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.
For the month of March, we introduce you to our production manager, Beth Collins!
What drew you to publishing, Beth? How did you find your way to Beacon?
It was a really long process for me! I was an English major in college. I loved reading and doing research, but I didn’t like sitting down and writing so I didn't consider a career in publishing. I went on to work in documentary production, but I found it too hard to make a living as a freelancer. I seriously considered becoming a librarian, but I realized that I wanted to be involved in some way with making books. So, I enrolled in the publishing certificate program at Emerson. For our final project, we had to produce a book and I found that process to be extremely satisfying—gathering up the content, collaborating with the contributors, designing the layout, and working with the printers. Soon after that, I started working at Beacon as a production assistant.
What’s your advice to someone interested in entering the publishing field?
First of all, I would say don’t be like me! When you’re just starting out, keep an open mind about what area of publishing might be a good fit for you. Because I didn’t like writing, I thought publishing wasn’t for me, but I should have done more exploring. We’ve had a couple of interns who have said they were surprised by how much they like working in production. (I’m sort of biased, though.) So don’t be afraid to cast a wide net: it could lead to a lot of opportunities that you don’t know were out there.
What helps you focus when you’re at work?
When I need to focus at work, I find that listening to any kind of music is too distracting. I think I’m the only person in the office who never uses headphones! But I really do like a little bit of background noise, a little bit of buzz. When I have to review proofs, I go to the Tom Hallock Contemplation Area in our office, spread my pages out over the table, and get to work. Having people walking by and talking helps me to focus. It’s weird, but it works for me.
Favorite Beacon Books?
I’m a big fan of our memoirs, here’s a short list of some of my favorites:
Favorite thing about Boston?
My favorite thing about Boston is the harbor. I love visiting the Boston Harbor Islands, going on whale watches, or just watching the water. Since Beacon is a few blocks away, I have spent many a lunch hour watching boats move through the harbor. The only drawback is that I have to keep my guard up around the seagulls so they don’t steal my food. It hasn’t happened yet, but I know it’s just a matter of time before I lose a sandwich.
What are you reading right now?
I’ve been in a book club for nineteen years with six librarians and one high school English teacher. We just finished up Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou. I don’t want to give away too much away, but I will say that it’s a fascinating and infuriating book.
What’s your commute like? What do you do to pass the time on your way into the office?
I take the subway into work, so you really do not want to know what that is like, but I will say all the breakdowns and delays give me plenty of time to read books and fantasize about commuting by ferry.
About Beth Collins
Beth Collins joined Beacon Press in 2008. When she’s not making books, Beth enjoys biking, skiing, and discovering new candy from around the globe. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College.