Poets & Writers

The Business of Relationships

It is often said that book publishing is a business of relationships. Behind every successful title there is a small crowd of people who, over the course of many months and even years, worked together—via e-mail and in person, on the phone and over lunch—to turn an idea into a vision, edits into finished pages, a manuscript into a book. A work of art conceived and created in solitude is carried forth by a team, passing through many hands before it reaches the marketplace.

I asked five debut authors to describe their first steps toward establishing the initial relationship, the one that starts the whole process rolling: finding an agent. I then asked those five agents to explain how the relationships with their clients grew and how they introduced their clients to the ideal editors who would shepherd their books into print. Next, I contacted those editors and invited them to walk us through the acquisition and editorial process that turns the raw material into finished products. And finally I spoke with five indie booksellers who convey the enthusiasm, the passion, and the purpose of author, agent, and editor in their efforts to place the books in the hands of their intended readers. Along the way I was introduced to marketing directors, publicity managers, events directors, sales reps, and other agents, editors, and authors who aided in forging connections that proved crucial in the process. The result is a series of illustrations offering a glimpse at how the book business operates on the strength of personal and professional bonds among dedicated people working toward the twin goals of creative expression and smart business.

KEVIN LARIMER is the editor in chief of Poets & Writers, Inc.

Jordy Rosenberg

author of the novel Confessions of the Fox, published in June by One World, an imprint of Random House

According to my e-mail records, it was seventeen days from when I first e-mailed Susan Golomb to our initial phone call. However, this does not take into account the seventeen years that I spent writing and throwing away manuscripts. During that time I had been fortunate to discuss my different projects with several agents with varying specializations: noir/mystery, creative nonfiction, popular fiction. These conversations ultimately became a part of , which interweaves all these genres—speculative fiction, would attract her attention, and to my great fortune it did. But I could not have predicted the storm of activity that would ensue once she took me on. Susan was tireless with her edits. It was a little sublime and terrifying, actually, and I don’t know how she did it. We went through three full rounds of line edits—as well as larger structural edits—in the space of three weeks. This mania was surely responsible for the fact that Susan was struck with pneumonia midway through the process. Which still didn’t stop her: She was calling me from the hospital about edits. I believe she was still on antibiotics, in fact, when she made the connection between me and Chris Jackson and Victory Matsui at One World. I’m very much in her debt for the clarity of her vision, not only about the book’s bones, but also for intuiting that the horizon of the book’s potential lay with Chris and Victory and the deep working relationship we would go on to establish.

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