Mary Cunnane, Editing and Consulting

About Mary Cunnane

I have worked in the publishing industry for four decades both in the United States and Australia. As a vice president and senior editor at WW Norton & Company in New York, where I was employed until 1996, I was a member of the editorial board and responsible for acquiring, editing, and publishing some twenty books a year across a broad range of subjects — including science and medicine; history and politics; social science; feminist issues; popular culture and current events, as well as biography, fiction and poetry.

Among my authors were Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Kate Millett, Kenneth Branagh, Seamus Heaney, Frank Wilczek, Hilary Spurling, Kanan Makiya, Robin Morgan, Jane Brody, Denise Giardina, John Archibald Wheeler, Martin Stannard and JP Donleavy.

At Norton I was also British Rights Manager for ten years and involved in the establishment of the firm’s UK subsidiary,  WW Norton & Co Ltd.

Consulting in the US

From 1997 to 1998 I was a principal in The Cunnane Jordan Group, a publishing consulting firm whose clients included several major European and American publishers and leading US universities and cultural institutions.

In Australia

In 1998 I moved to Australia where I was non-fiction publisher at Transworld Publishing – now part of Penguin Random House Australia – until 1999 when I founded The Mary Cunnane Agency. Until it closed in 2013 the agency represented some forty writers to publishers in Australia and around the world.

As an agent, I worked closely with my authors editorially, including providing guidance on crafting book proposals (especially non-fiction) through to manuscript development – before submitting their projects to publishers.

The agency’s clients – many of whom won major prizes for their books – included Kim Scott, Peter Doherty, Peter Sheahan, Anne Manne, Antony Loewenstein, David Whish-Wilson, Elisabeth Holdsworth, Adam Fraser, Richard Guilliatt, Iain McCalman, Peter Cochrane, Mark Latham, Angus Trumble, Adrian Hyland, Martin Thomas, Jacqueline Kent and Kate Legge.  

A founding member of the Australian Literary Agents’ Association, I served as a vice-president from 2008 to 2011, and was a member of the board of management and vice-president of the Sydney PEN Centre from 2003 to 2005.

More recently, as a freelance editor and publishing industry consultant,  I have served on several peer assessment panels for the Australia Council of the Arts. I was a judge of the inaugural Olga Masters Short Story Competition;  an advisor and facilitator for the ACT Writers Centre’s Hard Copy Program since 2014; and an assessor for the 2018 and 2019  Varuna Publisher Introduction Program.

As Advisory Publishing Editor for The Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature (Allen & Unwin, 2009), I shared a 2010 New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award with Nicholas Jose, the anthology’s General Editor.