Cooking up Best-Sellers
John Parsley sometimes feels like a short-order cook. The senior editor at Little, Brown and Company always has multiple projects on the stove, each at different stages of preparation. “I have a lot of burners on,” he says. “Some books are at the earliest stages, maybe not a word yet written, and others are hitting stores soon. I’m the point person with each of Little, Brown’s departments for each of my books. So some days, it feels like I’m constantly running.” Parsley handles mostly nonfiction, with topics ranging from science and natural history, to politics and pop culture, to musical biographies and humor. On the day we talk, he’s busy with three projects: a popular history of thrift in America, a political humor book, and another tome apparently so mind-blowing that Parsley can’t talk about it. (A secret recipe, if you will.) But he was more than happy to talk about his job at one of the country’s leading publishing houses.