At ELLEgirl, Ms. Walker was a senior feature editor, her job was to take car of all the ‘real girl’ stuff (which is the most fun). That means not beauty, fashion, or entertainment, but everything else.
She handled a big feature well with a few ‘issue’ stories each month (teens getting plastic surgery, girls making abstinence pledges), as well as the back page (called “Badass of the Month”) and a few front-of-book pages like “Blog of the Month” and the Global Girl section (of their International style stories)
E.I. How often do you accept an offer because you feel it could be edited into publishable form but then fail to do so either because of difficulty with the author or it wasn’t any good in the first place?
Melissa Walker: Very rarely. We killed probably 3 stories in my three years at ELLEgirl. Often it was a space issue (and then the story wasn't timely anymore when we did have space for it). Committing to a story is a big step, so we didn't take it lightly.
E.I. Given that big publishing house make more dollars with genre fiction (mystery, crime, thriller, SF, etc.) than literary, what keeps them in the literary business at all? Are literary editors in dollar-focused management cultures under siege? Will independent publishers eventually have to carry the literary torch? Is a trend underway? What's your opinion about it?
Melissa Walker: I haven't worked in book publishing at all, but my opinion as a magazine girl and author is that editors really want to work with material that they love (believe me, editors are NOT in publishing for the money--it stinks). And there are lots of editors who love, love, love literary material. And so it lives (thankfully!)