Webb Younce lost his job at Houghton Mifflin last February along with fellow editors Anton Mueller and Jane Rosenman. Mr. Mueller was the first to land on his feet, joining Bloomsbury USA as an editor the following month. Ms. Rosenman came in second when she started at Algonquin shortly after Labor Day.
Today, it was announced that Mr. Younce—whose unemployment was the cause of much indignation and distress among the more the literary-minded of the city’s young editors—will soon join the team at Henry Holt, the division of Macmillan that only recently emerged from a period of relative dormancy. Mr. Younce, who is known as a talented editor of both fiction and non-fiction, is the first person to join Holt since Marjorie Braman came on board as editor-in-chief in August.
In an interview, Ms. Braman said she was inundated with e-mails about Mr. Younce after Sara Nelson, the editor of Publishers Weekly, wrote a column about her appointment in late September that mentioned the fact that she was looking to hire someone.
“If we were missing anything at all we were missing a male sensibility for fiction,” Ms. Braman said, noting that while at Houghton, Mr. Younce edited the popular Jonathan Miles novel Dear American Airlines in addition to managing the Tolkien Estate and working with Paul Theroux.
“I would like to see us doing more up-market but very accessible fiction,” Ms. Braman said. “That’s certainly my taste. Particularly that sort of women’s fiction that falls between literary and commercial—just good storytelling.”
She added that she hoped to publish more fiction—debut novels especially— as original trade paperbacks.
She said that in general, Holt’s editorial staff—which also includes young editors David Patterson and Helen Atsma and publishing veteran Jack McRae—is in a period of aggressive acquisition, and that she hopes the list will expand to about 36 hardcovers and 12 original paperbacks per year.
“We are not where so many publishers find themselves, that horrible phrase ‘over-inventioried,'” Ms. Braman said. “The list did get a little too small in the hiatus that took place and we’re looking to grow it back up.”