lead drop-in writing workshops for area writers.

Emily, please tell us briefly about your role/responsibilities as FTB Assistant Editor.
My main job is helping Editor-in-Chief Michelle Caplan on editorial and production matters. I usually read through submissions first and send Michelle some notes about what looks promising. We spend a lot of time discussing the submissions and providing feedback to authors, both on submissions and with books that are already under contract. On contracted books, we work intensively with the copyeditors and designers to make sure everything’s just right. I also help prepare certain sales materials (such as the copy that appears online in sites such as IndieBound and Amazon) and track our book orders and sales. We’re a small team so everyone does a little bit of everything.

How has your educational/professional background informed your work at FTB?
As an undergrad, I studied contemporary fiction and took writing workshops with fiction writers Stephanie Vaughn, Helena Viramontes, and Michael Koch (who also edits the journal Epoch) and poets Anne Marie Rooney and Joanie Mackowski. I also interned at Essays & Fictions, an Ithaca-based literary journal. Because the journal was so small—a husband-and-wife team running it from their apartment—I had a pretty hands-on role. That internship offered my first experience reading through the slush pile [unsolicited submissions], and I learned a lot from discussing that work with the editors.

Since graduating, I’ve also been involved in a terrific writing group. Every writer works differently, and workshopping projects at such different stages has definitely made me a better editor and reader. The writing group has also helped me become more involved in the local literary scene through the Local Organic (WORD Bookstore) and Loaded Canon (Brooklyn Oenology) reading series.

You are on the front lines of the manuscript review process; when authors and agents send manuscripts to FTB, you’re often the first one to see the work. Any tips or advice for would-be submitters?
Read our submissions guidelines! For fiction, for instance, we accept novels but will frequently receive short story collections, which we can’t accept. We also can’t accept manuscripts that don’t speak to the American Jewish Experience. This obviously includes manuscripts without Jewish or American content, but it also includes manuscripts where Jewish identity plays only a surface role. Would-be-submitters should definitely look at our website and the books we’ve published to get a sense for whether their work would be a good fit. Keep your cover letter to the point and professional. (We don’t need to know the names of your pets!) Beyond that, we’re looking for original voices and compelling stories that address the AJE in unique ways.

Apart from FTB titles (naturally!), what are some of the novels and memoirs of American Jewish Experience that have left impressions on you (and why?).
I loved Molly Antopol’s collection, The UnAmericans. Just beautiful writing, and the stories really pack an emotional punch. I recently got really into Judy Budnitz’s bizarre and hilarious short stories, which are not AJE per se but incorporate Jewish elements from time to time. I love her work. More recently, I’ve been (unfortunately) thinking a lot about Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America in relation to the current presidential election…

Thanks so much for answering these questions, Emily. And let me just add: It’s a pleasure to work with you!