The Finite Jest

September 9th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

Let us, for a moment, ponder the act of editing books. There are many in the publishing ranks who complain that they don’t so much edit as administer. Oh sure, every interview you read with an editor talks about the hands-on approach and collaborative process. . .given the continual output of major label publishers versus available and experienced staff, just how much care and feeding can an editor do?

Jonthan Karp who is running Warner’s “Twelve” imprint thinks he knows how to change the business model. Note: there are two critical steps:

I love books. So even though I thought about alternatives, I kept coming back to my initial attraction to books and to working with authors. This was an ideal opportunity to test some long-held beliefs — that talented authors deserve a massive amount of attention and the best way to get them attention is for a publisher to focus relentlessly and exclusively on their book for as long as possible.

I think that by promising authors and their literary agents that we will publish nothing other than their books for a full month, we’re saying we believe in you and we will do everything we can to make people pay attention to you.

I’m going to personally edit every book. I’ve learned that you have the most fun and you can have the most impact when you work directly with the authors. I think I’ll have better publishing ideas because I’m also editing the book. I’ll be close enough to the content and spirit of the book that I’ll be able to communicate what’s special about it to audiences with the help of the marketing machines at the Time Warner Book Group.

Sounds suspiciously simple, doesn’t it? Focus on the books out on the shelves (at least for thirty days) and really work to make them the best book possible. It’s almost too practical. There must be a catch, though we’re not seeing it yet.

File Under: Publishers and Editors