aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

An interview with editor Chuck Adams

Chuck Adams spent many years at Simon & Schuster, where he edited people like Sandra Brown, James Lee Burke, Susan Cheever, Mary Higgins Clark, Kinky Friedman, Ellen Gilchrist, and Joseph Heller. He was pushed out in 2004 and went to work for Algonquin, where he acquired Water for Elephants. In this long interview with Poets and Writers Magazine he talks about his career and about editing. I was fascinated to learn that Water for Elephants was the second book in a two book contract and was rejected by S&S. Bet they feel dumb now. The author’s agent works where my agent used to (until she went out on her own).

The article is filled with interesting tidbits like this “In the lead-up to publication, what are some of the key things that you and your colleagues did?... Craig got on the phone or emailed thirty or forty key independent bookstore people around the country. He said, "I want to send you a manuscript that I think is going to be huge. If you like it as much as I think you will, I want you to give me a quote that I can use to put together an ad." He sent out the manuscript and the comments that came back were universal. There wasn't one negative response. The independent booksellers got behind the book in a huge way. He took those quotes to sales conference in New York, and the sales reps had started reading the book and agreed that it could be a best seller. Michael started putting together a thirty-city tour. We had started out thinking the first printing would be fifteen thousand copies, but by the time we actually went to press it was fifty thousand.”

Or this “Do you have any pet peeves about mistakes that you see writers making again and again?... Oh, there are little things. "‘I like you,' she smiled." [Laughter.] And you see that kind of thing from fairly good writers sometimes. You know, if you want to get the smile in there, it's "‘I like you,' she said with a smile." It's just little things like that. But if I'm reading something and I'm on the fence and I see too many of those, it goes against the book. I don't see it a lot, but every now and then, I read a novel that someone has obviously written with a thesaurus beside him. I'm not a stupid person. But I don't know every word. When I have to get up from my desk and look up words to understand what I'm reading, that's another thing that sends me to the other side of the fence.”

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