One Chance

Pamela Dorman, vice president and publisher, Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, a division of Penguin Group, moderated a publishing seminar recently entitled, "Between Milk and Yogurt": Book Publishing Today. One of the takeaways for me was this: a writer gets one chance. Even if the editor engages and provides encouraging notes to the author about his/her manuscript, perhaps even suggesting that it could work if certain changes were made.

The fact is that no editor has time to read material twice - even if the manuscript is completely rewritten. Don't resubmit 1, 2 or 3 years later. No one has time. You get one chance.

That reads more harshly than it came across. Ms. Dorman and her panelists were unfailingly positive about their professions, yet recognized that publishing is, after all, a business.

Ms. Dorman, the publisher who successfully persuaded author Helen Fielding to entrust her with her novel, Bridget Jones's Diary, in the American market, recounts how she did it.