Full Spiral

office building with window reflection and metallic streamers
Standing in HMH looking across the atrium at more HMH
If you had told me when I was getting a picture book manuscript critiqued at my first SCBWI conference back in 2001 that I would someday be:

  1. on the 6th floor of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  2. as a publisher, surrounded by my peers in the publishing arts
  3. listening to a panel that included a Candlewick Press book designer,

I would have said you needed tranquilizers. Yet last night, there I was in a place I would have killed to be 16 years earlier, just in a completely different role. And what a role I have now: Editor in Chief of Folded Word, exploring the world one voice at a time in little books that breathe. To come full spiral in a skyscraper on a blustery night in Boston after a week-long, tri-state book tour? Someone pinch me!

The panel was amazing, though I have to say I feel blessed that I don’t have to deal with large committees when getting cover and textblock designs approved. I couldn’t believe how many cover iterations some designers had to compose in order to get one that the editor, sales/PR/marketing, and the author could all agree on.

Even more amazing to a type-geek like me was the type-specimen book that Cate Barr (Cengage Learning) brought. Hearing how she used to manually trace letters out of the book to compose an initial cover design reminded me of my days on the high school newspaper, mitering the corners of lined tape with an Xacto knife to make boxes for insets. VERY thankful to be designing books in the age of Adobe’s InDesign!

Big love to Bookbuilders of Boston for binding together all New England presses, regardless of size or budget.

Advertisements

Definite Repeat Read

What Is Reading For?What Is Reading For? by Robert Bringhurst

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My mentor suggested I read this book while on a retreat. He said it would help rejuvenate my creative spirit and help me guide my press into its fifth year printing books and chapbooks. He wasn’t wrong. Bringhurst’s lecture-turned-artifact is a feast for the eyes, hands, and mind. I especially enjoyed his comparison of books to ecosystems and agriculture, having grown up in farming communities and being trained as an ecologist. I read this book quickly. I read it slowly. I read it and took notes. I now plan to read it every New Year between now and the end of my dance with the written word. Because it will take me years to figure out what kinds of words are best to plant, what kinds of words are best to harvest, and how to properly celebrate that harvest by making an object worthy of the name Book.

View all my reviews

The Write Future

plush frog and books in basket
Junior went with me to Career Day

Today I spoke to four classes of 7th graders during their annual Career Day. This was the first time I’ve ever had enough of a career to consider volunteering, so I’m still buzzing–12 hours after the fact. I also didn’t sleep well last night because my brain was trying to figure out what to say, so I’m not super coherent at this point. I can, however, share a bullet-list of notables:

  • number of teachers who heard my presentation = 6
  • number who asked me for leads on open markets = 4
  • number of 7th graders who heard my presentation = 160
  • number who said they are interested in writing as a career = 14
  • most surprising comment = “I love how the whole Paper House cover is black and white except for the Red Riding Hood. It really draws my eye in.”
  • coolest comment = “I love the feel of this Snowing Fireflies book. And I can’t stop looking at it. Did you paint this?”
  • most common question = “If I write a book, can I send it to you to publish?”
  • most uncomfortable question = “How much can I earn if I do what you do?”
  • question that caused the most tap-dancing = “What’s the deal with those movies made from books that don’t follow the books?”
  • fun poetry related question = “Why do some poetry books have teeny-tiny print with lots of space around the edges? Why don’t they just make the font bigger and have less space?”
  • fun fiction related question = “Do you publish stories on the Kindle? I have one and it would be cool to read your stuff on it.”
  • best question overall = “Are there poems and stories that just aren’t good enough to ever be published?”

This last question will no doubt become its own blog post soon. For now, I can tell you that I got high praise from the English Department for my answer. In the mean time, how would you have answered some of these student questions?