Pace Alumni Named in Publishers Weekly Star Watch 2016

imgresPace alumni Hannah Bennett was just recognized by Publisher’s Weekly second annual Star Watch. Star Watch is designed to formally acknowledge young professionals in publishing who have promise as future leaders within the industry. Hannah graduated from Pace in 2012 and is now the current Managing Editor at RosettaBooks.

As per the article: “Poetry aside, there is nothing Zen-like in Bennett’s workaday world. When she joined RosettaBooks in 2012, it published only backlist e-books. Now, with a print frontlist that she and her team built from scratch, it is a bona fide trade nonfiction publisher. “We’ve got an efficient and coaaeaaqaaaaaaaah3aaaajdu3nwzmowuzltuzmtytnge4mc05zjnilti1ztazmtg4zwm0mgmpetitive program that I’m truly proud of,” she says. Upcoming on the list that she has forged is a book by the radio talk show host Delilah and a memoir by Dawit Habte, which she describes as the “harrowing story of a brilliant Eritrean refugee who now works for Bloomberg.” When Bennett is not working with such high-profile experts as the legal eagle Alan Dershowitz and the Silicon Valley guru John Sculley, she gives her time to the Women’s National Book Association, for which she has recently taken on the role of president of the New York City chapter. She is particularly excited about a women-in-comics panel that she is organizing with Pen + Brush. Other un-Zen-like activities include serving on the advisory board of Rosetta and tweaking the draft of a book that she just completed.”

You can read more about Publishers Weekly’s Star Watch, as well as see more from Publishers Weekly, here.

Bennett has also done an Alumni Interview with Professor Jane Kinney-Denning, which can be found here.

Alumni in the Spotlight- May

Hannah Bennett is the Production and Distribution Associate at RosettaBooks, and a recent graduate of the MS in Publishing Program at Pace. Hannah hails from North Carolina, where she attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an undergrad. Since moving to the city, she has worked with as an intern at Tor Books and as the Blog Editor for the NYC Chapter of The Women’s National Book Association, and as the Student Assistant in the Pace publishing office.


Prof. Denning:  Hi Hannah and thank you for agreeing to do this interview.  It has been five months since you graduated from the MS in Publishing program in 2012.  Can you tell us a bit about what you have been doing and how your career has developed since then?

Hannah: Thank you for asking me to do this interview! I’m still relatively new to the industry, but I’ll try to give you my perspective as a recent grad, and I hope it will be helpful! I was extremely fortunate when I graduated, in that I got a job right away at RosettaBooks, a leading digital-only trade publisher. I began working with Rosetta as a Production Intern during my last semester at Pace. I found that position through this very blog, actually. When the semester ended, they offered me a full-time position with the company as a Production and Distribution Associate. The job is challenging and has taught me an incredible amount about digital publishing, which I think is vital in today’s industry.

Prof. Denning:  What does your job as a Production and Distribution Associate at RosettaBooks entail?  How do you interact and work with the other members of this worldwide eBook publisher?

Hannah: I’m basically a project manager for titles as they go through the production process. I coordinate with digitizers, proofreaders, and clients as the books move through each stage of production, keeping up with multiple projects at any one time. Another large part of my job is quality assurance of the ebooks, as each title goes through several rounds of error checking before publication. I’ve gotten pretty good at finding backwards apostrophes, let me tell you. I also assist with distribution to the major retailers, and with other odds and ends—everything from creating print-on-demand PDFs to training freelance proofreaders to offering feedback on cover designs.

As with any small company, there’s a range in the work that I do every day. Since the company is so collaborative, I also get to learn a lot about what the other departments are doing and how they function. Our rights and marketing teams send out regular reports on what they’ve accomplished (always impressive!), and they are always open to our ideas and feedback. That’s one of the things that drew me to working with Rosetta—knowing that I would get to learn about the entire process of ebook publication.

Prof Denning:  What are some of your favorite parts of your job? 

Hannah: By far, my favorite part of my job is the people I work with. I get to work with these brilliant, forward-thinking people who are invested in the expanding possibilities of the ebook industry. Not to mention, they are just excellent people to be around every day—supportive and helpful and fun. And sometimes they bring in snacks. J

I’ve also enjoyed the occasional editorial opportunities that I’ve had at Rosetta. For instance, I recently got to help with the creation of our new compilation of Kurt Vonnegut speeches, called If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?

It’s exciting to be in on something from the ground up, working on the manuscripts and ebooks, watching the marketing and PR plans blossom. I love watching something that I’ve had a hand in become a success (or, in the case of production, just become a clean, finished product).

Also, now that it’s spring, it is certainly a perk to work right next to Central Park!


Prof Denning:  Tell us a bit about Rosetta Books and some of the initiatives they have taken in response to new technological developments. 

Hannah: RosettaBooks’ main business is the digital publication of backlist titles with strong, ongoing sales potential. A lot of older books are still under copyright, but their ebook rights are available because their contracts were drawn up before ebooks existed. For instance, Rosetta has acquired the ebook rights to classics like Brave New World, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Slaughterhouse-Five, as well as bestsellers like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. We also publish some amazing collections, such as our Winston Churchill collection and our Arthur C. Clarke collection. We do publish some new titles, often in collaboration with clients, but the core of our business is in the backlist.

