Tuesday – Already Two Days?

Today, due to the reroutings and the sudden changes of rerouting, tons of walking, and exhausting physical activity yesterday, we set out hoping the walking down to  minimum, and we arrived at the former Woolworth’s Building to meet with Harlequin Publishing. at 233 Broadway.

We walked into the lobby and noticed the amazing vaulted ceilings, amazing gold and intricate moldings of the elevator, and whoosh – the 10th floor is enveloped in white! This meeting today would be meeting Harlequin Publishing, also the publishers of Adi Alsaid (ASF Assistant basketball coach) AND overall Harlequin Publishing.  A whole team was on hand to greet us, that included Lauren in nonfiction, T.S. Ferguson, Emer Flounders in Publicity, Reka Rubin in the area of legality and rights, as well as Natasha Wilson the Executive Editor and of course Annie Stone, who led us throughout this whole adventure!

Harlequin provided some delicious bagels and spread for the staff, and it was exciting to see the trailer premiering Aldi Alsaid’s book Let’s Get Lost and knowing he was on campus among us.  Surreal at best, yet each one of us were so proud we were seeing him represented. Overall, we learned about the misconceptions about what an editor DOES do.  We learned that Annie first had worked at Harper Collins Publishing, and emphasized to find and do internships in the business.

The YA (Young Adult) branch of Harlequin actually was fairly new, and again, this brought out that editors do much more than the stereotypical reading and correcting.  So like what?  Relationships are made, connections are developed to protect the “baby” of each author, as well as directing the author into areas that are sellers to potential buyers of a market.  This extends into a company into Toronto, where Harlequin is based, so between New York and Toronto, alot happens in careers behind the scenes we don’t see!

In talking to T. S. Ferguson, an Associate Editor at Harlequin, we found his Masters’ had been in publishing – he started in Marketing.  He emphasized there is much negotiating in order to be the author’s advocate.  This helped bring out the realistic side of this position, opposed to the “sit and read all day or sit and correct writing all day” stereotype many think this job entails.

Emer Flounders helped represent the Publicity Manager side to things, and talked about the commercial/literary fiction representation needed to PR all aspects of writing.  He had attended NYU, and realized as he was told he talked too much to be an editor  🙂   that PR would be his path.  At 22 he had begun to meet author Tim O’Brien, and used the media world to increase awareness about books.  He analogized the publicity world like “asking for 10 dates and hearing back 9 no’s”, and that one yes makes all the effort worth it.

Reka Rubin was amazing when it came down to breaking down the rights regarding publishing – including subsidiary rights – which literally are selling rights to the versions of the author’s books.  The interesting aspects of this was the differing covers books take depending on if Turkish, German, etc as well as audio coming on the scene.  The game of guessing the language based on the cover shows the differing aspects many probably forget to think of.  Ms. Rubin mentioned the success of an audio auction that books had, and also shows the developing changes in the publishing realm.  I liked the fact that she emphasized “No day is the same” and I feel this is a huge plus in this business and as a career. Matching customers with countries’ customs is vital, and the book must reflect customs that are practiced, (a funny goose and book story followed).  Also, the acquisition of another language. as well as the experience in publishing prior to becoming a publisher are vital, the international component s VITAL.

Tasha Wilson, an executive director, emphasized the fact that even achieving a B.S. in Animal Science, wanting to be a trainer, did not push her from being involved in the field she is in now.  She attended Syracuse and studied magazine journalism.  She emphasized doing what you are passionate about is key.  Questions from Luis that showed a direction of Kindles and changing sales was addressed, and mentioned that with online/electronic version the covers of texts take a backseat.  Also, the challenge of thinking YA lit on variant forms is new to the business.  Romance genres were some of the very first to do online versions, and who is closest to the U.S. with electronic books?  The U.K. and Australia, but still the U.S. is the largest member utilizing this medium.

When Sonia asked what rights were we talking about language rights or well, kind of rights, we found out the license dictates the rights a book has regarding publishing.  Language also helps dictate this area of rights.

When Monica asked how the ideas originate,  Harlequin mentioned that usually, writers are only accepted with an agent, Adi was an unusual case having come with a published work already and aligning with Alloy Entertainment with his second book.

When Payton went on to ask what is the timeframe for a book – we discovered 6-9 months before the book entails the advertising, so much planning in involved.  There is MUCH followup as well with the author, and this led us to the area of censorship brought up by Sonia.

The controversial parts – if helping align with the plot – are okay but if nothing to do with the theme/plot, that when these items are brought into question.  Discrimination in texts such as racist language, if it goes with the direction of the plot of the book – is considered – yet, Harlequin does not freely let items in texts that would harm an audience, there are limitations on such things based on who the audience is geared for. The author always gets the final say on the book, ALWAYS.  Daniela asked if this was standard, and for the most part, nothing is really made unaware to the author before publishing.  Example of red flags would be language, racial situations, and we talked about Huckleberry Finn of awhile in this realm.  Then there seemed to be less issues than today now that there is a heightened awareness and sensitivity to social issues.

Even looking at the book, Good Night Moon, seeing the author’s picture with a cigarette raised questions of correctness to audiences, which was something we would not normally think about.

