Our rebooted “Beacon Behind the Books” series is on a roll! In these times when readers are responding to our books “more than ever,” when our authors—including Colm Tóibín, Tanya Katerí Hernández, Robin D. G. Kelley, Eboo Patel, and Gayl Jones—are appearing in the media, their ideas going viral on social media, their voices being heard on so many platforms, we thought it would 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 introduces to you a staff member and gives you a behind-the-scenes look, department by department, at what goes on at our office.
For the month of September, we introduce you Avery Cook, our sales and marketing assistant!
What drew you to publishing, Avery? How did you find your way to Beacon?
I was always interested in being somewhere in the world of books. Before college, I wanted to be a full-time writer, and at some point, in those four years, I realized I needed more social interaction in my day than there would be in a typical freelance day. Publishing seemed like the most adjacent career that was less isolated, and it’s turned out to be the case!
As for finding Beacon, I’d chatted with a few folks here before I was even thinking about the job search. I’ll always be grateful for the conversations I had with Haley Lynch and Emily Powers that led me to keep an eye on all things Beacon. Then later on, I interned with Melissa Nasson and decided I should throw my hat in the ring, and here we are!
What’s a typical day in the life of a sales and marketing assistant?
Since I started remotely, my workflow has stayed pretty consistent at Beacon. I’m part of the subsidiary rights team, so I usually start the day going through our rights inbox and any emails that have come in from overseas. We work with agents on five continents, and I usually have a few emails from the wee hours of the morning waiting for me. From there, I get to a priority to-do list that can include anything from updating the Beacon website to brainstorming posters for bookstores.
I’ve found that the key to a productive day is scheduling out what needs to happen, and how long I’m going to work at each item before taking a break or switching tasks. If I’m writing copy for a book, I can get engrossed, and the day is gone; on the other hand, one minute in Excel can feel like an hour. There’s still also time in each day to learn a new part of the publishing process or meet someone for the first time. All of this makes for full days, but also plenty of new experiences.
How much of what you learned in college have you found vital to your work?
The biggest help to my work in publishing has actually been completely unrelated to my undergrad classes. Throughout college, I worked for our school’s community outreach office, interned at the local public library, and coordinated different types of tutoring with teachers and students from grades K through 12. Through all these programs, I learned so much about making connections with people, working around challenges that arise in a project, and thinking creatively about where we haven’t gone in the past, and where we can hope to go in the future. As it turns out, it’s good to have done a bit of all three when in the world of books!
What upcoming projects are you excited about?
I am so looking forward to a graphic novel from our Spring 2023 list, Under the Banner of King Death. Beacon previously published Prophet Against Slavery, which is the graphic novel adaptation of Marcus Rediker’s book on the Quaker and early abolitionist Benjamin Lay. Illustrated by David Lester, authored by Lester and Marcus Rediker, and edited by Paul Buhle, the Benjamin Lay novel tells his story through unique artwork, creating an immersive reading experience that brings you into the righteous friction that Lay caused between himself and his fellow Quakers. In a similar vein, Under the Banner of King Death adapts Villains of All Nations, Rediker’s history on seventeenth-century Atlantic pirates, to historical fiction. Lester, Rediker, and Buhle once again create an engrossing journey and cast of characters, all based on the real pirates behind our legends.
I am so excited to work toward reaching new audiences and speaking to dedicated Beacon readers as well. We are working on a zine for booksellers, a marquee poster for comic stores, and plenty of other swashbuckling campaign items that I think will be a real treat to execute.
What’s your advice to someone interested in entering the publishing field?
The best thing you can do is talk to folks in the industry. It’s how the world of publishing goes ’round, for better or worse. If you don’t have an uncle, mom’s friend’s daughter, dog’s cousin, etc. who works in publishing and can connect you to an internship, don’t lose hope. You’ll hear a lot of people saying that’s how they got a foot in the door, which is a very real aspect of the book industry—not to diminish its prevalence at all.
But that said, there are other ways to break in. You can cold email folks who are doing cool things with marketing, publicity, their front-list titles, and so forth. You can find them on LinkedIn and send a message to ask to chat. And keep in mind: we’re almost always happy to talk to you and to talk publishing. Just look at all the publishing gossip accounts on Instagram! So, keep reaching out and learning more as you go.
Favorite thing about Boston?
I moved to Boston in January 2022, so I might be missing some of the non-pandemic times experiences, but I have loved the FOOD. I’m from Upstate New York, where you can either drive thirty minutes for a burger, or an hour for a sit-down meal. Here, I’m finding a different homemade ice cream place on every corner, a $15 dosa night across from my grocery store, an adorable café on the ground floor of my favorite yoga studio—the possibilities are truly endless. Maybe someday, I’ll make my way to every bakery in Boston, and it’s definitely worth the valiant effort.
Homemade fried dough. It’s a hazard to make but a dream to enjoy.
Best vacation destination?
I grew up in the Adirondack Mountains, and it’ll always be my favorite getaway. The far-off plan is to retire to a hidden cabin in the woods and write nature poetry to my heart’s content.
What are you reading right now?
I am reading a collection of poetry by Tess Gallagher, Midnight Lantern, after having a poem from the book on my whiteboard for months now. It was originally a poem-of-the-day that came to my email and it stuck with me all the way to the Somerville Library. I’m also listening to the audiobook of David Sedaris’s The Best of Me, and it has truly been a laugh-out-loud experience from the start.
In an alternate universe, what career would you have?
I would absolutely be a baker. I spent a summer as the early-morning kitchen crew at a summer camp and discovered that the supreme way to start the day is by baking treats en masse.
What’s the next queued song on your music player?
I am currently having somewhat of a Glee renaissance, so I’ve got “Beth” by Kiss on repeat.
More About Avery Cook
Avery Cook joined the Beacon sales and marketing teams in 2022. She graduated from Hamilton College in 2021, where she studied creative writing and worked in community outreach, interfaith organizing, and archival research around American communal societies.