Rosetta is a small and flexible company, and this allows us to take initiatives that are sometimes experimental. For example, our CEO evaluates innovative ways to sell ebooks, as special sales avenues become available that don’t rely on the traditional distribution routes. Our marketing department evaluates new tools for web marketing, experimenting with contests, videos, and different campaign strategies. The company is committed to being on the cutting edge of the industry, which is one of the most exciting things about working there.

Prof. Denning:  How does new technology and social media fit into/impact your professional role?

Hannah: The company’s social media is primarily the domain of the marketing team, and I haven’t had a direct hand in it. As anyone who follows me on Twitter can attest, social media is not my personal forte (I guess it helps if you actually, well, tweet sometimes). But I think it’s clear to everyone in the industry that social media has changed the book marketing game, allowing for more interaction with our customers. Rosetta uses Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, and we’ve seen a lot of positive feedback about our books and beloved authors on these sites. Social media allows us to reach out to our audience at relatively low cost, and to gauge what our readers want most.

As for ebook technology, of course, this impacts me every day. An important aspect of my job is making sure that our books look good across the different e-reading devices, all of which have different screen sizes, capabilities, and limitations. Knowing HTML and CSS has been very valuable, but I still have so much to learn. My coworkers have been a big help in that regard.

Prof Denning:  What have you learned from your experience as a former Editorial Intern at Tor Books and as the Blog Editor for the Women’s National Book Association?   What was the transition from Editorial Intern to Production and Distribution Associate like?  What advice would you give to a young publishing professional looking for their first “real” job?

Hannah: I think the most important thing to say is that the skills I developed in each of these roles have assisted me in later positions. I absolutely loved working at Tor Books (not only because I am a SFF genre girl who had access to all the free fantasy novels I could carry). The position allowed me to get some basic editorial experience and an understanding of the submissions and acquisitions process. As the Blog Editor for the WNBA, I had to stay abreast of current industry news and events, and I also learned a lot about the challenges of creating a successful online presence. Through both of these positions, I got to meet many extraordinary people, helping me to build that network of contacts that is so vital in this small industry. While I’m now in a digital production role, I use the skills I developed in both of these positions in my daily work.

The more time I’ve spent in the industry, the more I’ve understood how the roles are all interconnected.  An editorial assistant might spend time doing work related to sales and marketing, such as editing marketing copy. A marketing assistant might spend time helping with operations or production. It all depends on the company and the employee. What you learn and who you meet can always be useful to you down the road.

That said, it was a difficult decision for me to take a job in digital production. Like many Pace students, my aspirations were all around editorial—fantasy/sci-fi/YA editorial to be precise. I feared that taking a job in production might pigeonhole me. Looking back, I can’t believe I even considered not taking the job, partly because I enjoy my job so much, and partly because the experience has been so valuable.

So my advice, if you can’t already tell, is to be open to a range of jobs in the industry. You never know what is going to be a good fit. I certainly worried, as an editorial person, how I would fit into a digital production department, but it ended up being a good fit. If you take a chance and it’s not the right move, at least you have more experience, a few more contacts, perhaps some new skills, and the ability to keep looking for something better.

Prof. Denning:  Please tell me a bit about how your educational experience at Pace prepared you for your publishing career.

Hannah: Well, for starters, Pace was instrumental in helping me land my current job. It was through the school’s networks that I heard about the internship, and partly through their recommendations (yours, in fact!) that I got the job. But more than that, Pace taught me where I ought to be looking. It taught me the organizations I should be a part of, the publications I should read to stay on top of industry news, the ways to reach out and network with people. It taught me how to be connected and engaged in the publishing industry.

The other benefit of the Pace education is how well-rounded it is. For instance, if I had never taken classes at Pace, I might never have learned very much about print production. But having a cursory understanding of print production has actually been quite helpful to me in my digital publishing role, especially when working on print-on-demand projects or style guides. As I said before, publishing is all interconnected. The broad education definitely helps.

I think I should say, too, that I have Professor Soares and Professor Rosati to thank for some of the most helpful, interesting, and enlightening courses during my time at Pace. So thank you!!

Prof. Denning:  What advice would you give to students who still have to write their graduate thesis papers?  What were the most important points you learned from your own thesis, titled “The Power of Transmedia: How Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishers Can Use Transmedia to Engage Their Fans.”

Hannah: I have a couple pieces of advice. First of all, when you’re choosing a topic, choose something that genuinely interests you. You’re going to be with it for a while. I was fascinated by the idea of transmedia, which made doing my research quite interesting. I especially enjoyed sitting in the computer lab and telling people that yes, in fact, playing on Pottermore was doing research for my thesis (House: Ravenclaw, Wand: Laurel with Unicorn core, 14 ½ inches). I got to study these engaging, interactive, and experimental forms of storytelling, and then I just had to write it all down. So be creative, and make it enjoyable for yourself.

The next piece of advice is easier said than done, I know, but try and get as close to finished as possible by the time the first draft is due. Start early and finish early. That way you avoid the crazy crunch time at the end of the semester, when you already have other exams and holidays to worry about. Plus, you get more useful feedback during your evaluation of the first draft.

And interview people! This was probably the most helpful thing I did in the entire process. Thank you thank you Professor Levitz!

Prof. Denning:  What advice would you give students entering the field to set themselves apart from other applicants?  What specific details should they include on their resumes or in an interview?

