My Job in Five: Kishani Widyaratna

My Job in Five: Kishani Widyaratna

Describe your role. 
It’s my job to identify the authors and books I think we should publish and that I think will make a lasting contribution to the imprint in terms of readership, sales and cultural importance. I work with my authors editorially and look after their interests through the publishing process. The main day to day is to then publish their books with vision and passion, in partnership with their agents and the many brilliant teams at Picador.

What do you enjoy about your role?
I love finding writers I believe in and then being able to work with them closely editorially and in their publishing. I still pinch myself that I have engineered this extraordinary life where I get to nurture and champion these exceptional people and their work. It’s the most rewarding part of the job, creatively, intellectually and personally.

What are you working on at the moment?
In August we publish Summerwater by Sarah Moss, masterfully written and haunting it speaks powerfully to our divided current moment. I’m extremely excited about Raven Leilani’s debut novel Luster, darkly funny, provocatively propulsive and full of insight, it’s perfect for fans of Michaela Coel’s “I May Destroy You”. Plus, upcoming books from Rachel Long, Safiya Sinclair, Olivia Laing and Mieko Kawakami.

What skills do you need for your role?
As a hybrid role the list of skills is long, including communication, diplomacy, business sense, organisation and strong people skills for relationships in the company, in the UK industry and internationally. But crucial for me is a sense of engagement: who are the future authors we haven’t heard from? What other avenues are there for reaching readers? What are we not yet doing that we need to do to serve our readers and our authors?

What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
Read broadly. Research the publishing industry—via articles or Twitter—so you have informed expectations and try to speak to someone in publishing if you can. For any black people, non-black people of colour or people from other minority groups, I’d say publishing doesn’t pay well but it has an important role to play in our culture and society, and without your contribution it will continue to fall short. We need you, keep going.