Unless you've been on vacation without access to the Internet for the last year, you know that traditional New York-based commercial publishers have faced some daunting challenges due to a changing landscape and outdated business models. Unfortunately, the casualties of this situation have included several uniquely gifted editors. One such editor was Bantam Spectra's Juliet Ulman, who now runs Paper Tyger, a consulting firm.
Over a period of a decade at Bantam, Ulman carved out a reputation as an editor who took chances and published high-quality science fiction and fantasy, usually in trade paperback. In addition to providing a safe home for my own books in the North American market, Ulman published M.J. Harrison's award-winning Light, Crawford Award-winner K.J. Bishop's The Etched City, two well-received novels by Christopher Barzak, phenom Catherynne M. Valente's Orphan's Tales duology, the first work by the talented Felix Gilman, Tim Pratt's urban fantasy, and much more. Attention to detail, precision, a fierce passion for the fiction she edited, and thinking outside of the box were just some of Ulman's attributes while working for Bantam Spectra. Gilman remembers in particular her "ingenuity, acuity, tact and good humour."
"She never let me get away with being lazy or taking the easy way out," says Pratt, whose Blood Engines recently went into a fifth printing. "I'd always heard that editors these days don't really edit, that they just acquire, but Juliet put the lie to that cliche. She showed me how to be a better writer, and I did my best to write books that wouldn't just satisfy her, but actually impress her."
According to Bishop, "Ulman strengthened my own internal editor and made me better able to see a work from a reader's point of view. I also appreciated her involvement with the cover and marketing. I think she has a lot of knowledge about how to target a book towards the right readers."
Given the situation in publishing today, Ulman's role in championing innovative fiction, and her new role as a consultant and freelance editor, it seemed appropriate to ask her about her stint at Bantam and her thoughts about the future of the industry...