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Krishan Trotman: “If you love something set it free if it comes back to you, it is yours, if it doesn’t it never was.”

My mom used to have a poster in the den with the quote, “If you love something set it free if it comes back to you, it is yours, if it doesn’t it never was.” It took a long time for me to understand the dynamics in that message. For those of us who work […]

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My mom used to have a poster in the den with the quote, “If you love something set it free if it comes back to you, it is yours, if it doesn’t it never was.” It took a long time for me to understand the dynamics in that message. For those of us who work and strive hard, it can be hard to take a loss, it can feel like a defeat but over time I’ve learned what’s meant for me will be mine. And, I wind up with much more than what I thought when I open myself to that way of thinking.


As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Krishan Trotman.

Krishan Trotman is Executive Editor at Hachette Books, who was recently profiled in Essence magazine, and has committed over 15 years to publishing books by and about multicultural voices and social justice.

She has worked in publishing for more than a decade. As an Associate Editor at Atria Books/Simon & Schuster, Krishan developed innovative projects for the 18–35 year old demographic while working on major projects by prominent authors including Prince, Pamela Anderson, Kanye West, Snoop Lion, T.D. Jakes, Neale Donald Walsch, bell hooks, Blair Underwood, and many more. Krishan also served as a key liaison between the art, publicity, marketing, and production departments.

As an independent consultant, she assisted authors, agents, and publishers to develop and line edit proposals, manuscripts, and web content. Krishan’s clients have included publishers Simon & Schuster, Kaplan, Harper Collins, and Kirkus Media. In addition, Krishan worked as an at-large Acquisitions Editor for the small digital romance publisher Ellora’s Cave to scout new authors.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Krishan! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Iwas an English major in college and was in search of a career. I entered into the publishing program at City College because it ensured an internship at a publishing house. I got an internship with Simon and Schuster and after graduation was hired there as an editorial assistant.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

A lot of the books I publish as an executive editor at Hachette Books leans toward social justice. I have been the editor of books from New York Times bestsellers like Maid by Stephanie Land and The Plot to Betray America by Malcolm Nance to Conversations in Black by Ed Gordon, just to name a few. I decided to write a four-book series along with my coauthor Brenda Jones, former communications director to Representative John Lewis. John Lewis is a national treasure for his work alongside Martin Luther King in the Civil Rights movement. Brenda and I would often discuss the role of women in politics and decided to write an inspirational collection of books to uplift female leadership in politics. The women that we cover in the Queens of the Resistance series — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Maxine Waters, Nancy Pelosi, and Elizabeth Warren — are exceptional leaders but are often severely ridiculed by the media and others. And for those of us who appreciate and celebrate them, we also don’t know much about them. We see them fighting for us but we don’t know much about how they came to be the changemakers that they are today. Brenda and I wanted to tell their stories to educate audiences about how they came to be in power and also to create a record of their legacies. We hope that many people will make the Queens of the Resistance series a collection in their personal libraries to inspire themselves and the future generations of women in their families to aim for leadership.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

As a single parent and executive editor at a major publishing company, a very demanding job, many readers of the series have asked me how I managed to find the time to write four books. For one, Toni Morrison’s journey really inspired me and gave me the confidence that I could do it; she wrote books while being an editor and single mom of two boys. That’s why learning more about others in books like Queens of the Resistance is so important, it gives us the strength to know we can do it. I worried about whether I could do it until I saw The Pieces I Am, the documentary on Morrison. She’d sit in her office and write for hours while her boys were in the living room or take notes in the car while driving them to activities. She wrote amazing novels that impacted American literature and our, under those circumstances, I could definitely write four short, fun-to-read biographies. I never had the opportunity to meet Morrison but I know editors who knew her well. It wasn’t easy. I have many mentors who have been with me a long time that has kept pushing me forward. They are usually my friends and the mentorship is natural and with love. Many I have not worked for but have worked within some capacity in publishing.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

The best advice I’ve gotten recently is to understand that “Everything always works out for me!” This advice was given to me because we decided to move forward with publishing the series during COVID. We had raced to publish the books and make a big splash to honor these women at the Democratic National Convention. This is sage advice and important to keep in mind when faced with a challenge. It’s key to success and instrumental in leadership — understanding that things will indeed work out for you. Someone told me to write this down on a piece of paper and I keep it at my desk. So far, we’ve had an innovative and great campaign for the series even under the circumstances, and have gotten support from influential figures. We just did an event with activist Tamika Mallory at Politics and Prose. This message is a reminder that everything is okay. It takes away the worry instantly. Another piece of advice that I’ve held close is something I’ve must’ve read in a book — it could be John Lewis’ book, but I also keep it on my desk, “The heart is the way.” This is how I make a lot of complex decisions. When fighting with myself about which direction I should go with a project or idea, if I’m torn between whether I should move forward, I remember to let my heart lead, and that advice has led me to make the right decision with ease numerous times.

How are you going to shake things up next?

I tend to go with the flow and surround myself with talented, and hardworking people, everyone on my team is a boss, and we move together on to the next big thing. That’s how I find my next projects and how I do good work. We’ll see what’s next!

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

Currently what’s on my desk is a book that I edited by Zerlina Maxwell titled The End of White Politics. She dismantles the past and present problems of the Left and breaks down how to heal the liberal divide. I hadn’t really understood the liberal divide as being so detrimental to our nation’s progress until I attended a panel she was on where Maxwell was booed off the stage by mainly Bernie Sanders supporters because she was a former Hillary Clinton staffer. It was divisive and unbelievable how strong the tension was. Maxwell had to be escorted off stage by security for her safety. I think politics, as we’ve known and done them, have been really messy, and I love writers like Maxwell who are clear in their convictions about what needs to change. She strongly feels that women of color are the candidates we need to be backing and focusing on. I’m with her. I wrote about Elizabeth Warren, who has a long history as an accomplished changemaker that you’ll read about in the series and would have made a wonderful president, but I also honor the need for a Stacey Abrams who will also be wonderful.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My movement would be to create better programs for underprivileged children of color around literature and education. Reading changed my life as a Black girl growing up in New York City. It allowed me to dream beyond the pavement and my circumstances in a single parent and middle-class household, and I want to give that to others but especially Black young people. I’m an editor in the adult division of a publishing house but it was important to me and my publisher of the series, Plume Books, to make The Queens of the Resistance series intergenerational of these big ideas and thoughts about who we start when we are young. As a child, I wanted to be a writer, I forgot about that dream long ago, and now I’m a published author. Our dreams can catch up with us.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My mom used to have a poster in the den with the quote, “If you love something set it free if it comes back to you, it is yours, if it doesn’t it never was.” It took a long time for me to understand the dynamics in that message. For those of us who work and strive hard, it can be hard to take a loss, it can feel like a defeat but over time I’ve learned what’s meant for me will be mine. And, I wind up with much more than what I thought when I open myself to that way of thinking.

How can our readers follow you online?

Please follow me on Instagram @KrishanTrotman. I open up about my world as an author, introduce my amazing authors and their work, and of course champion all the Queens of the Resistance. Also, please purchase the books — they are available online where ever books are sold and in book stores. Every purchase allows more like this series to be published. You can purchase one book for yourself and gift another book to empower a young woman you love to uplift her mind and future success. Thank you!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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