I’m extremely excited about the newest installment of The Red Sofa Chats! Our newest guest is Kate Childs, who works at Random House. I find her love of books and enthusiasm of the publishing industry extremely refreshing. (Especially after one of the busiest Springs I’ve experienced as an agent, and the exhaustion that followed.)
Just seeing Kate’s responses reminds me yet again of why I too love my job – and why it’s always important to keep in touch with my publishing colleagues, as they’ll infect me with a new dose of enthusiasm. 🙂 I believe you’ll enjoy Kate’s responses, as she adds another layer to the “social machine” we call Twitter. Plus, I enjoyed learning about the Young to Publishing Group –where was this awesome organization when I was starting out? Note to readers aspiring to work in publishing: go check out this organization!
Let’s begin. . .
Bio: Kate Childs is the executive assistant to the president and publisher of Random House Publishing Group. Before joining Little Random, she participated in the Random House Associates Program with the Crown Publishing Group. Kate graduated with a B.A. in government and an art minor from Hamilton College. She is the chair of the Association of American Publishers’ Young to Publishing Group (YPG). Originally from New Hampshire, Kate spends her time playing volleyball, painting, poring over design blogs, and co-chairing Hamilton’s young alumni group. Her Twitter: @kate_childs
1. Why did you choose to go into publishing?
As a government major and a political-news-junkie, I actually always thought I would go into politics, but when I heard about Random House’s Associates Program, I was immediately interested and decided to apply. I started a lifestyle magazine at Hamilton College (www.contmag.com). As I began to decide what to do post-college I started searching for jobs that would allow me more of a creative outlet than government work, and publishing fit that bill.
I was incredibly lucky to be accepted into the 2008 Associates Class and placed at Crown Publishing, and as soon as I started, I knew publishing was the right fit for me. In retrospect, it was the clear choice all along– I’ve been an avid reader all my life, loved writing stories as a child, and dreamed of having a job that was interesting and engaging. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to a career than the Associates Program and now my job at Little Random.
2. What is the Young to Publishing Group’s mission?
The AAP started the Young to Publishing Group to give entry-level employees a chance to build a community outside of their own publishing houses and learn about the industry (www.youngtopublishing.com). We host brownbag lunches and happy hours, and connect colleagues through our Buddy Program and mentoring initiatives. There’s definitely a need for a group like this to support employees. There are many reasons why someone new to the industry might leave publishing, but one of them should not be that they didn’t feel like people were invested in their careers and development.
YPG provides a support network that is needed among junior employees, connecting colleagues who can share the trials and tribulations of working up the corporate ladder, war stories about being assistants (and let me assure you, there are plenty but we’ll save that for another Red Sofa Chat!), and successes as they come. I know I will definitely be seeing many YPG members in 5, 10 or 20 years at industry events and I feel very fortunate to be connected to such an amazing group.
3. What are you reading right now (for personal reading)?
I think I am the last woman in America to read EAT PRAY LOVE, but I’m crossing that off my list this week and then digging into the Stieg Larsson trilogy. I just finished the galley for AN OBJECT OF BEAUTY by Steve Martin, and it was incredible. He’s such a wonderful storyteller, and this novel about a young woman working her way up in the New York art world was beautifully told and pitch-perfect. It’s being published by Grand Central in November and has one of the most captivating yet simple covers I have ever seen.
4. How do you utilize Twitter? How do you believe it has changed the way we go about publishing books?
I use Twitter mostly for work, and Facebook for personal communication, and I think it’s really important to delineate how you use each of the social media mediums.
For Twitter, I tweet about books that I’ve read, in-house meetings such as launches that have 1745 Broadway buzzing, and projects that we acquire. I mainly utilize Twitter as a barometer of our audience. It’s amazing to see how booksellers and readers alike on Twitter will respond to Random House books and it’s incredibly fascinating to get this raw and instantaneous feedback via Twitter.
I love that authors can casually connect with readers and booksellers, also freely corresponding with publishing houses. In a sense it has changed the way we’re publishing books because we have easier access to these new connections, but in essence that’s always been there. It’s always been about the story, and the storytellers, and the people who want to hear that story. Twitter just makes it more transparent.
5. If you had a crystal ball, where do you think (or hope) publishing will be in 5 yrs?
In terms of digital, in five years I think (and definitely hope) the Great Ebook Scare will be over and people will more wholeheartedly endorse the idea of providing and reading books in any format. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the subway and had someone ask about my Kindle and how I like it. When I respond that I love it and think it’s great, they usually tell me that they could never use one because they truly love books and eReaders are an afront to the written word.
There’s nothing like starting one’s morning commute by hearing that you’re single-handedly desecrating a national pastime by reading on a handheld device. I too still love books and buy hardcovers, but I also love the convenience of my Kindle and think more and more people will begin to see that eReaders serve as a compliment to printed books, not simply as a replacement.
As a reader, I would love to see bundling. I recently read THE IMPERFECTIONISTS and started it in hardcover, but then ended up downloading it on my Kindle when I was on vacation since I had left the hardcover in New York and was anxious to finish it.
I wish there was a way to provide multiple formats to readers in one package. In terms of day-to-day publishing, in five years it will be commonplace for industry employees to know the basics of social media and I foresee a continued focus on the online platform and concurrent marketability of authors. And if I could ask one more thing from the crystal ball, it would be that in five years the “doom and gloom”/”publishing is dead” articles have ceased or at least are less frequently published. The publishing industry isn’t going anywhere, it’s simply evolving.