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Today, in Iran. A blogger’s quest for his brother.
Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday.
1887, New York.
Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday.
Planet: Earth. Year: 2010. Dimension: who knows?
Every weekday.
Librarians: the Crusaders for Literature.
Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

April 03, 2012

At the First Second Offices: A Day in the Editorial Life

Following Gina's excellent example, I thought it might be entertaining and instructive to document how this editor spends a typical day. (Hint: buried in paper.)

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What follows is a mostly honest account of Monday, April 2, 2012.

*

8:00 - 8:10 - arrive at office. Heat up leftover oatmeal and write an email to building manager about broken microwave (oops!)

8:10 - 8:20 - take a preliminary look at email to make sure nothing has exploded. Respond to the most urgent-looking messages. Have doubtless missed several dire emergencies; will discover this later. A delightful anticipation of future calamity sets in.

8:20 - 9:00 - finish reading thumbnails of AWAGO BEACH BABIES, Jillian and Mariko Tamaki's new book, which :01 Editorial Director Mark Siegel is editing. I started reading it on the way down to work this morning.

9:00 - 9:05 - talk to Mark about the book (it's amazing!)

9:05 - 9:15 - read through some industry blogs. As always, enjoying the hell out of the Fantagraphics tumblr. We should do something like that. In all of our copious spare time.

9:15 - 10:15 - sift through final changes to Lucy Knisley's utterly splendid RELISH, which is about to go to the printer. This book is my top priority today. Check and double-check several emails, all the old and current passes of the interior, and a running checklist that I'm keeping on this book. Detail-herding. This sort of thing is a big part of my job.

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10:15 - 10:20 - check in with :01 designer extraordinaire Colleen AF Venable about RELISH.

10:20 - 10:40 - meet with our spring semester intern to discuss some recent submissions. One of them looks promising - will have to actually read this one.

10:40 - 10:41 - call home to say good morning to my husband, who was asleep when I left home this morning. He is very understanding about the gross soup pot I left soaking in the sink. Sorry!

10:41 - 10:42 - Facebook!

10:42 - 10:50 - blogs, again. Loving Drawn as always.

10:50 - 11:20 - compile the quarterly report that I send out to my colleagues at First Second and our publisher, Simon Boughton, about current sales for our recently-published books. Winter 2012 has been a strong season so far!

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11:20 - 11:25 - email! Write a few notes about JERUSALEM, our new Nick Bertozzi / Boaz Yakin project. It's crazy-good, this book. It's going to blow your mind in Fall 2012.

11:25 - 11:30 - get an author's on-delivery check ready to mail, and discover we have no UPS envelopes on this floor.

11:30 - 11:35 - quick look at some of the recipes from RELISH, which our managing editor, Jill, has just reviewed.

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11:35 - 11:45 - run down to the mailroom for more UPS envelopes, mail that check. I love it when I get to pay people. It's much nicer to send good news than bad.

11:45 - 11:50 - eat an orange. Nom! Check Facebook while I nom. Everybody seems to be behaving themselves.

11:50 - 12:00 - emaaaaaail. Some back and forth with Chris Duffy, the editor of NURSERY RHYME COMICS, who is working up a follow-up volume for us. Hint: this one has FAIRY TALES.

12:00 - 1:00 - monthly First Second marketing meeting. Discuss: Ebook publishing, the recent Macmillan Sales Conference, our new website design, and distribution in Canada and the UK.

QUESTION: How am I going to heat up my lentil soup (whose dirty pot repines in my sink even now) if our floor's microwave is broken?

1:00 - 1:30 - email!

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Coming to terms at this point in my day that there's no way I'm making it to yoga on my lunch break. Maybe tomorrow…

1:30 - 1:50 - microwave my lentil soup downstairs in the Accounts Payable kitchen. There's a line for their super-slow microwave. It's like a different world down here in AP. Everything has a neat label on it. Everything is tidy. Everything is quiet. Makes our relatively subdued environment on the 7th floor look positively chaotic in comparison. Lentil soup never makes it above "warmish" but I give up and come back upstairs to my office to eat it anyway.

