It's now just over a month until publication of The Beast Is an Animal, and it's time to start thanking some of the people who work so hard behind the scenes to launch a book (specifically mine) into the world. Often people are surprised to find out how long it can take between a book being finished and being published—usually a year or more. That’s not because it takes that long to print a book; it’s because it takes that long for the publisher and author to spread the word about a book and get people to read it in advance of publication. Then, ideally, by the time the book publishes there are booksellers who are ready to hand sell it to readers.
One person whom I must lavish with praise and thanks is Nikki Terry of Orange Custard, my talented web designer whose wisdom I have come to rely on. I wanted a website that would be clean and pretty and also do about five million things, and somehow Nikki managed to make it work, and she’s still making it work every time something new arises. Life can be hard and stressful, and we all need people who make our lives easier—Nikki is most definitely one of those people for me, and I’m deeply grateful.
At Margaret K. McElderry Books, my editor, Karen Wojtyla, and publisher, Jason Chanda, perform the miraculous juggling act of publishing a full list of books while also making me and my book feel special. They and Anne Zafian, the deputy publisher, as well as marketing director Chrissy Noh, have been doing the advance work of both planning the details of the publication as well as communicating the kind of passion and enthusiasm for the book that make all the difference to the sales force.
Having worked with many publicity departments and publicists over the years, I have some inkling of how hard their jobs are and how much they have to do—and against very difficult odds—to get their authors and their books the attention they deserve. I could not be luckier to be working with publicist Faye Bi and publicity director Katy Hershberger.
I just recently returned home from a pre-publication tour that Faye arranged for me. The pre-publication tour is strictly about meeting booksellers—and there is no more joyous experience than talking to passionate book people. And if those passionate book people also happen to have read and enjoyed your book, well…that’s pretty much heaven for an author right there.
In Boston I was warmly greeted by store manager Beth Przbyla and her colleague Sophia at the Prudential Tower Barnes & Noble. They interviewed me and even took some video and it couldn’t have been a nicer first experience. The S&S National Accounts Manager John Muse was my charming and gracious host for dinner with a group of kind and witty booksellers who made me want to become a local. They were Katherine Ferguson (Harvard Bookstore), Lauren D’Alessio (Wellesley Books), Leo Landry (An Unlikely Story), Amy Brabenec (Brookline Booksmith), Clarissa Hadge (Trident Booksellers), Katie Eelman (Papercuts JP), Christina Anderson (Concord Bookshop), and Chris Abouzeid (Belmont Books).
In San Francisco, I enjoyed meeting Sandy Graves at the El Cerrito Barnes & Noble. S&S Retail Account Manager Kelly Stidham was my friendly and wonderfully gracious host for dinner with a group of bright and lively booksellers who made me feel like a friend, not just an author. They were Olivia Moncial (Mrs. Dalloway’s), Hannah Walcher and Shannon Mathis Grant (Books Inc.), Jane Bramley and Mary Ann Hill (Hicklebee’s), Susan Kunhardt (Book Passage), Patty Norman and Grace Bogart (Copperfield’s), Caitlin Jordan (Kepler’s), and Alison Nolen (Linden Tree).
In Seattle, S&S Retail Account Manager Christine Foye was my sparkling and vivacious host for a dinner that took place the evening of the inauguration. It was good to talk to book people on such a dark day. My inspiring beacons that evening were Christy MacDonald (Secret Garden Bookshop), Rene Kirkpatrick, Anna Eklund, and Mel Barnes (University Bookstore), Justus Joseph and Lauren Banka (Elliott Bay Book Company), Alison Webb (Eagle Harbor Book Company—note: she had to take a boat to come!), Suzanne Droppert (Liberty Bay Books—she also had to take a boat!), Lillian Welch (Island Books), and Rene Holderman and Emily Adams (Third Place Books).
I know there are many people working behind the scenes in the sales force and marketing departments whom I don’t get to see and appreciate. So for all of you who aren’t named here, please know: I know you’re there, and I’m so grateful.