In these times when readers are responding to our books “more than ever,” when our authors—including Richard Blanco, Imani Perry, Robin DiAngelo, Dina Gilio-Whitaker, and Bettina Love—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. And not only our staff, but our interns, too!
This week, we introduce you to our editorial intern, Maitreyi Majumder!
What drew you to publishing, Maitreyi? How did you find your way to Beacon?
I only realized publishing was a career path much later in my life—halfway through my undergrad degree in business administration, in fact. I’d always been a creative kid, but I never realized that the books I hoarded so ardently could be something that I could actually dedicate a career to. I finished up that business degree and went on to an apprenticeship program in an academic publishing house, where I trained in all their departments: editorial, production, accounting, etc. I was senior marketing executive there by the time I left, four years later, to do my masters in publishing at Emerson College. Beacon is the second editorial internship I’ve done while at my program; the first was at a literary agency. It’s been so great to be back working at a publishing house doing the kind of work I’ve always wanted to be doing.
How much of what you learned in graduate school have you found vital to your work?
I would say it’s a combination of the things I learnt on the job and at graduate school that aid me the most. I’ve taken courses on literary agents and book editing, which have helped me understand how to craft strong proposals and queries and have helped me write reader’s reports on manuscript submissions. The depth of research required to publish nonfiction in today’s world is not lost on me, and that’s something that I picked up from my previous internship. Another important thing I learnt at my previous job is how much you need to network within a publishing house and how essential that is for everyone to do so that things move along smoothly.
What upcoming projects are you excited about?
There are two upcoming projects I’m looking forward to seeing. One is Susanne Althoff’s Launching While Female. I’m actually taking a class with Ms. Althoff this semester at Emerson and am learning a lot from her; I’m sure her book will be essential reading for people interested in business. Another upcoming project I’m interested in is a book by Robin Broad and John Cavanagh. I was in the acquisitions meeting for that proposal and it sounds absolutely thrilling. It’s a book about the people’s struggle against gold mining companies in El Salvador and how they fought a legal battle to prevent these companies from poisoning their main water supply—and won, although at a personal cost. That’s all I’m going to say about the project for now, but it is an absolutely fascinating story.
What helps you focus when you’re at work?
This may sound silly, but I listen to a lot of tropical house, to be honest. The beats are quick and the words are nonsense, so it keeps my energy up but doesn’t distract me. When I REALLY need to concentrate, though, it’s white noise all the way. I have a plethora of nature sound apps and websites that are my go-to, and something about having the sounds of a storm blocking everything out does wonders for my productivity!
Oh, by the way, you also go by Molly, and I hear there’s an interesting story behind it?
Yeah! So I’m from Calcutta, India, and my state has this custom of having long, officious names that hardly ever get used and short family nicknames that most people know you by. My nickname is Molly—I don’t think I’ve ever even heard my parents address me by my actual first name—and I’ve gone by it my whole life, because my name is hard to get right even back home! It would definitely take me a few minutes to respond if someone actually used my official name. I mostly only use it for paperwork.
In an alternate universe, what career would you have?
Would it be weird if I had two options that were diametrically opposite?? I would either be an event planner, because I love hosting and creating experiences for my close friends. Else I would be the librarian in a sleepy town on a tropical island, and be a very happy and stereotypical cat lady.
Favorite thing about Boston?
The summer’s coming up, and I love how Boston absolutely changes gear with it. Last year, I was caught off guard by just how quickly things change and how the city really blossoms in the summer, and I can’t wait to have a whole host of new experiences again this year!