I’ve always enjoyed my career in the publishing industry. What could be better than working with books and writers? I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to experience publishing from multiple perspectives: as an editor, literary agent, journalist, and author. Here are some highlights from my work experience.
When I decided to launch a career in publishing, I knew immediately that I wanted to be an editor and, at heart, I will always be first and foremost an editor. I started out as an editorial assistant in college publishing, and then moved to trade (general consumer) publishing and became an editor at Ballantine Books, a division of Random House. In both of these jobs I acquired and edited serious non-fiction books. As I moved through the editorial ranks at other publishing houses, my work also encompassed working on illustrated books and “books plus” as a Senior Editor at Running Press and Editorial Director at Peter Pauper Press.
In 1991, I launched my own literary agency, which I named Leap First, to reflect my belief in taking chances. In my eight years as an agent, I worked with academic authors such as Myra & David Sadker, authors of Failing at Fairness: How America’s Schools Cheat Girls, associations such as the American Dietetic Association, and other inspiring authors such as Byllye Avery, founder of the National Black Women’s Health Project and winner of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.I enjoyed helping my clients develop and shape new book ideas.
During my time running Leap First, I also spent a year and a half at Barnes & Noble, serving as the Community Relations Manager for the Park Slope store. I learned a great deal working a bookstore! I helped to open the store, B&N’s first in Brooklyn, and learned that being a bookseller, carrying and shelving books, is hard physical work. I greatly enjoyed helping customers find books and bringing their attention to new books. As the CRM, I had the chance to organize and run some interesting and popular events for the community.
A few years into the new century, I had the chance to add another role to my busy roster and to try out something I had always wanted to do: teaching in a university setting. I was asked to teach a course on “How to Write a Book Proposal” for Drexel University’s graduate program in Publication Management. From there, I went on to launch a very successful book discussion course called “A Sneak Peek at Next Year’s Bestsellers” at Temple University’s continuing education program, and also taught writing and publishing at Temple and at the University of Pennsylvania. The Temple U class eventually grew into Open Book (more on that below!).
After a few years of adjunct teaching, I joined Rosemont College as the Director of Graduate Publishing Programs, where I worked for three years and helped to build the program’s visibility and realign the programming, including a new certificate in e-publishing in conjunction with the New York Times Knowledge Network. As far as my own academic career, I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with an Honors degree in English, and hold a Masters in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University.
From 2012 to early 2014, I was the Editorial Director for the Publishing Business Group at North American Publishing Company in Philadelphia. In this role, I oversaw the publication of two trade industry magazines, Book Business and Publishing Executive, as well as a daily e-newsletter, Publishing Business Today, and wrote articles and features about the book and magazine publishing business.. I also helped to develop workshops, webinars, and events, and created programming for the annual Publishing Business Conference & Expo in New York. I wrote a weekly industry blog called “Literally Speaking.”
I am the author of Elements of the Table: A Simple Guide for Hosts and Guests (Clarkson Potter/Random House). Journalist A.D. Amorosi of Philadelphia’s City Paper calls me “The First Lady of the Fork” and Publishers Weekly magazine calls me “a more forgiving Miss Manners.” Elements of the Table looks at everything on the table—including silver, china, crystal and decorative items—and describes how to properly use it, along with some fun dining history. Did you know, for example, that napkin rings were invented so you could make sure you got the same napkin at each meal, since no one laundered them in between?
Teacher, Writer, Editor, Event Planner, Marketer
As the director of Open Book, all my various roles come together. I create and curate a thriving program of adult education book discussion classes, workshops, and events. I lead classes on fiction, memoir, classics, and more, including the “Literally Speaking” series of Author House Parties. I also create readings and special events, such as the “Philly Writes!” series, as well as Reader Retreats and workshops for a variety of corporate and institutional venues. Open Book is pleased to announce the addition of author and publisher services to our roster of activities, providing editorial and marketing consulting for the publishing industry.