Thursday, April 19, 2007

Art and alienation

Sara Zarr wrote a really great post here about teen alienation and how books can touch those who might otherwise feel alone in the world. I can't help but think how true this is. Books were there for me when I was a nerdy, socially awkward, outcasted child. I felt like I had friends who were always there, as long as I kept flipping the pages. No matter how alone I felt, there was always Harvey from Clive Barker's The Thief of Always, or Ramona Quimby, or the motley citizens of Pier's Anthony's Land of Xanth. Now that I'm a (cough) well-adjusted (cough) adult, I'm proud to be a part of the behind-the-scenes world of books. I can't help but think that, as an editor (or an editorial assistant...whatever), that I can potentially be something of a hero to someone, just like the editors and authors of my favorite books were for me.

Go read the post. It's really good (just like everything Sara writes -- call me a brown-noser all you want, but it's true).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Darren Shan

We interrupt this regularly scheduled workday to inform you that I met Darren Shan today. Darren is the bestselling author of the Cirque du Freak and Demonata series which we publish and I have been a big fan of his since before I started working here. I was lucky enough to be able to have my copy of Bec (Demonata #4) signed, and Cindy Eagan, his editor here, introduced me as a potential stalker (which I hope Darren found hilarious).

I felt so lame. I was shaking and nervous. I get really nervous when I am meeting someone I really admire. And I love Darren's books. It was a great experience though. He had a blood plastic hand which he posed with, and he read from Demonata #5 (Blood Beast) which sounds just as great as the others. I CAN'T WAIT!

If you haven't picked up Darren's books yet, go do it now. They're gorey and full of action, demons/vampires (depending on series), bugs, and death. My kind of books! I highly recommend these titles -- not only as a member of the Little, Brown Books for Young Readers editorial department, but as someone who was a fan long before I started working here. Go get these books!


This is cheating a little bit. I posted this in my LiveJournal a little while ago and thought, damn this would've made a great post for my new blog. I wish I had set it up. So now I'm reposting it, since I haven't had the chance to sit down and really write anything worthwhile in the past few weeks.

It's amazing how music can bring us back to a certain moment or memory. When I hear John Mayer's Clarity, I am once again walking past Macy's to get to my internship at Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group in 2003, my first year in New York City and my first semester in grad school. When I hear anything from Spiceworld by the Spice Girls or the first Backstreet Boys CD, I am back in my bedroom in Connecticut, it's winter of '97/'98, and I am playing Final Fantasy 9. It is the part of the game with the Festival of the Hunt in Lindblum and I can see Freya standing on the streets with her lance held, ready to fight. That was the winter I came out of the myself, my best friends, and my mother.

It's funny what memories music can invoke. Anyone out there have any music-inspired memories they'd like to share?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Binge and Purge

Well today was purge day at work. We're moving from the Time & Life building to Park Ave, right next to Grand Central, and so naturally we all have to decide what stays and what goes. This has been extremely hard, as you can imagine, since a lot of "stuff" builds up over the years. Add onto that the fact that T.S. is a packrat and things get wacky.

I am happy to announce that my desk is...slightly less of a landfill than it has been in the past. I've been able to convince my boss to let me throw out or donate things that have been here since before I started (we're both packrats -- it's so bad), I've filed away papers that have been patiently waiting for me to do so, and soon I will be sending out a whole mess of "stuff" that has been piling up. I've also been a bit behind on my decline letters (sorry agents/authors) and that job will be tackled tomorrow. Yes tomorrow. But I won't be alone if I can help it.

Wish me luck and hopefully soon you'll get another real post instead of these strange glimpses into my neuroses (a la orange bear collections and such).

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Confession Time

Starting the summer after I graduated from high school, I have been buying orange teddy bears and giving them to my best friend. It took me until a few months ago to realize that it was really my collection and not his. So I've reclaimed it. I re-counted and I currently have 28 orange bears. This does not include the orange bear slinky that Steve lost at some point in the past 8 years.

The whole thing started because of an inside joke, and I guess I kept it going because it was so weird and because orange bears are just the right amount of rare. You'd never think you would find many orange teddy bears, but there are more than you think too. But green, purple, red teddy bears -- those are really rare. On St. Patrick's Day you might find one or two green bears but they're usually just brown with green t-shirts or hats. Same thing with red bears on V-Day. But orange bears can be found in almost any crane game if you look hard enough, and they are all over the place on Halloween. For some reason, it intrigues me just the right amount.

Heres the collection:

Notable bears include: Laugh-a-lot Carebear, two ghost-bear Beanie Babies (twins), three Puffkins (one regular, one reg. w/ mask and one little), a pencil topper (with bowtie), a Grateful Dead bear, and a Build-a-Bear with a Red Sox t-shirt that I made Steve create.

I know...I'm a strange puppy. But I admit it and it's kinda funny being strange sometimes. :)

Edited to add: Someday soon I NEED to get my hands on the subway bears for the B/D/F/V line. I have no idea why I STILL have not bought these obvious purchases.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Work has been keeping me busy lately, partially due to my own newly-formed workaholic habits. Things have been winding down a bit lately, as the seasons begin to change, but I have continued to push myself. This can lead to dire consequences, especially when I stay up late reading and end up a zombie the next day.

Today I needed a real pick me up and decided, as I was walking past FYE on the way back from lunch, that what I needed was some music therapy. I get into musical obsessions where I find new music, listen the crap out of it, memorize it and then eventually get sick of it and stop listening to it for a "recovery period" before adding it back into my musical backlist (gotta love using publishing lingo in other situations).

