A poetry-translation major is working at her dream job, finding and developing book ideas for Seattle-based Sasquatch Books.

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Hannah Elnan

What do you do? I work as an acquisitions editor at Sasquatch Books, a small book publisher here in Seattle. This means I find and develop book ideas. I acquire nonfiction titles for our adult list with a Northwest regional focus yet national appeal, focusing on practical nonfiction in the categories of home, garden, craft, DIY, style, love and relationships, as well as narrative nonfiction about animals, nature, science, medicine, regional history, pop culture and ideas. I’m also interested in memoir.

How did you get started in that field? After attending Oberlin College, where I majored in the translation of poetry (not the most lucrative of fields …), I saved up money and moved to New York City, where most of the publishing industry is located. I temped for a year in New York before I found a job at a small literary agency that focused on serious nonfiction. I loved the more editorial parts of the job and soon was able to move into an editorial position at Ballantine Books, a division of Penguin Random House. In 2014, I made the move out West when my dream position opened up at Sasquatch.

What’s a typical day like? On any given day I could be researching new book ideas, negotiating a contract, meeting with an author, editing a proposal or book, writing a catalog page, brainstorming cover ideas or meeting with other departments — editorial, art, production, sales, marketing or publicity.

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What’s the best part of the work? I get paid to read! I feel very lucky to be able to make a living working with books, and I love coming up with ideas and helping writers make their work the best it can possibly be.

What surprises people about what you do? Oftentimes, people are surprised at how I find book ideas, which can happen in a variety of ways. Sometimes, a literary agent will send me a project to consider, and sometimes, an author will send a project in directly, but more often, I will come up with an idea based on a topic and will commission an author to write that book. Other times, I’ll find a talented writer and work with them to develop the perfect idea for a book. If you know of any great local writers, let me know!