Thursday, July 17, 2014

A classic battle of good vs. evil. Who will prevail? Prospero the wizard and Robert Bacon have their hands full in this genre-bending fantasy classic. Take a fantasy vacation with The Face in the Frost, and experience the magic for yourself.






Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Word from Jane Friedman on Sophie’s Choice

More than five years ago, the idea for Open Road was born when I couldn’t find a physical copy of William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice to buy for my son while visiting him in law school. Today, 35 years after it was first published, this iconic title landed at #1 on Amazon AND Barnes & Noble as an Open Road ebook.  

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Back to the future, 

Jane






Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Inside Publishing: Interview with Chai Dingari, Post-Production Manager

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Producing and editing video are specific skills. How did you learn to do what you do?

I went to NYU for film school. Toward the end of your time there, you focus on what you want to do. You start out taking the same classes as everyone else during freshman and sophomore years: sound, visuals, and 16mm film. From then on, it gets specific: TV, documentary, cinematography. I focused on video editing and screenwriting. I took a lot of video editing classes in my sophomore and junior years. I learned a lot of the software, like FinalCut 7, and got the hang of that. I interned at Open Road during my junior year and learned a lot because it was very intensive work. In conjunction with my classes and the internship, it takes practice. You can’t learn everything from just watching tutorials and reading books about editing.

Did you like your film program?

Yes, I liked it a lot. I got to go abroad for my last year in London to [study] screenwriting with the Writers’ Guild. Overall, it was great. I was one of the last generations of that program to use the 16mm-film cameras–they got rid of them. They sold the film flatbed editing machines and film cameras the year after I left, and replaced them with all digital cameras. That class had the same exact curriculum from the ’60s from when Martin Scorsese took the same class.

In your opinion, what makes a good video?

It depends entirely on who the audience is. We make short documentary-style [videos] for our authors. The important thing is not to make them overtly commercial. They’re a way to connect with the audience, and each author has a different audience. Our literary readers are more likely to spend a few minutes getting to know an author’s writing process and hear any personal stories they might tell, whereas the romance and mystery pieces might require more of a story told through genre-specific B-roll. I think any good video has to make a personal connection.

Do you have a favorite video that you’ve worked on?

I loved working on the Canal House shoot in the Fall of 2013. It’s a beautiful place to film, and the food, which they thankfully let us taste when we were done with it, was delicious. I was also glad I got to edit the Pearl S. Buck profile piece, because my mother is a huge fan of The Good Earth and we read it together when I was younger.

What does your typical day entail?

On Mondays, we have a creative meeting where we brainstorm ideas for the videos that we’re working on as a team. Each person at any given time is working on a video. As a group, we’ll help brainstorm ideas with that person. Tuesdays, we have a meeting to plan out the next few weeks of shoots. My daily routine is working on: video editing, a video that’s in pre-production, or going out on a shoot. For example, last week we were in Rhode Island shooting with the author Robert Coover.

We spend the first day with our authors interviewing them in their houses. The second day is spent going to different parts of their town or places related to their books for some footage. Robert Coover used to teach at Brown University, so we did some filming on campus.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to do what you do?

I think the best thing that happened to me was doing an internship while I was in college and keeping in touch with people. It prepares you for leaving school. You form a great community when you’re in college, but it is a little bubble. I recommend leaving that bubble while you still have its safety to either look for part-time jobs in the industry that you want to be in, or internships that can help you. So you get the experience and the connections.

What’s your favorite thing about Open Road?

I like the culture here. It’s very laid-back. I like that Jane Friedman [the CEO] is pretty approachable.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. I’m on a Thomas Pynchon binge, so I’m going to read Gravity’s Rainbow next.

Do you have a favorite place to read?

I mostly read on transportation. I read on the L train every morning, but I think the best train to read on is on a longer ride. For example, the other day I took the A train all the way to the Rockaways. Either on a long train ride or on the beach.

Bonus question: Do you have a favorite quote about reading or writing?

“The essence of dramatic form is to let an idea come over people without it being plainly stated. When you say something directly, it’s simply not as potent as it is when you allow people to discover it for themselves.”