Hannah: I have found being a member of professional organizations, such as the Women’s National Book Association and the Young to Publishing Group, to be extremely helpful. You meet people, you gain confidence, and you prove to potential employers your commitment to the industry. If you don’t want to be a member, at least attend publishing events. Go to readings, conferences, panels, and festivals, and volunteer as much as you can. I know you’re busy, but they’re also a lot of fun!

I would say that technical skills are going to be important for anyone entering the industry in any department. Take the courses on ebooks and desktop publishing while you have those resources—it will always look good on a resume.

Obviously, a large part of whether you’re called in for an interview will depend on the experience you have and whether it fits with the position. So take advantage of the broad education you can get as a student, and widen your skill set as much as possible. Learn as much as you can about as much as you can. Especially if you’re undecided about where you want to work, your job search will be easier if you’ve gotten some experience in different departments.

And be patient. You want to seem passionate, not desperate.

Prof. Denning:  Have you always been interested in publishing and media?  Where did that passion come from?

Hannah: I’ve always been interested in books and storytelling. When I was a kid, my parents used to read to my siblings and me in the evenings—books like The Hobbit and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I remember devouring fantasy and sci-fi novels, especially series books. I was that kid that would sit alone at lunch on purpose in order to finish a good book. I read Ender’s Game at a NASCAR race one time. Yeah, I was that kid.

But I appreciate good storytelling in any medium, which is part of what inspired my thesis on transmedia. I’m fascinated by narrative, and I have always known I wanted to be involved in storytelling somehow. I graduated from undergrad with a BA in Dramatic Arts and Communications, and thought I might write—at the time I was interested in screenwriting. I didn’t think I would go into publishing, and I certainly didn’t imagine I would move to NY. But after I became a copyeditor to pay the bills, and had a chance to try my hand at a little editing, I realized I loved that creative process too. Publishing seemed like a natural fit with my interests and the skills I’d acquired.

I still love to write, and I have found that being involved in publishing is a great motivator and inspiration for my own writing. The pursuits feed each other nicely.

Prof Denning:  What do you think the future holds for companies like Rosetta Books and their competitors? What should graduates expect as they enter digital media and the publishing world?

Hannah: I think the future holds a lot of innovation, experimentation, and collaboration. On the technical end, you’ll see new ebook functionality being constantly developed. Companies will have to experiment to see which of these developments their readers respond to. Those students who heard Arthur Levine’s David Pecker Lecture last semester will recall him saying that he finds too many enhancements in an ebook to be distracting from a traditional narrative. Many readers will agree. But narrative structures can change, and if there are opportunities for expanding a story in multiple directions simultaneously, utilizing various media in the process, I think some writers will take advantage of this. Some already have! And there is certainly a place for enhancements in nonfiction.

I also think that collaboration is going to be important. RosettaBooks partners with groups like the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Health Publications, for instance, to publish their resources digitally. And print-on-demand options allow companies like Rosetta to offer print copies of some of their books even without an in-house team dedicated to print publishing. Collaborating with digitizers, clients, agents, marketing teams, and many others allows Rosetta to remain a small and focused company with a large and varied business.

I guess what graduates should expect is change. Be ready to be in a constant state of trying to figure things out.

Prof: Denning:  What do you think are the biggest trends in book and ebook publishing today?  What are the biggest challenges that publishers face?

Hannah: I’m just glad we’re finally done with vampires! I’m joking of course. We’ll never be completely done with vampires…

Since Rosetta doesn’t do much frontlist business, I’m not necessarily in the know about the next big trends in publishing, at least as far as frontlist content goes. But those trends tend to be cyclical anyway. Fantasy gives way to science fiction, gives way to nonfiction, gives way to literary fiction, gives way to fantasy. Give it twenty years, and vampires might even be scary again.

I think the biggest challenge publishers face today is in defining their role. Their relationships with retailers and authors and agents are all being tested and renegotiated right now (sometimes in the courts). And I think that in many ways, the publishing industry as a whole is resistant to change. I want to see publishers embracing these changes instead of hanging on to old practices. Amazon is not going away. Ebooks are not going away. Self-publishing is not going away. How can we work with these facts instead of against them? Publishers have value, but they have to be clear about what they are offering in the digital world that’s going to make authors and retailers want to work with them.

Prof. Denning:  Any other advice you would like to offer up to our students and to those looking to survive and thrive in this industry?

Hannah: When applying for jobs, proofread everything that you do. And then have someone else proofread it. And then proofread it again. You’re entering a business full of former English majors. (Thank you, Diana, for proofreading this interview!)

But look, in the end, the same qualities that are important in any business are important in publishing—integrity, hard work, passion. That’s really the point of all of these interviews and resumes and internships, isn’t it? Employers want proof that you do good work. So take some steps to get noticed. If you do great work as a student, your professors will look out for opportunities for you. Trust me, I know this for a fact—you have an excellent faculty at your disposal. If you do great work as an intern, your bosses will keep you in mind for future jobs. And if no one is noticing your great work, then volunteer, or start a blog, or seek out a mentor. I think it truly comes down to that more than anything. Work hard, be helpful, be pleasant, and opportunities will come along, because people will want to help you out.



Thank you Hannah for your insightful and informative interview!

News from Pace Students and the WNBA

 Pace University Publishing students have been lending their talent and ingenuity to the New York City chapter of the Women’s National Book Association.  The following are three articles that showcase what students have been learning from WNBA Career Panel events, positions they have acquired within the organization and how they have become involved with the United Nations through the WNBA.