1:50 - 2:00 - eat soup at desk while catching up on email, checking Facebook, and reading an article my husband chatted me a link to about how the Supreme Court is allowing law enforcement to strip search anyone arrested for any crime, no matter what.

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2:00 - 2:01 - seethe with discontent at the discovery (via, yes, industry blogs) that a beautiful book is being published by someone other than First Second. Shake impotent fist at sky, and resolve to be a good sport about it, except in the silences of my own soul.

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2:01 - 2:40 - :01 weekly update meeting with Mark, Gina, and Colleen. Discuss eighty billion things including Gene Luen Yang's new book, Paul Pope's new book, and possible candidates for "To Be Continued" treatment (aka web-serialization ahead of publication)

2:40 - 2:55 - Check in with Colleen about RELISH. This book makes me hungry.

2:55 - 3:00 - quick email to Lucy about RELISH. Still hungry!

3:00 - 3:25 - weekly senior editorial meeting for all of the Macmillan Children's Publishing Group (ie, FSG, RBP, :01, HH, FF, SF). So many acronyms, you guys!

3:25 - 3:45 - personal email and Facebook while I eat an apple.

3:45 - 3:50 - jot off a quick email about TEMPLAR, our follow-up to 2010's SOLOMON'S THIEVES, and then stare at inbox and to-do list and pile of stuff on desk in utter confusion. What to do next?

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[I kid. That pile is something else entirely. But it is scary, isn't it?]

3:50 - 4:15 - avoid answering this question by dint of reading industry blogs instead. Still hungry, even after apple. Eat some raisins.

4:15 - 4:40 - read the submission I discussed earlier with the intern. Totally charmed by it! Not convinced we can find a spot for it on our list, but seriously considering making an offer. Hand it to Mark for a second opinion.

4:40 - 5:10 - process some of the random paperwork that's accumulated on my desk in the last few days, including a straggling invoice for MOON MOTH, and another one for ZITA THE SPACEGIRL.

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5:10 - 5:17 - begin expense report for the month of March. I use an iPhone app to file my expense reports and always worry that it looks like I'm texting my peeps instead of working. I'm working! I SWEAR!

5:17 - 5:20 - Gina calls to discuss the First Second website.

5:20 - 6:30 - back to expense report. Not the single most urgent thing on my desk but I keep incurring late penalties so I'm trying to be better about it. BORING.

6:30 - 6:45 - abandon expense report (again) to begin compiling all the changes to Jane Yolen and Mike Cavallaro's CURSES! FOILED AGAIN that I've discussed with the author and artist.

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6:45 - leave office to grab ramen at some new joint up in Morningside Heights. Ciao!

*

Addendum as I post this on Tuesday: the ramen was delicious. And I still haven't filed that expense report.

April 02, 2012

Flatiron Snacks: Chipotle

Chipotle_logo

We've got the always-excellent Rosa Mexicana a few blocks down the street for sit-down Mexican (and guacamole made right in front of you!), but for the quick chips-and-guacamole fix, it's difficult to beat Chipotle.  The chips even come in a bag that says 'CHIPS'!  For clarity of message, that hard to top. 

And there is also general deliciousness!  Now I want an afternoon snack already. . . .

March 30, 2012

Summer Vacation Limericks

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Once, upon a very small island
Three summer sisters planned
To have some fun
Under the bright sun
The flames of adventure were fanned.

This is a lovely story with absolutely gorgeous art; if you haven't seen it, definitely check it out. 

