Less than two weeks after she was fired by Random House, Ann Godoff has landed a new job. The former Random House Trade publisher will start a new imprint with Penguin.
Penguin CEO David Shanks said Penguin has long admired Godoff's skills, and "literally the minute we heard she was leaving Random House, we started talking about it." Shanks said the thought from the beginning was for her to start her own imprint, not take over anything else.
The imprint, which has not been named, will focus on nonfiction, with many of the paperbacks staying in house. About 40 titles are planned per year, starting in 2004. At the moment, Godoff counts only Scott Moyers, who is leaving Random to join Penguin, as part of her editorial staff, but Penguin officials said that once she gets on board, she may be hiring. Godoff, who will report to Penguin president Susan Petersen Kennedy, will assume her new role February 4.
The house said it was not scared off by Peter Olson's comments that Godoff wasn't pulling her weight. "We do a lot of things differently than Random House," Shanks said, including the policy of not bidding separately on authors. It remains to be seen how Penguin will deal with the situation when Godoff and other Penguin editors at Viking and Riverhead are interested in the same book.
Penguin seemed interested in burnishing its literary image; in the announcement, the publisher made a point of noting that in addition to its hallmark bestsellers, it is also "home to some of the most highly regarded editors and authors in the industry," a group that includes Harold Bloom, Garrison Keillor, Arthur Miller, James McBride, Steven Pinker and Nick Hornby.
Godoff's appointment was one of several editorial changes at Penguin. In late January, Christine Pepe was promoted to v-p and executive editor at G.P. Putnam's Sons. Pepe, who joined the company in 1986, had been senior editor at Putnam, acquiring both fiction and nonfiction. She has worked with a number of Penguin's best-known authors, including Robert Parker, Dick Francis, LaVyrle Spencer, Lawrence Sanders, Gar Anthony Haywood and Robin Cook. Pepe will continue to focus on acquiring commercial fiction and popular nonfiction.
At the Riverhead imprint, Susan Lehman has been named editor. Lehman, who had been at Talk magazine and Salon.com, will acquire nonfiction titles.