WNBA Career Skills Panel Report

By Heather Allen

Heather Allen is in her second semester of the M.S. in Publishing Program at Pace University. She is the Social Media Coordinator for the WNBA-NYC, Social Media/ Marketing Intern for Touchstone

Books at Simon & Schuster, and holds a part-time editorial assistant position at Thieme Medical Publishers.


On Tuesday, a panel of six industry professionals spoke to an intimate group of publishing hopefuls. The panelists were:

  • Melissa Rosati, Co-Leadership Trainer, Pace University MS in Publishing Program
  • Alexis Bressler, Human Resources Specialist, Macmillan Publishers
  • Pauline Hsia, Literary Agent Assistant; WNBA-NYC Member, Young to Publishing Group
  • Justin Krass, Career Counselor, Pace University Career Services Center
  • Amy Saxon, Editorial Assistant at Bedford/St. Martin’s

 The night’s moderator was Andrea Baron ( WNBA-NYC Student/Young Professional Outreach Chair and Adjunct Professor, Pace University MS in Publishing Program).  Click here to read about the WNBA’s Career Panel. 



WNBA Member Monday: Meet Tqwana Brown!

Tqwana Brown, a former high school English teacher, is currently in her second semester of the M.S. in Publishing Program at Pace University. She is currently interning at a literary agency and will be taking over as Blog Intern for the WNBA-NYC Chapter.  The following is an interview about her experiences, conducted by Hannah Bennett, an alumni of the MS in Publishing Program and WNBA member.

Hannah: Congratulations on becoming the new Blog Intern for the WNBA-NYC blog!  How did you come to be involved in the world of publishing and in the WNBA?

Tqwana: Thank you! I’m very excited about this opportunity. I first heard of the organization last semester. I attended a few events, but it wasn’t until the blog editor position became available that I became an official member. Growing up, publishing wasn’t a career that anyone in my family even knew existed.  I entertained the idea briefly right after I completed undergrad (though it was magazines at the time), but nothing came of it. In fact, that’s when I first learned of Pace. After teaching high school for several years, the idea came back to me that this is where I’d rather be.

Hannah: What are some of your goals for the WNBA-NYC blog? What most excites you about this position?

Tqwana: Getting more member participation. Not just interviews, but guest blogs  and event reports. Members should feel like this is their blog, and the best way to do that is to get them contributing more. I want to increase visibility to the organization and grow our numbers. The majority of people currently entering and working in the field are female and our numbers should reflect that. I also want to work closely with Heather (social media coordinator) to help with that.

Click here to learn about Publishing student, Tqwana Brown’s involvement in the WNBA as the new Blog Intern.




News from the UN Youth Representative CornerUNCorner  

By Diana Cavallo and Jenna Vaccaro  

(The Women’s National Book Association is a
Non-Governmental (NGO) member of the
United Nations, supporting the UN in its goals.)


 Provisional Winter/Spring 2013 NGO Briefing and Events Calendar January–June 2013

“There is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable.” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
“As we commemorate International Women’s Day, we must look back on a year of shocking crimes of violence against women and girls and ask ourselves how to usher in a better future.
One young woman was gang-raped to death. Another committed suicide out of a sense of shame that should have attached to the perpetrators. Young teens were shot at close range for daring to seek an education.”
Click here to read the rest of Diana and Jenna’s article.  Please go the UN website to continue reading the Secretary-General’s full message.

News from the French Building

The MS in Publishing Blog would like to take this time to introduce our new feature, News from the French Building!   This section of the blog encourages Alumni, Faculty and Advisory Board members to share news about their publications, new jobs, recent successes, promotions and positions on boards with blog readers.  Anyone interested in submitting to this feature should contact Prof. Jane Denning at or the Publishing Office email account,


We look forward to reading about all of your continued success!  Below are the first installments to this feature from recent program graduates, Hannah Bennett and Lisa Hartman.


Hannah Bennett graduated from the MS in Publishing program in December 2012. She interned with RosettaBooks during her last semester in the program, and began working with them full-time in January as the Production and Distribution Associate.  RosettaBooks is a leading independent ebook publisher, annually selling over 1,000,000 ebooks worldwide. Hannah’s job entails the quality assurance of ebooks, including working with digitizers and proofreaders to ensure the best possible products. RosettaBooks is a small and growing company, and Hannah is excited to be working with a forward-thinking company and expanding her knowledge of the ebook business.



“After spending the majority of my time in NYC while completing the MS in Publishing degree from Pace, I relocated back to my hometown of Columbia, Missouri in December for my final semester of the program. I was offered a position with, a start-up online magazine that highlights each major city and its culture. I was brought in as a Marketing Consultant for Columbia where I’ll be selling our digital marketing services to local business owners as well as help them set up their profiles on Additionally, they decided to keep me involved in the design process of client websites and marketing materials based on my publishing background. Since was only launched two months ago, we will eventually be working together to further develop the editorial mission of the site and potentially begin writing feature articles for the city of Columbia. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and extremely excited to be involved in the creative process for” -Lisa Hartman

Summer 2012 Internship Report!

By Professor Jane Kinney-Denning

This summer, there were 20 students enrolled in PUB 699A, Internship I, and interning all over New York City (with one student in Florida) in prestigious internships in both the book and magazine publishing industries.  It has been a very exciting and rewarding summer for all, and certainly a wonderful way for Pace MS in Publishing students to build their resumes and launch their careers.  Below is a list showing where these students interned and what their titles were.  I have also included links to five of the final Internship Essays (one of the requirements of the course) in case any of you are interested in getting a better sense of what the internship experience was like for some of these students.  All of the essays my students submitted were excellent, but the ones attached represent a broad spectrum of experiences and showcase the varied interests and talents of our students.

