Molly Kempf

What was your undergraduate creative writing experience at UM like? 

My undergraduate writing experience at the University of Miami was incredible. I worked with teachers on staff and took a few classes with a visiting poet. I loved the workshop feel of the classes and the wide variety of styles and subject matter we were encouraged to tackle. Working in groups and providing feedback for my classmates really prepared me for my job now as an editor. I actually often find myself writing comments to my authors now that mirror what my teachers said in class! 

What did you do right after graduation?

Right after graduation, I took six months off to just relax, catch up with friends and family, and look for jobs. I knew I wanted to go into children's entertainment so I focused my search there. Then I interviewed with Nickelodeon, MTV, the N, and Penguin Children's Books. I ended up taking an editorial assistant job at Penguin because I didn't just want to be an administrative or executive assistant. It was the smartest choice I've ever made! 

What are you doing now?

Now I am a Senior Editor at Scholastic Inc. I work primarily on licensed properties like iCarly, True Jackson, VP, Ben 10 Alien Force, and Barbie, and on movies like Harry Potter. I also work on some original series for middle grade readers and on pop culture biographies. I love everything about my job. It's fast paced and I'm constantly working on new and different projects. Plus it's super creative! I personally work on 60 or so books a year, so I am constantly brainstorming new subject matter and formats and going after hot new licenses. But I really love it because I know I am creating content for kids that aren't necessarily big readers. Licensed books appeal primarily to kids who are reluctant readers. I'm hoping that reading the books I work on will inspire them to love reading and want to do it more often! 

Anything else you'd like to say about UM's Creative Writing program, or writing in general? 

Most of the successful books on the market these days are successful for a reason--they speak to people. You can have the most unique voice in the world, but if it doesn't resonate with the average reader then it won't be a success. If you want to have a successful career as a writer, learn to tailor your voice so that it speaks to the most universal audience you can manage! And get an agent! Slush piles are read by assistants, and most of them don't know a good manuscript when they see it. An agent can and will get your manuscript into the hands of an actual editor! It's worth the 10%!