What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
Let’s get right into it then, shall we? Last year saw its share of Insta-poetry sensations, and I don’t expect that to stop in 2018. In fact, the amount of poetry submissions that have come across my desk over the last few months would make Robert Bly’s head spin. I also think pseudo-ironic and/or practical guides will continue to find their footholds; books like Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass, William H. McRaven’s Make Your Bed,and Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck were mega-successful in 2017 and paved the way for a kind of inspirational pragmatism that both played off of the news cycle as well as subverted it.
I think books about Donald Trump will start to fizzle out, and this is coming from someone who published Gene Stone’s The Trump Survival Guide in only 12 days. That said, I think there will be more alternative voices, those who don’t necessarily check off the typical Democrat or Republican boxes. I also think there will be a continued push for single-themed nonfiction, particularly around nature. Books like Robert Moor’s On Trails, Zack Klein and Steven Leckart’s Cabin Porn, and Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees continue to sell well but, more importantly, remind us of the importance of common elements we might overlook in our busy lives; not to mention that they’re well-written and packaged!
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I would love to see more narrative nonfiction concerning historical revelations or events that have not been given their due credit. Books like Douglas Preston’s The Lost City of the Monkey God or William Carlsen’s Jungle of Stone come to mind, as does 2006’s The River of Doubt by Candice Millard, about Teddy Roosevelt’s trip down the Amazon. I like nonfiction books that are lodged in a historical era or category but simultaneously work as genre busters due to their overt attention to characterization and storytelling.
How do you work with self-published authors?
I tend to be very entrepreneurial at Dey Street, which is to say I enjoy coming up with my own book ideas or finding ideas for writers I love and who are looking for their next book project. Next fall, I’m publishing a book called The Hunter’s Way, which sprang from a brainstorming session in which we noticed a lack of “smart, philosophical” hunting books in the marketplace. Shortly after, I found Craig Raleigh, a self-published writer whose online work mirrored my own ambitions for this project, and we’ve been hard at work ever since. In short, I’m not against working with self-published writers, especially if there is a current demand or need for the topic they’re writing about.
What do you want to change about publishing?
I think there is the oft-used phrase of making publishing “more democratic,” which, of course, I agree with (taking risks on first-time authors, publishing outside of popular categories, taking on unique or original voices, etc.). But I also believe in building careers for writers, which often means not resting one’s laurels on the success of the first book or punishing a writer for the lack of that book’s success. Instead, I think we should be thinking about how to successfully build tracks for writers that extend far beyond the zeitgeist—thinking macro instead of micro.
What’s unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
Dey Street is such an innovative place to be. While I’m at work on a celebrity or rock star’s memoir, I am also editing the most literary travel memoir I’ve ever come across (it’s called Lands of Lost Borders by Kate Harris, and it publishes in August by the way!). Dey Street is a hot bed for new ideas, publishing in nontraditional categories, and taking chances, and I couldn’t be happier to have such a supportive and brilliant team alongside me. And perhaps most uniquely, of the seven books I’m publishing this year, five are by first-time authors!
Matthew Daddona is an editor at Dey Street Books, where he acquires nonfiction in the categories of narrative journalism, sports, pop culture, music, and memoir. Prior to joining HarperCollins in 2015, Matthew was an assistant editor at Plume, an imprint of Penguin Random House, where he worked on fiction and nonfiction. Matthew is also a poet and fiction writer, a poetry submissions reader for Slice Magazine, and the co-host of the Manhattan-based reading series “Kill Genre.”