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, Daina Ramey Berry, and Kali Nicole Gross—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 2020, we introduce you to our assistant editor, Haley Lynch!
What drew you to publishing, Haley? How did you find your way to Beacon?
I’ve always loved finding that perfect seed at the heart of a story, and thanks to my mom’s early guidance (thanks, Mom!), I’ve had my sights set on a career in publishing for a long time. I spent a few summers working as an intern at a literary agency where my main job was to dig through slush piles full of unsolicited manuscripts, trying to discover the Next Big Thing. It was a great way to practice spotting not just the obviously great stuff, but the stuff that could be great with a little more shaping. That’s where I really learned how to argue for a book’s potential, which is one of my favorite parts of the job I have now.
What current or upcoming projects are you excited about?
I’m thrilled about Rosemarie Day’s Marching Toward Coverage, which published at the beginning of this month. This book breaks down America’s historical trouble with health coverage and assesses a few paths toward universal healthcare in really accessible terms. The author makes her arguments through a feminist lens, showing us how and why women will lead this fight. It is just the right combination of info and motivation—a perfect book for everyone of all genders to read right now.
Meanwhile, I’m currently working on a few projects I’m really excited about, especially Jess Zimmerman’s very personal and real new book, in which the female monsters of Greek mythology turn out to be feminist icons we’ve all been overlooking. Put it on your To Be Read list for Spring 2021, and tell your scariest friends to read it, too!
I’m also looking forward to publishing Rae Nudson’s All Made Up, which looks at the ways women throughout history and across cultures have used makeup to define and defy their roles in a patriarchal society. It’s a very thoughtful book, relevant to anyone who thinks about how others perceive them.
What’s your advice to someone interested in entering the publishing field?
This may be cliché, but the best thing you can do is to network. I like to use my own path as an example of how networking can actually work out.
It took me a year to get a full-time job in my chosen field and city after I graduated from college, and that year was full of awkward coffee dates and “thank you for meeting with me” emails. I found out about the job I have now because a friend from college introduced me to their literary agent friend who introduced me to an editor who gave me a stack of free books and promised to tell me if they heard about any job openings. I was committed to living in Boston rather than moving to NYC right after college, which limited my options somewhat, but finally that editor did hear of a job. She connected me with Beacon’s Design Director, Carol Chu, who put me in touch with my now-boss, Helene Atwan, for an interview. I feel very lucky to have landed at Beacon—and I realized that everyone in publishing knows exactly how hard they worked to get into this industry, and everyone wants to help the next folks get in, too.
What’s the next queued song on your music player?
“Seven Minute Mind” on The Bad Plus’s album Made Possible. It’s one of my all-time favorites. I like to listen to something a little upbeat during my walk home from work. Snarky Puppy and Haitus Kaiyote are my go-to’s lately.
What are you reading right now?
I’m currently reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. I’m a little late to the party on this one, but if you also haven’t got around to reading it yet, consider this your official reminder. I’ve also just finished Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, which is an utterly tragic and very powerful book. And I’m re-reading an old favorite called Evening is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan. It might have ghosts, and I like the fact that I can’t say for sure.
Hobbies outside of work?
I started boxing classes a few months ago, which I’m loving. It’s a fabulous workout and demands a style of energy and focus so different from the kind I use all day at work. I’m also a weekend saxophone player and bread baker. Most importantly, my younger sister recently adopted a pup named Rae, so I’m looking forward to visiting her frequently, playing fetch, and showing endless photos to my dog-loving coworkers. Just look at her sweet face!
About Haley Lynch
Haley Lynch earned a BA in Comparative Literature at Hamilton College and graduated from the Columbia Publishing Course in 2017. She was with the Zachary Shuster Harmsworth literary agency, Da Capo Press and Seal Press, and worked at the Kneerim & Williams literary agency, before joining Beacon Press in July 2018. She acquires narrative nonfiction with an emphasis on intersectional feminism and lifting up marginalized voices. Her areas of particular interest include public health and policy, social activism, cultural studies, neurodiversity, and food waste.