My New York book publishing career spans over 22 years---the last 15+ years I served as a senior acquisitions editor (as well as a publicity director for the first five years) at Picador USA/St. Martin's Press, where I acquired and published over 125 hardcover books in many genres of fiction and non-fiction.
After years in the business, I feel the need to share this truth with emerging writers: getting your writing noticed and selling lots of copies of your book--whether self-publishing or seeking literary representation--has nothing to do with making contacts or establishing marketing platforms and campaigns.
The selling potential of any book, in any genre, is inseparable from the quality of its content: the freshness and resonance of the narrative voice; the mastery of the prose; the vividly-detailed descriptive language; the engaging theme and subject matter; and the dramatic merits of the narrative.
Knowing this, I use uncompromising New York standards when I am helping writers to enhance the quality of their work and increase the chances that their final books will sell. At the same time, my respect for each individual writer, and the depth of his or her far-reaching investment in the book, is equally unqualified.
Whether you are contracting for an overall manuscript assessment, a developmental edit, a copy edit, a proof-read, or a query letter review, you, and your writing, will receive my full heart, mind, and attention.
I possess a sixth sense for what things might be 'off' in the language, voice, characterization, or storyline in a manuscript, and I am adept at articulating and communicating those intuitions and observations to the writer.
Also, with a background in marketing and publicity, as well as acquisitions, I am uniquely qualified to help writers identify their targeted readerships, and to tailor some of their future revisions accordingly.
When it comes to the writing journey, finding the right path is much more important than racing to an illusory (and ever-receding) finish line. My book publishing credentials and experience are exceptional, and I have a visionary perspective and a good soul, so I am most capable of leading open-minded and highly-determined writers up the right trails to the highest peaks, where successful authors sip cocktails, and thousands of books are sold.
Wherever you are on the writing/publishing timeline, I would be delighted to give you an estimate for lending my expertise to your particular needs.
'What Diane brought to our many-months-dialogue concerning this novel---as she has done in the past---is not only her perfect pitch for language and unerring sense of story, but an understanding of the lives of children and parents and what it means to a mother, a sibling, a child, that mirrors and complements mine as closely as that of any person I have ever known.' Joyce Maynard, THE USUAL RULES: A Novel (Picador USA)
"Diane has encouraged me to go deep within myself and write with more gravitas and find the honesty and universal truths hidden in my heart and soul and the result is astounding. What she has edited is the best writing I have ever done.
The woman is a genius---a very soulful and romantic and brilliant person. The kind of person you want on your writing team and as a friend. Plus, she must have been one of those who paid attention to the requisite classes on grammar in junior high. (She doesn't miss a thing)."
J . Howard, THE VIEW FROM SUICIDE BRIDGE: A Novel (coaching client)
As a freelance editor and book coach, I have mentored a number of writers and books to notable publishing success, including a novel that sold to Viking for a significant advance** ; a memoir that garnered national awards and reviews (published by a small independent publisher); *** and a self-published series of lifestyle/business advice books for young professional women, the latest of which has risen as high as #4 in its genre on Amazon's Kindle bestseller list, and #6 on Amazon's trade paperback bestseller list. ****
** (The Bastard of Istanbul: A Novel, by Elif Shafak)
*** (Grip: A Memoir of Fierce Attractions, by Nina Hamburg)
**** (The Champagne Diet and Girl Code, by Cara Alwill Leyba )
(listed at the end of my portfolio, below)
After almost six years at Houghton Mifflin Company in publicity/marketing, I was offered a job as a publicity director at St. Martins Press. St. Martin's is a high energy company with an open-minded attitude toward job descriptions. Therefore, while I pitched our high profile books to the New York Times Book Review, and oversaw countless publicity campaigns, I was also able to pitch at submissions at the weekly acquisitions meetings, and was given the opportunity to follow my first and most powerful love in publishing: acquiring manuscripts, and bringing talented writers and exciting new books into the world.
In 1995, I was one of three to launch St. Martin's literary imprint, Picador USA (the highly-respected sibling of the venerable Picador UK), where I served as the publicity director, as well as a senior acquisitions editor.
