About Henry Ferris

henry ferris, editor, book

I have been an editor for more than 35 years, most of that time working for the major New York publishing companies. I was born and raised in Georgia, and my mother’s side of the family were big readers. My grandfather died when I was too young to know him, unfortunately, but I have inherited books from his library and treasure his original hardcover editions of Hemingway and Twain. And I am looking forward to passing my mother’s original hardcover Little House on the Prairie books to my own daughters.

After graduating from the University of Georgia in 1982 with a degree in newspaper journalism, I moved to New York to pursue a career in book publishing. I began first in the subsidiary rights department at Simon and Schuster, but I always had my eye on the editorial department. In a few months, I was very lucky to land a job as assistant to Alice Mayhew at Simon and Schuster. Alice was already one of the top nonfiction editors in the business, and my introduction to being an editor included watching her work with authors such as Bob Woodward, Ben Bradlee, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Walter Isaacson, and Taylor Branch. I learned a great deal from her during those years and eventually moved up to the position as Editor before being hired as a Senior Editor at Bantam Books, where I began to acquire my own titles. Highlights from that time include working with Buzz Aldrin on his book Men from Earth and with Jeff Moss, one of the original Sesame Street writers, on his book The Butterfly Jar.

White House Photo

I moved next to Houghton Mifflin, and from that time, I remember working with Shen Tong, one of the leaders of China’s Tiananmen Square uprising on his book Almost a Revolution, and with Amy Ephron on her novel, Biodegradable Soap, beginning a relationship that would include three more novels and a work of nonfiction. In a few years, I was hired at Times Books, which was then an imprint of Random House. I acquired business books for the imprint, but while there, the literary agent Jane Dystel called me about a memoir that had recently been cancelled by another publisher. Jane told me she believed her client, a Chicago lawyer around my age, would one day become, “the first black president of the United States.” His name was Barack Obama, and the book we worked on together was Dreams from My Father.

My next post – and where I would work for almost 23 years – was at William Morrow, which was then a division of the Hearst Corporation and soon became an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. I had the great honor of working with many distinguished authors in my years there. Among them are: Gail Collins (America’s Women), Laurence Bergreen (Over the Edge of the World), Paul O’Neill of the New York Yankees (Me and My Dad), Kim Masters (Keys to the Kingdom), Roger Fouts (Next of Kin), James L. Swanson (Manhunt, End of Days), Antwone Fisher (Finding Fish), Simon Winchester (The Men Who United the States and four others), Bruce Feiler (Where God Was Born and three others), Ken Blanchard (many of his bestselling “One Minute” business books), Laura and Lisa Ling (Somewhere Inside), Sharon Waxman (Rebels On the Backlot), Mark Lee Gardner (Rough Riders and two other books), William Kamkwamba (The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind), Dwyane Wade (A Father First), David Corn (Showdown), Joy-Ann Reid (Fracture), Laurence Leamer (The Lynching), David Garrow (Rising Star), Stacey Griffith, the superstar of SoulCycle (Two Turns From Zero), Barbara Feinman Todd (Pretend I’m Not Here) and Bruce Henderson (Sons and Soldiers).

I am happy I can continue to do what I love – helping writers take their work to higher levels.