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Mentor Corner: Linette Kim

Senior Marketing Manager, Astra Books for Young Readers

What was your first job in publishing?

My first job in publishing wasn’t in trade books, it was in educational books. I was a production coordinator at McGraw-Hill, which was meant to be a several-months-long temp job, but almost immediately morphed into a permanent gig when the girl I was hired to assist put in her two weeks. Those two years were an amazing experience for me, and I’m so fortunate to have been able to eventually parlay those skills and experience into trade publishing.

What was your career path like getting to your current role?

I like to say that my journey was a divinely ordained, logical narrative arc. 🙂  I’m from California, and other than Chronicle, there weren’t a lot of opportunities I knew of to get into publishing, nor did I have any idea how to get a foot in the door. So I moved to NYC and, like I said, I landed in educational publishing, then worked in a contract position at Scholastic for a year in a division called Educational Services as a marketing project manager. From there I got a job in school and library marketing at Bloomsbury (the first time I had ever heard of such a division, and my official first gig in trade books), before I was called in by a recruiter at HarperCollins to launch the educational and library programs at Harlequin for their rapidly developing YA and adult trade book lists (everything from literary to thrillers to women’s fiction). Finally, I ended up at Astra, where I’m doing both school and library and trade marketing for four of their children’s imprints.

What advice would you give to those who are either just starting out or are in their first few years in publishing?

Supportive roles are always taxing and seemingly thankless—believe me, I haven’t been in this industry that long and it’s all still fresh! Play the long game. Bring your ideas and opinions to the table, but also, support your managers, go out of your way to make them look good and yourselves absolutely indispensable. It’s such a small industry—when you do good work, people do hear about it. In an industry that’s challenging to begin with, your work ethic will make a difference in garnering the skills and connections you need (and will cherish!) to keep moving forward.

What are some recent projects that you’re proud of?

We have a wonderful, wonderful picture book called Papá’s Magical Water-Jug Clock. Both the author and illustrator, Jesús Trejo and Eliza Kinkz, won Pura Belpré Honors for their work on the book. I’m proud to work with them. I’m also proud to have fought to keep the long title name for that one! I’m also hosting a mother-daughter book club this week for THE LOVE REPORT, our launch title of a middle-grade series. It’s a manga-style graphic novel about two BFFs who start out investigating the ins and outs of romance in their school, but end up facing up to and challenging stereotypes that girls face every day. It’s a surprising girl power book that is just ripe for meaty discussion. Fingers crossed it goes well!

What are your current favorite reads?

Audiobooks became my go-to’s, back when I was at HarperCollins marketing only novels and didn’t have much time or the mental capacity to read for pleasure. I especially love when they’re narrated by the author. Currently, I’m listening to an intense memoir, What You Have Heard is True by Carolyn Forché, and next in my library queue is Daniel Nayeri’s The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams. I loved loved loved Daniel’s Everything Sad Is Untrue, and the author is one of the kindest souls in publishing you could ever meet. He also just happens to be an amazing storyteller. 🙂

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