Adam O'Brien

Adam O'Brien – Editor

I'm a New York City-based editor specializing in commercial nonfiction, and have worked on several NYT-bestselling titles.


I'm an editor based in NYC, specializing in both short and long form commercial nonfiction. I specialize in "memoirs" in a broad sense: personal memoirs, business memoirs, collections of humorous personal essays, even travel memoirs. A few of the books I've worked on in this category are Drew Barrymore's Wildflower, Rainn Wilson's The Bassoon King, sportscaster Joe Buck's Lucky Bastard, and Make It Happen by Lisa Sugar, founder of the popular media website Popsugar. I mainly work in narrative nonfiction, encompassing an array of topics from bestselling authors. Examples of books I've worked with are Daniel Levitin's A Field Guide to Lies, Sean Carroll's The Big Picture, and Maria Goodavage's Secret Service Dogs.Working with a variety of New York Times-bestselling books, I've come to know not only how to work in these specific genres, but the best ways to get to the ultimate goal of an editor: how to take what you want to write, recognize what the reader wants to read, and work with you to bring the two together.If you're interested in working with me, please drop me a line with a few paragraphs explaining what you are writing about, your relationship with the subject, and the approximate length. From there, we can talk more about the details as well as your editing needs!
Biographies & Memoirs Earth, Space, & Environmental Sciences Entertainment Humanities & Social Sciences Political Science & Current Affairs Technology Travel
Humor & Comedy
English (US)

Work experience

Apollo Publishers

May, 2021 — Present

• Acquire and develop timely and topical nonfiction titles in science, culture, humor, and memoir.
• Help build and define the publishing profile of a young publishing company.

Sterling Publishing

Nov, 2018 — Nov, 2020 (about 2 years)

• Acquire adult nonfiction trade titles in science, culture, humor, and lifestyle.
• Develop original titles for Barnes & Noble's exclusive Annex department.

The Overlook Press

Dec, 2016 — Nov, 2018 (almost 2 years)

Acquire and develop nonfiction titles in culture, memoir, science, and current affairs.

Penguin Books

Mar, 2015 — Jul, 2016 (over 1 year)

Work with several NYT-bestselling authors in nonfiction, spanning genres such as memoir, science, humor, and current affairs.

Abrams Books

Oct, 2014 — Feb, 2015 (4 months)

Public Affairs Books

Aug, 2014 — Dec, 2014 (4 months)

Perseus Books Group

Jun, 2014 — Aug, 2014 (2 months)


The first history of Atari’s Missile Command, and its unforeseen effects on its creators and the cultureBefore Call of Duty, before World of Warcraft, before even Super Mario Bros., the video game industry exploded in the late 1970s with the advent of the vide... read more
Rainn Wilson’s memoir about growing up geeky and finally finding his place in comedy, faith, and life. For nine seasons Rainn Wilson played Dwight Schrute, everyone's favorite work nemesis and beet farmer. Viewers of The Office fell in love with the character ... read more

Drew Barrymore

Award-winning actress Drew Barrymore shares funny, insightful, and profound stories from her past and present told from the place of happiness she's achieved today. Wildflower is a portrait of Drew's life in stories as she looks back on the adventures, challen... read more
The riveting story of the unlikely coalition of individuals who prevented the Axis from obtaining an abundant supply of oil and absorbing an army of 50,000 into their own, turning the tide of WWII in the Middle EastSpring 1941 was a high point for the Axis war... read more
In an age fraught with terrorism, United States Secret Service canine teams risk their lives to safeguard the president, vice president, their families, visiting heads of state, and a host of others. Unprecedented access to these heroic dog teams has allowed a... read more
A doctor’s world laid bare in a collection of short essays that are surprising, entertaining, and movingDoctor and medical columnist John Launer has written on the practice and teaching of medicine for many years. Now, more than fifty of his essays have been c... read more
A longtime insider’s unprecedented look behind the “Sugar Curtain” during America’s long standoff with communist Cuba, by “one of this generation’s finest diplomats” (Ambassador Joseph Wilson)Our Woman in Havana chronicles the past several decades of U.S.-Cuba... read more
By the author of Marathon, an enlightening look at the historical context behind Alexander the Great, his accomplishments, and his legacyIn the arc of western history, Ancient Greece is at the apex, owing to its grandeur, its culture, and an intellectual renai... read more
Who polices America s prosecutors? And when they set their sights on an innocent CEO, can he survive a 5-year, $25 million legallabyrinth to save the company he built, and himself from prison?Howard Root started Vascular Solutions with little more than a dream... read more
The last time you left home who took care of your pets? How much do you really know about what goes on while you’re not there? If you’ve returned from vacation sensing something wasn’t right, wishing your pets or your walls could talk, then Yvonne Feltman has ... read more
Comprising personal accounts from an intensely consequential chapter in human history, the transatlantic slave trade, The Great Stain takes readers from the depths of suffering to the heights of human dignity.There have been numerous books about the why, when,... read more
The completely revised and updated edition of the definitive book on one of the most important and controversial topics of our time: drinking waterWhen we turn on the tap or twist open a tall plastic bottle, we probably don’t give a second thought about where ... read more
New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin shifts his keen insights from your brain on music to your brain in a sea of details.The information age is drowning us with an unprecedented deluge of data. At the same time, we’re expected... read more
Steve Hely, writer for The Office and American Dad!, and recipient of the Thurber Prize for American Humor, presents a travel book about his journey through Central and South America. Part travel book, part pop history, part comic memoir, Hely's writing will m... read more
*Nominated for the 2016 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award**An NBC News Notable Science Book of 2015**Named one of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2015**A Book of the Month for Brain HQ/Posit Science**Selected by Forbes as a Must Read Brain Book ... read more
*Nominated for the Books for a Better Life Award*The founder and director of the Thirty Million Words Initiative, Professor Dana Suskind, explains why the most important—and astoundingly simple—thing you can do for your child’s future success in life is to tal... read more
Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Amy Krouse Rosenthal

