Insights for Readers, Writers and Publishers
Chapter 3: Ileene Smith, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Vice-president and executive editor,Farrar, Straus and GirouxInterview: Friday, November 9, 2012Manhattan, New York
Ileene Smith joined the literary publisher Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (FSG)1 in February 2012. In that role she acquires and edits authors on both the FSG and Hill & Wang lists. Her first acquisition for FSG was a biography of the publishing ‘matriarch’ Blanche Knopf.
Before that, Smith was ‘executive editor at large’ for general interest books at Yale University Press, a senior editor at Random House, and executive editor at Summit Books. She is the recipient of the PEN Roger Klein Award, the Tony Godwin Memorial Award, and a Jerusalem Fellowship.
Smith’s career illustrates, among many other things, the potential creativity of ‘linking’, the third element identified in this book’s definition of editing. In this case, it involves building groups of associated authors on a publisher’s list. The interview captures the intensity of feeling that dedicated editors have about what they do, and the joy of understanding a text in all its dimensions.
SG What drew you to this kind of work? How did it enter your head to work in publishing?
IS I started at Simon & Schuster in 1979, reading the slushpile. I was doing it part-time to earn money, to further my musical education. But I fell in love ← 45 | 46 → with the culture of the publishing house and...
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