Welcome to Book Editors: Close Up at http://www.authorlink.com . This regular Authorlink column provides an intimate look at important book editors in New York and elsewhere. Interviews focus on editors as real people. The columns explore their likes, dislikes, preferences, prejudices, and why they buy the books they do.

Exclusive Authorlink Interview with Amanda Patton
Editor at Plume, an imprint of Penguin Putnam, Inc.

by G.K.Sharman

August 2001


Amanda acquires across a range of subjects . . .


Amanda Patton would never give up her day job.

"I'm doing what I was meant to do," she laughs. "I get to talk about books all day—how great is that?" Amanda is an editor at Plume, a trade paperback imprint at Penguin Putnam, Inc.

Patton first entered publishing as an intern at Rutgers University Press. She then interned at Viking Penguin before landing a job there. She's had her post at Plume for just under two years.

Amanda acquires across a range of subjects—what she calls "Brit chick lit," gay and lesbian fiction, pop culture, "anything twentysomething," memoir, and drama. She would like to be doing more narrative non-fiction. Although she is primiarily a paperback editor, she also acquires for Dutton and Viking, two hardcover imprints.

Her most recent acquisitions include two new novels by Lisa Jewell, the author of Thirtynothing, and a pop culture book called Jump the Shark. Based on the popular website of the same name, Jump the Shark (the title is a reference to a show-breaking episode of Happy Days in which a water-skiing Fonzie jumps, yes, a shark), Jump the Shark pinpoints the moment when good things go bad. Though the web site focuses primarily on television, the book will take on Hollywood, sports, politics, and other areas of current culture.


Amanda urges those who hope to get published to find an agent . . .


Amanda urges those who hope to get published to find an agent by looking in the Literary Market Place, or by having a look at the acknowledgements in books they believe to be similar to their own. Like all editors at major houses, she receives piles of submissions, but necessarily gives priority to agented manuscripts.

A nonfiction proposal from an agent generally includes an outline, and a few sample chapters, she says. With novels, she likes to see the whole work.

"It's so hard to buy fiction on spec," she says. "Especially if you're a first-time author—finishing the manuscript shows the publisher you can."


. . . she advises meeting as many other writers as you can . . .


As for avoiding submission mistakes with Ms. Patten, she's not impressed with fancy presentation—eye-popping color and snazzy packaging, that kind of thing. Plain old white paper and a standard typeface work just fine, she says. She also prefers not to receive e-mail submissions.

After you sign with an agent—or maybe before—she advises meeting as many other writers as you can, at conferences or in area writing groups. It's a way to get informed feedback about your writing, as well as useful information about agents and grants.

"It's good to buddy up to them," she says.

When not at work, Patton enjoys—what else—reading. Her favorite is Carson McCullers, whose writing she calls "subtle, gorgeous and brave." But what she'd really like to read next, when she finds the time, "is The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band!"


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