March 28, 2012

At the First Second Offices: A Day in the Life

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(A set of Cost-of-Living offices, from the University of Washington's Digital Archives)

A Day in the Life of :01 Marketing

So I thought as an exercise, I’d write down all the things I do in a day and share them with the internet.  I occasionally do talks at colleges about what in the world is involved in my drama-filled publishing life –- I did one last week at Pratt –- and people are generally curious and confused about what’s involved with marketing.  It’s not –- as I thought when I initially got this job -– about coercing people into liking things that they otherwise would not; there’s more of an awareness-raising M.O. 

Anyways: so this was the Tuesday that was yesterday.  I’m doing this report in the middle of the week that I’ve allocated to focus on the internet –- and we just started a Twitter account last week -– so this day of things is much more heavily focused online than my days usually are.  But nonetheless still represents a fair sampling!

Gina_Desk

(My actual desk, but last week.  I have since eaten that particular apple.)

9:05: Got to work, late.  WHY is it so much harder to get out of bed when it’s freezing cold out?  Especially when it’s freezing cold out after it was eighty last week?  Not fair!

9:06:  Tea, and apple (granny smith, because those are the best).

9:07: Tweet

9:08: E-mail.  Much of my job is responsive – answering author questions, answering retailer questions, answering questions from our sales team or editorial team, answering librarian questions, answering press questions – and then working with all those people to get them the material they need so that they can do their respective jobs.  So I get to work and find an inbox full of e-mail from all those people which all needs to be dealt with.  Sometimes there are even fan e-mails!  But none today -– sad.

9:23: Write the introduction to this blog post.  I try to have at least three posts per week on the First Second blog (more of that awareness-raising stuff), and I spent part of yesterday trying to figure out what in the world I could write about this week.  Yay inspiration!

9:25: My e-mail tells me (courtesy of Shelf Awareness) that there’s a library that used to be a roller rink!  How cool is that?

9:26: NetGalley check-in.  First Second works with a company called NetGalley that posts advance pdfs of books online for reviewers to request.  Then we look at the requests and approve them (if it’s a bookseller or librarian or media person or someone who seems to have a good reason) or decline them (if it’s someone who’s like, ‘I’m a person, I’d like to read this book possibly I think’).  Someone from Diamond requested one of our titles this morning!  Someone from Diamond I’ve never heard of!  That’s a good morning.

9:28: What’s going on with our GoodReads account?  We keep an account to talk to people about what we’re reading, about our books, and to do give-aways through – we’ve currently got one up for The Moon Moth.  Someone new wants to be our friend!  Yes, please.  Also: people seem to be liking Baby’s in Black –- we just did a giveaway and the people we gave the book to are reading it!  And I see that some of them have complicated feelings about the book related to their feelings about The Beatles. . . .

9:40: More e-mail.  Release dates, release countries, authors being e-mailed by Piers Anthony, donation questions, review links, etc.

9:56: ALA flights!  I’m going to this year’s American Library Association conference (which I'm absolutely thrilled about), and it’s time to get on the phone with our parent company’s travel agent and book my flight.

10:03: It’s internet week here at First Second, one of my least favorite kinds of weeks.  We’re on the cusp of spring (our spring season starts in May), which means our website needs to be updated with all sorts of new spring books and information.  And while we’re at it, I need to put in the list of all the awards our books won last year.  And deal with our new twitter account – probably we should follow some people, right?  Oh, happy updating!  I actually did most of this yesterday (except the twitter stuff) but now I need to check our website to make sure it all transferred over from the staging site to the live site correctly. 

10:07: Drat, I forgot to link a cover and one of my sets of spacing came out wrong.  Time for yet more coding!

10:20: Okay, coding was relatively easy.  Back to e-mail again. 

10:21: But first!  Faith Erin Hicks did a comic about The Hunger Games for tor.com that I want to check out.

10:24: Okay, I really should get on this twitter thing.  Probably we should follow some people?  Like our authors and bookstores we do events with and magazines we read and people we know in person?