I am very proud of all of these students and very grateful to the companies who hired them and provided them with such a wonderful educational opportunity.

Students in our program are required to complete one internship for credit (if they are not online students or already working in the industry or another industry) and to write a thesis paper in PUB 699B, Internship II, the following semester.  It is a wonderful way for them to reflect upon the experience and to develop expertise in a particular area of the industry—a useful thing for them to take with them as they begin interviewing for their first entry level positions.

These courses are offered in the Fall, Spring, and Summer, so if you are a student in the program and interested in doing an internship, please email me at to set up an appointment.  If you are an employer and have internship positions available and would like to interview some of our students, please email me at the above address anytime.

I believe that our internship program, coupled with courses that students take to complete the MS in Publishing degree, really prepare our students for successful publishing careers.  They enter the workplace with excellent skills, practical, real world experiences, outstanding technological skills, and a strong knowledge of current issues facing a dynamic and evolving publishing industry.

It is a pleasure working with our students and I am looking forward to another exciting academic year!


James Abbate
Noelle Webster: Agency Intern – Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency,
Liberty Schauf: Sales Intern – HarperCollins’ Distribution Client Services,
James Abbate: Editorial intern – Kensington Publishing,
Read James’s Internship Essay here.
Rakesh Suresh: Production and Manufacturing Intern –
Hachette Book Group,

Diana Cavallo
Zhen Li: Design Intern – Musee Magazine,
Coleman Bentley: Editorial Intern – Elite Traveler Magazine,
Diana Cavallo: Agency Intern – Nancy Yost Literary Agency,
Read Diana’s Internship Essay here.
Shao-Chun Kung (Abby): Social Management Intern –,

Andrew Villagomez
Mallory Davis: Styling Assistant – Cityist,
Andrew Villagomez: Editorial Intern – Passport Magazine,
Read Andrew’s Internship Essay here.
Julia Cuozzo: Editorial Intern – bizbash media,, and,
Yuhan Liu: Fashion/Editorial Intern – New York Monthly Magazine

Natanya Housman
Elyse Rozelle: Production Editorial Intern – Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House,
Timothy Maxwell: Editorial Intern –,
Natanya Housman: Social Media Intern – Workman Publishing,
Agency Intern – Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency,
Read Natanya’s Internship Essay here.
Nidale Hosri: Pub Marketing Intern – American Express Publishing,

Hannah Bennett
Caroline Perny: Agency Intern – Folio Literary Management,
Hannah Bennett: Editorial Intern – Tor Books,
Read Hannah’s Internship Essay here.
Mary Caya: Operations Intern – Rain Publishing, LLC. (part of Fourth Door Creative Media),
DJ McErlean-Hopson: Research Assistant for Dr. Sarah Blackwood (Pace University) and Professor Janet Neary (Hunter College) on their text, A More Perfect Likeness: African Americans Write Nineteenth-Century Visual Culture

Report from the Trenches: My First BEA

By Hannah Bennett

The after effects of BEA rest squarely in my shoulders and upper arms this morning.  It’s that lovely kind of sore that you get from carrying around three tote bags full of free books for eight hours.  For those of you who have been to BEA before, this lovely soreness is nothing new!  You’ve probably learned already to be picky about the free galleys that you haul around all day.  But since this was my first BEA experience, I ran around like the poor, eager publishing student that I am, fighting the crowd for every free book in sight.  I grabbed young adult fantasy novels, historical fiction, and espionage thrillers without discrimination.  Today, as I massage my sore shoulders, I think of my bookshelf at home with a happy anticipation. It was more than worth it.

Getting to the Javits Center by 7:30 AM was also well worth the early morning subway ride. I got to start the morning off right – with a cup of coffee, a muffin, and Stephen Colbert making erotica jokes.  Stephen Colbert was the Master of Ceremonies at Tuesday’s Author Breakfast, and he wasted no time in publicizing his ‘upcoming #1 bestseller,’ America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t.  He also took great delight in celebrating the success of 50 Shades of Grey and the apparent public acceptance of erotica novels (I’ll let your imagination fill in the rest).  The speakers at the breakfast were the inspiring Junot Diaz (This is How You Lose Her), the charming Barbara Kingsolver (Flight Behavior), and the hilarious Jo Nesbo (Phantom).  Their thoughtful and often hysterical talks were without a doubt the highlight of my BEA day.

Photo Credit: Susannah Greenberg Public Relations

Another highlight was walking through the crowded exhibit hall and, on more than one occasion, running into people I knew in the publishing industry!  Between running into fellow Women’s National Book Association members, members of the Book Industry Guild, professionals I met in my internship, writers I met at events, and other Pace students and faculty, I experienced the very real benefits of networking.  BEA’s panels were excellent, the exhibit hall was overstimulating, and the accidental discovery of free Italian cookies and glasses of champagne was the icing on the cake.  But what meant the most to me yesterday was the feeling, which built throughout the day, that I’m a part of something important – a community of publishers and authors, of men and women, of like-minded readers and professionals.  A book community.

Not bad for my first BEA.  Next time I’ll bring a rolling suitcase.

