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

October Spotlight:

Amy Pierpont
Associate Editor at Simon & Schuster, New York
Imprint: Pocket Books
Parent Company: Viacom

October 1998


Recent acquisition: BLUE MOON by John Leslie

Q. How did you first become involved in publishing?

A. I studied English and Journalism in college in effort to prepare myself for the field. I then attended the Radcliffe Publishing program after which I got my first job in publishing.

Q. What did you do before occupying your current position?

A. I was an editorial assistant at Dell Publishing.

Q. What job would you do if you could do any job in the world?

A. Editing is the perfect job for me; I’m able to make a career at doing one of my favorite things: reading.

Q. What is your earliest memory of your love for words or books?

A. Ironically, I can remember as a child NOT wanting to learn to read. This memory is quickly replaced by checking out stacks and stacks of books from the local library. I was the kid who couldn’t see over the desk or the pile of books I was attempting to carry.

Q. Who influenced you most as a child to read?

A. My grandmother. She was an avid reader and belonged to several mail order book clubs. She’d make little notations on the inside of each book; as I got older it was my aim to read all those that said “steamy.”

Q. Who are your favorite two or three authors?

A. This is a really tough question, but two favorites that come to mind are William Faulkner and Ian McEwan.

Q. Why do you like each of them?

A. Faulkner is a master storyteller and his prose and sense of the southern Gothic style is extraordinary. Ian McEwan’s short stories and novels are simply captivating; when anyone asks me to recommend a literary writer I always mention him.

Q. What is your favorite book of all time and why?

A. This is just too difficult to answer. I have many favorites and am adding new ones to the list all the time.

Q. What categories do you acquire for?

A. Romance, Mainstream Women’s Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, and non-fiction.

Q. What other categories personally interest you?

A. The world of cookbooks and gardening books seems particularly fun and interesting. If I weren’t such a fan of fiction this is definitely the direction I’d go in.

Q. What do you want to see in a query? How long?

A. Query letters are my least favorite type of submission. I prefer a letter of introduction, a synopsis and the first three chapters.

Q. Do you accept email queries?

A. No.

Q. What advice, if any, do you have for the new writer trying to break in?

A. READ, READ, READ. The key isn’t to mimic another writer’s voice or work, but to get a sense of what works and why and, often most importantly, what sells.

Q. What are your three biggest turn-offs when you’re considering a manuscript (packaging? typefaces? no SASE? viewpoint shifts?)

A. Viewpoint shifts are a particular pet peeve. Also, sloppy presentation (stained letters, smudged ink, etc.). Lastly, writers who haven’t researched the company their submitting to; it’s important to target your submissions.

Q. What was it about the last three manuscripts you’ve acquired that caught your eye? Made the decision for you to buy?

A. The writer’s unique voice and captivating plots.

Q. Do you have a favorite quote or first line of a novel? Some wisdom that has guided you?

A. This quote hangs above my desk: “May I a small house and large garden have, And a few friends, and many books, both true, both wise, and both delightful too!” When things get hectic and overwhelming it’s helpful to look at this and remember that the most important things are simply gotten, and often close at hand.