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Brant Rumble '95 edits nonfiction books.

The nonfiction editor

Editing nonfiction books, said Brant Rumble ’95, executive editor at Hachette Brook Group, “is essentially a three-pronged job.

“One is the part that everyone would think of, which is the editing and book development, working with authors,” said Rumble. “Two is really that outreach part, where you’re networking with agents, you’re looking for writers who are doing interesting things. …

“And then three is … you’re the in-house champion for a project. You’re not doing marketing, but you’re definitely in conversation with the person who is.”

Literary agents usually approach Rumble with a proposal for a nonfiction book, rather than a completed manuscript. If he is interested, he meets with the prospective author and makes an offer based on his company’s expectations for sales or he pursues the book at auction. Once a deal is struck, he gives the author a year to write the book.

Editor Nan Graham hired Rumble as her assistant at Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, a few months after he graduated from DePauw and completed a summer program in publishing. She taught him to pursue his tastes and bring in books he loved, he said. “It’s about finding the books you’re passionate about … and, of course, in order to keep going and advance, you have to have some success.”

Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs book coverHe is drawn to books about music, sports and popular culture, especially “quirky and fun stuff,” he said. He has published numerous bestsellers, including “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs,” by Chuck Klosterman, and “Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark” by Cassandra Peterson. He has worked with Julie Andrews, George F. Will, Peter Frampton and Ken Jennings.

After two years with Graham, Rumble got a job as an editorial assistant. In all, he spent 19 ½ years at Scribner, moving up the ranks and “doing a little bit of everything.” Eventually, he got restless, so he moved to Blue Rider Press. After that imprint was dissolved during the merger of Penguin and Random House, Rumble worked briefly as a freelance editor before landing at Hachette.

He publishes about a book a month. His editing usually takes about twice as long as it would take the average reader to get through the book. “A lot of things are handled in the early development stage, when we’re talking through it and looking at an outline or an author wants me to read a particular piece to get feedback on that,” he said. “Generally, if things go to plan, usually the final manuscript I receive is in pretty good shape. It’s not something I have to rewrite or reconfigure.”

His goal, he said, is to develop a book as the author envisions it. Rumble said he rarely finds himself “pushing against a writer or trying to spin something different out of what I’m being given. It’s really a matter of helping every writer achieve that vision for what they want to do. It’s their book. Their name is on it, not mine.”

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