Faculty in the Spotlight – May 2012

Professor Jane Kinney-Denning, the Director of Internships and Corporate Outreach for the Pace Publishing program, was recently appointed the President of the New York Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association!  Professor Kinney-Denning previously worked as the Young Publishing Professional Outreach Coordinator for the WNBA-NYC, and in this role she reached out to many Pace students and alumni, helping to involve them in the organization and establish beneficial ties between Pace and the WNBA-NYC chapter.  Below is an interview with Professor Kinney-Denning that was conducted for the WNBA-NYC blog.

Member Monday:  Meet Jane Kinney-Denning!
Interview conducted by Hannah Bennett and Erica Misoshnik

Erica and Hannah: Congratulations on your appointment as the new President of the WNBA-NYC chapter! Can you tell us a bit about your involvement with the organization so far and what you are most excited about in taking on this new role?

Jane: Thank you! I am honored to have been asked and was thrilled to accept the Presidency.

The WNBA is a wonderful organization that has enriched my life in so many ways. Since becoming a member and starting to serve on the Board of Directors a few years ago, I have met some truly remarkable people and have attended and participated in a number of outstanding events that the organization has hosted.

One of the first events I attended was a National Reading Group Month panel, a WNBA annual event (in October) which was organized by Roz Reisner and Lori O’Dea, and I was hooked. The authors there were engaging, interesting, and inspiring. It was incredible to listen to authors like Julie Metz, who wrote Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal, and to hear her and the other writers there tell their stories of how their books came to be. This year’s panel was just as fascinating and included the 2012 PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author Julia Otsuka, who wrote the beautiful, poetic novel, The Buddha in the Attic.

It is just so wonderful to have the opportunity to meet and listen to writers who have achieved a certain level of success and who write such amazing books. If you are a writer, or a reader, for that matter, you gain a tremendous sense of community by attending these events, and if you are working in the publishing industry, you have the opportunity to share ideas, network, and be reminded why a career in publishing is so rewarding. One can’t help but to be inspired!

I also had the privilege of interviewing Deirdre Bair, an author (and WNBA member) who has written a number of important biographies, including the National Book Award-winning biography of Samuel Beckett. I was also fortunate to have been asked to co-moderate a panel on “The Making of a Bestseller,” in November 2011, which featured Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, and her outstanding team of publishing professionals from Random House.

So, to answer your question about what I am most excited about, I would have to say, everything! I am especially looking forward to continuing to work with the amazing group of people in the NYC chapter who are so dedicated and work so hard to organize events, write and publish the monthly newsletter, update and edit the blog, handle our social networking and media presence, manage the chapter’s finances, and take care of all of the other tasks that keep the chapter vital and in good standing. In addition, I am looking forward to another year of outstanding events that promote the book, to possible collaborations with other organizations that have similar goals, and to expanding our membership. It is very exciting for me to think about what the next two years hold.

Erica and Hannah: Can you tell us a little about yourself? How did you end up in New York?

Jane: Well, I am a native (and proud) Wisconsinite. I grew up in the northern part of the state (very close to Lake Superior) in a small town called Hayward, WI, which is famous for its very large fiberglass museum in the shape of a giant muskie and a really great old-fashioned candy store. My parents still live in the house on the lake that I grew up in and I travel back every summer with my family. It is a beautiful part of the country and, for me, there is nothing like lakeside living! I went to the University of Wisconsin, Madison for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees and also spent a year studying abroad at the University of Bologna in Italy. My master’s degree in Italian Literature—a very luxurious degree, to say the least—really allowed me to pursue my love of reading, writing, and travel. I was not exactly sure what direction my career would go in with a degree like that but I knew it had to have something to do with books. I moved to Chicago once I graduated and, like many publishing careers, mine was a bit accidental: I met somebody who knew somebody, etc., and before long I was working in sales with Little, Brown and had moved to St. Louis, Missouri. I traveled all over Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, and Tennessee, selling college textbooks. It was a hard job, but I had the opportunity to scout for manuscripts and my success in doing that was what ultimately brought me to New York in 1989. One of the editors I had worked with called me up out of the blue and asked me to interview at Harper & Row (later merged into HarperCollins). I got the job, packed my suitcases, and moved to New York.

I spent the next several years acquiring textbooks for the English curriculum, from basic skills books to rhetorics, readers, and handbooks. It was a challenging job but a lot of fun; I traveled all over the country and met some remarkable people in the process. My next few jobs were still on the acquisitions side of things but I managed to merge my talents with my interests and worked primarily acquiring books for the environmental sciences. I was also doing some writing then, mainly interviews with environmentalists and activists like Leonard Peltier, Bianca Jagger, and Michael Moore, for a magazine called PLAZM that was published in Portland, Oregon. My own writing got sidelined a bit when I had my children but I am still writing and plan to continue doing those kinds of interviews as well as other kinds of writing. I also started teaching as an adjunct professor at Pace when I was an editor at HarperCollins, and 12 years ago I left my publishing job to become Director of Internships and Corporate Outreach for the Master’s in Publishing program at Pace University. I love my job because it is the perfect blend of teaching, learning, mentoring, advising, and the constant study of this dynamic, rapidly changing industry. It is simply fascinating to witness (and teach about) the impact of new technologies like the iPad, the Nook, and the Kindle on the industry. I am the thesis advisor for all of my internship students and reading their thesis papers on current topics in the industry is a revelation; I learn a great deal from my students.

