Simon & Schuster names Dana Canedy as first Black publisher
She says her goal is to champion 'amazing authors'
Simon & Schuster announced on Monday that Dana Canedy is their new senior vice president and publisher of its namesake imprint, a distinction that makes her the first Black publisher.
Canedy will start the plum position on July 27, the New York Times reported where she previously worked for 20 years as a reporter and senior editor. In 2001, she was part of the editorial team that won a Pulitzer Prize for the series “How Race Is Lived in America.”
Canedy has been the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes since 2017 and is credited with bringing more diversity to the honorees. The 55-year-old said that the goal in her new position is to champion “amazing” authors.
“[It is] to bring in new authors, and to commission books that I and my team think are important. And basically, when you boil all that down, that means applying news judgment,” Canedy said.
Canedy, 55, told the Times that her appointment was two years in the making. She and Jonathan Karp, the chief executive of Simon & Schuster started talks over lunch. As she’d only been at the Pulitzer for a year, she initially declined the position.
Karp became chief executive of the company in May and reached out to Canedy again to succeed him. She said yes and, in the process, became only the third woman overall appointed to the job and first Black person.
“Jon should get credit for the fact that in an era of racial reckoning when suddenly everybody is looking for people of color and women to add to their boards and to bring in to their companies — he started talking to me two years ago,” Canedy said. “That’s the way you want to go into a company. I wouldn’t be taking this job if I thought he just wanted a Black publisher.”
Canedy doesn’t have any prior publishing experience but did publish the memoir “A Journal for Jordan.” It was about her late partner, First Sgt. Charles M. King, who died in Iraq in 2006 but not before leaving a journal for their now 14-year-old son, Jordan.
Karp feels comfortable with Canedy’s succeeding him despite her lack of publishing experience.
“I think the first thing you have to be able to do is to attract authors, to cultivate authors and to champion authors,” Karp said. “I wanted somebody who was going to be a magnet for the best talent.”
At the moment, one of those authors at Simon & Schuster is Mary L. Trump. The president’s niece has written the tell all “Too Much and Never Enough” which is under litigation as she accuses her uncle of being a sociopath and unfit for office.
“I think they’re leading on the publishing of political books in this moment, and that’s important,” Canedy said of her new company. “I’m particularly proud to be joining them at a time when they’re doing that, and I will continue to help in that effort.”
(Photo: Eileen Barroso)
Have you subscribed to theGrio’s new podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!