What are some upcoming trends?
Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury is proving that the appetite for books on Donald Trump is not going to abate any time soon—expect lots of books this year to address Trump’s presidency directly and indirectly. Dovetailing with this are a lot more memoirs and personal essays—as writers address current events through essays blending the personal and the political. This is nothing new in and of itself, but it’s heartening to see the ways that the form allows for more inclusivity of voices and backgrounds so that some writers who may not have come up through the standard MFA channels have an opportunity to publish and have their work elevated to a wider audience.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
As a native New Yorker I’m always looking for stories about the city—particularly novels about growing up here. I'd love to see more stories coming from a wider range of backgrounds, reflecting the varied nature of the city rather than the one I’ve seen told over and over again. I’d also love to see more LGBT projects—fiction and nonfiction. There are so many more stories to tell, and it still feels like a specialized category when it shouldn’t be.
What don’t you ever want to see again?
In a perfect world, I’d love to see publishers not give larger platforms to those whose central arguments are based on racism and misogyny, but perhaps you were meaning something a little more placid: can we have a five-year moratorium on titles with Girl in them?
What is unique about your corner of the industry?
We have a small, focused list of original titles at Picador, in addition to our reprint list, and so we publish books and writers that we are truly passionate about, which allows me freedom to edit books on a diverse range of topics but with a focus on those that have issues of social justice at their cores.
How are you working with self-published writers?
I’m working with one now, though I didn’t consider her one since I discovered her through an article in a literary magazine and hadn’t realized until later that she was self-published. In general, I think any writer, first-time, self-published, or even veteran, understands that writing is hard work and looks for a rigorous editorial process. Because I have a small list, I can focus intensely on editing, which often means several rounds of revision and no doubt some gnashing of teeth on both sides. But I think my authors appreciate that I’m tough with them, and the books are better for it.
What would you like to change about publishing?
Hmmm...how long do you have? There’s been lots of discussion about diversity in publishing for years, but now it’s a matter of doing the work: hiring and retaining more representative employees within publishing companies by increasing salaries and improving rates of advancement. At the same time, continuing to publish and promote—hopefully successfully—more diverse books. It’s not enough to just publish diverse books—the goal here is to widen the lens so that what is representative and normal and well-published is no longer simply white and male, and a “diverse book” or author is simply seen as a good book or a good author.
Anna deVries is an executive editor at Picador. She acquires and edits a range of literary fiction and nonfiction. Some of the books she has edited include One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul; We Gon’ Be Alright by Jeff Chang; Black Man in a White Coat by Damon Tweedy; Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed, edited by Meghan Daum; The Affairs of Others by Amy Grace Loyd; Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance and Revolution in Trump’s America, edited by Samhita Mukhopadhyay and Kate Harding; and Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Pollitt.