I also manage the blog for the program and started writing a series of alumni interviews and faculty profiles. It has been really interesting to do this and I love having the opportunity to hone my interview skills!

Erica and Hannah: What has been your favorite part of working in publishing?

Jane: Well, as I mentioned in response to the previous question, I have worked in publishing as an editor, writer and most recently as a professor at Pace. What all three professions have in common is the written word, whether it be found in books or magazines. As an editor, I love the process of getting to know authors, understanding their passions and goals for writing their book(s) and working with them to help make their ideas into a published book. The writing process is so interesting and such a unique journey for whoever is embarking upon it. It was always so rewarding to hold the published book in my hands at the end of the process and to share in the author’s sense of accomplishment and joy. As a writer, I love being able to communicate ideas, passion, and information and to tell a good story. I have primarily done interviews and plan to continue in that vein. I love doing interviews with people who are making a difference in the world—I get to know them and get to help them share their stories and experiences. And, there is the personal journey that I go through during the writing process, just like any writer. There is a remarkable sense of accomplishment when one finishes a piece. As a professor, I love working with students and other publishing professionals. Since the industry is constantly changing, I am always learning. I accomplish this in many ways: by reading, interacting with other professors in the program and other industry professionals, and by attending interesting panels, seminars, and conferences. I really can’t imagine working in any other industry. Publishing is such a rich profession and one can go in so many different directions with his or her career. In this time of great change, I see only opportunity in terms of a publishing career.

Erica and Hannah: You have been involved with the WNBA as the Young Publishing Professional Outreach Coordinator. What were some of the highlights of this experience? What was the most rewarding aspect of this position?

Jane: Yes, I took on this responsibility a couple of years ago. It dovetailed nicely with my position at Pace and was a wonderful opportunity for me to involve our students and make them aware of the wonderful things the WNBA does and has to offer. The WNBA also benefited in terms of membership because our students are interested in networking and in being more involved in the industry they have chosen for their careers. These students became aware of the organization at Pace, but many are now working in the industry and in a position to spread the word about the WNBA to their colleagues. I also talked to everyone I could about the organization—be it an alum of the program or someone I met commuting or at other publishing-related events. My successor (to be named shortly) will be working to expand our reach even further—to other publishing programs in the city as well as to young professionals working at the many publishing companies in New York. I believe that this position on the Board of Directors is a critical one to the health of our chapter (or any chapter for that matter). Already some of the young professionals who have joined the organization are making significant contributions.

Erica and Hannah: Do you have any advice for young publishing professionals who are just starting in the business?

Jane: Well, as I mentioned earlier, I think this is a time of great opportunity—for a lot of reasons. The first being how quickly technology is changing and impacting all aspects of the business. What this means is that the industry needs people with good skill sets: computer and social networking skills coupled with good writing and communication skills. You need to be open to change, willing to learn new things, and flexible in the workplace. If a new social media site like Pinterest becomes wildly popular and you are working to promote an author, you need to see if a site like this might be of use to you and then figure out how to maximize its potential for your author. I am also a big believer in education, both formal and informal. Keep yourself current. Take classes if you need to learn new skills, attend seminars, panels, and conferences and join organizations like the WNBA where you will have the opportunity to meet like-minded people. Also check job boards regularly, even if you are not looking at the moment; there are so many new positions out there now that did not exist a few years ago. This will help you keep abreast of what kind of people publishers are looking to hire and give you a sense of where you stand in terms of your own skills. Lastly, enjoy what you do and read a lot of books!

Erica and Hannah: What are some of the initiatives that you hope to launch in your upcoming term?

Jane: At the moment, my main goal is to keep the wonderful momentum that the organization currently has going. Valerie Tomaselli, the current Acting President of the NY Chapter and soon to be National President, is a hard act to follow! She is so dedicated, organized, smart, and focused. She has guided the organization through some rough waters with a sense of calm and clarity that is truly admirable. I am very happy that she is my friend and that I will be able to turn to her for advice when I need it!

This past year was particularly exciting and the events were outstanding. I recently had lunch with a good friend of mine who is involved with another organization and he commented on how interesting and unique our programing is, from author panels, to bookstore crawls, to open mics, to panels on current trends in publishing, to neighborhood lunches. I could not agree more and hope that the coming year will bring more of the same. I am really looking forward to working with all of the talented people in the NY chapter—they have so many great ideas and are so skillful at organizing and promoting our events. I also hope to be able to bring more of my professional and personal contacts into the organization as members, panelists, and moderators, or as committee chairs and board members. In addition, I would like to see our social media presence and publicity efforts continue to grow as the chapter grows. The women doing this now are doing a phenomenal job and I am looking forward to seeing what they do as we continue to move forward.

Erica and Hannah: What are you currently reading?

Jane: Well, in my opinion I never get to read enough! That said, I do have a really, really long commute to New York (two hours each way), so I try to take advantage of it by filling that time with books. I also have three children (10, 12 and 13) who are avid readers and keep me current with what their current favorites are and I love that. My daughter will spend a whole Saturday curled up with a book and I often find my son under his covers with his Nook—he was the first in our family to read The Hunger Games series and was so passionate about it that we all read it. My youngest is an independent reader but we still like reading together at night. I will miss doing that someday!

