The Busi­ness of Re­la­tion­ships


Poets and Writers - - Contents - By kevin larimer

How au­thors, agents, ed­i­tors, book­sellers, and pub­li­cists work to­gether to reach read­ers.

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.

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