From Poets &Writers
Michael Szczerban is to be congratulated on this insightful, packed interview with Amy Einhorn, the editor of Amy Einhorn Books (an imprint of Putnam at Random House Group) in the current issue of Poets & Writers. His questions tease out the important facts about editing that beginning writers overlook in their eagerness to submit their precious manuscript. I’m not surprised to hear she undertook four major developmental edits on The Postmistress (I still think it needed more) but I’m pleased she took a chance on Sarah Blake when other editors passed on her new book. Amy explained her process of acquiring the book:
Not only did I pass on that novel originally, everyone in town passed on it. Sarah Blake’s sales track was not great, and when I got to page 100 of this novel, I knew I was going to reject it. But I read the whole thing. I never do that.
Then I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was at a Riverhead sales conference presentation, and one of the reps got up and talked about how one of the books made them feel. I had this visceral reaction. I thought, “Oh, I just felt that. What was I reading?” It was that book I passed on from Stephanie Cabot. I went back to her and said, “Did you ever sell that novel?” And I had a very long conversation with Sarah. My first editorial letter to her was seventeen pages long.
Have a coffee and indulge fifteen minutes of your time with this fascinating insight into the editor’s role on the path to publication. It’ll open your eyes to how an editor will assess and work on your manuscript. It’s not just whether it’s a great story, but lots of other decisions are in play: will it sell, what do other editors think of it, what’s the author’s track record (with this kind of book), can my editorial experience and input ensure its success – and choosing a market-pleasing jacket cover. Amy says she took seventeen attempts to get it right for The Help, – now that’s attention to detail!
Here’s the Penguin/RH introduction to Amy Einhorn Books
Amy Einhorn Books / Putnam was founded in 2007 by Amy Einhorn and launched in February 2009. The imprint publishes fiction, narrative nonfiction, and commercial nonfiction. The overarching tenet of Amy Einhorn Books is to hit the sweet spot between literary and commercial—intelligent writing with a strong narrative and great storytelling. The first title published in the imprint was the number-one New York Times bestseller The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which has sold more than 10 million copies in the United States. It has been translated into more than forty-one languages and made into an Academy Award–nominated movie. Other New York Times–bestselling titles from the imprint include The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown, Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan, and The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha, which was also a number-one international bestseller. Upcoming titles include A Good American by Alex George, the number-one Indie Pick of February 2012; The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye (March 2012), which has already received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal; and the eagerly awaited debut of Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess’s memoir, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.
And here’s my 2011 Bookrambler review of The Postmistress