#InsideDundurn with Shannon

#InsideDundurn with Shannon

Posted on August 24 by Kyle in Interview
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If anyone is the authority on how to get published, it’s likely an acquisitions editor. So in that case, meet Shannon. Possibly one of the more glamorous jobs in publishing, Shannon’s job is to find and acquire books however she can. But unlike most people looking for a new book, she isn’t checking the local bookstore.

“Books can come from all kinds of places, really,” Shannon says matter-of-factly, “Literary agents, the slush pile, from any number of contacts. Sometimes authors that we’ve already published will refer others who are looking for a house.”

Yes, books can be found in a great many places and you never know what might come of it. In one case Shannon met one author a mutual friend’s book launch before she started acquiring for Dundurn.

“She started telling me about this book and I thought it was great but I didn’t think I would have a chance at it, but it eventually found its way to me,” she says looking back on it.

"Everyone thinks that they have a book."

Things like that happen in publishing, especially when you’ve been in the game for nearly 15 years. Less surprising are things like the response people have when your job comes up in conversation.

“I know some people who won’t disclose that they are an editor in social situations because it’s always ‘Oh, my uncle’s cousin’s friend has this wonderful manuscript.’ Everyone thinks that they have a book.”

But here is the million-dollar question. How do know when you’ve found a book? How do you know when to be nurturing and when to be ruthless?

“Sometimes, you want to give something a chance, maybe it takes a little time to grow on you,” Shannon admits.

“I try thinking of it from the perspective of a reader at a bookstore who picks something up and starts reading the first few pages. If it’s not really grabbing me …” She trails off, leaving the implication before confirming, “You have to trust your instincts. You learn to trust your gut after a while and that’s often when you know you have a winner.”

"They always caution you about doing what you love for a living."

Normally, I’d ask Shannon what she’s reading, but the irony of being an editor is that more often than not, there simply isn’t any time to read for fun. That said, as a fan of literary fiction, Shannon likes to read a lot of award-nominated books, which is also beneficial to her work.

“I get a few books in a year,” she says with a laugh, “Even then I feel bad because I should be reading manuscripts. I could probably pile up to my hip the number of books I should be reading at any given point. They always caution you about doing what you love for a living.”

Cautionary tale or not, something tells me life as an acquisitions editor is suiting Shannon (and certainly, Dundurn) quite nicely.