The Red Sofa Chats – Brenda Copeland

By Dawn Frederick

As we were preparing for NANO (in August no less), it was important to me that we include a Red Sofa Chats with someone who helped influence my early days of agenting. Brenda was around when I became an agent, and I’ve had the honor of being able to witness her long list of projects over the years. As well as her very active presence on Twitter. Brenda, thank you for being part of the Red Sofa Chats!


Brenda Copeland is an Executive Editor at St. Martin’s Press, where she publishes fiction and non-fiction. Brenda teaches editing at NYU’s CENTER FOR PUBLISHING and has a weakness for cheese.

She can be found on Twitter at @BrendaCopeland

1. Why did you choose to become an editor?

I didn’t choose editing as much as editing chose me. When I arrived in New York some seventeen years ago my grand plan was graduate school, then teaching. Well, I hated graduate school, but I  loved New York and I still loved books, so I offered myself to Simon & Schuster under their “will work for books” internship program. I loved publishing from day one. It was the perfect blend of passion and pragmatism and I was hooked. Oh–and now I teach editing in NYU’s publishing program, so my “grand plan” actually happened, just not in the way that I thought it would.

2. Are there any projects you wish you could have edited?

I refuse to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate me.

3. What are you reading right now (for personal reading, for fun)?

I just finished Jillian Medoff’s I COULDN’T LOVE YOU MORE–which is exactly what I felt about that luminous book.

4. How do you utilize Twitter? How do you believe it has changed the way we go about publishing books?

Twitter has been an enormous asset to me as an editor.  Through twitter I’ve been able to connect with readers and booksellers, to meet authors and make friends. I was fortunate to be introduced to Julie Klam during my second week on on the site (thanks, Twitter algorithm!), and she has turned out to be a friend, ally, and partner-in-crime.  It was Julie who introduced me to a great $8 wine, and also to Ann Leary, whom I had the privilege of publishing earlier this year.  Ann’s novel, THE GOOD HOUSE, turned out to be a New York Times bestseller, so you can bet that Ann and I took Julie out to celebrate. (And yes, we spent more than $8 on the wine.)

Twitter is great for research, too. When my author Patti Callahan Henry was gearing up to publish AND THEN I FOUND YOU, also this year, we monitored Twitter to see what people were saying about adoption and adoption related issues. Just the thing for a novel based on a true adoption story.

Twitter hasn’t changed publishing any more than those curly lightbulbs have changed electricity, but it has influenced the industry–and will continue to do so.

5. If you had a crystal ball, where do you think (or hope) publishing will be in 5 years?

Thriving. Changing. Settling down a little, I think. There’s always an audience for narrative. And whether those narratives are published in paper books, e-books, or some sort of story cloud, publishing will be there to advocate for authors and to make their books the best they can be.

To our readers, how has your experience been on Twitter thus far? Has it helped in finding new opportunities and meeting others who’d influence your personal writing path?