Welcome to our rebooted “Beacon Behind the Books” series! In these times when readers are responding to our books “more than ever,” when our authors—including Aubrey Gordon, Tanya Katerí Hernández, Robin D. G. Kelley, Angela Saini, Nora Neus, 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 August, we introduce you to Emily Spaulding, our business operations assistant!
What drew you to publishing, Emily? How did you find your way to Beacon?
In college, someone told me to think about the things I loved when I was younger, because those things would bring the most joy in my career. Books meant everything to me as a kid. Beacon was a great fit because of my political science degree and nonprofit internships in college. Also, I mostly read nonfiction.
How much of what you learned in college have you found vital to your work?
I love the connection between my political science major/economics minor and the Beacon list. I went to Wellesley and studied abroad for a year at the London School of Economics. Both schools assigned Beacon books, James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son and Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation respectively. Just for sheer joy, I took an English class at Wellesley called “American Literature and Social Justice.” That should have been a sign that I belonged at Beacon!
What’s your advice to someone interested in entering the publishing field?
Do your research on the different departments within a publishing house. Slush: A Publishing Podcast is a great place to start. And don’t be afraid to work outside editorial! My role is a mix of accounting and production, with plenty of opportunities to work with contracts, rights and permissions, and royalties. If you’re lucky enough to land at a small independent press, you can interface with various departments and learn more about the industry overall.
What helps you focus when you’re working?
The Pride and Prejudice (2005) soundtrack.
What skills have you taken from previous jobs to help you do your work at Beacon?
Prior to Beacon, I was a corporate paralegal and learned how to confidently read contracts. Now, I review our author contracts for special terms and maintain our rights and permissions database. In corporate law, I also learned how to manage up. In other words, ask what still needs to be done at 3PM so you can avoid getting an assignment at 8PM. Fortunately, at Beacon, we respect each other’s working hours!
Favorite thing about Boston?
It feels like home! People who live in Boston are so smart and genuinely care about their community. I also love weekend trips around New England and going to author talks in my “Camberville”—Cambridge and Somerville—neighborhood.
Hobbies outside of work?
Reading, cooking, baking, spin class, kayaking, hosting parties.
Joni Mitchell’s Blue, Lorde’s Solar Power, and Taylor Swift’s Evermore.
In an alternate universe, what career would you have?
In an alternate universe, I am a fictional character: Kathleen Kelly, the bookseller from Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail.
Name three things at your workstation that you can’t live without.
Water, caffeine, and my cat.
And a little more about Emily Spaulding
Emily Spaulding received a BA in political science with a minor in economics from Wellesley College in 2021. She has previously worked as a Barnes & Noble bookseller and as a corporate paralegal at an international law firm. As a student, Emily interned at nonprofits including Girls Inc., Social Accountability International, and the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School.