In preparation for her appearance at the Dublin Book Festival’s Trade Day as part of Publishing Ireland’s panel on commissioning, Deirdre Nolan addresses some of the intricacies of her role as a commissioning editor. Stay tuned for more insights leading up to Trade Day!
What trends in publishing have you observed recently?
I commission across a number of areas, from cookery to psychology to tourist titles, as well as
books on current affairs, humour, biography and children’s. There’s a huge variety in the work
and we’re always observing trends and attempting to anticipate our reader’s needs and desires.
The trends are different for each sector. In cookery there’s an emphasis on healthy eating and
living at the moment, and the idea of food being your fuel, which I expect will continue for a
long time as young people seem to be more interested in their health and fitness than previous
generations. We’re also more open about our mental health issues than we would have been in
the past, so that books about anxiety and depression have become more popular. As regards
current affairs, there’s no sign of Trump fatigue as Hillary Clinton is topping the charts. Of
course that could be because there’s such an interest in strong women’s voices and stories at the
How would you describe the “brand” of Gill’s list overall?
We aim to publish to the highest standards, reflecting the Irish market, and our purpose is
inform, entertain, inspire, illuminate, challenge, move, motivate and educate.
What strategies do you use to stay current with the market?
Constant observation! I am always checking all forms of media – broadcast, print, social – and
keeping an eye on who and what is being talked about. I also follow the careers of up and
coming authors and illustrators, while looking to see what trends are emerging, what people are
talking about. I would also go into bookshops and check bestseller lists to see what books are
gaining traction, and see if we could do something similar that would be equally or more