Ask An Algonquin Editor: Chuck Adams on Water For Elephants





Today we launch our new video series, Ask an Algonquin Editor. Have a question about the publishing world? Submit it in the comments section and one of our editors may very well answer it in a future episode. First up: Executive Editor Chuck Adams answers the question, How did you acquire Water for Elephants? Bonus material: artwork done by an elephant! See Chuck talk about the beautiful painting that author Sara Gruen gave to him.

I’ve already submitted three of my own questions: 1) Do you remember the first book you ever read? No, not as a professional, I mean ever. 2)  What’s the difference between a galley and an Advance Reading Copy? and 3) I know you said “No” to my cyber-punk novella, but will you read my LOTR fan-poetry? Personally, I’m hoping an Algonquin editor will answer #3.

–Susannah Long, Intern


16 Comments On This Post:

March 30, 2011
1:05 pm
Lisa Emig says...

What element attracts your attention as an editor – is it the plot, the characters, or the authors writing style?

March 30, 2011
1:26 pm
anu aggarwal says...

Would you like to work with an Indian writer? Considering the cultural differences, do you think you’d be able to then do justice to the story?

March 30, 2011
4:22 pm
Alan Harris says...

I just saw your video. I look foward to seeing this fine novel on the big screen. 🙂

March 31, 2011
9:48 am
eldavojohn says...

Hello, I participated and completed NaNoWriMo 2010. My book is pretty bad and I have set to editing it so that I can buy a single copy of my book from CreateSpace. But I’m finding editing it to be actually a lot harder and time consuming than pounding out 50,000 words in one month. Do you have any advice for editing? Is it a horrible idea for me to try and edit my own book (even as an amateur)? Friends who read a lot have offered to proof it but I’m a bit embarrassed and really unsure of what to do. I’m a software developer and just love to read and write. Could you offer any advice on what people like me should do? Are there services for editing amateur works? I guess as an avid reader I had always taken editing for granted. Now it’s a pretty daunting task …

March 31, 2011
10:15 am
Nath Jones says...

Thanks for sharing the story about the painting. It’s lovely. Q: This is a strange time to enter the market. From your perspective, what other changes should literary writers expect in publishing for the next five to ten years? What roles and responsibilities should we be ready and willing to assume?

March 31, 2011
10:48 am
Theral Timpson says...

Just finished my first novel. I’ve been looking forward to working with an experienced editor at a publishing house. Yet everywhere I go these days, e-publishing is suggested. Do I keep looking for an agent, or just go for the amazon gig?

March 31, 2011
3:18 pm
Mel McKenzie says...

Is it a bad idea to create a wiki and Facebook page for an unpublished book, in an effort to promote it to publishers/agents?

April 1, 2011
2:21 am
Hira H. says...

Question) What advice do you have for up & coming writers? Should they find an agent, or publish on their own and try to get a deal with a publishing company for another novel and/or a sequel? Also, in self-publishing most authors find it really difficult to edit their work, would you recommend intervention from a professional editor? Lastly, as an editor, when looking for an author to sign, or a manuscript to pick up – what qualities are you looking for within the manuscript itself, as well as the author?

Reading about Sara Gruen, and her background, I think it is so endearing that she works so closely with animals – it is no surprise that Rosie plays such a key character in her novel. That painting is such a charming piece – so colorful and lively. Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I’m really looking forward to the webchat with Sara Gruen and Kahtyrn Stockett.

April 1, 2011
8:20 am
Fatima Hyman says...

Hi! Do publishers/editors ever search online for new unpublished authors who have self published?

April 2, 2011
6:01 pm
Hira H. says...

Another question that I can think of is, what kind of a following do publishers expect an aspiring author to have? What kind of numbers, or statistics, are expected or required (Twitter, Blogs, etc)?

May 5, 2011
1:12 pm
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen: Anna Reads It Forward says...

[…] watch the movie trailer. Check out over 30,000 reader reviews on Goodreads. And here’s a neat video interview with Chuck Adams, Sara Gruen’s editor, talking about how he came to acquire the […]

May 27, 2011
10:09 pm
Eileen St. Lauren says...

All I can write is this: I have never heard anything but good about Chuck Adams. Not many In-House Editors have a glowing reputation in the literary world as Mr. Adams. Algonquin is blessed to have him.

June 15, 2011
10:44 am
BookExpo AMERICAAAAA! | Algonquin Books Blog says...

[…] great author events in the next few days:Tuesday May 25th-4:30-5:30 Editors’ Buzz Panel with Chuck Adams (RM 1E13)Wednesday May 26th- 11:00-12:00 Signing (Pictures of You) with Caroline Leavitt (Algonquin […]

July 1, 2011
1:50 pm
Jayne Calvin says...

Whay a beautiful book- and I hear that Ape House is also excellent. the movie was well done but (as always) the book wsa better! I have a manuscript which has placed very well in literary contests.
Does Algonquin accept manuscript submissions directly from writers?
Thank you.

March 5, 2012
8:33 pm
Joanne Dixon says...

It seems I am not alone in wanting to know what it takes to get a book published. I have written a non-fiction book about my experiences on my way to becoming a dog lover. Now I would like to find out how I go about getting my book published. Do I need a literary agent? Do I send manuscripts to publishers? What is your criteria for publishing a book?
I truly believe that my book is a good one or I would not be perusing a way to publish it. Looking for answers. Can you help?

January 20, 2015
9:38 am
Julia Tagliere says...

This message is specifically for Mr. Adams. I attended the Poets & Writers Live in DC event, where an audience member asked you during your panel what you thought the best book of 2014 was, and you said (with some noted hesitation, I thought), The Goldfinch. You also said that you would have “edited it differently.” Now, I’m in the M.A. in Fiction program at Johns Hopkins, and we talked this fall about that book at length (anecdotally, not as part of the curriculum), and the reactions were quite polarized–some folks mentioned “throwing it across the room in frustration,” “not being able to get past the first 50 pages”–really, really hating it. Yet there you were, saying it was one of the best, and of course, it won the Pulitzer, to boot. Naturally, with such a spectrum of reactions, I had to read it for myself. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I loved it, from page one. So my question is, WHY did you think it was one of the best, and what would you have edited differently? Inquiring minds REALLY want to know. Thank you and best regards,

Julia Tagliere

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