The pending departure of Unnamed Press executive editor Olivia Taylor Smith for Simon & Schuster is just the latest development for the edgy Los Angeles independent press. Beginning July 5, Smith will become a senior editor at S&S, where she will work on the fiction team led by v-p and editorial director Tim O’Connell. She plans to remain on Unnamed’s advisory board.

“When Tim O’Connell reached out and told me he was developing the fiction program at Simon & Schuster’s flagship imprint, and asked if I would be interested in joining him there, it felt like an incredible moment that had to be seized,” Smith said. “I have operated in the small press world for a long time, which has allowed me to take risks and champion a really diverse list while Tim has been acquiring titles that subvert expectations and making them commercially successful in a Big Five environment. They have assembled an amazing team, and I probably would not have left Unnamed for any other.”

“Olivia is a fierce champion of her writers and an incredible editor on the page,” said O’Connell, who values her “entrepreneurial spirit” and drive. O’Connell is certain Smith will fit in with the S&S fiction group. “The editorial team that Dana Canedy has assembled at S&S is one of the most diverse I have seen—culturally, geographically,” he said, adding that, as the editorial director of fiction, “I want fiction that is decentralized, diverse in its viewpoints, global in its empathy.” As of now, there is no word as to which authors Smith may bring on board: “She is here to publish the best possible books, by the best writers, and those can come from anywhere,” O’Connell said.

Smith cofounded Unnamed Press in 2014 with Chris Heiser, who continues as Unnamed’s publisher. They became business partners after working together at the Los Angeles Review of Books, where they shared a love of global literature and put together the LARB Quarterly Journal’s first-ever fiction issue. “As we began encountering writers and translators without agents, the idea of forming a publishing house grew,” Heiser said. “From the beginning we gravitated toward underrepresented writers, simply because those were the stories that excited us the most, that felt the most necessary and the most relevant.”

Unnamed now publishes 12 new titles in literary fiction and nonfiction annually, including one work in translation. Art director Jaya Nicely is the other of Unnamed’s three core members, who are joined by a freelance staff and “our wonderful PGW sales marketing team,” Heiser said. He sees the brand as targeting “a younger generation of literary readers with contemporary, not YA, titles.” Recent attention-getters include Chelsea G. Summers’s A Certain Hunger, which Heiser credits with “breaking through to the BookTok market,” and the forthcoming A Calm & Normal Heart (June), a story collection about young Native people by Osage writer Chelsea T. Hicks.

Smith’s departure shakes things up, Heiser admitted, but “it’s not the first time” Unnamed Press has fielded outside interest; “As our brand increased in visibility and influence, opportunities were going to come up.” He and Smith “have had a good amount of time to discuss the transition,” he said, and Unnamed plans “to double down on the literary brand we have built and grow the team that supports our authors.” The company intends to hire in two positions: “an editorial role that will not only find writers, but that will help us stay present in the conversation about what contemporary literature actually means to our culture; and a separate PR role to build on the incredible job Olivia has done to establish visibility for our authors and our books.”

Heiser thinks these shifts can push Unnamed in promising directions: “In the beginning we certainly didn’t want to have that reputation as a regional Los Angeles press, but as we’ve grown, we’ve become interested in anchoring our presence here in L.A.,” he said. “We moved our offices to a new building in Highland Park in Northeast L.A., and we have a lot of plans for that space that we’re excited about.” He’s cultivating mindfulness, too: “I’m a big believer in the notion that what causes suffering is hanging on to the idea that anything is permanent,” he said. “Impermanence is the state of our world.”

Smith, a 2018 Frankfurt Fellow who has dual U.S. and German citizenship, plans to divide her time between New York and Frankfurt upon starting her role at S&S. She will keep listening for the kind of provocative global voices she sought at Unnamed Press. “Our world is so complex, and I want to find authors that can illuminate their own corners of it,” Smith said.

Before she exits for the East Coast, Smith has unfinished business to wrap up with Unnamed. “I could not leave before the publication of Exalted by Anna Dorn this June, one of PW’s ‘Summer Reads’ picks, which also received a PW starred review,” she said. “I’m also currently editing poet Matthew Zapruder’s incredibly moving memoir The Story of a Poem; two really exciting debuts—Tweakerworld by Jason Ryan Yamas and House Woman by Adorah Nworah; and Elle Nash’s shocking next novel, Deliver Me, all of which will be released by Unnamed Press in 2023.”