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The Mentor Corner: Tracy van Straaten, VP, Trade Communications & Book Publicity at Scholastic | March 6, 2019


What was your first job in publishing?

I first got an internship with Bulfinch Press at Little, Brown and Company in Boston, and told everyone I met that I was trying to get a job in children’s books. Just as the internship was about to end, the publicity and marketing assistant at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers left for a job in New York. Word soon spread that there was an intern at Bulfinch who was interested in children’s books, and I was lucky enough to get the job. In addition to assisting the department, one of my favorite parts of the job was managing the fan clubs for the Arthur series by Marc Brown and for Matt Christopher’s middle grade sports series.    

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

I was at Little, Brown for four years—while simultaneously working on a Masters in Children’s Literature at Simmons University. After that, I moved to New York and worked my way up in children’s book publicity at HarperCollins, William Morrow and Company, Simon & Schuster, and Scholastic (where I have been for the last thirteen years).

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

First, I would advise reading widely across the industry—and especially beyond the books published by your own house. I also think it’s very important to learn as much as you can about jobs/departments other than the one where you are working. If you are in editorial, learn as much as you can about sales, marketing, publicity, rights; if you are in marketing, learn about editorial, production, copyediting, design, sales, etc. Ask colleagues out to lunch or coffee to tell you about their jobs—both fellow assistants and managers/directors of other areas, visit bookstores and libraries to see what is on display, and attend author readings and events. Understanding how all of the roles and areas of publishing come together to bring a book into the world—and how your role contributes to that effort—will make you better and more successful in your own job.

What is your favorite title you’ve worked on?

It would be hard for me to choose between The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Olivia by Ian Falconer.

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