The Friday Slot - senior editor at Soho Press, Juliet Grames







I first met Juliet earlier this year when I went over to New York to promote the paperback of Between the Sheets. But I felt I already knew her really well, as she was the editor who'd worked with me on that book, when she was with Overlook Press. I'd worked with an editor on my previous book, The Picnic, but this was a whole different experience! Juliet was incredibly thorough, absolutely nothing got by her, and I got used to emails popping up at midnight asking for corrections to be done by, er, yesterday...she also calmed me down when I thought the proof cover was the final version (cue hysterics that she dealt with ever-so-calmly), got excited with me when I uncovered the odd bit of new info, and really cared what I was writing about. 

She's now a senior editor with Soho Press (www.sohopress.com) and she's an incredibly smart, hard-working person who loves what she does, exactly the kind of person that publishing needs. If publishing can keep hold of people like her, it should be able to ride out the kind of storms so many are predicting are heading its way. I can only hope that one day we get to work together again.

So - over to Juliet now: 


LM: What's the hardest part of your job as an editor? What's the easiest?

JG: For me, at least, being an editor is a really emotional job. You know that you love your books to death, but you can't always force the rest of the world to love them and/or to buy them. The persuading process can be exhausting, especially if you're a easily excitable person like myself. The payoff, however, is The Best Thing Ever.

The easiest part is easy--I get to spend all day doing what I'd probably be doing anyway even if no one would pay me to do it. 

 
LM: Recently in the UK newspaper, The Independent, its literary editor Boyd Tonkin, suggested that editors, among others, are increasingly needed as the 'gatekeepers' against the morass of literature available on the Internet. Do you feel that way about your job? Do you think editors are as valued as they should be, or that you're part of a dying breed?

JG: I completely agree with Boyd Tonkin! There was a little dip there where everyone was panicking about self-publishing and the sustainability of the publishing industry, but I'm not worried about that at all. Editors will always be needed, in both their roles: as a) gatekeepers, who can select and point to new projects that will appeal to an existing market, and b) book shapers. I feel very valued in my job--I know I'm very lucky to be this happy in a position, but I'm hope a lot of other editors would say they felt the same. Are we a dying breed? Not if I can help it--I think it's a privilege to be able to work with authors on their art, and there are rewarding and responsible ways to be of utmost value in that role, and I'm an evangelist of that way of life to all the young-to-publishing folks I have the opportunity of working with. So if we are a dying breed, we're also regenerating ourselves. 

 
LM: You're an editor who's worked on both non-fiction books and fiction. Is one necessarily more demanding than the other?

JG: Fiction and nonfiction are demanding in completely different ways--for nonfiction, you have to be very rigorous in pursuing the truth and supporting data of every word laid down on the page. For fiction, on the other hand, there are no parameters for how vigorous you should be, and the index for determining a successful edit (and a successful book) are much more amorphous, which instills a sense of insecurity (have I edited enough? have I edited too much? have I struck the correct balance between letting the author's voice shine through and eliminating infelicities?).  

LM: Finally, a chance to plug some of the writers you're working with! Tell me who we should be looking out for.
  
JG: Oo! I have a bunch of great mysteries coming up this fall. I can't play favorites, since I'm so emotional about my books (c.f. above!). You can read more about them at sohopress.com. But I will tell you a Danish thriller we published last year, The Boy in the Suitcase, just made it back onto the New York Times bestseller list this week! It's really terrific--it was a NYT Notable Book of the Year and has been nominated for the Strand and Barry Awards.

Comments

  1. I knew that Juliet Grames is passionate about cheese cakes, but now I learn that she's a great hard working editor and emotional about the books that she edits. Best wishes for the both of you.

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