Interview with Diann Valentine, Author of “Going The Distance For Love”!

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Photo by Robert Ector

Love and relationship expert, television personality, entrepreneur, speaker, publisher, and author, Dianne Valentine recently appeared on So Booking Cool in support of her debut book, Going The Distance For Love: 22 Tips On Handling Your Issues and Finding Love…Wherever It May Be. As someone who informs that she has been in love with love since she was seven-years-old, this is an endeavor close to her heart, no pun intended. The book was composed of her and her friends’ personal experiences, a process Valentine described as a “lethargic” in having to think back on her life. However, she used these real stories to provide the lessons learned, and more importantly, to help women realize they are not alone.

“…Even experts and authors kind of create this picture that they have it all figured out and that they’re perfect; and the reality is I am an expert because I’ve lived it, and I’ve seen it, and I’ve experienced it, and I’ve studied it over the course of my entire career. I didn’t wake up yesterday and say ‘oh, I’m a love expert.’ I’ve been with women in love for over twenty-five years,” said the wedding planner and interior designer. Women have appreciated the knowledge, experience, and candor she demonstrates in Going The Distance for Love.

Listen to our full interview with Valentine to learn more about her insights on love, relationships, and being single (including their respective misconceptions), some of her past dating blues, why she thinks black women should consider dating in Rome, her response to our suggestion of her writing a romance a novel, and more! For more information, visit Valentine’s official website.

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 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 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.

Interview With the Co-Founders of Callaloo Kids!

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Yesterday, we had the pleasure of speaking with the co-founders of Callaloo Kids, a children’s media company based in Washington, DC. In our interview, Marjaun Canady, and Nabeeh Bilal, who have known each other since high school, discuss the journey of creating Callaloo Kids, the importance of networking and building a team, as well as their perseverance and plans to keep evolving children’s media. To learn more about Callaloo Kids, visit the official website http://www.callalookids.com

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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/