What are some upcoming trends?
I don’t want to cast this as a trend because that minimizes its importance and implies that it is an ephemeral concept, but thanks to campaigns like We Need Diverse Books, I think we are finally acknowledging that it is part of our responsibility as publishers to support writers from all manner of racial, ethnic, gender, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds. It is critically important that literature reflects a diverse range of human experiences, and I’m hopeful that through open dialogue and continued evaluation we hold the industry accountable and publish books that appeal to a variety of readers.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I’m someone who loves examining culture from all angles—what makes people tick, how trends burst and wane, why we act the way we do—and that interest manifests itself in the types of books I publish. My list is mostly comprised of nonfiction, particularly memoir, humor, pop culture, and narrative nonfiction. Voice-driven books, whether it’s a collection of humorous essays or a narrative history with a fresh twist, always pique my interest. I’m keen on anything that sheds light on interesting subcultures, examines new trends, or shares an unusual perspective on a well-trod topic, and I’m always looking for authors who can make hot cultural topics accessible and entertaining. I’d love to get into more narrative nonfiction in the issues-driven space, too, particularly books that discuss gender, race, or socioeconomics with an accessible bent. On my wish list is a voice-driven investigation into the student loan debt crisis in this country. It’s something that has a widespread impact on my generation.
And though I rarely publish novels, if someone is representing the literary equivalent of a Bruce Springsteen song (Jersey, working class, a “we’ve gotta escape this town”vibe), I’m your gal. Same goes for anything that speaks to the punk/hard-core experience.
What don’t you ever want to see again?
Can we please retire the word “millennial” from our lexicon? I’m mostly kidding. I’m considered a millennial, according to most definitions, and I definitely publish books that appeal to 20-something readers, but I think we’ve exhausted using “the millennial experience” as the sole hook of a book. There have been plenty of books that have explored that in the past few years, and many have done incredibly well, but I think the market is a bit overcrowded now for straight “millennial handbooks.”
What is unique about your corner of the industry?
I’ve grown up on the trade paperback side of the industry [at Plume], which has exposed me to a different business model than some of my peers. As a paperback imprint, we can take a gamble on an unknown author in a way that you might not be able to when initiating a hardcover deal. My goal is to cultivate voices and create house authors that we can publish for years to come. And sometimes paperback is the best format for a debut author, particularly when the audience is a more price-sensitive demographic. And because I acquire for both Blue Rider Press and Plume, I have the dexterity to decide which format is right for a particular project, which is really satisfying.
Kate Napolitano is a senior editor at Plume and Blue Rider Press. She started her publishing career at Plume in 2009 and has since acquired and edited a broad range of fiction and nonfiction for the imprint, specializing in humor, pop culture, memoir, and narrative nonfiction. Her authors include webcomic artist Reza Farazmand of Poorly Drawn Lines, comedian and YouTube sensation Mamrie Hart, Tumblr blogger Alida Nugent of The Frenemy, Buzzfeed columnist Anne Helen Petersen, comedian and blogger Phoebe Robinson, and xoJane contributor Michelle Tea. She lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.