– Stanley Kubrick






Monday, June 30, 2014

Inside Publishing: Interview with Bruno Silva, Digital Asset Manager

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Producing and editing video are specific skills. How did you learn to do what you do?

I got into editing at Pace University. I studied there for a couple of years, and then worked at a post-production company. Basically, I was editing local television ads, a few national spots, a lot of terrible reality television pilots. I left there and did freelance work for a year. I produced my first television spot and wrote a short film, This Modern Love. It’s named after a Bloc Party song.

How did you start at Open Road?

I was working at another post-production facility doing reality television shows, and I was dying to leave. I saw this position and applied. I have a history of asset management from my first job, so I spoke to Luke and Chai, and gave them an idea of what I wanted to do, in terms of managing media and the best processes for archiving. I started off strictly in a technical position, but now I’m doing a lot more.

In your opinion, what makes a good video?

What makes a good video is a really strong start. Our audience isn’t interested in watching long videos. It has to impress the audience in the first five or ten seconds to keep the viewer engaged.

For me, the story is always important–especially because we’re talking about writers. And visuals strengthen the story even further.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re looking forward to working on?

Two weeks ago, I interviewed Robert Coover in Providence, Rhode Island. We went to his house and Brown University. It’s my first project for Open Road that I’m entirely producing and editing. I’m going to start editing that next week. I’m really excited about it.

What does your typical day entail?

It varies, depending on my “job title” for that day. If I’m the Digital Asset Manager, then my job is to make sure all our footage is accounted for, organizing the archive properly. We have thousands of hours of footage and all sorts of files related to projects. It’s a huge library and it’s a great undertaking to maintain it. On a day like today, I get here at 9:30 a.m. and start editing to meet deadlines. Sometimes, we’ll also have a creative meeting in the morning to go over our weekly content. It’s mainly editing all day to make sure our post-production work is intact.

Do you have a favorite video that you’ve worked on?

I worked on a video called “Legal Thrillers.” I got creative with the sound design and visual effects. I think it came out great, and I’m really proud of it. Another video is “Remembering Stonewall.” It was an interview with our author Martin Duberman. I liked that piece because I learned a lot about the Stonewall riots and felt strongly about the narrative direction that I went with.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to do what you do?

Start early. I think you can easily get your hands on the software and tools that you need to start editing and making films. Watch a lot of movies, find your favorite directors and follow their work. Have someone that you can learn from­–a mentor, that’s really important. Just stay busy, stay working.

Since you mentioned it, what is your favorite movie? Who is your favorite director?

My favorite director is Woody Allen. My favorite movie of his is either Annie Hall or Bananas.

What’s your favorite thing about Open Road?

I like that Jane Friedman [the CEO] and the executives stress that they want us to present new ideas and thoughts.

In terms of my job, I’m allowed to be as creative as I want to be. If I want to experiment on a video, there’s no one that will say, “Don’t do that. That’s not the direction that we’re going in.” Obviously, I have to meet with my boss and the marketing team to get approval, but the opportunity is there. When you’re [working as] a creative person for a living, that’s all you could ask for.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading White Noise by Don DeLillo. It’s not something that I would normally read, but a good friend recommended it, and I’m enjoying it.

Do you have a favorite place to read?

I read on the train every day. It’s the only chance that I get to read that I have enough free time. If it’s a really good book, I’ll go out on my patio and read out there.

Bonus question: Do you have a favorite quote about reading or writing?

“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson 

#InternPerks

Once upon a time, Julie Blattberg (my supervisor at Open Road Media, a digital book publisher) Tweeted me a link to the article “6 Signs Your Internship Is Worth Your Time.”

Then, I realized that I’ve been Tweeting internship-related things anyway, essentially documenting my experience at Open Road. Some are silly, but all are honest observations; my work here has definitely been worth my time:

(Examples include, but are not limited to: kittens, puppies, turtles, tea cup pigs, coffee…)

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The following Tweets aren’t #InternPerks, but are purely for your amusement:

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(This is what greeted me when I arrived one morning)

And lastly, here’s one of my #internworries:






Friday, June 27, 2014

Inside Publishing: Interview with Loreal Lingad, Marketing Intern

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How did you find out about internship opportunities at Open Road Media?