Eventually, I turned my full focus to acquisitions. Over a period of fifteen years, I acquired and published over 125 hardcover titles for Picador USA and St. Martin's Press. My acquisitions spanned , many fiction and non-fiction genres—including, literary fiction; commercial fiction; historical fiction; women's fiction; Christian fiction; ethnic/African American fiction; memoir; biography; history; current affairs; psychology; politics; international relations; social justice; family life and adoption; faith and religion; and inspirational/self-help. Many of the authors of these books were discoveries, i.e., previously unpublished writers.
A number of my books became top-10 New York Times bestsellers, including THE PIANIST, the haunting holocaust memoir by the Polish composer and concert performer, Wladyslaw Szpilman, whose harrowing story of personal survival in Warsaw in the face of genocide and grievous family loss, inspired Roman Polanski's academy-award-winning film, starring Adrian Brody; and Anita Diamant's sweeping biblical saga, THE RED TENT, which launched a new genre of historical fiction, and claimed one of the highest positions on the New York Times paperback bestseller list for years, selling over 3 million copies.
Having a background in both acquisitions and marketing/publicity has sharpened my insights into the sales potential and popular appeal of any manuscript or proposal.
My first publishing job was at Houghton Mifflin Company in its New York office, as the assistant to the Publicity/Marketing Director. The work was endlessly hard, and stressful, and exciting...and, every minute of every day, I felt that I was living my dream. And I was.
At HMCo, I assisted the director in orchestrating dozens of high profile publicity campaigns, including a national tour for former president, Jimmy Carter, and his book on the Camp David Accords, THE BLOOD OF ABRAHAM. One of the biggest highlights of those early years was being allowed to travel with Jimmy Carter to Dallas, Texas, after I had done a bang-up job booking his media in that city.
I also played a key role in setting up Margaret Atwood's interviews and national tour for her breakout bestselling novel, THE HANDMAID'S TALE . I spent weeks lining-up back-to-back media interviews in every major city around the country. One day she called me from LA, exhausted. 'You've got to remember, Diane, I DO need to pee!' But, she wasn't terribly upset...she, like all of us at HMCo. spent weeks flying high as kites as we watched an unknown talented mid-list literary writer from Canada, soar into the stratosphere, right before our eyes!
Margaret Atwood brought me back a gift from Los Angeles: a scarlet Beverly Hills Hotel t-shirt with a fake diamond over the 'i'. The t- shirt exuded her beguiling feminist irony, and I cherish it to this day.
The successful publicity campaigns at HMCo, both large and small, mounted, and I moved up with them, and, eventually, was promoted to Publicity Manager.
A New York Times BestsellerA decade after the publication of this hugely popular international bestseller, Picador releases the tenth anniversary edition of The Red Tent.Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that tell of her father, Jacob, and his twelve sons.Told in Dinah's voice, Anit... read more
Named one of the Best Books of 1999 by the Los Angeles Times, The Pianist is now a major motion picture directed by Roman Polanski and starring Adrien Brody (Son of Sam). The Pianist won the Cannes Film Festival's most prestigious prize—the Palme d'Or.On September 23, 1939, Wladyslaw Szpilman played Chopin's Nocturne in C-sharp minor live on the radio as shells exploded outside—so loudly that ... read more
In the spring of 1972, Joyce Maynard, a freshman at Yale, published a cover story in The New York Times Magazine about life in the sixties. Among the many letters of praise, offers for writing assignments, and request for interviews was a one-page letter from the famously reclusive author, J.D. Salinger.Don't Go Away Sad is the story of a girl who loved and lived with J.D. Salinger, and the wo... read more
It's a Tuesday morning in Brooklyn---a perfect September day. Wendy is heading to school, eager to make plans with her best friend, worried about how she looks, mad at her mother for not letting her visit her father in California, impatient with her little brother and with the almost too-loving concern of her jazz musician stepfather. She's out the door to catch the bus. An hour later comes th... read more
Two American sisters, Christine and Elizabeth Shepherd, are on a silk-buying trip in India for their business in California. After Elizabeth mysteriously disappears, Christine is compelled to challenge the ineffectual U.S. and Indian bureaucracies and venture alone, with various strangers as guides, to find her sister. Disguised in the traditional female garb of some Islamic cultures, Christin... read more
A riveting true story of sisters who were identical, until the voices beganGrowing up in the fifties, Carolyn Spiro was always in the shadow of her more intellectually dominant and socially outgoing twin, Pamela. But as the twins approached adolescence, Pamela began to suffer the initial symptoms of schizophrenia, hearing disembodied voices that haunted her for years and culminated during her ... read more
Robert Meeropol was six years old in 1953 when his parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, were executed after being convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union at the height of the McCarthy era. Just before they were put to death, the Rosenbergs wrote a letter to their two sons saying they were "secure in the knowledge that others would carry on after them." The Ros... read more
Jamaican writer Joyce Palmer is a first-time novelist who writes with raw talent and true freshness, in a voice that's uncontrived, unselfconscious, and immediate. Her narrator, Fay, sees the world with endearing simplicity and innocence, bearing her trials and mistakes with hope and honesty. Set in Jamaica, Greenwichtown is the story of Fay Myrtle, a young, innocent, eight-year-old girl who l... read more
In all of the obituaries and writing about Richard Brautigan that appeared after his suicide, none revealed to Ianthe Brautigan the father she knew. Through it took all of her courage, she delved into her memories, good and bad, to retrieve him, and began to write. You Can't Catch Death is a frank, courageous, heartbreaking reflection on both a remarkable man and the child he left behind.
