Interview With Romola Hodas, Author of “The Princess of 42nd Street”!

RomolaHodasHeadshotRomola Hodas is a reminder that we should stop putting time and age limits on our aspirations. At 61-years-old, the author is working on a new business and career in public speaking, a journey she describes as “a lot,” but fun. One of her tricks is telling herself she is 21 and will live past her nineties. As you will note from our interview with Hodas, she champions having a positive outlook on life, especially as someone who’s lived a hard one, as revealed in her new memoir, The Princess of 42nd Street: Surviving My Childhood as the Daughter of Times Square’s King of Porn. Hodas’ father Marty, who passed away four years ago, had an integral part in the formation of 42nd Street, Times Square, which pioneered the American sex industry. This time period of the early 70’s is depicted on the HBO series The Deuce.

The Princess of 42nd Street - Surviving My Childh-largeHodas says the experience of watching the debut season of The Deuce was “surreal.” She’s gone on to become friends with Saul Stein, who portrays her father on the show. Writing about her life and what it was like to be the daughter of a man like Marty Hodas (and her mother) was anything but cathartic for her. She had to relive the abuse from her childhood. “I was just living in hell and it was really hard, and I certainly was drinking a little bit more than I had wanted to, knowing I’d get a handle on it, but it was really hard. I don’t really mind people knowing my story; I really wanted to show people that lots of what we go through, we have a choice,” she told So Booking Cool.

There is an appreciation many seem to have for candidness in general. Hodas is also proud that her book captures her voice, in which she credits writer, producer, and publishing consultant, Elizabeth Ridley. As for what’s next? The New Yorker is working on getting a television deal for The Princess of 42nd Street. Listen to the interview to learn more about Hodas, her upbringing, her publishing experience, her thoughts on The Deuce, child abuse, manifestation, her company Creating Harmony MM, problem drinkers vs. alcoholics, her advice for anyone who desires to start a business, and more! For more information, visit her official website.

Interview With Executive Editor of Riverhead Books, Courtney Young!

courtney youngCourtney Young carefully considers our question: whether it is enough for people to write a manuscript if the thought of doing so crosses their mind. Understandably so, the executive editor at Riverhead Books believes it is different for everyone; in other words (no pun intended), like many things in life, it depends.

“I will say writing a book is a lot of work, and you have to be, especially on the nonfiction side, prepared to go really deep on your subject and on working on the book,” she told So Booking Cool. “Be prepared for it to take years to get to the outcome. It’s not easy and the hardest thing is to commit to a book that your heart isn’t in.”

Young can relate to doing something that her heart wasn’t in. Prior to embarking on her 12-year career in book publishing, she pursued engineering. She was expected to follow in the footsteps of her father and brother. However, Young realized her true passion was in English, prompting her to take it on as her new major. She worried about disappointing her family (and to an extent she did), however, leave it up to a book to become the solution. Her father would later gift her The First Time I Got Paid for It: Writers’ Tales from The Hollywood Trenches by Peter Lefcourt (Editor), Laura J. Shapiro (Editor).

“ ’Well, I guess people can make a living if they’re not engineers, and I assume you’ll be okay,’ “she recalled her father saying. The Detroit native also had a stint working at NASA in California as a technical writer, where she edited proposals and journal articles. She was grateful for the opportunity, but, again, this wasn’t her ideal career. Her vision clear, she relocated to New York City and officially began her publishing career at Penguin Random House’s Portfolio Books, a business imprint. She has not looked back since.

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Some of Young’s favorite titles she’s edited include the New York Times bestsellers What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe; Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure by Ryan North; Spineless by Juli Berwald, just to name a few. Young also discussed some of the forthcoming projects that she is excited about, such as Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein (May 2019), who wrote the bestseller, The Sports Gene (she also worked with him previously).

the sports generange bookThe Sports Gene is a really fascinating, wide-ranging book that a lot of people came to, and he found the thing that most people were interested in is this idea of early specialization,” Young said. “The idea that if you want to truly be great at something, especially sports, you have to start early and focus; be kind of like Tiger Woods, and just sort of get ahead of everybody else. And David was turning over all this research that said the opposite, that the people who are actually most successful aside from those few stories like Tiger, are generalists.” In his new book, Epstein presents information on why thinking broadly and having diverse experience and various interest will enable an individual to thrive.

Listen to the full interview to learn more about Young, her insight on what makes a strong editorial team, some of the proudest moments of her career, her insight on book reviews, and the other upcoming projects she looks forward to sharing with the world. Don’t be a stranger, visit Young on her official Twitter.