I wasn't sure what I was going to buy, but the minute I walked in I was confronted with a giant poster of Elliott Yamin, the #3 contestant on American Idol 5. I had heard his first single and really enjoyed it, but had forgotten that I wanted to get his CD. Well I promptly bought it and I must's really good. He's got a great, soulful voice. He's pretty amazing for someone who is 90% deaf in one ear. Some of my favorite songs are Movin' On, Wait For You, and Train Wreck.

After work, I gave myself another treat. Buffy: Season 8: Issue 2 came out yesterday, so I stopped by the comic store that is so conveniently located right off the subway in Astoria and promptly bought that as well. These issues have been great so far, but I gotta say, I don't think I can handle this---ya know, with the shortness and the monthly. I want more, and I want it NOW! And Issue 3's cover looks AMAZING! Willowy-hotness all over the place. How am I going to wait an entire month? I've gotta make friends with someone at Dark Horse!

Tomorrow I will be treating myself to a train ticket home to Connecticut. I have mixed feelings about going home right now, since things aren't exactly going well in my hometown, but the holidays are a time for family (including good friends) and so off I go.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

So you want to work in publishing...

The other day I was asked for some tips on how to get a job in the book publishing industry, and since it seemed like a feat comparable to climbing Mount Everest for me and my friends, I thought I'd post some tips.

These are only observations from my own experiences, and everyone's story differs, but here goes:

First I should say that getting your masters in publishing is not always the answer. You have to decide if it is right for you. My experience with graduate school was frustrating, at times infuriating, and I felt like slamming my head against a brick wall. However, that was mostly due to the program and school I was in, and it wasn't all bad. I did leave with a masters degree to slap onto my resume, I had a basic understanding of the publishing industry and every area I could possibly think to go into (editorial, production, marketing, design, finance) and most important, I had a great group of friends who were in the same boat I was. That support group got me through the job search nightmare and it was always nice to have a bunch of booknerds to talk to and go book shopping with when things got tough. Oh yeah, and I also left with a job lined up, thanks to one teacher who actually cared enough to put in a good word for me.

So you're at the point where you're ready to apply for a job in publishing and you want that extra edge, or you're having trouble getting past the online application process? There are some tricks I've learned in the past (almost) four years. First, you may not want to get your masters degree, but there are plenty of certificate programs or summer institutes to attend that don't cost as much and will still give you the basic knowledge and networking opportunities with actual publishing professionals. NYU has one of these summer institutes, among others, and if you're willing to travel, there's even one in Denver, CO. This site has a great list.

Another good piece of advice is to network. Sure, it's harder for those who aren't yet in the publishing industry, but there are ways. Meet assistants and junior staff on MySpace, craigslist, LiveJournal and other online communities if you don't already know someone in the business. Be creative. Find ways to meet people, have them introduce you to people they know and then have those people introduce you to the people they know. Sooner or later, you're bound to meet someone who knows of a job lead, or who will refer you for an assistant position. Just don't be too pushy, clingy or fake. No one wants to refer someone if they think they are being used to get a job. Be genuine and people will want to help you even more. And even if they can't help you, you've made a new friend in the industry. Remember that support system I mentioned earlier.

If you are in the industry and you just haven't broken into the right area (editorial, most likely), then introduce yourself or have your coworkers introduce you to people in those departments within your own company. If you want to be an editor, find the people who work on the books you like to read and offer to read for them and give feedback. Editors love that, especially since the submission piles can get really intense at times, and it will give you more experience to throw onto your resume. And there is another connection (or two if you count their assistant) that you've just made in the right direction. Also think about joining and attending events with the YPG or Overtime. I was introduced to YPG when I first started in the marketing department of my company 2 years ago and was recently asked to join the Planning Committee. It's been a great experience and I've met a lot of great people in all different areas of publishing, from many different companies.

Other than those networking tips, the best thing I can tell you is to work with books as much as you can. Work at a bookstore, volunteer at your local library or literacy center. If you want to be an editor, do freelance work. There's tons of freelance jobs out there, including tons of writers on Craigslist looking for someone to help them edit their work. If you're still in school and have time, think about applying for summer internships in the city or working on your school's literary journal. Do whatever works best for you, but do as much as you can to fill your resume with experience that shows you are serious about working with books. We're an industry of booknerds and we are eager to hire our own.

After that, it's the same as any job hunt. Make sure your resume is in tip-top shape, practice your interview skills and go get 'em. OH! And the most important piece of advice I could give you. Don't despair! It can be a long, hard road to finding the job you want in this industry and you have to remember that these are big media companies you are applying to. This isn't Best Buy or the local insert-company-here you are applying to. It's a huge industry and there are a lot of people applying. The worst thing you can do is give up because you aren't finding something. I was lucky enough to have (apparently) done everything right, but I also had to work my way through a nightmare job. NOW I'm in a position that makes me truly happy, but there were times when I never thought I'd make it. There were so many days when I thought I should just give up and move back to my hometown. But it's been almost a year now and I've enjoyed it so much that the time has just flown by. If I can get here, so can you.

And for those people reading this -- if I missed anything, feel free to add your own two cents.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Brand New Venture

Well, I guess I should go ahead and christen this blog with its first post. For those who are new to my blog, I am a 25-year old editorial assistant working at a dream job in children's book publishing. I've been blogging for 5 years now (god, I can't believe it's been that long now) and I thought it was high time I made the switch from the not-so-private diary format that I'm used to, to a more journalistic, public style of blogging. So here I am, coming out from behing the filters and starting a blog where I have to think before I speak, where I am forced to post intelligently because the whole world is watching. It's an exciting concept and I'm looking forward to it. And of course, I'll always have my old filters to go back to when I need them, but for now I'd like to raise a glass to the start of a brand new blogging adventure. I just need to find myself a glass

...and some champagne