Corner Office: Editor Ascendant: Michael Pietsch
Michael Pietsch is Executive Vice President and Publisher of Little, Brown and Company. Pietsch attended Harvard College and entered publishing as an intern for David R. Godine, Publisher, in Boston. In 1979 he came to New York to work for Charles Scribner's Sons, where he edited fiction, mysteries, histories and nonfiction including Ernest Hemingway's posthumous memoir The Dangerous Summer. In 1985, Pietsch moved to Harmony Books, an imprint of Crown Publishing.
Pietsch joined Little, Brown in 1991, was appointed Editor in Chief in 1998 and became Little, Brown's Publisher in 2001. Just a few of the many celebrated writers he has worked with are James Patterson, Keith Richards, Anita Shreve, Janet Fitch, Chad Harbach, Rick Moody, Donna Tartt, Mark Leyner, Stacy Schiff, John Feinstein and cartoonist R. Crumb. He worked with David Foster Wallace on his monumental novel Infinite Jest and edited his posthumous novel The Pale King, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. On April 1 he will step into the role of CEO of the Hachette Book Group. Here Pietsch shares some thoughts about his career with Book Business.
So, how does it feel? You're about to take over the reins at the Hachette Book Group. Are you nervous? Excited? Is this a dream come true?
I've been an editor and publisher at Little, Brown for 21 years and in those roles have had the benefit of being part of a well-run publishing company without ever really seeing it whole. It's exhilarating to have the chance to work with every aspect of the company, in this time that the business is changing enormously and fast.
What made you decide to go into publishing in the first place?
I was always a kid with my head in a book. One of seven children in a military family that moved often, I found continuity and privacy in books, plus access to larger worlds. From the first moment that I heard there was a profession called book publishing I was drawn to it. Working with writers to help them make their books all they want them to be, and to connect them with their readers, is richly and endlessly rewarding.