The following interview with Rob Kirkpatrick appeared in the the latest edition of the MEDIA CONNECT newsletter. To view our fall newsletter or to subscribe for future editions, click here.
Rob Kirkpatrick is Senior Editor with Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, where he focuses primarily in narrative nonfiction. He has been in the book publishing industry for sixteen years and has also held senior acquisition positions with Lyons Press and Greenwood Press. Rob’s titles have made numerous bestseller lists and year-end lists and won several awards. He is also the author of his own books, including 1969: The Year Everything Changed.
MEDIA CONNECT: What inspired you to want to become an editor?
Rob Kirkpatrick: I think I’ve wanted to be involved in publishing, in one way or another, ever since I was in elementary school. Back then, my dream job would have been to write Star Wars spinoffs like Alan Dean Foster and Brian Daley were doing at the time. I remember asking my fourth grade teacher if she knew the address to Random House.
MC: How has the editorial field changed during your career?
RK: The fall of Borders and the rise of ebooks have changed the industry greatly. And everything has changed since 2008, of course.
MC: As an acquiring editor do you look at the author’s work or platform first?
RK: Absolutely, especially as I acquire primarily nonfiction. I remember a proposal I received several years ago for a book from an author whose most recent book had sold quite modestly. I would have needed a way to position the author and his next book more effectively. The proposal neglected to mention what the author did for a living, so I inquired. The agent, an experienced one, asked me, “Why do you need to know?” That response floored me and still does. An author’s profession and platform are always relevant when trying to plan how to publish his or her book.
MC: What are some of the favorite books you’ve edited over the years?
RK: It’s hard to narrow your own list down, and of course a book can be among your favorites for different reasons. But several highlights include: SHRINKAGE by Bryan Bishop, THE WRECKING CREW by Kent Hartman, BIG HAIR AND PLASTIC GRASS by Dan Epstein, PRODIGAL FATHER, PAGAN SON by LT Menginie and Kerrie Droban, THE PEASANT PRINCE by Alex Storozynski, THE KENNEDY CHRONICLES by Kennedy, and STRANGE TRIBE by John Hemingway.