Interview With Literary Agent, Mollie Glick!

mollie glick photoThe love for writing and business is what Mollie Glick cherishes about being an agent. “You know if you’re gonna be an agent if you love the stories, you love the words, and then you also love the entrepreneurial business-building side,” the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) agent told So Booking Cool. Glick, who has adored books since childhood, started out as a literary scout fresh out of college. While the job served its purpose, she ultimately knew she wanted to work directly with writers. Following her tenure at Crown Publishing (Penguin Random House) as an editor, the Brown University graduate eventually transitioned into agenting.

Subtle Art CoverHer seasoned career has seen the success of Mark Manson‘s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, which is still sitting comfortably in the top two of the New York Times bestsellers list two years later (90 weeks to be exact); former Vice President Joe Biden‘s memoir, Promise Me, Dad; Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood; and Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone by ocean scientist, Julie Berwald.

Senator Kamala Harris and Valerie Jarrett, former government official, and New York Times bestselling author Ali Benjamin (The Thing About Jellyfish) are among the forthcoming projects Glick is excited about. Listen to the full interview to learn more about these upcoming books, as well as Glick’s insights about publishing, especially agenting and editing, whether or not publishers or agents make more money, more about Manson, her favorite way to discuss new projects, and juicy tidbits!

Interview With Markette Sheppard, Author of “What is Light?”!

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Emmy award-winning television journalist and entrepreneur Markette Sheppard was inspired to write her first book, What is Light? after becoming a stay-at-home mother for a year to her then newborn son. The book, in which Sheppard describes as a “love letter” to children, soared to number one on Amazon‘s Children’s Sense & Sensation list. Parents of all backgrounds have expressed appreciation for Sheppard’s children’s book. “I think people are fatigued by seeing one type of version of African American people, and so this is something new, something different, and it’s something you can feel good about,” she told So Booking Cool. “No one’s going to feel bad by the end of this book– whatever part they play in the story that is our human family’s history.”

What is Light? is the board book debut from Denene Millner Books (Agate Publishing) and is illustrated by award-winner, Cathy Ann Johnson. Sheppard has nothing but positive things to say about her first publishing experience. Like many debut authors, the former Essence magazine writer researched what entailed writing a book and getting it published. While she didn’t have the connections, she believed in her work. Today she remains in awe over the fact that something she wrote in her notebook is now available to the world. “I’m just so proud that my words are in print. I feel like there’s a lasting legacy in this book that hopefully people will keep and share with their family members for many, many generations to come, like Goodnight Moon.”

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Listen to the full interview to learn more about Sheppard, her advice for children’s book authors, including the advice she received from a New York Times bestselling author, her childhood exposure to reading, her next book, and more! For more information, visit Sheppard’s official website.

Interview With Daniel José Older, Author of the “Shadowshaper” Series, “Dactyl Hill Squad” and More!

daniel jose older photoDaniel José Older penned his first novel in 2009,a manuscript that would be rejected forty times and eventually put on hold as he gained inspiration for creating other stories. This story is Shadowshaper, the YA bestselling series praised by New York Times (“magnificent”); Kirkus Reviews, “a must”; and Publishers Weekly, “exceptional.” And yes, there will be another installment of the thrilling sci-fi fantasy.

Of course So Booking Cool asked Older to give advice to writers who are experiencing what seems like endless rejection, which also prompted an insightful conversation about the different states of rejection, and which of them are useful. “It can feel very circular because you feel like you’re getting nowhere,” the former paramedic said. “But if your focus is really on the craft and becoming a better writer, then the rejections will get you to that goal.”

Even as an accomplished author, Older’s goal remains to improve and write better books. He believes it is critical as a writer to self-reflect, work on the craft, and trust the gut.  “When we’re talking about your gut, what that really means is you understand the beating heart of your story better than anybody else. You may not be able to put it into words…usually the heart of a story is not an elevator pitch; it’s a little more complicated than that; it’s almost poetic and that’s why it takes the whole book to get to it.”

Listen to the full interview to learn about the upcoming projects he’s excited about, including the highly anticipated Dactyl Hill Squad (Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic), his new Skillshare class, the gadget he uses to create his magic, his favorite sci-fi and fantasy works, Octavia E. Butler, and more! Visit his website for more information.