One of my favorite genres is biography, and right now I am reading Walter Issacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. I bought it as soon as it came out because, as Isaacson puts it, Jobs is viewed by so many as “The ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination,” and because Apple completely changed the landscape of publishing forever. Jobs, like all of us, was an incredibly flawed human being, but I can’t help but admire his candidness and believe that his story is, as Issacson states, “. . .both instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership and values.”

I have also been reading a lot of contemporary fiction lately. One of my favorite books is a novel by the South Korean writer Kyung-Sook Shin, Please Look After Mom. Oh, what can I say about this book? That every woman should read it? That every man should read it? Maybe it moved me so because of where I am in my own life or because the theme of motherhood is universal no matter what the culture is. Or perhaps because it is so relevant to think about how modern society is impacting our familial relationships. It is a tragic story about an elderly woman who gets separated from her husband as they are getting on a subway in Seoul to go and visit their children, and the feelings of the woman’s family as they unsuccessfully search for her. As the author stated in a recent interview, “It’s the mother who goes missing, but that’s a metaphor. It doesn’t have to be the mom who disappears; it could be anything precious to us that has been lost, as we’ve moved from a traditional society to a modern society.” I could not put this book down and cried when I read the last sentence of the last chapter. I have not been so moved by a book in a long time. A beautiful, sad, moving story.

I also just finished a wonderful book about Hurricane Katrina and a small town in Mississippi called Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward. It won the 2011 National Book Award, and reading it, I can see why. It, as many reviewers state, has the aura of a classic about it. The story is so removed from my own life but really transported me to the lives the characters are living. It is a remarkable book that reminds us of how tragic Katrina was and about how prevalent poverty is in our country. In spite of all of that, one of the things you walk away with from this book is the power of family loyalty and the strength of the human spirit.

Recently I found a book of short stories by Margaret Drabble called A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman. I had not read any of her writing before and have to admit I bought it because of the title. I have not been disappointed and am so pleased to have discovered her. She is a magnificent storyteller and I can’t wait to read more of her work. Other books sitting on my desk are Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, which I bought after reading an interview with Susan Larson, the WNBA New Orleans Chapter President and chairperson of the jury that nominates the finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. She spoke so eloquently about the book that I could not resist getting it! I also have The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman, and Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout, waiting for my summer vacation!

Erica and Hannah: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. Let’s do a follow-up interview next year, not only to get your feedback on your first year as Chapter President, but to reassess the advances in technology within the publishing industry.

Report from the Trenches: Spring Publishing Lectures

By Natanya Housman and Hannah Bennett

In recent weeks, the Pace University Publishing Program has presented two lectures for the benefit of publishing students, faculty, and staff.  The first, presented at the end of March, was the David Pecker Distinguished Visiting Professor Lecture, featuring Michael Healy.  The second, presented in April, was the Eliot DeYoung Schein Lecture, featuring Neil De Young.  Both speakers drew on their multifaceted publishing backgrounds to extend their opinions on this time of dramatic change.

Michael Healy presently serves as the Executive Director of the Copyright Clearance Center.  He assists in expanding market presence and refining business models to accommodate Backlist Rights.  Formerly, Mr. Healy served as the Executive Director of the Book Rights Registry.  For the last three years, Mr. Healy has been the David Pecker Distinguished Visiting Professor of Publishing.

Mr. Healy’s speech on March 29th, entitled Global, Mobile, and Personal: the Future of Publishing in Hazardous Times, was a broad discussion of the challenges and opportunities he sees in the future of the publishing industry.  In his analysis of the industry, Mr. Healy posed a series of questions, each of which highlighted a specific challenge for publishing professionals. What is the future value of publishers?  Does DRM help to reduce piracy?  If consumers only care about content and not brands, where does that leave the publishing industry?  These questions prompted audience members to evaluate their own potential roles in the industry, and the value publishers will have going forward.  Despite this inherent uncertainty, Mr. Healy’s final position was that now is a great time to enter the industry, and especially to start one’s own company.  He believes that the world has opened for new players, innovative and creative thinkers, and a new approach to publishing.

Neil De Young is the Director of Digital Media for Hachette Book Group, USA.  His responsibilities at Hachette include digital business development and strategy, eBook development, and website product management.  Mr. De Young reviews and assesses new business opportunities for Hachette, including contract negotiations and profit and loss assessment.  Prior to his position at Hachette, Mr. De Young held various positions at Scholastic, Inc.

Mr. De Young’s speech on April 11, entitled Disintermediation in the Digital Age: What Publishers Will Need to Do to Stay Relevant, discussed the digital transformation of the industry.  He did so through a series of parables.  In one parable, recounting the tale of a complacent pheasant and an opportunistic fox, Mr. De Young stressed the dangers of a lack of competition.  He later discussed the issue of competition in more detail when, speaking for himself and not Hachette, he answered an audience question regarding the agency model and the current litigation with the Department of Justice.  The government’s lawsuit poses questions about how to maintain healthy competition in the emerging ebook market – questions that professionals, like Neil De Young, must answer.  Other questions that must be answered are ebook pricing, DRM management, piracy, and disintermediation, which will require real innovation from Mr. De Young and his colleagues.  Based on his informative and thoughtful lecture, Mr. De Young is certainly up for the challenge.

These lectures, held every year, are unique opportunities for students to gain firsthand insight from brilliant publishing professionals.  They provide information that students cannot learn from the pages of a textbook.  Both inspiring and thought-provoking, these lectures encourage students to think creatively about the future of publishing and their places within the industry.