We sat down with Andra Miller, the Senior Editor at Algonquin Books to talk about the business of publishing. The conversation ranges from discussion about traditional vs. self-publishing, to book discovery to agents and much more. In her seventeen years at Algonquin, she has acquired and edited both fiction and nonfiction.
Play below or download the MP3 here.
In 1983, Algonquin Books set up shop in a woodshed behind co-founder Louis Rubin’s Chapel Hill, N.C., home. A handmade sign—”Algonquin Books Editorial; Please close the gate”—signaled the conversion from utilitarian outbuilding to literary incubator (and a plea not to let Rubin’s dogs out). Our founding edict still holds strong: to publish quality fiction and nonfiction by undiscovered young writers, and to keep our books in print, reaching new fans for years to come. Our first list included a novel by Leon Driskell called Passing Through, whose ephemeral-sounding title launched an enterprise now in its thirty-first year.
Although we started as a small Southern house, many now-renowned authors launched their careers here, including Julia Alvarez, Kaye Gibbons, Robert Morgan, Jill McCorkle, Tayari Jones, Amy Stewart, Larry Brown and many others. In 1989, Algonquin was acquired by Workman Publishing, one of the largest independent publishing companies in the United States. Today, we have offices in New York City and Chapel Hill. Though we publish only 20 new titles a year, we are recognized around the world as an award-winning literary house with numerous bestsellers. From Water for Elephants to A Reliable Wife, The Art Forger to Last Child in the Woods, our books continue to stimulate, enrich and entertain legions of fans.