Review: “Authority Marketing” by Adam Witty and Rusty Shelton

authoritymarketingAUTHORITY MARKETING: HOW TO LEVERAGE 7 PILLARS OF THOUGHT LEADERSHIP TO MAKE COMPETITION IRRELEVANT, Adam Witty and Rusty Shelton. ForbesBooks, $16.95 (160p) ISBN-13: 978-1946633132
Publication date: May 3, 2018

While many modern business-related books stake claim to having the “answers” few actually deliver. An exception to this trend is the recently published Authority Marketing by Adam Witty and Rusty Shelton. The authors assert in this world of social media, branding, and hypercompetition, the paradigm has shifted from product-centered marketing and personality-centered marketing to “authority-centered” marketing; thus, they have developed the formula: Expertise + Celebrity = Authority.

In short, according to the Witty & Shelton: Effective Authority Marketing involves a strategic process of systematically positioning a person as the leader and expert in his or her industry, community, and marketplace to command an outsized influence and edge on competitors.

The authors cite seven pillars of Authority Marketing (and dedicate a chapter to each one): Branding and Omnipresence; Lead Generation; Content Marketing; PR in Media; Speaking; Events; and Referral Marketing. During the course of these chapters, Witty & Shelton provide compelling anecdotes to illustrate concepts so the reader “gets it.” The language is straightforward, not stuffy, and the authors don’t write as if they are being paid by the number of words (or syllables for that matter).

An example used to illustrate the point of personal branding made by the authors is their mentioning of David Meerman Scott who decided to insert his middle name to distinguish himself from the numerous David Scott(s) across the globe. Think noted sports journalist, Stephen Smith—I mean Stephen A. Smith. Witty & Shelton also discuss the importance of “owning” your media presence, keynote speaking, writing a book, and using Twitter—strategically!

Authority Marketing’s strongest attribute (inarguably) is its intent on being written as a “how to” instead of being a jargon-laden, academic treatise overrun by “analytics” and theoretical constructs. The book is a must-read (excuse the cliché but it applies in this case) for college students (regardless of major), entrepreneurs, and people who want to go from being “dreamers” to being “doers.”

Reviewed by Professor Clifford Benton

Interview With Alessandra Balzer, Co-Publisher of Balzer + Bray!

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When Alessandra Balzer was fresh out of Colgate University, where she majored in French Literature and minored in English, she took her first job at HarperCollins as an editorial assistant. Years later she would become co-publisher of her own imprint at the same company. Balzer and Donna Bray, a fellow HarperCollins colleague, were both experienced and eager to become entrepreneurs. In 2008, they launched Balzer + Bray. 

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, The Hate U Give by Angie ThomasThe Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth, Beyond the Pond, authored and illustrated by Joseph Kuefler, I Am Enough by Grace Byers, illustrated by Keturah Ariel and Leah on The OffBeat by Becky Albertalli are among just the few of the New York Times bestselling, critically-acclaimed and award-winning titles that Balzer + Bray have published.  Many of these titles have also become feature films, including The Hate U Give, which is slated to hit the big screens in October. “We like to do books that are risk-taking, when it’s appropriate, and when it offers a new voice and perspective,” Balzer told So Booking Cool.

Balzer is excited for the forthcoming titles at her company, including Kheryn Callender‘s second book and first YA novel, This Is Kind of An Epic Love Story (due in the fall) and writer and screenwriter Ben Philippe‘s Field Guide to the North American Teenager. “Thank goodness we’re finally seeing more different voices represented in children’s books and we have a long way to go still,” Balzer said. “[Field Guide] is an important book because it’s about a black boy having love stories, friendships, and drama, like anyone else. And I feel like we need a lot more of those.”

Balzer, whose publishing career spans 24 years (including a tenure at Disney Hyperion), worked under the tutelage of Katherine Tegen (Katherine Tegen Books, HarperCollins) and Nancy Siscoe (Knopf Books for Young Readers, Penguin Random House). She went on to edit titles that became National Book Award Finalists (Sold by Patricia McCormick, The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich; Clementine by Sara Pennypacker and Marla Frazee)  Caldecott Honors (Mo Willems),and Newbery Medal-winner Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi, to name a few.

Listen to the full interview to learn more about publishing, Balzer’s advice for aspiring book editors, such as the pros and cons of specializing in one genre and being involved in multiple genres, the inspiration behind of I Am Not Enough, her favorite projects, and more! For more information, follow the co-publisher on Twitter.

Interview With Deborah Gregory, Author of The Cheetah Girls!

