Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cultivating relationships with other book people...

by Brittany Geragotelis

photo credit: Little Brown
One of the perks of writing the book review section of our magazine is that I have access to just about every book that's coming out on the market (from the big publishing houses at least). Now, this can be frustrating sometimes (especially when you're trying so hard to get your own book published and you can't even stomach some of the stuff that comes across your desk), but other times it's like a book nerd's dream.

Yesterday was one of those awesome kind of days. I met up for lunch with uber cool Jessica, a publicist over at Little Brown to hear all about the new books their publishing house has coming out in the spring (yes, we all work that far in advance in the publishing world). It was nice getting out of the office, eating a great gluten-free meal (We always meet at this gf restaurant called Bistango here in NYC; I got a sausage and cheese pizza. YUM!) and talking books—after we catch up, of course.

The cool thing about these meetings is when Jessica pulls out her little book of Little Brown books. Seriously. It's a book listing all of the projects the company has coming up, including cover art, book descriptions and author bios. It's sort of like a lengthier book list we used to get in grade school, where you would mark the ones you wanted to buy....Ah, I used to LOVE those!

photo credit: Poppy
Now, over the last year and a half or so of us meeting up and chatting about books and getting to know each other, Jessica has done this amazing thing: She's taken note of the books I tend to like and she presents those to me when we meet. Sounds like such a simple thing, right? You'd be surprised how many publishing houses don't even think to ask what I like to read. They just send boxes of books. Most of which are passed along to other editors or donated. Jessica, however, knows what I like and sends those along, making sure not to waste my time or hers with books I'll never read, and saving precious paper in the process.

But the most important thing this does is ensure that whenever I'm looking for books to review for the magazine, I'll go to her first because I know that about 80% of the time, I'll like what I'm reading. Now, I've mentioned that I like Jessica...I think she's really intelligent, witty and really sweet...but I want to make it clear, I don't like the books just because she recommends them. I like the books she recommends because she knows what I like.

photo credit: Little Brown
And that's such a great lesson when you're interacting with other readers. Say you've got a friend who's mentioned he likes psychological thrillers, but hates cheesy teen stuff. It doesn't matter how much you loved Twilight, there's probably no way in hell he's going to magically become a Twi-hard. And after suggesting that kind of vampire fluff to him, do you really think he's going to pick up anything else you suggest? Um, more vampire/werewolf love triangles? No, thank you.

So, just keep this in mind. The best way to get a person to read isn't necessarily by forcing just any "good" book on them. Get to know them—their likes and dislikes—and choose appropriately. You might just become their gatekeeper to all the wonderful books out there!