Not your average reader: Interviewing literary agents, editors, and publishers
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Copyright © 2019 The Author. First published in Participations journal.
When readers are described as ‘average’ or ‘ordinary’, this is typically meant to exclude the reading experiences of literary scholars and professional critics, whose experiences dominate literary theory and criticism. But what of the reading experiences of literary agents, editors, and publishers? They are, of course, not your average reader; they are also undoubtedly ‘professional’ readers. Nonetheless, their engagement with books often more closely resembles the engagement of a fan rather than a critic. It is, therefore, remarkable that researchers of reading and publishing studies scholars have only rarely considered using interviews to engage with the narrated experiences and memories of literary agents, editors, and publishers. This article uses a case study – interviews with American publishing professionals who have contributed to the publication of local editions of books originally published in Australia – to reflect on the insights, which would not have been otherwise available, afforded by a research methodology that includes interviews. Interviews with authors typically concern a book’s origins, while interviews with readers concern its endings; perhaps interviews with publishing professionals can bridge these two states, as well as bringing together researchers of reading and publishing studies scholars.
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