MEDIA CONNECT: Do you mind being approached by an author directly instead of through an agent?
Donya Dickerson: I do take unsolicited manuscripts as long as they are in the business category.
MC: Do you need to see a whole book or do sample chapters work for you?
DD: Definitely sample chapters but the most important piece is the proposal. People will sometimes send a whole book without an actual proposal. I’m not going to look at any sample materials before reading the proposal first.
MC: What types of business books do you specialize in?
DD: High-level business books that cover topics such as management, leadership, strategy, and culture. They need to be books that help people be more successful. I’ve worked on several books about leading global companies, like Starbucks, Caterpillar, The Ritz-Carlton, and more. I also acquire books on sales and marketing as well as critical business skills.
MC: What are some of your recent successes?
DD: Great Work by David Sturt, Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi, and Leading the Starbucks Way by Joseph Michelli.
MC: What book surprised you by how well it did in the marketplace?
DD: Well, I do only acquire books that I think will sell well. That said, it’s always nice to see a book outperform your expectations.
MC: What makes for an ideal working relationship with your authors?
DD: I’ve been lucky to work with some amazing authors over the years. The ones I prefer to work with are professional, positive, realistic, and understand that publishing a successful book is a team effort. I love working with authors who see feedback as an opportunity to strengthen their books and ultimately reach a larger audience. A dream author is one who understands that his or her ability to promote the book is just as important as the ability to write the book.
MC: What are the major trends you see in business books?
DD: I’m seeing a lot of projects these days on start-ups, disruption, and new ways of working or of rethinking management and culture. I think the changes in the economy combined with new technologies over the past five years have forced a lot of people out of their comfort zones but in a way that has inspired a lot of fresh ideas and fresh approaches to the standard ways of thinking about business.
MC: What’s your favorite place for a publishing lunch? Favorite dish?
DD: My days get packed, so I often stay close to the office. My newest neighborhood favorite is Pennsylvania 6, which has a delicious fish with curry lentil sauce. I also think Bryant Park Grill is very pretty this time of year.
Donya Dickerson is an Executive Editor in the business group at McGraw-Hill, where she has published several New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers. She can be reached at donya.Dickerson@mheducation.com