Our special guest writer Ebony LaDelle joins MN Business for three stories this month focused on the published industry. LaDelle works in marketing at Simon & Schuster, specializing in the education & library space, as well as an advocate of literature of color. You can connect with her on Linkedin.
Nelson Mandela. T.D. Jakes. Common. Mikki Taylor. These are just some of the many exceptional and progressive black voices Malaika Adero, vice president and senior editor at Atria Books (an imprint at international publishing house Simon & Schuster), has been fortunate enough to publish. With all the phenomenal projects Adero has worked on over the course of her 25-year career, she considers some of her most fulfilling projects to be reissuing The Black Woman: An Anthology, filled with works from Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, and Nikki Giovanni, and working with Maryse Condé.
Adero is now one of the top editors of color in the publishing industry, but her interest in arts and culture came from her upbringing in Knoxville, TN — her mother was a pianist, and a few of her close relatives were involved in theater and the arts. “I was encouraged to read and books were important in our home,” Adero said. “So I always had this notion I wanted to do something in book publishing.”
And to think, Adero got her start working at Franklin and Axam, a law firm specializing in criminal and entertainment law. The job allowed her to acquire books that launched her career.
Adero enrolled at Clark Atlanta University to study library and information studies. Her first publishing gig, while attending school in Atlanta, was at the Institute of Black World, an organization of scholars and activists dedicated to addressing concerns in the African-American community. There Adero said she learned the simple duties of book publishing, like typesetting and running a printer. “It was at the Institute of Black World I was first able to look over the shoulders of editors and see what they did,” Adero said.
One of those editors, Gillian Royes, became an author under Adero, writing The Goat Woman of Largo Bay in 2011.