11:00: Tor.com meeting.  Tor.com is a Macmillan-owned company, so they’re just upstairs – I go to one of their meetings every week, because they publish excerpts of our books and do reviews of our books and I run the short story program they do with First Second’s parent company, MacKids.  Also, who doesn’t want to sit around and talk about science fiction/fantasy geekery for an hour every Tuesday morning?

11:45: Tweet.

11:45: Meeting e-mail follow-up!  Why does it always exist?  You go to meetings and there is productive discussion after which you have to do stuff to make everything you want happen. 

11:51: Back to figuring out twitter

1:08: E-mail again.  I see that the American Library Association is sending out Artists Alley table confirmations for ALA Annual 2012 already.  We’re confirmed!

1:15: And back again to twitter.  Let me say, I am SO happy that twitter is not like GoodReads, where they only let you be friends with around thirty people in a day.  That first month of having a GoodReads account was nail-biting!  At least it turned out that we know a month's worth of people?  So that was positive.

1:21: Twitter temporarily broken.  I guess this is a sign that I should figure out what’s going on with the Cute Girl Network project in my e-mail -– it’s an early e-mail about a book that’s coming out in 2013!  It looks like there is neat art for me to look at.

1:35: Hey, twitter works again!

1:48: Meeting at 2:00!  I should put together an agenda.

2:00: I report directly to the Director of Publicity at First Second’s parent company, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, because the people at Macmillan thought it’d be useful for me to have someone to talk to who knows about marketing.  This seemed like a sensible thing to me as well, so I have a meeting with Allison Verost (MacKids Director of Publicity) once a week to check in about what things Macmillan needs from me (like BEA schedules) and what things I need help with (this time of the year, book festivals and any exciting spring-related adventures).

Nut_Bar

(My afternoon snack: recipe from Epicurious.)

2:32: Short meeting!  Clear it is time for afternoon snack (and tweeting about aforementioned afternoon snack). 

2:38: Hey, books!  This morning we got in copies of Boaz Yakin and Joe Infurnari’s Marathon, which comes out in June.  It looks good!  The copies I got are the advance copies –- the first ones off the printer, which the printer sends directly to our offices (instead of to our warehouse) so that I can do a mailing to the trade magazines, like Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, etc.  All those publications like to review the books in advance of publication, so we try to get the books out to them as soon as the copies hit the office. 

New_Marathon

(Books! How exciting.)

2:42: Mailing step 1: find and acquire the envelopes (across the building in the envelope storage).  (This process was temporarily hijacked by an editor who wanted me to answer some questions about a series of e-mails about contracts I was privy to.  I think contracts and mailings probably hit equally high on the 'fun office tasks' list.)

2:55: Mailing step 2: make labels.  (Simple and easily explicable.)

3:02: Mailing step 3: make pub slips.  These are half-sheets of paper that go in books that tell reviewers what the title is, who the authors are (things that can be easily discovered from looking at the books), and more complicated information like what the trim size is, what age reader the book is intended for, and when it’ll be in stores. 

3:19: Mailing step 4: the pitch letter, also known as ‘the hard part.’  This is the part where I do my best to convince the people who are getting these letters of exactly how awesome the book is in three paragraphs. 

4:00: Break for root beer freeze-flavored custard at Shake Shack – clearly a necessary part of the day. 

4:30: Back to mailing!  Now it’s time for steps 5678910 – addressing the letters, printing the letters, and mailing the books.  We’re lucky enough to have a mail room in our building, so all I need to do is print address labels and stick them on my packages and someone comes to pick them up.  Some small publishers have to deliver all their mail to the post office -- not fun! 

5:15: I see my e-mail is full of e-mails about the current draft of our website revamp.  Time to compose more e-mail to our long-suffering webdesigner!

5:23: Time to check in with our Editor Calista Brill (always one of the most fun parts of every day!).

5:31: I should probably start putting this post into Typepad and linking everything – that’s clearly going to be a fun task!

6:01: Well, THAT only took half an hour. 

