In these times when readers are responding to our books “more than ever,” when our authors—including Cornel West, Anita Hill, Robin DiAngelo, Charlene Carruthers, Howard Bryant, and Christopher Emdin—are appearing in the media, their ideas going viral on social media, their voices being heard on so many platforms, we thought it might be good to take a break to focus on some of the staff who work hard to find, shape, edit, produce, and promote those works. Our blog series “Beacon Behind the Books” introduces to you a member of our staff and gives you a behind-the-scenes look, department by department, at what goes on at our office.
To kick off 2019, we introduce you to our associate marketing manager, Emily Powers!
What drew you to publishing, Emily? How did you find your way to Beacon?
I’ve always wanted to work in book publishing once I realized it was a possible career. I interned at a few different publishers in college and loved it. I knew it was a super competitive field, and someone at my college’s career office even told me it was too competitive for me and that I shouldn’t really bother trying to break in, but I knew what I wanted to do, so I worked really really hard to make it happen. My first job was at Cornell University Press in the acquisitions department, which was great, but I really enjoyed the marketing aspects of my job the most and wanted to move back to Boston, so that’s how I ended up here! My official title is associate marketing manager and I do lots of different things: academic marketing, conferences, advertising, creating promotional materials like postcards or bookmarks, drafting marketing plans, and managing our internship program.
What are some of the challenges of being an associate marketing manager? What do you find most rewarding?
Creating relationships with our authors is probably the most rewarding part of my job. I work on academic and library marketing, which means I get to go to conferences where authors might be giving keynote addresses or doing book signings. Watching a room full of people get super excited about an author’s story or message never gets old. I also know they’ve worked so hard to get their book to the publication stage, so I try to honor that by always trying to do my best work on their behalf. Sometimes, it is a bit challenging to try to stay on top of everything that’s happening in the world and online. Twitter never sleeps, and we do need to see where the conversations are going in order to promote our books successfully. But I think I’ve figured out sort of a middle ground where I don’t refresh Twitter every five minutes but still manage to stay updated about the most relevant things.
What is one book on our list that has influenced your thinking on a particular issue?
White Fragility. It’s definitely one of the most important books I’ve read in the last decade, and I’ve told pretty much everyone I know to read it.
How much of what you learned in college have you found vital to your work?
Lots! I was a double Communications and English major at Le Moyne College, a small liberal arts school (GO DOLPHINS!), and took some really intensive writing and grammar classes, which are vital to every part of my job, whether it’s drafting a tweet or editing the marketing copy for a book. I also took SO many literature courses, which have been really helpful in my life generally, but definitely great for working in the literary world (so I know what people are talking about when they talk about the Chekhov’s gun concept, or having a room of one’s own, or what it means to be a total braggadocio and where name that came from). Being an English major is also very helpful for watching Jeopardy!
What upcoming projects are you excited about?
I’m SO excited about Mona Eltahawy’s book called The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls. It’s a bold and uncompromising feminist manifesto that shows women and girls how to harness their power through what she calls the “seven necessary sins” that women and girls are not supposed to do or be: angry, ambitious, profane, violent, attention-seeking, lustful, and powerful. For a lot of my life, I grew up thinking that constant politeness and trying to please everyone and being pleasant all the time was nonnegotiable as a woman. I no longer feel that way at ALL and I think it’s been a really important shift in my life. So, I’m thrilled to get to work on this book and spread the message to other women and girls who may have grown up believing similar things.
In an alternate universe, what career would you have?
A dog trainer or a greeting card creator! I would also LOVE to be a chef/recipe developer but I’m still working on my knife skills. Luckily, all these things are pretty fun just to do as hobbies on the side, too.
What’s the next queued song on your music player?
Right now, I’m listening to lots of Maggie Rogers, Lizzo, and Amos Lee. Also, the Hamilton soundtrack. Still.
Hobbies outside of work?
Anything trivia or Jeopardy related, dogs, trying new ways to cook things, collecting greeting cards, memorizing lyrics to Broadway songs, board games, trying any drink with mezcal, and learning about highland cattle, otters, and the stories of powerful women.
For laughing: How Did this Get Made (comedians review terrible movies)
For learning: Freakonomics (explores the hidden side of everything with episodes like “Should America be Run by Trader Joe’s?” or a personal favorite “How to Win Games and Beat People”)
For learning AND laughing: Call Your Girlfriend (two long distance feminist BFFs discuss politics, pop culture, and everything in between)
Name three non-office items on your desk and their significance to you.
I curate the things on my desk VERY seriously! I have lots of dog pictures and photos of the people I love most in the world, and favorite quotes and best greeting cards I’ve received, and an action figure of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I also always have a big calendar, which is very important because I have monthly calendar ceremonies with friends in the office on the first day of the month where we all flip our calendars to the next month (we never ever look at what’s coming up next, so the design is always a surprise). It sounds kind of small when I write it out, but it’s one of the little rituals I love most in the office.
About Emily Powers
Emily Powers joined Beacon in 2016 after three years at Cornell University Press. Previously, she worked as an intern at the UN Refugee Agency and Harvard Common Press. She is a graduate of Le Moyne College. Follow her on Twitter at @emilykpowers.