An Interview with Executive Editor Anna deVries
by Greg Stewart
For the latest interview in our Encounters in Publishing series, Anna deVries gave us a look into the day-to-day life of a book editor. In her role at Picador as Executive Editor, she enjoys the freedom to search for great books. Anna’s position requires that she has a hand in all parts of book production, from buying the manuscript to getting it into shape, to seeing the book designed, produced, marketed, and distributed. She offers great insight for anyone considering a job in publishing. She also discusses diversity in the publishing industry, looking at how this issue has been dealt with and what should happen in the future.
An Interview with YA Author and HarperCollins Publicist Martin Wilson
by Paul Florez-Taylor
Author Martin Wilson isn’t afraid to tackle heavy themes in his sophomore novel, We Now Return to Regular Life. Inspired by harrowing real-life stories like Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart, the novel follows the story of a young boy named Sam returning home following his abduction years prior. However, returning home isn’t the happy ending to Sam’s story. It’s only the beginning. What follows is a gut-wrenching unraveling of secrets and regrets that shake Sam’s family and friends to their very core.
I’ve known Martin since I began working with him at HarperCollins back in 2015, and I’ve always admired his tenacious attitude when it comes to balancing his responsibilities as a publicist and a writer.
Martin and I sat down on our lunch to discuss the misconceptions that come with writing a second novel, judging a book by its cover, and that icky feeling that comes when your computer is hacked.
An Interview with Publishing Manager Porscha Burke
by Greg Stewart
Porscha Burke is a Publishing Manager at the Random House Publishing Group. Throughout her career in book publishing she has worked with award-winning and bestselling authors including Maya Angelou and the former Chief of Police in Dallas David Brown. In this interview, Porscha provides insight into the intersection of her life as a Queens native and her role of writing about hip hop and working with seminal African American voices. She grew up in a thriving arts and culture scene, and then broke into the book industry as an assistant to Random House Publishing Group president and publisher Gina Centrello. Recently, Porscha finished an MFA in nonfiction from Goucher College, and now teaches there as an adjunct professor. She has also taken part in the SLICE’s annual writers’ conference. Porscha discusses how editors function behind-the-scenes at Penguin Random House, the role of books in the world of hip hop, and much more.
An Interview with Steve Erickson
by Bruce Bauman
In his ten novels and two nonfiction books since the debut of Days Between Stations in 1985, Steve Erickson has created a world unlike that of any author working today. When people ask me to describe Erickson’s work—as they often do, knowing I was senior editor for thirteen years on the national literary journal Black Clock, of which Erickson was co-founder and editor-in-chief—I quote the Lovin’ Spoonful: “It’s like tryin’ to tell a stranger about rock ’n roll.” Erickson is a literary magician. His work is a unique North American magical realism: Faulkner meets García Márquez meets the Dylan of Highway 61 Revisited. In the last thirty years he has imagined a reality both completely recognizable and what only can be called “Ericksonian.” Writers from Jonathan Lethem to Rick Moody to Mark Z. Danielewski have credited his influence. While working with him on Black Clock, I saw the respect and admiration he received from David Foster Wallace, Richard Powers, Joanna Scott, Susan Straight, Samuel Delany, T. C. Boyle, Aimee Bender, Greil Marcus, Janet Fitch, Geoff Nicholson, and Don DeLillo. Erickson has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. Recently Steve and I talked over Mexican food and via email about literature, politics, being and becoming a writer in these times, and his new mindblower, Shadowbahn [out in paperback February 2018].
#SLWC17: Meet the Speakers: An Interview with Literary Agent Saba Sulaiman
by Maria Gagliano
As a writer, it can be nerve-racking to imagine a team of editors talking about your work behind closed doors. You get to hear their final decision, but you’re rarely in the loop on their discussion about what they think of your work. Literary agents often get a detailed account of the conversation if they have a good rapport with the editors, but even they may not get the full story.
We chatted with agent Saba Sulaiman about the mysterious process of submitting work to editors. She also shares powerful insight on what writers can do before editors see their work. We’ll hear more from Saba at the Slice Literary Writers’ Conference in Brooklyn on September 9, when she joins us for our panel, “What We Really Talk About in Editorial Meetings.” Conference attendees can also sign up to pitch their work to Saba in person at a one-on-one meeting.
You’re moderating our panel, “What We Really Talk About in Editorial Meetings.” As an agent, how privy are you to what goes on in those decision-making meetings? And how much do you then share with your clients?
#SLWC17: Meet the Speakers: An Interview with Literary Agent Kate McKean
by Maria Gagliano
Every year the book world changes all around us. The Big Six shrink to the Big Five, while indie presses claim a bigger stake in the industry. Editors come and go; print books peak, drop, and then make a comeback. Lit trends cycle through the marketplace. But what does it all mean for writers trying to get their work noticed by editors and agents?
Literary agent Kate McKean chatted with us about how she’s seen the business change since she started well over a decade ago, for better or worse. Kate will share more of her wisdom at the Slice Literary Writers’ Conference in Brooklyn on September 10, when she joins us for our panel, “Welcome to the 2017 Book World.” Conference attendees can also sign up to pitch their work to Kate in person at a one-on-one meeting. But note: Kate is not the agent for you if you’re writing about dragons. Don’t even try her, no matter how good your writing may be.
I imagine you have an especially sharp sense of how things have changed over the years since you have a long history of helping people make the leap from online personality (i.e., many bloggers) to published author. Whether online or off, what stands out to you the most in terms of how the industry has changed in recent years?