Richard Brautigan's last novel, published in the U.S. for the first time Richard Brautigan was an original--brilliant and wickedly funny, his books resonated with the sixties, making him an overnight counterculture hero. Taken in its entirety, his body of work reveals an artistry that outreaches the literary fads that so quickly swept him up. Dark, funny, and exquisitely haunting, his final bo... read more
"Poignant memoir of a not-so-typical New York Jewish family’s experiences in the midcentury Hollywood demimonde … Equal parts emotional tissue-party and shrewd cultural history." - Kirkus ReviewsIn 1958, young Sheila Weller was living a charmed life with her family in Beverly Hills. Her father was a brilliant brain surgeon. Her mother was a movie-magazine writer whose brother owned Hollywood's... read more
Ambivalence, a Love Story is a deeply nuanced accounting in which two people come together to make a marriage work. Rarely has marriage and its compromises been so intimately portrayed, especially when tested by depression, unemployment, miscarriage and other realities of contemporary life. Whether inside the sterile out-placement offices for reengineered executives or traipsing through the su... read more
Kennedy, a psychologist, former priest, and a leading Catholic author and scholar, addresses one of the most compelling yet undiscussed issues in the Church: human sexuality. The Unhealed Wound is a penetrating and insightful study of the unresolved conflicts Catholics face regarding both their sexuality and spirituality, deep conflicts which grow more and more serious as they remain unaddress... read more
A compelling and inspiring guide to making running a spiritual sportImagine achieving physical fitness and spiritual growth simultaneously. Roger Joslin's step by step program is an engaging exploration of his conviction that spiritual well being is as likely to happen while running along the trails of a favorite park as it is within the more traditional settings of neighborhood churches, syna... read more
The inspiring true story of a four-year-old Chinese orphan who convinces her adoptive American family to return to China to rescue the little boy she couldn't forgetAdopted by an American family at age four, Jaclyn traveled to her new home with a great burden. Her new family had to leave behind a little boy who had been under her charge at the Chinese orphanage where Jaclyn fought the odds aga... read more
Revenge is a compelling and psychologically complex story of female friendship, art, and life. When a young painter moves next door to a world class novelist with writer's block, the two women become entwined in a novel described by Michael Cunningham as "compelling and darkly beautiful . . . Never less than gripping, Revenge builds to the realm of the genuinely revelatory."