Karin asked how often author’s write to famous series, and it was mentioned that there is a “bubble” of this occurring following a famous series like Lord of the Rings or Hunger Games, and as of late, many YA Dystopian novels. The Giver, John Green, etc are examples of trendsetters with this type of following.

Victoria asked who has the power of decisions and changes, and the topics of public domain and in the case of Pride and Prejudice Zombies came up as an example of how a text can be manipulated due to public domain.

Sonia inquired about what the challenging and stressful aspects of this career were and the element of dealing with artistic personalities, as well as reading good books and bad books – (having to give all equal time), all came into that arena. Much time is spent after hours and that becomes a part of this job.

Luis proceeded to delve into asking What makes it a YA book?  Alot of crossover has occurred and when you are visiting this question, the issue of who the audience is becomes pertinent.  Books such as Oasis, Katie Klein were mentioned along with that different houses/genres represent different personalities in the form books take.

Luis followed up with asking if Harlequin has ever seen authors grow up is they published, and they mentioned J.K.Rowling in seeing that occur, but this seemed to be less of an obvious occurrence.

Izabel pursued the conversation with asking if what are elements that can/can’t be fixed, and the one aspect that everyone seemed to agree upon was the element of voice.  Either the voice fits a specific genre or it does not, but that is how important voice is to YA literature. I think the aspect I was MOST impressed about was the fact that these ASF students came up with lines of inquiry on their own – and delved into the meat of what makes a publishing firm career, and they showed an element of professionalism and interest that brought the reality of Harlequin to all of us.

We walked away MUCH more informed thanks to the students’ inquiry and the amazing time Harlequin gave us to do so today.

As if this was just a precursor, we moved to the Soho Theatre to meet with Soho General Manager, Raphael Martin.  We made it to the Soho Theatre, where he gave us programs for a show called Octoroon.  Mr. Martin emphasized the role of seeing plays, tons of plays, all over the world, to get experience with the business. He mentioned being a “Play Finder” was huge.  He always loved theatre and had just delved into it.

Being a dual citizen of the U.K and U.S. allowed him many chances to taken in countless opportunities. Who you know and building relationships became one of the biggest assets.  He saw the strengths to his position being an artistic Executive Director pulling from administrative marketing experience, manager experience of a theatre, and interning with experiences to do this.  He had started building scenery on sets to be exposed to the word of production.  He referred to what we would see in Les Miserable’s set with Victor Hugo’s paintings used.  (VERY COOL).

Being a member of EPA provided chances to audition, and things he took that he hated, (aside from not hating literature) he said actually provided a wider base of interest in topics that could be relevant when seeking out plays. He moved to New York because his job got him here, and he mentioned the Manhattan Theatre Club which is VERY surreal.  He recommend to see as many plays as possible, send emails, try to formulate relationships to get into this business.

Of all plays produced, his favorite genre was being new plays that have been coming out.  He also addressed that having musicals at the Soho Theatre was difficult since the Soho has neighbors above them, he likes musicals but prefers plays overall. Aspects of a four wall rental with a theatre seem to be around 6000.00 USD a week, which is a deal.  Minimally, this is rented 2 weeks and longer depending on the show.

The comparison of Off Broadway compared to Broadways shows, as asked by Alejandra, came down to these distinctions –

1 – Broadway is for profit as a main interest, and Off Broadway gets new writers and actors into the light.

2- Mass appeal occurs during Broadway shows, and Off Broadway is more for risks being taken on various works.

3- The numbers of seats in a theatre is a distinction between the two. Also, the elements of Economy of Scale are at play with these two, and there are even OFF- OFF Broadway shows that tend to be a little more on the wild and weird side 🙂 Off Broadway uses a variety of media forms to advertise, such as Online, Facebook, Twitter, Flyers, fundraising, gala events, etc.

Reviews appearing in place of ads to help promote Off Broadway as well.  Seating 74 people a night is excellent when good reviews are evident and not so easy when bad reviews ensure, even in New York. As an actor, it is vital to have an agent that can seek out opportunities.

Without acting it would be necessary to get a Master of Arts to be involved actively.  When asked if there was an awards like the Tony’s, there is something called the Obie Award, which is the off Broadway version of a Tony. When asked where he studied, Mr. Martin studied at Oberlin in Ohio.

Mr. Martin was curious on the reactions of New York, and some mentioned it was cleaner than they thought it would be, more spacious, quiet, different than the west coast, cold, and it was mentioned that if most people did not like New York it was thought they WOULD like California, just showing the differences in the two. When asked what skills would be needed in theatre the following were given: see a TON of plays, read plays, and imagine the plays as a production in your head.

Luis brought up a good line of inquiry in asking if there were other “hubs” of areas known for theater and the following were brought up: Minneapolis involving the Guthrie Theatre and being well-funded. Chicago theatre representing a rough/loud approach to theatre in the style, Steppenwolf style.  This was not the theatre cruelty genre, a little less a spectacle. Also, Austin, Texas was amazing with the Zach Scott as an icon. Being able to wander the set currently on the Soho stage, as well as seeing first hand the Off Broad theatre scene was a huge look into what Off Broadway brings to New York, and Mr. Martin was accommodating beyond belief. With these two behind the scenes Q&A opportunities, the careers that jelled with what students were doing currently added to what is possible in New York and beyond the stage!


About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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