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Anna Kiernan, Publisher at The Lit Platform

We speak to Anna about her history in publishing and her 2020 reading recommendations.

I’m lucky to have two jobs. I’m a publisher at The Lit Platform, a digital publishing agency, and I’m co-director of the MA Creativity: Innovation and Business Strategy at the University of Exeter.

How did you get into publishing?

I was offered a lowly job at Andre Deutsch publishing after university. I got it through a temp agency, which was lucky as I didn’t have any connections in publishing. The money was terrible but the ramshackle offices in Bloomsbury were alluring.

Is there a book or a campaign that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of? Why is that? 

When I became a fiction editor at Simon & Schuster, I was excited and proud (massively daunted) to work on the launch of the Scribner imprint. The list included authors such as Indra Sinha and Joseph Heller, and in building it, we brought together canonical literary figures alongside new talent. That idea of the importance of the publishing ecology, in which a delicate balance can be struck between curating lists that include both established voices and iconoclastic new talent, is central to my ongoing passion for publishing and writing culture.

That’s why I’m so thrilled with what we’ve achieved at The Lit Platform. Every issue of our digital magazine, The Lit, features the most incredible, diverse range of voices and talent. We’ve quickly built up momentum and an idiosyncratic identity as a playful publisher that pushes publishing possibilities through everything we do. Our new issue, which brings new perspectives to the climate catastrophe, is edited by Ben Smith and David Sergeant, both nationally acclaimed academics and writers.

Where do you buy or access your books?

My favourite bookshop is Harbour Bookshop in Kingsbridge, Devon. They are so welcoming and knowledgeable. I also love the Falmouth Bookseller and the brilliantly named (and stocked) Lost in Books in Lostwithiel. I’m an avid audible listener, too. Not a fan of Amazon but Audible is great for listening to while I’m out running.

What books have you been reading in lockdown? Do these books typify your usual reading taste, or have you found yourself reading other genres and authors?

I just finished reading The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga and loved the disruptive idea of entrepreneurship it puts forward. Weather by Jenny Offill seemed to fit the mood of barely contained anxiety about the state of the world. I’m now reading On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. It’s heartbreaking. I read a lot of different kinds of books as I’m part of a brilliant book group, so we take it in turns choosing the books we read.

What is your most beautiful book?

This is a subject close to my heart! I have a great selection of art and photography books, as I used to be sent review copies as deputy editor of a photography magazine. I have a first edition copy of Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen, which has gold embossed typography on paper that feels like Honesty leaves. Anything published by Atlantic Press Books is, by definition, beautiful. They published a pamphlet of my poetry a few years ago and I love the nuanced and sensitive approach they have to the relationship between written and verbal narratives.

What is the oldest book on your shelf?

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (1929)

What surprises you about your bookshelves? Is there a book that you own that you were surprised to love as much as you did?

I’ve been looking at my bookshelves lately and thinking that they are not diverse or representative enough. You get into reading habits that are comfortable and sometimes you need to jolt yourself out of habitual behaviour that doesn’t serve you (or others). That said, I have a weakness for a particular sort of suburban American psychological novel about masculinity that I still find hard to shake.

Which authors or genres do you look forward to reading more of in the future?

I like autofiction and fresh voices like Sally Rooney and Yara Rodrigues Fowler. Amy Lilwall is a brilliant dystopian novelist to look out for.

What are your most anticipated reads for the rest of the year?

Next on my list is The New Wilderness by Diane Cook and This Mournable Body by

13. Where can readers find you online?

@kiernanna and of course @thelitplatform


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