Podcast Episode 118: Editing Literary Fiction with Caroline Zancan (Senior Editor at Henry Holt)

Editing Literary Fiction with Caroline Zancan


In Episode 118, Caroline Zancan, Senior Editor at Henry Holt, joins me for another episode in the Genre 101 series — this time with a twist.  Caroline answers behind-the-scenes questions about editing literary fiction, as well as a deep dive into the genre itself.  

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).


  • I’d love your feedback on the podcast!  Please take a moment to complete my 2022 Podcast Survey!


  • How Caroline got into editing: right place, right time, and Craigslist.
  • The varying college degrees, the wide range of colleagues’ previous careers, and whether there’s a typical career path to becoming an editor.
  • The je ne sais quoi factor and determining if a book is for Henry Holt.
  • The entire process of book acquisition at Henry Holt — from determining what books to pursue and bidding on manuscripts to the approval process.
  • Caroline’s preference for dealing with an author’s agent.
  • The execution of a compatible vision for the editor-author relationship.
  • The “right” length for a book and editing big-name authors.
  • What the heck is ‘literary fiction’ and why there seems to be a lack of consensus about this question.
  • Current trends in the literary fiction world.

Caroline’s Book Recommendations [39:19]

Two OLD Books She Loves

Two NEW Books She Loves

The Series of Books She DIDN’T Love

One NEW RELEASE She’s Excited About

Last 5-Star Book Caroline Read

Other Books Mentioned

About Caroline Zancan

Caroline Zancan

On Twitter

Caroline Zancan is a Senior Editor at Holt, acquiring literary and upmarket fiction and memoir, and the author of We Wish You Luck and Local Girls. She is a graduate of Kenyon College and holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars.  Caroline lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their children. 



Next Episode

In two weeks (August 10), author Keri Blakinger joins me discuss her debut memoir, Corrections in Ink.

Support the Podcast

  • Support on Patreon.
    When you support the podcast on Patreon for $5/month, get bonus podcast episodes and other goodies!
  • Share.
    If you like the podcast, I’d love for you to share it with your reader friends…in real life and on social media (there’s easy share buttons at the bottom of this post!).
  • Subscribe 
    … wherever you listen to podcasts, so new episodes will appear in your feed as soon as they’re released.
  • Rate and Review.
    Search for “Sarah’s Bookshelves” in Apple Podcasts…or wherever you listen to podcasts!


book podcast

Pin this post…


Editing Literary Fiction with Caroline Zancan

Get Weekly Email Updates!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Get Weekly Email Updates!

Join our mailing list to receive all new blog posts in one weekly email. Plus, news of special updates and offers!

You have Successfully Subscribed!