Beyond the Thesis: Nonfiction Publishing for Scholars

Co-sponsored by Columbia’s Office of University Life
Thursday, October 7,  2021 | 6:00-7:15 p.m. ET

This event was recorded and is available on Columbia’s University Life YouTube channel.

Panel of publishing insiders (agents and editors) talk about the formal requirements for getting a book deal with a major trade publisher. Includes a discussion of what makes a project “trade” versus “academic.”

Ever wonder what happens after you finish your thesis? What’s the difference between academic and trade publishing? How would you expand the ideas to create a nonfiction book? How would you find an agent, publisher, audience? How could publishing a book help my academic career… or launch a whole new one?

This panel of publishing industry insiders talks about the ways in which nonfiction books are developed, sold and marketed. It tackles the basics about the different types of offerings and what editors are looking for in nonfiction books. You’ll get insight into how to research the marketplace, develop an idea, and become a published author.

Brought you to by the Center for Nonfiction and moderated by its founding director, Kevin O’Connor CC ’92, A’Lelia Bundles Scholar, Cohort VII.

Reiko Davis is an agent at DeFiore and Associates. Reiko grew up in Kansas City, received her BA in Comparative Literature and Art History from Brown University, and is a graduate of the Columbia Publishing Course. Reiko’s interests are varied, but she is particularly drawn to narrative journalism on the topics of pop culture, science/psychology, and current events as well as memoir that focuses on social justice, issues of race and gender, and the history and experiences of women and people of color.

Yahdon Israel is a Senior editor at Simon Schuster and founder of Literaryswag, a cultural movement that intersects literature and fashion to make books accessible. He has written for Avidly, The New Inquiry, LitHub, Poets and Writers, and Vanity Fair. He teaches creative writing at City College, and hosts the Literaryswag Book Club, a Brooklyn-based subscription service and book club that meets every last Wednesday of the month.

Rachel Kambury is a writer, novelist, and editor specializing in war and military literature and history. Born and raised in Oregon, Rachel self-published her first World War II novel, GRAVEL, in 2009 – two months before she graduated high school. She earned a BA in literature from Eugene Lang College in 2013 and studied war history at the American University of Paris. Since beginning her publishing career in 2016, Rachel has worked with an incredible range of award-winning and bestselling authors, including Shea Serrano, Barbara Ehrenreich, Admiral William H. McRaven, Patrick Wyman, Alyssa Mastromonaco, Senator Tammy Duckworth, Dan Pfeiffer, and many more. As an editor, Rachel is omniverously curious about most subjects, especially history, natural science, social justice, pop culture, humor, and previously unsung-hero narratives. Rachel’s work has appeared in The Wrath-Bearing Tree, Consequence Magazine, The Quivering Pen, the United States World War I Centennial Commission, and the Columbia Journal. Her essay, “My First War Novel,” is featured in the Military Writers Guild anthology WHY WE WRITE: CRAFT ESSAYS ON WRITING WAR (2019), and her essay “War Without Allegory: World War I, Tolkien, and The Lord of the Rings” will be featured in the forthcoming collection BEYOND THEIR LIMITS OF LONGING: CONTEMPORARY WRITERS AND VETERANS REFLECT ON THE LINGERING STORIES OF WORLD WAR I. She lives and works in New York City and can usually be found having very loud feelings over on Twitter @rkambury.

Pronoy Sarkar senior editor at Little, Brown. He acquires bold, ambitious, and conversation shifting projects across a range of areas. Previously he was an editor at St. Martin’s Press and has worked at Picador and Simon & Schuster.

Publishers Marketplace

When available, all bookstore links go to Morningside Heights Book Culture.
• Jill Lepore’s THESE TRUTHS
William Jelani Cobb
Simon Schama

Shameless Plugs (as they were announced on Publishers Marketplace):

• Author of THE ATLAS OF REDS AND BLUES and winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Fiction and the Crook’s Corner Book Prize Devi Laskar’s CIRCA, about a young Indian American woman who, in the wake of her best friend’s tragic death, must grapple with her immigrant parents’ expectations of her, an arranged marriage, and how to metabolize a complicated love and loss, to Pilar Garcia-Brown at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, at auction, for publication in spring 2022, by Reiko Davis at DeFiore and Company (NA).

• Thomas Wright and Colin Kahl’s AFTERSHOCKS: PANDEMIC POLITICS AND THE END OF THE OLD INTERNATIONAL ORDER, telling the geopolitical story of COVID-19: how it was allowed to happen, why the world largely failed to cope, the long-term impact on global order, and the way back for the world, to Pronoy Sarkar at St. Martin’s, in a pre-empt, for publication in fall 2021, by Bridget Wagner Matzie at Aevitas Creative Management (world).

• Investigative reporter and member of the Advisory Council for the Hudson Institute’s Kleptocracy Initiative Casey Michel’s AMERICAN KLEPTOCRACY: HOW THE U.S. CREATED THE WORLD’S GREATEST MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME IN HISTORY, an investigation into how America built and continues to profit from a complex offshore financial system that conceals and protects the world’s wealthiest people to Pronoy Sarkar at St. Martin’s, in a pre-empt, by Samantha Shea at Georges Borchardt (world).

• Aaliyah Bilal’s TEMPLE FOLK, a short story collection portraying the various experiences of Black American Muslims in the Nation of Islam and Sunni orthodox communities, to Yahdon Israel at Simon & Schuster, in an exclusive submission, by Eric Simonoff at William Morris Endeavor.

• Author of A FAMILY PLACE and THE ROAD THROUGH MIYAMA Leila Philip’s BEAVERLAND, an immersive ecological and historical investigation of the beaver that traces the critical ways it has shaped everything from American imperialism and wealth to the current debates surrounding the environmental crisis, the rural-urban divide, and some of our most elemental ideas of what it means to be American, to Rachel Kambury at Twelve, at auction, by Miriam Altshuler at DeFiore and Company (world English).

• Professor emeritus of history in American Indian studies at the University of Arizona and author of STRONG HEARTS, WOUNDED SOULS Tom Holm’s untitled biography of Ira Hayes, a reconsideration and retelling of the life of the Pima Native American World War II hero, one of the brave Marines who raised the American flag at Iwo Jima, to Sean Desmond and Rachel Kambury at Twelve, in an exclusive submission, for publication in summer 2023 (world).

• Professor of African American studies and history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Claude Andrew Clegg III PhD’s THE BLACK PRESIDENT: HOPE AND FURY IN THE AGE OF OBAMA, a history of the Obama administration in its entirety, to Laura Davulis at Johns Hopkins University Press, at auction, for publication in fall 2021, by Kevin O’Connor at O’Connor Literary Agency (NA).

• Documentary film director Catherine Gund’s WORDS OF ART, a family card game based on the fabled art collection of former MoMA president and philanthropist Aggie Gund to Lindley Boegehold at Clarkson Potter for publication in spring 2021, by Kevin O’Connor at O’Connor Literary Agency (world English).