Mentor Corner: Patty Rosati￼
Director, School and Library Marketing, HarperCollins Children’s Books
What was your first job in publishing?
My first job in publishing was as an Editorial Assistant to Thomas Dunne at St. Martin’s Press. I worked for him for a year or so and then moved over to the sub-rights department where I sold domestic rights under Sally Richardson. I was lucky to work for two powerhouses so early in my career.
What was your career path like getting to your current role?
The path was winding! After working on adult books at St. Martin’s for seven years, I was itching to try something new when a friend told me about a sales and marketing job at the award-winning magazine Lingua Franca. While at Lingua, I went to conferences with educators, and everyone was talking about open and distant learning and libraries without walls. Exciting stuff! So when the magazine folded, I decided to get my Master’s in Library Science at Rutgers. I connected with a guest speaker from New York Public Library and interned there while in school. I wrote to another guest speaker who was the director of collection development for Baker& Taylor, and I ended up working there for two years after I graduated. This got me back in touch with trade publishing, and it’s where I first started working with children’s books. This is also where HarperCollins Children’s found me and hired me for the role I’m still in today.
What advice would you give to those who are either just starting out or are in their first few years in publishing?
First, read everything you can get your hands on. Read books in all categories, not just the ones that you’ll be directly touching. Read popular and commercial as well as literary books – all genres, all age categories, including books for adults. Talk to people outside of publishing about books, too, to get a sense of what’s resonating with those not in the business. Second, choose your boss wisely. It’s critical to have a good rapport with the person you report to (and, when you become a manager, to have the same good relationship with the people who report to you). You are going to be working really hard and you want to be able to focus on your projects and mastering new things and not on interpersonal issues and office politics. The ideal boss is one who will connect you with people at all levels and in other departments, teach you, support you, and give you opportunities to shine.
What have been some highlights of your career so far?
There are so many: listening to Walter Dean Myers tell stories on the porch of the Haley Farm the night before he delivered his Arbuthnot lecture; regular phone calls with Kevin Henkes to talk shop; hosting a dinner with librarians for Sara Pennypacker on the eve of the publication of Pax; getting the call from the committee that Neil Gaiman won the Newbery Award for The Graveyard Book; watching our “Shake Up Your Shelves” campaign take flight and help teachers and librarians diversify their book collections; working with Dina, Rebecca, Emily, Molly, Laura, Robin, Katie, and all of the smart and savvy people who have been on our team and have gone on to do great things.