Meena founded the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan in 1977 as a twenty-year-old Kabul University student. She was assassinated in 1987 at age thirty, and lives on in the hearts of all progressive Muslim women. Her voice, speaking for freedom, has never been silenced. The compelling story of Meena's struggle for democracy and women's rights in Afghanistan will inspire young... read more
After the Tragic Death of her Husband of barely one year, Olivia, a milliner from New York City, must begin rebuilding her life. Ordinarily a vivacious and strong woman, she finds herself unable to surmount her grief...until she meets Ruby.Young, pregnant and delinquent, Ruby trespasses and enters the seemingly uninhabited Rhode Island beach house in which Olivia and her late husband had plann... read more
This authoritative and gripping narrative plunges the American public into the real and personal story of the United States forces in Iraq, and their successful maneuvers in capturing one of the most vicious dictators of our time.Hunting Down Saddam contains up-to-the-minute material and provides never-before-heard accounts of the triumphs and frustrations, strategies and attacks, of those who... read more
A memoir of startling emotion and grace, Burning Fence is the story of the men in Craig Lesley's family: absent father, Rudell, tough stepfather, Vern, adopted son, Wade, and Craig Lesley himself. Their story is one of hardship, violence, and cautious, heartbreaking attempts toward compassion. Lesley's fearless journey through his family history provides a remarkable portrait of hard living in... read more
In her sizzling new novel, Tama Janowitz moves beyond the world of the single woman (Slaves of New York, A Certain Age), and now targets a young woman growing ever restless in her marriage, and ever hopeful that the next bed will produce someone more exciting. As she moves from man to man, Peyton Amberg slowly but surely loses her youthfulness, her good looks, even her sanity, as her paramours... read more
Welcome to the wonderful world of Tama Janowitz, one of New York's wittiest social chroniclers. Area Code 212 is filled with idiosyncratic delights and oddities, including her hilarious account of Andy Warhol's 1980s blind date club; her brief moment of celebrity as an elderly teenage extra in a ZZ Top video; the day she tested mentally retarded on an IQ test; and many other revealing tales of... read more
Richard Wagner's great-grandson Gottfried Wagner, born after the end of World War II, was taught to worship his great-grandfather as a cultural ancestor of all of Germany. Richard Wagner inspired a generation of philosophers, cultural critics, and politicians. Perhaps no one took Richard Wagner's polemics more to heart than Adolf Hitler, for whom the musician was a foundational influence. In G... read more
A New York Times Notable Book.And Both Shall Row: A Novella and Stories brings to life the people of Clayborne, a small town where tornado-driven cows and family excursions gain epic stature and matters of the heart are paramount.And Both Shall Row, the novella that lends its title to this collection, is the poignant story of two sisters growing old together who finally face a lifetime of betr... read more
Four hundred of the 3,800 people who permanently live or work in the State of Vatican City, the smallest sovereign and independent state on the globe, are women. They are nuns and members of the laity; some are housekeepers of churchmen; others are secretaries, translators, editors, lawyers, and middle-level officials of the papal administration. Expansive in scope and enlightening in detail, ... read more
The only woman in the Bible who is noted to have loved a man, Queen Michal was King David's childhood sweetheart, his first wife, and daughter of his great friend and greater enemy, King Saul. Married to and then abandoned by David at age 14, Michal is forced to marry him again and become his first queen ten years later. Thrown into transition and turmoil, Queen Michal resists the ambition and... read more
This is the tale of Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba, who rules the spice lands and bows before the will of the Goddess.This is the tale of Solomon, the King of Israel and Judea, who built the golden temple to Yahweh in Jerusalem. Once he prayed that he might rule wisely.This is the tale of Solomon's wives, of his concubines ... and of his daughter Baalit, more beloved than any son. Here are their v... read more
Class Dismissed takes us inside California's Berkeley High, one of the most ethnically diverse high schools in the country. For one year, author and journalist Meredith Maran reported on the lives of three different but representative students from the Class of 2000: a troubled yet well-meaning young white man from an affluent family, a highly gifted and academically overachieving young woman ... read more
Winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award, Indian Creek Chronicles is Pete Fromm's account of seven winter months spent alone in a tent in Idaho guarding salmon eggs and coming face to face with the blunt realities of life as a contemporary mountain man. A gripping story of adventure and a modern-day Walden, this contemporary classic established Fromm as one of the Wes... read more
As a teenager pretty much left to raise herself, Lucy Diamond is a narrator with a radiant yet guarded heart. As she races at breakneck pace toward womanhood, everything is at stake for her, producing an urgency and dread that she holds at bay with humor and grace. But while Lucy charges ahead, her mother's youth is fading. Simultaneously embracing and resisting their similarities, Fromm revea... read more
The striking debut novel from award-winning writer Pete FrommAbilene and Austin, a sister and brother frustrated with the small-town Texas life their parents have chosen, turn to each other to escape the story they're all too tired of hearing: their father's unvarying account of "How All This Started"-how he met their mother then settled down in the middle of nowhere.Pinning her dreams on her ... read more
Filled with admiration for his characters and the hope they bring to their day to day dilemmas, Night Swimming has affirmed Pete Fromm's reputation as one of the nation's best writers.
Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald s devotion to each other endured for more than twenty-two years. Now, for the first time, the story of the love of these two glamorous and hugely talented writers can be given in their own letters. Introduced by an extensive narrative of the Fitzgerald's marriage, the 333 letters - three-quarters of them previously unpublished or out of print - have been edited by th... read more
A deeply stirring account of one woman's experience teaching drama to women in prison.I began to understand that female prisoners are not "damaged goods" and to recognize that most of these women had toughed it out in a society that favors others-- by gender, class, or race. They are Desdemonas suffering because of jealous men, Lady Macbeths craving the power of their spouses, Portias disguise... read more
Winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award From the two-time winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award: a deeply moving and evocative novel of fathers and sons. Danny Kachiah is a Native American fighting not to become a casualty. His father, Red Shirt, is dead; his wife, Loxie, has left him, and his career as a rodeo cowboy is flagging. But when Lox... read more
With his third novel, Craig Lesley comes into his own as an important American writer. Combining the familial loyalties and betrayals of Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It with the dead-on perfect ear for western dialect and local ritual of Thomas McGuane's Northing but Blue Skies, he presents a story that is both fresh and powerful. Laced with the solace of the great outdoors and the sp... read more
Winner of the Oregon Book Awards H.L. Davis Prize for FictionStorm Riders examines the conflicted love of a single father struggling to raise his adopted Native American son, who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. When a small girl mysteriously drowns near a student-housing complex, the boy is implicated and the father wrestles with his own doubt, guilt, and responsibility.Bringing to life ... read more
Ann Hood was firmly rooted in the physical world-- practical, realistic, and skeptical about many things in life at the cusp of the second millennium. Nonetheless, she traveled from Rhode Island to El Santuario de Chimayo in New Mexico to bring home a miracle for her dying father. Ultimately, Ann Hood discovered the courage to accept what had come her way, and an appreciation for the faith in ... read more
Traveling from the highland desert of northern Mexico to the steaming jungles of Honduras, from the seashore of the Caribbean to the exquisite highlands of Guatemala, Mary Morris, a celebrated writer of both fiction and nonfiction, confronts the realities of place, poverty, machismo, and selfhood. As she experiences the rawness and precariousness of life in another culture, Morris begins to he... read more
Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning journalist and author of three well-received books and many essays. He is also a death-row inmate, awaiting execution in Pennsylvania for allegedly killing a police officer in 1981. For many around the world, he is an inspired leader and the centerpiece to a revived progressive movement critical of our justice system and escalating global economic inequities... read more
A “vivid and entertaining” (Chicago Tribune) tale about the tangled history of two families, from the author of The Forty Rules of Love and The Architect’s Apprentice"Zesty, imaginative . . . a Turkish version of Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club." --USA Today As an Armenian American living in San Francisco, Armanoush feels like part of her identity is missing and that she must make a journey back t... read more
Why do smart women choose bad men? In the award-winning memoir, Grip: A Memoir of Fierce Attractions, a woman examines her life with stunning honesty searching for an answer. Set in San Francisco in the 1970s, Grip is the story of how a teenager fends off an armed intruder with only her wits, then goes on to become the toughest female martial artist in her karate school and an early advocate f... read more
This book is for the woman who wants to feel good about herself and her body, and learn how to start incorporating healthy habits into her life. It's for the woman who doesn't want to trade in her champagne for skinny jeans. It's for the woman who is done with dieting, and ready to start paying attention to her health before that number on the scale. It's for the woman who is ready to stop let... read more
Women around the world have responded to Cara Alwill Leyba’s Girl Code with a resounding YES. Companies like Kate Spade and Macy’s have brought her in to teach “the Code.” Inc. magazine named Girl Code one of the “Top 9 Inspiring Books Every Female Entrepreneur Should Read” alongside Lean In, #Girlboss, and Thrive. A few years ago I made a crazy claim in the first edition of Girl Code: that in... read more
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I'm a writer, editor and publisher with decades of experience. I'm keen to advise on or edit commercial fiction, non-fiction or memoir.
Expert editor, ghostwriter, and consultant collaborates on all aspects of the publishing process, from idea to bound book.