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Interview

An Interview with Maris Kreizman

Maris Kreizman’s approach to working in publishing may be unconventional, but it gives her an edge. She isn’t simply in touch with the latest trend, she often sets it. Maris worked in the publishing department of Kickstarter, focusing on innovative ways to connect writers with their readers. She also served as editorial director for the esteemed Book of the Month. Now she’s taken on an exciting new endeavor, launching a book club for BuzzFeed. In this latest Encounters in Publishing interview, Maris talked about the importance of being a fan first, before you jump online and try to tell your work. At the heart of this discussion, she pinpoints the importance of striking up meaningful connections online and how they’ve impacted her own life.

You recently announced that you will be running a book club through BuzzFeed. Would you describe your approach to this new program? Do you know what kinds of titles you will be picking? How do you seek out books to feature?

MS

I’m helping BuzzFeed to launch a new book club–not all details are public yet so I’ll just say this: focusing on great writing and storytelling, with an eye towards elevating diverse voices and also having fun, we hope our selections will inspire lots of great conversations (and even an argument or two).

You worked at Kickstarter as publishing ambassador. Do you have any tips for emerging writers who want to utilize the internet to help get their projects off the ground?

MS

Be a fan first. Be supportive. Be a part of the community. It is so transparent when a newcomer hops onto social media or onto Kickstarter and wants to sell you something–it’s a bad look. If you launch a project on Kickstarter without having backed one, you’re missing an important experience.

Slaughterhouse 90210, your book and blog, has an interesting format of just quotes and pictures. What drew you to that form? Do you have any new writing projects underway currently?

MS

Sheer boredom? I was trying to express my point of view without having to, you know, write anything? But now, I may or may not slowly–very slowly–be working on fiction.

You mention in a recent New York Times piece that you feel that going with your gut will beat out any data analytics, whether that be Tinder, Petfinder, or books suggested by websites. What attributes within literary projects typically give you good gut feelings? What about bad gut feelings?

MS

Literary gut feelings are mostly about a reaction to the quality of the writing. Does the prose make you feel things?

What are your favorite spots in New York City that hold literary events? What events are you most excited for this month?

MS

I’m so lucky that I moved to the neighborhood just as Books Are Magic was opening and I got to be a founding member. I did a great Q&A with Elif Batuman there, and saw Sam Irby and Abby Jacobson in conversation, among others. I’m looking forward to Rumaan Alam’s book launch there on Wednesday, May 9. But also, I can never talk about event spaces in New York without pledging my eternal love to Housing Works Bookstore. I’ve held so many events there and made so many friends there. On May 15 Jamel Brinkley will be in conversation with Angela Flournoy to launch his story collection. Can’t wait.

You’ve written commentary on a variety of topics. Whether it’s the dreary urban existence of living in the city or Splenda’s relationship to health, you always offer an interesting take. Have you had a lot of readers respond to your perspectives? What is your relationship to your readers? Are you very engaged with your audience? If so, how does this conversation typically occur?

MS

I’ve learned the hard way that the comments section is not the best place for discourse. That said, some of my best communication has happened on Twitter (I know, I know, but it’s true). Particularly when I’ve written about having Type 1 diabetes and dealing with the physical and emotional fallout of it, I’ve gained a lot from hearing from people in a similar position. I never really wanted to be a part of a community based on the kind of disease that I have, but I managed to find a small network of people who get it just because I wrote about it.


Maris Kreizman has hosted readings and moderated literary panels at various bookstores, conferences, and festivals across the country. She’s the creator of Slaughterhouse 90210, a blog and book (Flatiron Books, 2015) that celebrates the intersection of literature and pop culture. She’s also a writer and critic whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the LA Times, Vanity Fair, Esquire, Vulture, BuzzFeed Books, The Toast, Vulture, and more. A former book editor, she was previously a publishing outreach lead at Kickstarter and the editorial director of Book of the Month.

Greg Stewart is a writer and student in the Creative Publishing and Critical Journalism Master’s Program at The New School for Social Research

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