Arianne Lewin is an Executive Editor at G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House USA. A native New Yorker, Arianne started her publishing career in 2002 at Disney-Hyperion Books for Children, where she worked on picture books with Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Laura Numeroff; chapter books with Deborah Underwood and Whoopi Goldberg; and young adult novels with Cinda Williams Chima; Chris Bradford; and Julie Anne Peters.
Since joining Penguin Random House in 2010, Arianne has acquired and published the work of the Geisel Award-winning picture book author/illustrator Ethan Long; middle-grade and young adult fiction from New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins; and Rick Yancey’s #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling 5th Wave series.
What are the elements in a query letter that reel you in to make you request a full manuscript?
I most want to hear what a story is about, so I can consider whether it will be a good fit for my list (or entice me to dip into an unfamiliar category). If an author has a bit of knowledge about the market, I’d be interested in hearing about who they think the book is for, or other stories the work might evoke. PRO TIP: Query letters are more like business letters than getting-to-know-you opportunities, so I’d avoid saying anything that feels too wacky or personal.
Once you read the full manuscript, what makes you say Yes, I have to acquire this book?
Reading a full manuscript instead of just a piece of the manuscript is evidence that I’m already halfway to a yes. The characters will be authentic and believable, the world well-realized, and the pages will turn. After ticking those boxes I think through why the book needs to be out in the world. Moving forward to acquisitions means I’ve come up with a good reason.
Walk us through your editorial process once you do acquire a manuscript.
After acquisitions I’ll deliver editorial notes (between two and six pages), along with a marked-up manuscript. I aim to do more querying than line-editing in first drafts, since the work will likely change in revision. Once I receive the revised draft I’ll do the same thing again. Possibly again. And then we’ll go back and forth on a round of line edits before submitting the manuscript to copy editing.
The timeline is something like: two to six months for post-acquisition notes (depending on my schedule and the anticipated pub. date); three to four months for the author to return the draft (sometimes more, depending on how much work the author needs to do; sometimes less, if we don’t have a lot of time until the pub. date); one to two months for me to return notes on the second draft; then we can do another round if we feel that the manuscript needs it, or move to line edits. Altogether, about eight months to a year from acquisition to copyediting, and a year from copyediting to publication.
What's on your current wish list?
I work mainly on middle grade and young adult fiction, and am always eager to see writing that is fresh and original.