Fordham College at Lincoln Center offers a class called Publishing Theory and Practice. Mary Bly teaches it. Each class, she brings in established professionals who work in the book and magazine publishing industries. She invited Julie Blattberg from Open Road to be on one of the panels. Later that week, Professor Bly told us about the Book Industry Guild’s event “Anything Is Possible on the Open Road” with Jane Friedman, its CEO, and she posted an internship opportunity on our class Tumblr. After hearing Jane Friedman and Julie Blattberg speak, I knew I wanted to apply.

What does your typical day as an intern look like?

I spend five minutes pestering Julie Blattberg in the morning (just kidding). After that, I make my way through a list of projects that she gives me. Sometimes she’ll send me more projects via email. They mostly pertain to researching and helping to produce drafts of social content posts for sites like BuzzFeed and Tumblr. Every now and then, someone from the marketing team will grab me for another task. 

What are some of the projects that you liked working on the most?

Can I say all of them? I haven’t disliked any of the projects.

Which project are you most proud of?

It’s a tie between the BuzzFeed posts I worked on and the “Inside Publishing” series of interviews for Tumblr, because of how much effort I’ve put into those projects. For BuzzFeed, I spent a lot of time researching the science fiction author Octavia Butler, bookish phone apps, and library cards, and going through rounds of edits with Julie and Erin, the marketing copyeditor. It’s kind of like working on a research paper with a professor or submitting work for a creative writing workshop. So seeing them go live is pretty rewarding. With the “Inside Publishing” series, I stepped out of my comfort zone. I’m really shy, so speaking with people I don’t know makes me nervous. It forced me to somewhat get over my fear.

You’ve tweeted a bunch of #internperks. Which was your ultimate favorite “perk”?

I think my overall experience here is my favorite “perk.” In my classes at Fordham, we discussed how women are underrepresented in leadership roles. That’s something that really strikes a chord with me, because I’m about to join a profession that consists of only 33.3% women. So being Julie’s–the Executive Director of Consumer Engagement–intern is awesome because she’s an intelligent woman. And the Chief Marketing Officer, Rachel Chou, is an intelligent woman. And the CEO, Jane Friedman, is an intelligent woman. Open Road is filled with them. I find it pretty inspirational.

Also, I think I got lucky with this internship. I know a fair amount of people with internships that sound awful: fetching coffee, cleaning out storage closets, working on the weekends, and things like that. Those aren’t learning experiences. So, when I tweet about #internperks or post a personal Facebook status about how much I adore Open Road, it’s 100% genuine.

You’ve just graduated from college. What’s next?

I’m headed off to law school!

Do you think you’ll be able to apply some of the skills and strategies that you learned at Open Road in law school or in your work as a lawyer?

Definitely! I think I’ve learned how to pay better attention to detail. I’ve also learned that taking the time to thoroughly research a project is better than rushing through it. Julie also challenged me to learn how to speak to people (haha). Every authoritative figure that I’ve met has told me that building connections and reading and writing well are important skills needed to excel in law school and as a lawyer. I’m fairly certain I can win over anyone now—well, as long as they have a social media account for me to look at first.

Do you have a favorite Open Road author?

I have a few favorites, but I’ll mention one: Irene Cao. I would love to write like her.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading I Feel You by Irene Cao (thanks, Amanda!) and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz.

Do you have a favorite place to read?

I love reading underneath the trees by the reflecting pool at Lincoln Center.

Bonus question: Do you have a favorite quote about reading or writing?

About reading: “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” —Jorge Luis Borges

About writing: “I write because I cannot lie still. I write to rue the world. To shake my fist. To be incredulous. I write to uncover the ruins. To ruin the ruins. I write to find the already found.” —Jennifer Militello

 






Monday, June 23, 2014

Two never-before-published stories from the archives of one of science fiction’s all-time masters will be released TOMORROW June 24, two days after what would be Octavia Butler’s 67th Birthday

http://www.openroadmedia.com/unexpected-stories






Thursday, June 19, 2014

Inside Publishing: Interview with Megan Radogna, Sales Coordinator

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How did you start your career in book publishing?

