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Feb 02, 2006


Dan Wickett


I apologize if I asked you something extremely similar when you last appeared on this site, but how do things work at Little, Brown in terms of acquiring books for publishing? Do you, as editor, make the initial foray into the fray, and get backed up by some higher management? Or, is the decision yours to make? Etc.

The paperback version of The Messenger is Hot has a discussion with Elizabeth in the back and makes the statement that you outbid another major publisher to get ahold of Elizabeth's writing.

Reagan Arthur

Usually the acquisition process works a little like this: editors get manuscripts or proposals from agents. We read them, and if we like them we bring them to an editorial meeting for discussion. If enough reads are positive, we bring the project to an acquisitions board. This is a more formal process: we circulate the material to a range of people in-house, including the CEO, President, Publisher, and heads of sales, marketing, and publicity. Then the discussion begins with the general reactions to the book itself before we turn to the question of numbers: how many copies we can sell and therefore how much money we think we can pay the author for an advance. We base the sales estimate on our experience with similar books, the author's track record, known sales of similar books at other houses, etc.

Sometimes, if things are moving quickly -- someone else has bid, usually -- a book might not get so much early scrutiny from so many people. The process always begins with an editor's interest (or, ideally, excitement) but, at least at Little, Brown, that's just the first step.

Dan Wickett


Do you find that you edit each of your writers in a similar fashion? Or is your style determined by the writer?

Are you big on things like specific word selection, or do the rhythm and ideas behind a story jump out first when you read with red pen in hand?

Reagan Arthur

Editing varies from author to author -- some don't need or want a lot of line-editing, others welcome it (but don't often need it). I take my cues from them, and most, or I'd say all, are such excellent writers that I don't need to worry about things like word selection, though certainly sometimes I'll circle things that feel off to me and suggest alternatives.


Reagan, Typepad is reporting system-wide problems today, so it's not you, it's just bad luck. So sorry about this, please bear with us.

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I usually don't buy books because my work and I don't have enough space in my apartment for more books but at least with e-book reader I can get them, I can store more than I will probably read.

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You must feel as the happiest person in the world, because a lot of persons would do wathever stuff to be face to face with Elizabeth, and you actually did it. U can't imagine how I admire her.


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