Simon & Schuster’s Publisher Talks About Her Goals, Mary Trump’s And John Bolton’s Books

Dana Canedy is set to take over storied imprint whose parent is up for sale. Simon & Schuster’s Publisher Talks About Her Goals, Mary Trump’s And John Bolton’s Books

Simon & Schuster’s Publisher Talks About Her Goals, Mary Trump's And John Bolton’s Books

Dana Canedy


Dana Canedy is about to become publisher of Simon & Schuster’s flagship imprint, taking over a storied house in the middle of a pandemic, with several high-profile books in the pipeline.

Starting July 27, Ms. Canedy, 55 years old, will succeed Jonathan Karp, the former publisher who in late May was named president and chief executive officer of the Simon & Schuster book-publishing unit of ViacomCBS Inc. The unit’s other imprints include Scribner, which publishes Stephen King.

Ms. Canedy, a former New York Times journalist, most recently served as the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes. At the Times, she was a member of a team that won a Pulitzer for national reporting for a series titled “How Race Is Lived in America.” She is the first Black woman to head Simon & Schuster, one of the country’s leading imprints, as publisher.

Forthcoming Simon & Schuster titles include Mary L. Trump’s “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” set to publish July 14. Simon & Schuster has described the tell-all by President Trump’s niece as a “revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him.” In September, Simon & Schuster is expected to publish a new book about the Trump administration by Bob Woodward, an associate editor of the Washington Post.

Ms. Canedy is the author of a memoir, “A Journal for Jordan: A Story of Love and Honor,” published in 2008, which she wrote about her son’s father, who died in Iraq during combat. A movie version is in the works, for which she is a producer, she said in an interview Monday.

Ms. Canedy is also a co-author of “Unseen: Unpublished Black History from the New York Times Photo Archives,” published in 2017. She said reading and writing have been her favorite activities since she was 12 years old.

Below are edited excerpts from her interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Simon & Schuster Is Publishing Many Political Titles During An Election Year. Do You Feel Like You Are Jumping Into The Combat Zone?

Absolutely not. I’m good under pressure. It doesn’t get any tougher than being a reporter doing high-level good work at the New York Times, so bring it on.

Why Did This Job Interest You?

The chance to influence literature and culture was so appealing that I had to say yes. It felt important and right for me.

What Are Your Goals As Publisher?

Number one, it will be a bit of a challenge to get to know the staff during Covid, but I want to get to know them so that I can best support their goals. Also, I’d like to see more narrative nonfiction books, the books that take hold of you in the middle of the night, where you say to yourself, “Just one more page.” And I want people with bold, big voices who have something interesting to say across genres.

Simon & Schuster recently published former national security adviser John Bolton’s memoir. Why has it sold so well?

People are thinking about the election, and they remain curious about the inner workings of the White House. That has always been the case, but it is even more true today because so much of the information you get from the president is from tweets. People are hungry for inside information like this, whether you agree with how John Bolton presented it or not.

Do You Plan To Broaden Simon & Schuster’s Offerings Of New Titles?

We can and should broaden our range. I’d like to hear more voices from Native American authors and from the LGBTQ community. There are a lot of books to be written about our divided nation on both sides of the cultural aisle. I have three lists: authors I’d love to bring in, emerging authors and a list of books I’d like to commission.

Issues regarding the lack of diversity—both in terms of employees and authors—in book publishing have long been discussed.

What Will Be Your Approach At Simon & Schuster?

There’s work to be done, not just in publishing but across all industries. As for Simon & Schuster, it’s too early to say; I have to get in and roll up my sleeves and get to work. Come back in a year and find out what was done in terms of the books I’ve commissioned, the authors we’ve published and the work we’ve done on the diversity front.

It’s Unclear When The Pandemic Will End. How Important Is It For The Staff To Return To The Office?

I don’t think it matters. I’d like to take people to lunch or coffee, but they are professionals and I don’t think it will be an issue. I’ve been working in shorts and flip flops from the Jersey shore, and I’m getting my work done—literally under an umbrella on the beach.

Simon & Schuster Is Up For Sale. Did That Give You Pause Before Taking This Job?

I thought about it, but I’m a risk taker. This is a calculated risk with a small “c.” When I joined the Times I started as a trainee and was told I had three years to prove myself. I was promoted after nine months. I’m not worried at all.

Could You Elaborate On Risk-Taking?

Life will continue whether you look back or forward, so I’m focused on what’s in front. I went through grief and loss, but once I got up and took a step forward, I said to myself, “If I can endure that and get off the floor, then I don’t need to look back.”

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