I went from undergrad to the Summer Publishing Institute at NYU. During SPI, we took a tour of Open Road. We heard Jane Friedman speak and I was really thrilled about Open Road’s mission, and its environment. One of the program directors had once worked here and she put me in touch to apply for an internship. I interned in the marketing department with the literary fiction team for six months, and from there began working with the sales team.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to work in book publishing?

I would say to read up on industry news in magazines and newsletters like Publishers Weekly and Shelf Awareness. Also, when I was first starting out, it was important to learn that there are more ways to get into publishing besides working in editorial. There are so many different departments that allow you to be creative and involved with books.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re looking forward to working on?

I’ve been working on projects for the upcoming ALA [American Library Association] conference, and then I’ll be looking forward to the Brooklyn Book Festival in September.

What does your typical day entail?

My days vary a lot because I assist everyone in the sales/retail department with different tasks. I work a lot on reports, recording where our books are placed with various online retailers. I update grids with info for different accounts and retailers, write posts for the blog and prepare social media content about sales, and send mailings out. Lately I’ve been enjoying working on pitch letters.

Do you have a favorite Open Road author?

Sherman Alexie is amazing. Flight is awesome–it’s funny, heartbreaking, and one of the most imaginative things that I’ve read. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven is a great short story collection. I also love Alissa Nutting’s Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls. The stories remind me a lot of George Saunders and Karen Russell.

What’s your favorite thing about Open Road?

One of my favorite things is the layout of the office: It really promotes interpersonal communication. The open-office plan makes it easy to ask questions, collaborate, and learn from people in all different departments. It’s such a positive environment.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading Mansfield Park. One of my favorite professors from college is giving a talk on the book at a Colgate alumni event soon. I’m also reading MFA vs. NYC by Chad Harbach.

Do you have a favorite place to read?

When it’s warm and sunny, I love reading outside, especially in Central Park.

Bonus question: Do you have a favorite quote about reading or writing?

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” – Ernest Hemingway






Monday, June 16, 2014

Inside Publishing: Interview with Michael Palgon, SVP of Distribution & Business Development

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How did you start your career in book publishing?

I started at Simon & Schuster on the finance side, and after seven years there I went to Doubleday for a similar role. Ultimately, I moved into the publishing side of the business. I was at Random House for 24 years.

How did you start at Open Road?

I know Jane [Friedman] from being in the industry for a long time. I had drinks with her when I left Random House. She had mentioned that they were establishing a distribution business here. She asked me to consult for Open Road to help expand/set-up the distribution side of the business.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re looking forward to working on?

My next big goal isin addition to ramping up on the distribution side of the equationI’m looking to establish new verticals or categories in the business and religion areas. They’re two areas that Open Road is developing. 

What does your average day entail?

A little bit of everything: a lot of research, in terms of distribution and in terms of business and religion. It’s finding the right titles that might be of interest to us, communicating with authors that we’ve signed up, answering their questions, and working through contractual and process issues. It’s a lot of juggling.

What’s your favorite thing about Open Road?

Definitely the energy and the entrepreneurial nature of it. It’s small, so it still has that start-up feel. Everyone gets involved and it’s refreshing. 

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, which is being made into a movie in the fall. This book has been sitting on my shelf for years! I’m also reading Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed. It’s about a small town in southern France that saved a lot of people during WWII.






Thursday, June 12, 2014

Inside Publishing: Interview with Laura De Silva, Digital Marketing Manager

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How did you start your career in book publishing?

During college I wrote for various magazines as a freelancer, including Dance Spirit magazine, where I learned about the editorial side of publishing—but I was really interested in being in the marketing side to make sure that great writing gets read all of the time. I knew I wanted more education, so I did the NYU Master’s in Publishing Program. During my second year there, Jane Friedman came to speak at an event and announced the creation of Open Road Media. Listening to her speak was really inspiring: She was aiming to solve a lot of the problems we were discussing in our classes. She had amazing ideas about the future of ebooks, reading, and the vibrancy of book culture in a digital era. So, I drank the Kool-Aid: I wrote to her that day and said I wanted to work for her. She connected me with Rachel Chou, who hired me as an intern. I’ve been here ever since.

