By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Canedy: ‘No Better Home for My Next Book’Just over two years after we had news (July 6, 2020) of Dana Canedy being appointed as senior vice-president and publisher of Simon & Schuster’s leading trade imprint, S&S CEO Jonathan Karp has announced to his staff that she’s departing from that role. She leaves on July 27, two years to the day after she started work.
Karp will retake the role of publisher at the company’s eponymous imprint, himself, writing, “As many of you know, I’ve remained actively involved in the workings of the Simon & Schuster imprint, collaborating closely with Dana, so I will resume my previous role of publisher for the foreseeable future. Knowing what a great team Dana has built and sustained, I’m looking forward to working more directly and deeply on the many outstanding books we publish.”
The reason Canedy is vacating the role is not one encountered every day among executive personnel changes in the major houses: the company has bought her next book.
As Karp writes today (July 19) in his memo, S&S has acquired the rights for a 2024 release of Canedy’s sequel to her 2009 memoir A Journal for Jordan: A Story of Love and Honor (Penguin Random House/Broadway Books). The original book recounts her life with her war-hero partner Charles Monroe King and the journal he left behind for their infant son before he was killed in combat in Iraq.
The book was adapted by Virgil Williams for the film A Journal for Jordan directed by Denzel Washington and given a Christmas Day release in 2021 with Michael B. Jordan as the late Charles King and Chanté Adams as Canedy. IMDB Pro reports a current gross on the film of US$6.7 million, key companies on the show being BRON Studios and Columbia Pictures, with Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Three NAACP Image Award nominations have been listed for the film, one for Washington’s direction, one for Williams’ screenplay, and one for the work of the young actor Jalon Christian.
In a comment that’s part of today’s memo from Karp, Canedy says, “I had not quite expected the profound impact that our movie would have on me. And after the overwhelming response to it, prompting daily requests for a follow-up to my first book, I concluded that the time is right to write the sequel to A Journal for Jordan.
“Knowing as I do the quality and the pride that Simon & Schuster applies to every book it publishes, I can also think of no better home for my next book.
“It has been so rewarding to work with the talented, dedicated, and truly collegial staff at Simon & Schuster,” she says in her prepared statement. “I’m pleased to continue to be a part of the Simon & Schuster family, collaborating with the team to bring readers books by these important authors.”
Karp: ‘I Fully Support Her Decision’
As Karp goes on to write, “In order to focus on her writing, Dana will be relinquishing her role as publisher of the Simon & Schuster imprint–a difficult decision which reflects Dana’s professionalism and her understandable belief that it would be hard to excel as both an author and a publisher simultaneously.
“Although we’ll miss working day-to-day with Dana, I fully support her decision to devote herself to this project, which I’m sure will ultimately be a great benefit to Simon & Schuster and multitudes of readers.
“Meanwhile, you can be certain that Dana will remain very much a part of the Simon & Schuster family,” he goes on, “so no goodbyes are necessary. In fact, Dana will be available to all of us for consultation on any publishing matters, including to see through the publication of books by Eugene Robinson and Mike Pence’s memoir, which she was instrumental in acquiring, and Erica Armstrong Dunbar, whom Dana has championed since she arrived at Simon & Schuster.”
Canedy’s appointment in 2020 was seen as an encouraging signal by many, a woman of color moving into a high-visibility post at a Big Five house. She’s a founding board member of the Digital Diversity Network and is on the board of Project Morry, a nonprofit youth development organization that supports at-risk students.
Beginning in 2017, she had administered the Pulitzer Prizes based at Columbia University in New York City. She spent 20 years at The New York Times in coverage of business and finance, race and class issues, terrorism, politics, law enforcement and crime. Canedy also worked in senior management at the Times and was a special adviser to the CEO and executive editor in strategic planning, change management, and diversity and inclusion.
Karp’s comments about her today are glowing.
“Over the past two years,” he writes, “Dana Canedy has improved and bolstered the Simon & Schuster imprint in innumerable ways: by attracting incredibly talented authors and editors; by offering us fresh eyes on our practices through her perspective as an award-winning journalist and bestselling author; and by bringing vitality, voice, and humanity to Simon & Schuster, as I knew she would.
“Dana is one of the most accomplished individuals ever to serve as a publisher at Simon & Schuster,” Karp writes, citing the film—on which Canedy was a co-producer—as “one of her greatest personal accomplishments.
“Working on the movie was a profound experience for Dana,” Karp says in his memo, “and it also made a lot of viewers, myself included, eager to see Dana tell the next chapter of her remarkable story.”
More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.