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Q&A with Publisher Tim Duggan

Sep 25, 2015 Behind the Scenes

Get to know the newest Penguin Random House imprint! Tim Duggan Books was founded in 2014 and is committed to the highest standard of storytelling across a range of genres. Our list of books is small, select, and curated from both well-established and brand new authors, including Eric Schlosser, Timothy Snyder, Emily Barton, Michael Kinsley, Yasmine El Rashidi, and Colin Jost. The imprint is dedicated to publishing books of quality, accuracy, elegance, and vision, and to authors who take risks and tell singular stories.

Read on for an interview with Tim Duggan about this exciting new imprint. 

What do you look for in the books and authors that you acquire?

The first thing I usually look for in a book is the voice, which hopefully has energy and confidence and personality, and not a whiff of pretension. You can usually tell from the first page whether an author’s writing feels genuine and fresh and powerful, and whether there’s a real sense of urgency there, as if the author almost had no choice but to write this book. So in that sense I’m drawn toward books that somehow feel essential, by authors who are driven by a passion that probably borders on obsession, no matter what the genre is. For an author, that’s something you can’t manufacture, and for an editor, that’s the gold standard, and it’s a big part of what I’m looking for.

In what way do you think Tim Duggan books aligns with the Crown publishing group?

I’ve been incredibly impressed, long before I came here, with the way Crown has been publishing its books, from marketing, publicity, and sales to art, design, and production. There’s a wide variety of imprints, all of which struck me as very focused and backed by clever campaigns and extraordinary attention to detail. My imprint is small, selective, and idiosyncratic, so I feel I have plenty of room here to pursue what I want to pursue, while tapping into the deep pool of knowledge and resources that Crown is known for. It turned out to be a really easy and natural fit.

Tim Duggan
Tim Duggan


What has been the hardest part of launching your own imprint?

Ask me in a month! Truth be told, the first year has been totally exhilarating and fun, and part of that is probably a result of the fact that I’ve been doing more acquiring and editing at this point than anything else. That will change this fall when the first books hit the market, which I’m looking forward to. So I’m not even sure that starting an imprint is the hard part – but maintaining it and keeping up the momentum surely will be.

Has it always been a goal of yours to launch your own imprint, or did it come about more organically?

It came about pretty organically, in that I’ve always thought that having a little imprint within a much bigger organization would be the best of both worlds, which is definitely how this feels. I wanted to have a small list with a wide range, which comes out to about ten books a year, half fiction and half nonfiction, including memoir, humor, science, and poetry. My sense is that the whole publishing marketplace, from authors and agents to critics and booksellers, has been really supportive of small imprints like this one, which helped pave the way for me and made it a little less daunting – just knowing that even though I’m on my own, there are others out there who’ve done this and done it really well. Not to mention that once I got here and saw the level of support I had from my colleagues, it actually felt a lot less like I was on my own.

Check out the new books from the Tim Duggan imprint: 

Black Earth by Timothy Snyder

Black Earth

By Timothy Snyder

A brilliant, haunting, and profoundly original portrait of the defining tragedy of our time.

In this epic history of extermination and survival, Timothy Snyder presents a new explanation of the great atrocity of the twentieth century, and reveals the risks that we face in the twenty-first. Based on new sources... Read more >

Learn more about the imprint here.

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