A Passion for Books

An article reprinted from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Laurie Rosin gets paid for doing what she loves most: reading books. If she catches a flaw in the plot, she telephones the author and suggests a change. Sometimes she even writes a new scene or two to make the action more exciting or plausible.

Rosin, a Sarasotan for one year, has edited more than 20 national best-sellers in the past 10 years.

"I believe I've edited more books in print than any editor alive," she said. "I'm a partner with the authors from the beginning--dissecting their plot outlines and suggesting twists and unexpected directions."

She's an editor for Book Creations, Inc., an independent producer of books for such publishers as Bantam, Berkley, Dell, Pocket Books, and Tab Books. Rosin regularly edits Peter Danielson's Children of the Lion series, Donald Clayton Porter's White Indian series, Dana Fuller Ross's Wagons West series, William Sarabande's The First Americans series, and Gerald Canfield's Robber Barons series. All are paperback historical novels with a wide following of readers.

"These books have taught more history to people than school teachers or television," she said. "They're entertaining with no gratuitous sex or violence. Good stories about interesting people in unusual settings will sell. Readers have come to look for our BCI logo."

Rosin will get a rare credit for her work in Sarabande's latest First Americans book, Walkers of the Wind, which is dedicated to her. Rosin is doing her fifth editing job in that series, which has become so popular it's also published in hardcover for Doubleday Book Club, Literary Guild, and for libraries. Bantam has changed the name of the Wagons West series to The Holts because the action is moving into more modern times. Rosin did the last six Wagons West books and has just finished the fourth in The Holts.

Oklahoma Pride is the most recent of The Holts in bookstores. A new one comes out twice a year. Promised Land is the newest in the Children of the Lion series, which puts readers in the middle of biblical adventures. She has done the last eight in that series and seven in the White Indian series, which has a longer special edition just out: Fallen Timbers. Wagons West has more than 27 million copies of 24 volumes in print and White Indian is not far behind with more than 21 million copies of 19 volumes in print.

Her editing of The Diminished Mind, coming in November, tells the story of how Jean Tyler dealt with Alzheimer's disease suffered by her 42-year-old husband. In another new project, Rosin has just edited the first in The Robber Barons series by Gerald Canfield. Power and Glory will be published next summer. Many of her books are also printed in large-type editions.

"Sometimes I dream about manuscripts, and details come to me that would make it better," she said. "I'm a Type A workaholic."

As a child growing up outside Chicago, Rosin dreamed of becoming a librarian so she could get paid for reading. She was features editor on her high school newspaper edited by Scott Turow, who went on to write the best-selling Presumed Innocent and the current fiction hit, The Burden of Proof. Rosin said she dated Turow for years, but they haven't kept in touch since their "very serious relationship" ended. She attended Windham College in Putney, Vt. For eight years she taught high school English in Shelburne Falls, Mass., and became the youngest department head in the school. Not interested in advancing to school principal, she began thinking about writing. She won a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and later wrote a weekly newspaper column. A friend working at Book Creations told her about a summer opening for a free-lance editor. She tested high on a sample text riddled with errors and inconsistencies and was offered a full-time job with the company in Canaan, N.Y. After nine years in Canaan, during which she became editorial director, she decided to move to Sarasota. Her sister, Sandy Fishman, has lived on Siesta Key for five years, and her mother, Estyr Rosin, has also moved down.

"My sister kept sending me beach pictures, and I always hated the winters. My sports car would break down in the snow," Rosin said. "It was meant to be because my house sold quickly in a dead real estate market."

Rosin thinks she's more productive working at home. She edits with pen on a paper manuscript and covers 50 to 100 pages a day. With some authors she must cut 30 to 40 percent of the text. Some manuscripts run 1,200 pages. Her marked copy is retyped and sent to a copy editor who returns it with any questions to Rosin for the final editing. A proofreader then checks it.

With all her experience in brainstorming plots and developing characters, will Rosin try to write her own Great American Novel?

"I have ideas for a couple of novels, but editing and writing are very different skills. Maybe I'll try sometime," she said.

Because she knows that "everybody wants to write a novel," she had taken some evening and weekend time to offer manuscript therapy to fledgling writers. She points out flaws and suggests ways to make the books better. That's the same job she performs for the best-selling authors. Her annual pay? She says it's better than if she had become a school principal.

by Dorothy Stockbridge

Staff Writer

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