The bestselling author of Encyclopedia an Ordinary Life returns with a literary experience that is unprecedented, unforgettable, and explosively human. Ten years after her beloved, groundbreaking Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, #1 New York Times bestselling ... read more
From The New York Times bestselling author of The Organized Mind and This is Your Brain on Music, a primer to the critical thinking that is more necessary now than ever. We are bombarded with more information each day than our brains can process—especially in ... read more
What does it take to become a champion? Gold medalist Missy Franklin, along with her parents, D.A. and Dick, tell the inspirational and heartwarming story of how Missy became both a legendary athlete and a happy and confident woman, something they accomplished... read more
In this New York Times bestselling memoir, the announcer of the biggest sporting events in the country—including the 2017 Super Bowl and this century's most-watched, historic, Chicago Cubs–winning World Series—reveals why he is one lucky bastard.Sports fans se... read more
The startling new science behind sudden acts of violence and the nine triggers this groundbreaking researcher has uncoveredWe all have a rage circuit we can’t fully control once it is engaged as R. Douglas Fields, PhD, reveals in this essential book for our ti... read more
"Eyeopening... Fascinating... may presage a paradigm shift in medicine.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)"Teeming with information and big ideas... Outstanding.”—Booklist (starred review)The origin of asthma, autism, Alzheimer's, allergies, cancer, heart disea... read more
Lisa Sugar has an amazing job. She spends her days at POPSUGAR creating content about pop culture, must-have handbags and makeup, healthy recipes, and Instagram-worthy sweets. She manages an enormously successful, growing company with employees who love what t... read more
After two New York Times bestsellers, Nick Offerman returns with the subject for which he's known best—his incredible real-life woodshop. Nestled among the glitz and glitter of Tinseltown is a testament to American elbow grease and an honest-to-god hard day’s ... read more
*INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER*"Vivid . . . impressive. . . . Splendidly informative."—The New York Times"Succeeds spectacularly."—Science"A tour de force."—SalonAlready internationally acclaimed for his elegant, lucid writing on the most challenging notio... read more
The movie The Founder, starring Michael Keaton, focused the spotlight on Ray Kroc, the man who amassed a fortune as the chairman of McDonald’s. But what about his wife Joan, the woman who became famous for giving away his fortune? Lisa Napoli tells the fascina... read more

Adam has 13 reviews





Jerry B.

Jerry B.

Dec, 2023

Adam was a great editor for my manscript. He understood my project and made insightful tweaks. I appreciated his comments explaining why he would make certain changes. It was a pleasure to collaborate with him, and I'm sure you'll be pleased to work with Adam as well.
Adam O.
Jerry was a pleasure to work with as an author. He was responsive, thoughtful, and open to constructive ideas to make his writing shine.
John D.

John D.

Sep, 2023

Excellent editorial review of my manuscript with valuable suggestions about how to improve its impact and readability.
Tara M.

Tara M.

Feb, 2022

Adam was really great (and easy) to work with! He was very professional, but warm. Knew where to "oomph" in the book or the detail into where it need. Would love to work with him again!
Adam O.
Tara was a pleasure to work with: responsive to queries, open to suggestions, and invested in making the book the best it could be.
Jennifer M.

Jennifer M.

Mar, 2021

Did an outstanding job! Much formatting was needed... Not an easy manuscript.
jerry N.

jerry N.

Jan, 2021

Adam completed the editing and formating task on schedule even though the completion date was right in the middle of the Christmas holiday. His response to some of my questions may have been delayed due to the holiday season. I had some self-created problems viewing footnote references that took time to resolve but once resolved I agreed with practically all of his changes. That said, I am stil...
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