Interview With Literary Publicist, Lathea Williams!

LATHEALathea Williams might not have initially chosen book publishing as a career, but the driving force for why she chooses to remain in the industry is due to history. “There was a point in time where as a black person, we weren’t even given the opportunity to read. We were chastised for it. So I’m very much aware of my history and that’s one of the main things that keeps me in this industry,” the publishing professional said to So Booking Cool.

So far, Williams has worked as a literary publicist for over ten years. She attended City College where she earned a degree in public relations and advertising. Her internships included public relations in the fields of investment and music (one of her stints saw her intern at Columbia Records). But it was the publicity internship at Little, Brown that ended up being her favorite.

ATLAS OBSCURABook publicity was another territory and Williams was delighted that her responsibilities consisted of reading, writing (press releases, which she says are like writing book reports), and building media contacts. “Years ago, proud moments for me was when I would get a media hit in a magazine, like Oprah Magazine or a Today Show or Good Morning America hit, but now, I’m proud and happy when I can give back and I can see someone excel and succeed and have as much passion and joy for what they do a little much as I do,” said Williams. “And bestsellers are great!” she added laughingly.

Williams has gotten several bestsellers, including Dylan Thuras’ and Rosemary Mosco’s Atlas Obscura’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid, illustrated by Joy Ang. What was one of the most integral parts of the children’s book’s publicity campaign? The plentiful school visits that Thuras made.

A WOMAN GUIDES TOI WILL TEACH YOU TO BE RICH

Now, Williams has been gearing up for the upcoming releases of A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis: Using Marijuana to Feel Better, Look Better, Sleep Better–and Get High Like a Lady by Nikki Furrer (Workman Publishing, January 2019) and the 10th anniversary of I Will Teach You to Be Rich: No Guilt. No Excuses. No B.S. Just a 6-Week Program That Works by Ramit Sethi (Workman Publishing, May 2019). Check out the interview to learn more about Williams, publicity, her personal story, her advice for aspiring publicists, what she’s currently reading, and more! For more information, visit Williams on LinkedIn.

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 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: “What Truth Sounds Like” by Michael Eric Dyson

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WHAT TRUTH SOUNDS LIKE: RFK, JAMES BALDWIN, AND OUR UNFINISHED CONVERSATION ABOUT RACE IN AMERICA, Michael Eric Dyson. St. Martin’s Press, $24.99 (294p) ISBN-13: 978-1-250-19941-6
Publication date: June 5, 2018

An Acerbic Truth. A Bold Truth. An Encompassing Truth. An Unsettling Truth. A Disruptive Truth. A Troubling Truth. A Terrible (or Terrifying) Truth. A “Truth” Truth (Ruth).

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson’s latest—just happens to be his greatest (book that is). In what is a defining moment in his authorship and critique about all things “race” in America, Dr. Dyson utilizes the full power of his protruding arsenal of words, incalculable intellect, and asymmetrical compulsion for expressing complexity using simplicity as well as simplicity using complexity to tell an unfiltered, uncomfortable, uncompromising truth: An Acerbic Truth. What Truth Sounds Like: RFK, James Baldwin, and our Unfinished Conversation about Race in America is an alarming but astonishing, disturbing yet defining, and exhausting while exhilarating literary spectacle that uses a meeting between then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and James Baldwin et al (in May of 1963) as a backdrop to contextualize the current racial climate in America.

Dyson “slices and dices” and “fishes and dishes” an inconvenient, almost mean-spirited, occasionally cryptic, bushel of truth with a perfect admixture of edge and eloquence. Politicians, Artists, Activists, Intellectuals, Crackers, and Bad “Niggers” (one of the chapter titles) beware. Dyson dares to spare no one; not friend, or foe, or historic figure, or president. If you are in his analytical or conjectural line of fire, be prepared to be assailed with verbal projectiles. This book is not for the faint of heart.

Dyson lays the groundwork by recounting the events that led to this historic meeting and provides a brief bio of the major players involved (i.e., Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, Lena Horne, Dr. Kenneth Clark, Lorraine Hansberry, and the only surviving “witness” amongst the aforementioned, Harry Belafonte). However, the most compelling figure in attendance was probably the least known, Freedom Rider Jerome Smith, who did not mince words. When Kennedy intimated that Blacks shouldn’t listen to the incendiary “lyrics” of the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X because that could spell trouble, Smith said, “You don’t have no idea what trouble is,” and that’s when the meeting went downhill—or uphill (depending on your perspective) from that point.

In the succeeding chapters, Dyson uses his verbal scalpel to dissect and his barrister-esque elocution to build a case for the final chapter, “Even If: Wakanda. Forever,” which is arguably Dyson’s most powerful utterance ever. I would humbly suggest the reader to begin by reading the final chapter first to enhance the experience and to better appreciate Dyson’s indomitable genius.

At nearly 60 years old, one can sense as Dyson transitions from “old head” to “elder” that What Truth Sounds Like, is a precursor for what will be his greatest works, which will undoubtedly happen post-Trump. But for now, What Truth Sounds Like, is a Wake-up call for the Woke which is why this book is minimally 25 years ahead of its time.

Thus far, we have only “witnessed” Dyson’s intelligence; his wisdom has yet to be realized—and it is as imminent as our mortality. And, as imminent as his reconciliation with his teacher-mentor-friend-brother: Dr. Cornel West. And that’s an Acerbic Truth, Ruth.

Reviewed by Professor Clifford Benton

Catch Tayari Jones, Author of Oprah’s Pick “An American Marriage” On Her Ongoing Book Tour!

