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 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.

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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 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.

Tyra Banks and Her Mother Team Up On “Perfect is Boring” Self-Help Memoir!

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Supermodel and mogul, Tyra Banks and her mother, Carolyn London will release their self-help memoir, Perfect is Boring: 10 Things My Crazy, Fierce Mama Taught Me About Beauty, Booty, and Being a Boss on April 3. TarcherPerigee (Penguin Random House) will publish the book.

If you’ve ever followed Banks career, you’d know London is no stranger to the America’s Next Top Model creator’s brand (she’s the CEO of the Tyra Banks Company, FYI). Additionally, Banks is no stranger to the book world. In fact, she penned her first self-help memoir back in 1998, Tyra’s Beauty Inside & Out (published by Harper Perennial). And in 2011, Delacorte Books for Young Readers published Banks’ debut YA novel, Modelland. Check out the trailer for the novel below!

Founded in 2015, TarcherPerigee is an imprint that specializes in self-improvement, creativity, spirituality, and parenting. Some of their successes include Start Where You Are by Meera Patel, The Power of Kindness by Piero Ferrucci,  and Goldie Hawn’s 10 Mindful Minutes.

We at So Booking Cool are fond of the mother-daughter duo aspect of Perfect is Boring.  For more info, visit the official websites https://perfectisboring.com/ and http://www.penguin.com/publishers/tarcherperigee

YA Novel “The Sun is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon Gets a Movie, Yara Shahidi to Star!

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The Sun is Also a Star, 2016’s National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller, will become Nicola Yoon’s second novel to hit the big screen. Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi, 18, will portray Natasha, an illegal Jamaican immigrant who falls in love with a Korean immigrant, Daniel. An undeniable but inconvenient romance claims both teens when Natasha gets deported to Jamaica.

Alloy Entertainment, which produces books, films, and television, will collaborate with MGM, and its parent company, Warner Brothers for the project, just as they did with Yoon’s first novel, Everything, Everything.  The Sun is Also a Star is published by the Penguin Random House imprint, Delacorte Press (One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManu).

In addition to acting, Shahidi is also known for being involved with social issues, especially immigration. Yoon, who is also Jamaican-American like Natasha, tweeted about the film announcement:

You guys. I’m so over-the-moon thrilled about this!!! @YaraShahidi is not only a brilliant actress, she’s a tireless activist & advocate. She’s gonna make the perfect Natasha!!”

Yoon is currently writing more books (or hits). You can visit her at http://www.nicolayoon.com/

 

Interview With Tawanna Sullivan, Associate Director of Subsidiary Rights at Penguin Random House!

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Tawanna Sullivan, the Associate Director of Subsidiary Rights at the Berkley, Jove, and Ace imprints (Penguin Random House) talked to So Booking Cool about publishing. A natural book enthusiast, Sullivan took a course in order to prepare for her publishing job. Subrights wasn’t anything what Sullivan expected, however, that didn’t stop her from turning it into a 20-year career.

Subsidiary Rights is defined as negotiating the right to produce or publish a product in different formats based on the original material. Books that become movies and shows stem from this aspect of publishing. Audiobooks, which are becoming increasingly popular, are also an example of subsidiary rights.

Check out the full interview to learn more publishing, including Sullivan’s advice for publishing interns, aspiring book industry professionals, as well as her recollection of when Borders closed, book reviewers, and her own fiction!

Interview With Artist & Illustrator Keturah Ariel!

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Entrepreneur and artist Keturah Ariel chatted with So Booking Cool about her company, the art industry, book publishing–including the upcoming Spring title, I Am Enough (HarperCollins) she illustrated by Empire star Grace Gealey-Byers. Keturah has been drawing and creating artwork for others since she was a child. The Columbus Ohio native worked at an art company before launching her very own, Keturah Ariel Brands.

Her designs range beyond illustrations, such as clothes and mugs. In addition to HarperCollins, Keturah’s clientele includes Essence, Hairfinity, Boys & Girls Club, and Giphy to name a few. And we exclusively learn Penguin Random House will be added to her clientele.

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Check out the interview with Keturah to learn what influences her socially aware artwork, other artists she admires, her advice for entrepreneurs, and more about I Am Enough. Visit the following websites for more information http://www.arielbrands.com/ and http://www.keturahariel.com/