6:02: I know that our Giants Beware! authors are working on an Activity Kit for their book (which I expect to be super-cute) that I've had sitting on my desktop for a few days.  I should review that before I take off for the day. 

6:11: It was super-cute!  Time to write an e-mail to my authors to that effect. 

6:12: Okay, how's my e-mail looking? 

6:33: Perhaps today is over! 

(Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 -- at the First Second Offices)

March 26, 2012

First Second: Now on Twitter

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So! 

We decided to get into this 'social media' game and try out twitter.  We knew that you couldn't possibly be being deluged with blog posts and e-mails from us enough, so clearly the thing to do was to find another way to communicate EVEN MORE with you people who read our books and are interested in our company.

You can find us on twitter at @01FirstSecond -- we'll endeavor to be funny, interesting, and possibly even mention cute things, our books, and baked goods every so often!  And there will even be the occasional photographic glimpse inside our offices, which means you can see all of our thrilling desktop plants (alas, no venus flytraps amongst them)!  And maybe even eventually the Official Water Cooler.

March 23, 2012

Sad Vampire Limericks

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There once was a vampire who was always in love
He and broken hearts went hand-in-glove.
The girls he met
Wouldn't fall in his net
So he waited for a miracle from above.

This book is just super -- Ferdinand is such an adorablely hapless vampire that you just want to say 'aw.'  Also, he likes cats!  Where can you go wrong?

March 20, 2012

Leo Geo

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You guys!

This book is super-fun. 

The internet is being deceptive in displaying this book, because it's actually just over a foot wide.  And then you turn it on its side and our Heroic Scientific Protagonist travels down into the center of the earth, encountering math and miscellaneous monsters and also some of the best skeletons as he goes. 

You may have seen the mini-comic version of this, but now it's a book with an ISBN and a colorful paper-over-board cover and everything!  This is the most fun you'll have with science this month. 

Jon Chad is one of the instructors at CCS; if you don't know him, he is also super-fun.  You can find more about him (and about this book) here.

Flatiron Snacks: Beecher's

Beechers

(image ganked from here)

You know what's a great snack that doesn't immediately pop up on the radar for most people?

Cheese curds.

Admittedly, mostly cheese curds (pictured above -- doesn't that look cool?) aren't hitting peoples' snack-radar because they tend not to be widely available outside of Minnesota, but that doesn't make them any less delicious.  They're like cheese!  But in its knobbly-yet-primal state!

Because New York is New York, it does contain cheese curds despite not being Minnesota.  But they were all the way downtown at Murray's on Bleeker or at the Saxelby Cheesemongers in Essex Market to get them -- not the easiestly acquirable snack. 

But!  Now there is Beecher's Handmade Cheese, which has arrived just down the street and will sell you as many cheese curds as your heart desires.  As a bonus, you can also watch them being made, which is reminiscent of that Sesame Street making-crayons video, except with cheese instead of colored wax.  How neat is that?

Also recommended?  Beecher's mac&cheese.  It is delicious!  And they sell (vegetarian) tomato soup to go along with it, making a variant on the perfect lunch experience. 

March 16, 2012

Give-Away: The Moon Moth

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I love this cover!

We're giving away copies of this fascinating science fiction mystery, The Moon Moth, on GoodReads.  Go check it out! 

This book comes out in May, so this is your first chance to see it!  (Though we have excerpt pages up on our website, of course.)

Unsinkable Limericks

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There once was a boy who was named Walker
He was a do-er, not a talk-er.
So when things went wrong
He fixed them with song
The mer-witch was no longer his stalker. 

(This book only has a passing resemblance to this limerick, though the things I describe in the limerick do happen in the book. Curious!)

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FIRST SECOND is an imprint of Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, which owns some of America's most prestigious publishers, known for great integrity and literary quality. These include Henry Holt, FSG, St Martin's Press, Tor and Picador, all of which have garnered the most coveted prizes in publishing.
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