What does a typical day for you entail?

There’s a lot of variety at Open Road. Typically, it involves planning upcoming marketing campaigns for authors, holidays, and big events; generating marketing materials—such as blog posts and newsletters—for those campaigns; interacting with authors; managing social media accounts; pitching and talking about great books; working on advertising; and analyzing previous and ongoing marketing efforts to ensure that we’re always improving and refining what we do. There’s a lot of liaising with other departments and teams. It’s all about figuring out how to get the literary fiction that Open Road publishes to new audiences and longtime fans who maybe aren’t aware that they’re available digitally.

What’s one of your favorite campaigns that you’ve planned?

A while back, I worked on a campaign called “Books We Should Have Read,” which focused on those books that folks have every intention of reading, but they just haven’t gotten around to yet. These are the books that, when mentioned at a dinner party, prompt you to nod, smile, and pretend you’ve read them. Many of these sorts of books are considered modern classics, or were assigned reading in high school, and they’re on people’s bucket lists. We ran a social media confessional campaign where folks—our staff included!—admitted which books we pretend to have read. We also offered readers the opportunity to read first chapters of our ebooks in this category. The idea was to pick one and start small—a chapter is not a huge commitment, and we all have a moment to read 1,000 words, right? If folks liked it, they could get the ebook and keep reading. If they didn’t—well, at least they had sampled the real thing and could say so!

Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re looking forward to working on?

I really love working on Banned Books Week, which falls at the end of September and celebrates our freedom to read. Open Road has published more than forty banned, challenged, or censored books. It’s exciting to talk about how the digital era allows banned books to get to even more readers. One of my favorite videos of our authors features them speaking out on this subject. Also, since last year, we published seven works by Sherman Alexie, who is particularly well known for speaking out against book banning and for supporting anti-censorship efforts. So, it’s been incredible to work with him and connect with fans who are passionate about this, too. It’s a topic that brings us all—readers, librarians, teachers, students, and people in publishing—together.

Do you have a favorite Open Road ebook?

Probably Mary McCarthy’s The Groupbecause I have this perfect summer memory of reading a dusty old copy from the stacks of NYU’s Bobst Library when I was nineteen while sitting in Washington Square Park. I’m sure I was only aware of it at the time because it was often mentioned as a precursor to Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City, but I was fascinated by the novel’s insights into women’s lives during the 1930s (and beyond, really). It was exciting when I found out that I would get to work on Mary McCarthy’s ebooks because I have loved observing—and now contributing to—their lasting impact on our culture.  

What’s your favorite thing about Open Road?

The energy at the office and everyone’s desire to do good work for good literature—to make sure that books that are important are out there and available to readers. When I think back to when I saw Jane speak for the first time, the energy of that speech and what she was saying is present in the office every day. People do really want to make the world a better place through literature. It sounds cheesy, but I think that is absolutely the case here.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading Julia Fierro’s Cutting Teeth, which I highly recommend—it’s a simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking depiction of urban American (in this case, Brooklyn) parenthood in a post–9/11 world. I also just finished the audiobook editions of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and The Tipping Point, which I borrowed from the NYPL.

Do you have a favorite place to read?

I do most of my reading at home on the couch with a cup of tea. With summer’s arrival, though, I hope to be doing more reading outdoors!

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to work in book publishing?

Often, we think of book publishing as just editing. But there’s so much beyond that. I encourage people who are considering a career in book publishing to explore all types of opportunities. If they consider themselves an English major writer type, they may love marketing. There’s so much writing and communication in that. I would encourage them to explore all job opportunities, to go to any industry events and book talks.

Did you find your NYU publishing program useful?

Yes! The great thing about that program is that it’s taught by experts who currently work in the industry. Instructors talk about the problems that they see at work, and how they overcome these obstacles to get books published successfully. You get a real sense of what book publishing looks like right now rather than in theory or in a purely academic sense. Because the industry is evolving so much, it’s important to look at very current examples and case studies. I really appreciated that.