Twenty-Five Years of Thomas Dunne Books
An editor with St. Martin’s Press since 1971, Thomas Dunne started his imprint within the Press in 1986 and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2011. A perennial blend of commercial success and quality, the Thomas Dunne Books list publishes broadly, with a reputation for publishing both established and emerging writers.
What’s with the Dog?
We’re often asked about the origin of our dachshund colophon. When it was decided to establish the Thomas Dunne imprint within St. Martin’s Press, the SMP art director asked what sort of designed type or logo Tom had in mind. He was thinking about this one night, and idly studying his bookshelf, when he noticed that a significant number of his books had critters of some sort on the spine. There were flocks of penguins among the paperbacks, but among hardcovers, a veritable dog track of Russian wolfhounds predominated. At the time, Tom’s dachshund, Sparky, was on his lap and the solution was suddenly obvious. The breed is lovable, humorous, brave and feisty. They are cleaner than penguins, and—let’s face it—if one were to curl up with a good book and a good dog, which would be more congenial, lap-wise: a hundred-ten pound wolf-hound or a nine pound dachshund? The answer was obvious, and though we’ve never actually counted, at least ten million “Sparkies” have gone out into the world since 1986.
“From a high-rise office at the very tip of the Flatiron building, Mr. Dunne remains firmly in charge. His imprint is the leading publisher of mysteries, but also sells histories, niche titles, British literary imports, and unauthorized biographies. An imprint that scorns snobbery, prizes the quirky and commercial, and flourishes…his imprint is one of the company’s most profitable.” —The New York Times
“High overhead has forced big publishers to take fewer chances on new writers, trim their lists of talented but modest-selling authors, and cut back on line-by-line editing of the works they publish. Another loss in the age of mega-publishing is a sense of the personality of each publishing line. Today a few imprints, such as Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, reflect the taste of a powerful editor. Otherwise, it is difficult to predict the type of reading you will get from books issued by a particular publishing house.” —The Boston Herald
V.P., Publisher, Thomas Dunne Books
I’ve been at St. Martin’s Press since January 1971, so at one time or another I have edited or published almost every kind of book. The TD imprint was started in 1986 and remains intentionally eclectic. While our focus nowadays is more on “big” properties, we still relish publishing smaller, high quality titles in both fiction and non-fiction. In recent months we have had bestsellers from Senator Bernie Sanders (Our Revolution), Gov. John Kasich (Two Paths) and William Shatner (Leonard), as well as Dr. Henry Marsh’s medical memoir, Do No Harm. Several dozen other titles did not make “the List,” but just about all were well received by reviewers and performed well. Like every other publisher, we love to have bestsellers, but we are open to beautiful or provocative writing on any topic.
Over the years, many of my personal “hits” have come from the UK. These have included Rosamunde Pilcher, Wilbur Smith, Frederick Forsyth, Madeleine Wickham (aka Sophie Kinsella), and Python Michael Palin. And we launched the careers of literary novelists such as Jincy Willett as well as commercial novelists like Dan Brown.
I personally have a particular interest in history (as with Peter Ackroyd’s five volume history of England), biography (such as Barbara Leaming’s bestseller, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story) and public affairs (like Pulitzer Prize–winner Michael D’Antonio’s definitive biography of Donald Trump, Never Enough). In recent fiction, we have launched the career of Viola Shipman’s moving family stories, beginning with The Charm Bracelet, and continue to publish a bunch of fine mysteries. Coming soon will be the first novel in NBC’s Martin Fletcher’s trilogy of Israel from 1948 to the present, and a number of other fine storytellers.
In short, while we have trimmed back just a little to 30-35 titles a year, we are very much looking for talented writers of commercial or literary merit who are seeking for an enthusiastic and seasoned publisher.
Executive Editor, Thomas Dunne Books
I’ve been with Thomas Dunne Books since December 2016. I would describe our books as sometimes high-brow, sometimes low-brow, always brilliant, never despicable.
We specialize in political books, especially crash titles, such as the NY Times bestsellers Two Paths by John Kasich, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump by Bandy Lee, and Team of Vipers by Cliff Sims, as well as Where We Go From Here by Bernie Sanders and The Shadow President: The Truth About Mike Pence by Michael D’Antonio and Peter Eisner.
We also do serious history and current affairs titles, including President Carter: The White House Years by Stuart E. Eizenstat, Orders to Kill: Putin and Political Murder by Amy Knight and the forthcoming The Spy in Moscow Station by Eric Haseltine and The Russia Trap by George Beebe.
I’ve worked on science titles for my entire career, so I enjoyed editing Jonathan Rauch’s The Happiness Curve, which is revising how we think about midlife, and Jeff Nesbit’s This Is the Way the World Ends, which shows how all the disparate elements of climate change are converging on America.
It’s not all serious, though. I don’t use this word a lot, but I have to say Ramin Setoodeh’s The Ladies of the View is scrumptious in its gossipy details. We had to embargo it because every sentence is a publicity bullet. We also just put out Win or Die: Leadership Secrets from Game of Thrones. We recently published two wonderful memoirs: William Shatner’s Live Long And… and Let the Good Times Roll by Small Faces, Faces and, for one song, Rolling Stones drummer Kenney Jones, and we’re looking forward to one of the most charming baseball books I’ve ever done: Here’s the Catch by legendary Met outfielder Ron Swoboda.
Finally, when it comes to fiction, nothing’s better than Anne Griffin’s debut When All Is Said, which took the UK by storm, becoming the #1 book in Ireland, and which is now making Americans laugh and cry too.