DeborahGregoryHeadshotAs a child, Deborah Gregory‘s life circumstances required her to utilize her reading and writing skills for the benefit of her illiterate foster mother. It is the reason she says she became a writer and author. “If she had told me ‘make me laugh,’ I’d be a comedian. There’s no question about it. She controlled my every thought and movement,” she told So Booking Cool. This is just one of the compelling realities of The Cheetah Girls creator’s life. She revealed that she discovered the details about her paternal side, which included learning that she has a half-sister who resides in New York like herself. What’s more is she searched for her mother for 20 years.

The Cheetah Girls, a story that follows the lives of a young, ambitious girl group who also happen to be close friends, is close to Gregory’s heart. “I’ve never had a circle of friends, and that’s what these girls were to me,” she said. As a child she fantasized about being in a singing group, though she says she wouldn’t have pursued it because she can’t sing. She may not have boasted a talent in music, but even prior to having a bestselling series, she found success as a runway model, fashion designer, entrepreneur (she owned two boutiques in New York City) and award-winning journalist. Each of these areas of business proved instrumental in the development The Cheetah Girls.

Gregory knew Andrea Davis Pinkney from their days of working at Essence magazine, who would acquire and edit The Cheetah Girls, which would expand into a beloved franchise (three high-rated films, soundtracks, sold-out tours, dolls, etc.) Gregory’s success naturally resulted in her writing another book, Catwalk.

Listen to the complete interview to learn more about Gregory, foster care, therapy, how Destiny’s Child helped influence The Cheetah Girls, the girls who covered the original books, including former girl group, Before Dark, her thoughts on the film adaptation’s Hollywood casting, advice for authors, her upcoming projects and a lot more! For more information visit her website or Twitter .

Interview With Emma Dryden, Founder and Principal of drydenbks!

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When Emma Dryden was among the many publishing professionals who got laid off in 2009, she allowed herself time to regroup and ultimately took matters into her own hands. Just a year later, the praised drydenbks was launched. Dryden utilized her expertise and connections as a longtime publisher at Simon and Schuster and founded her own consultancy service for children’s books, in which she supports authors, illustrators, publishers, and agents. Her clients also include those thinking of joining the consultancy field. In other words, she still gets to live her passion every day, and has now worked in the industry for more than 30 years.

P1050536Emma posing with her book What Does it Mean to be an Entrepreneur? that she co-wrote with by Rana DiOrio, illustrated by Ken Min

“I urge people not to undervalue themselves,” Dryden told So Booking Cool.

The English graduate’s books have been awarded by many including a John Newbery Medal and Honor, Caldecott, three Coretta Scott King awards (author, author honor and illustration), New York Times Best Illustrated Award and Edgar Allan Poe, just to name a few. She credits the authors she’s worked with for these honors. In addition to running her company, Dryden is also an author and speaker, and hopes to expand into the podcast world.

Listen to the full interview to learn more about drydenbks and how you can become a client or start your own consultant business, perseverance, her thoughts on children’s television, the mistakes she made earlier on in her career as an editor, her favorite adult series, and more! For more information visit her website.

Interview With Carrie Thornton, Editorial Director of Dey Street Books!

carriethorntonEven before amassing a 20-year career in book publishing, Carrie Thornton, editorial director at Dey Street Books (HarperCollins) had a fondness for editing. The English Language and Literature graduate was a literary magazine, newspaper, and peer editor at school. “I realized I was probably a better editor than writer,” Thornton says. A part of her job, she tells So Booking Cool, is paying attention to what is going on in the world. “We [editors] have to be real students of culture and what the reading public responds to.”

While Thornton works on a variety of titles, she specializes in high profile nonfiction, many of which have been bestsellers and critically-acclaimed including We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union; Kate Hudson‘s Pretty Happy and Pretty Fun; Amy Poehler‘s Yes Please; A New Model by Ashley Graham;  Every Little Step by Bobby Brown; Meet Me in the Bathroom by Lizzy Goodman and the upcoming (and second) memoir-inspiration by Bobby BonesFail Until You Don’t: Fight Grind Repeat.

“I’m not interested when it comes to people who want to do books just because they’re famous,” Thornton says. “…The person has to have something to say or they have a story that needs to be told, and they have a great way of telling it. I respond to heart and soul, truth, and authenticity.”

Check out the full interview to learn more about editing, such as the different types of editing, how to effectively pitch as a publisher at book auctions, the art of self-generating projects, the importance of paying attention to the marketplace, and so much more!