This month's edition of Book Business magazine—here in all of its digital glory—features a sprawling examination of the many ways ebooks have transformed book publishing. Think of John Parson's "The Year of Living Digitally" as your crib-sheet to the digital disruption and how publishers can adapt to new delivery methods and business models. While Parsons digs into the data, bestselling novelist Susan Isaacs, in an exclusive interview with Lynn Rosen, waxes on the myriad ways the industry has changed from the author's perspective.
One evening this past January, we co-hosted a party at Michael’s New York celebrating the winners of the Saturday Evening Post’s Great American Fiction Contest (congratulations again, Lucy Bledsoe!). During the event, Steven Slon, Editorial Director of the Post, leaned over to me, pointed toward the tables in the front of the restaurant, and said, “Do you know who’s out there?” Turns out, we were there at the same time as the Adam’s Round Table, a group of illustrious mystery writers who meet monthly at various New York restaurants. (Some of you may have read Jeffrey Toobin’s recent story about this in The New Yorker.)Later, as I was leaving our party, I found myself walking directly past this celebrated group.
After 35 years of writing novels—not just novels, mind you: bestsellers—Susan Isaacs has a very clear understanding of how the book publishing industry works. Her take on the business from the perspective of a prolific author (13 novels and one book of nonfiction) offers unique insight into how and why things are changing.
Isaacs loves to tell the story of how her first book came to be published in the late 1970s. A former editor of Seventeen magazine and a freelance political speechwriter, she was home with young children and living in Long Island. "I wrote a mystery. It was the usual [situation of] reading too many mysteries and then saying, 'I think I can do this.'" A school acquaintance of her husband's was managing editor of Simon & Schuster and offered to read the book. He liked it, and told Isaacs, "You don't expect friends to write a good book!"