This week’s BookBrunch interview is with the lovely Karen Sullivan from Orenda Books – don’t forget to click the link for the full article!
Jasmin Kirkbride talks to Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books about the slush pile, the frisson of finding the right book, advances, and giving attention to everything on the list
Two and a half years on from its launch, Orenda Books is going from strength to strength. Run by its founder, Karen Sullivan, Orenda publishes literary fiction, as well as “the high end of genre fiction”, with an emphasis on crime and thrillers. About half the list is translated fiction, and Sullivan is always keen to push the boundaries.
Striking out alone
Though Sullivan started in publishing at Sidgwick & Jackson, working her way up to commissioning editor, for much of her career she has written books on parenting. As her own children got older, she took what was supposed to be a one-day-a-week job at a small publisher; it turned into 15 months of non-stop work when it became clear all was not well with the business.
Eventually the company ended up with a group of shareholders who had lost faith in the list. The list was cut, and contracts were cancelled. “I just couldn’t sit there and watch that,” remembers Sullivan. “Having been an author myself, I’m very aware that you’ve got your blood in these books. So in 2014 I left. I lay on my bed for 24 hours, then I went downstairs and said to my husband that we were going to re-mortgage our house and I was going to start my own publishing company.”
She needed all her determination. “The truth is, I had hardly any experience,” she confesses. “But I reckoned that in an industry that is changing literally daily, there was no harm in throwing in my lot. Maybe a lack of experience would be an asset, because I wouldn’t have preconceived ways of doing things…” [READ MORE]