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Award-winning and now New York Times bestselling author, Tayari Jones, is currently on tour in support of her new novel, An American Marriage. The love story centers on a newlywed couple, Celestial and Roy, whose marriage is ultimately tested when Roy is sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Celestial believes her husband to be innocent, but is it enough to remain devoted to him during his extensive absence? Will she fall for her friend, aka the best man at her wedding? What will happen when Roy returns home after five years and aims to reclaim who he believes to be his soulmate?

An American Marriage is Oprah‘s newest book club pick and has debuted at number 2 on the New York Times Best Sellers list. It is published by Algonquin Books.

Jones is also the author of Silver Sparrow, The Untelling, and Leaving Atlanta. For more information on Jones’ events, check out the following websites:

http://www.tayarijones.com/events/?date1=2018 and

http://www.squarebooks.com/event/tayari-jones-american-marriage

Interview With S&S Digital Marketing Manager & Angela Yee Book Club Partner Tasha Hilton!

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Yesterday we had the pleasure of speaking with Tasha Hilton, the Digital Marketing Manager at Atria Books, about her career in publishing and her role in the Angela Yee Book Club: Kickin’ it From the Stoop. She originally worked as a digital marketer in the entertainment industry before deciding she wanted to expand her horizons, leading her to pursue publishing and join Simon and Schuster in June 2016.

Hilton oversees the social media campaigns for Atria’s list, including the New York Times bestseller, I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons by Kevin Hart. Working on Hart’s book was an ideal partnership, according to Hilton, who says the comedian-turned-established author’s team and the Atria team made for a cohesive collaboration. Hilton also discusses the marketing strategies behind Empire star Taraji P. Henson’s Around the Way Girl memoir.

Our interview also discusses the upcoming Angela Yee book club meeting, which will discuss the New York Times bestseller and Kirkus Review Best Book of 2016,  Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond by Marc Lamont Hill.  The event, in which Hill is scheduled to attend, will take place at its headquarters, the WOODstack Ivy store in Brooklyn, on September 27 at 6PM. For more information, visit http://kickinitfromthestoop.com/.

Check out the full interview to hear why the book club and working at Atria is important to Hilton, her advice for aspiring publishing professionals, her insights on marketing in general, and her upcoming books, including Black Girls Rock! by the awards ceremony and company’s founder Beverly Bond.

Highlights of An Evening With Editor Chris Jackson!

Publishing professionals of various ages gathered at New York City’s Solas Bar Thursday night for an evening with longstanding book editor, Chris Jackson. Latinx in Publishing and POC & Natives in Publishing teamed up and hosted the forum, kicking off each group’s first event of the New Year.

Jackson is known for successfully producing both non-fiction and fiction and working with everyone from Bryan Stevenson and Russell Simmons to Jay Z and more recently, The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah. Noah’s debut memoir, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, released this past late November, topped the New York Times Bestsellers list. This is nothing new for Jackson, who has more than 10 bestsellers to his name.

As for what’s next,  the Random House executive editor has been developing his own imprint for the publishing house, called One World, due this fall. Prominent Washington lawyer Eric Holder and rapper and civil activist Killer Mike are among the list of authors on the upcoming imprint.

When listening to Mr. Jackson, it becomes very clear that he is about letting marginalized voices be represented and has a wealth of wisdom on the book world. Here are eight of the highlights of the discussion Jackson had with Antonio Gonzalez (Senior Marketing Manager, Scholastic) and Steering Committee Member of Latinx in Publishing.

On the importance of diverse voices: “There are publishers all over town, who, after the election, were like ‘what have we done wrong by allowing this to happen, allowing all these other voices to suddenly assert themselves? We somehow have to retrench.’ They didn’t put it in this language, but that’s definitely some of the spirit that I think was going around.”

On the time he was ashamed of working in an imprint: “Ann Coulter was added to the list of titles for a conservative forum of the imprint, and when I would introduce myself to people, I’d say I was ashamed of the imprint I worked in. It got back to her that I was saying this and she called the president of the company and said, “Does he know how his salary gets paid?”

On another thing he is ashamed of: “One of my greatest shames is that I once published almost no women, at a previous imprint I worked at. It haunts me all the time.

On the mistakes he sees young publishing professionals make: “There is an impulse towards conformity. So many editors that I’ve came up with fell into that crumb-snatching competition because they’re all thinking the same way or trying to think the same way. The real power you have is not thinking like everyone else, even though it can be difficult at times, maybe alienating at times, and lonely at times.”

On writers: “Writers are complete narcissists. They want someone who cares about their work like they care about it.”

On advice he has for young book professionals: “It sounds cheesy, but it’s important to know how to give an elevator pitch.” He adds, “I am trying to encourage other editors who are working with me to not spend all of our weekends and evenings editing. When I got into book publishing, I was told ‘you’re gonna have to edit on the weekends.’ That works for a while, but then, let’s say you have a child, and you have a life. You should have a life if you’re going to be a good person or editor. You have to have other things that interest you.”

On the industry:  “The industry, who cares? It’s the writers you really want to spend time with because it’s the art and stories that matter.”

More on the industry and advice: “Be patient and resilient. It is a slow-moving industry, in some ways by necessity. This is a really important lesson about publishing: most books don’t work. But in your mind, as an editor, if a book doesn’t work, you can let it haunt you and start to weaken you. So many books are not going to work and that’s the game, but I’m not going to let it shake my confidence.”

For more information about Latinx in Publishing, check out their website http://www.latinosinpublishing.tumblr.com/ and contact Patrice Caldwell about POC & Natives in Publishing on Twitter at @whimsicallyours. To see a full list of Jackson’s titles, you can visit his tumbr http://www.cjaxone.tumblr.com/