Publishing Trendsetter is a production of Market Partners International and Publishing Trends.

To the Rescue: An Interview with the League of Assistant Editors

There is a glut of publishing blogs for young people, but one of the most spirited and celebratory accounts of ambitious young publishers comes from The League of Assistant Editors, a group dedicated to connecting young agents and young editors to ensure that they aren’t missing out on a piece of the publishing pie. They launched onto the internet scene in August and have since then hosted a sold out Dealmakers event at Housing Works Bookstore and Café, held public “office hours,” and written impressively honest  accounts of their time in publishing for all to see.  Trendsetter had a few questions for Meredith Haggerty, and Allyson Rudolph, the two women behind the League:

Publishing Trendsetter: If you don’t mind, give the folks at home a little background on each of your respective paths into publishing:

Allyson: My first publishing jobs were in my hometown, Washington, DC—I worked in managing editorial and editorial at academic and association presses before deciding to move to New York and try my hand at trade publishing. I started in NYC as an intern at Markson Thoma, then worked at Hyperion as an editorial assistant, and now I am an assistant editor at Grand Central Publishing.

Meredith: I went to college in New York, and interned at a literary agency. After graduating I got a job at another, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, where I worked for two years. From there, I became an editorial assistant at Grand Central Publishing, eventually being promoted to assistant editor. I currently work as the Associate Features Editor for HowAboutWe Media where, among other projects, I help to secure excerpts.

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PT: What made you two decide to start the League?

Allyson: The decision to start the League actually followed the decision to host the Dealmakers speed networking event. I had been playing with the idea of nonromantic speed-dating for agents and editors ever since she moved to New York and began to understand that building a professional network can be a slow and inefficient process. Meredith is a master of Making Things Happen and got in touch with Housing Works about hosting a speed networking event, and then all of a sudden we were on the Housing Works calendar with a bunch of event tickets to sell. We didn’t want to be hosting as just Meredith and I and it seemed like there was a bigger professional support need to fill—there are a lot of challenges for young editors and agents that we think can be addressed with a little ingenuity and persistence—so we picked a name and started a Tumblr and the League was born. Our goal is to provide the agent/editor community with events that solve problems.

PT: Have you heard any success stories from The Speed Dating event at Housing Works?

Meredith: Anecdotally, we’ve heard that folks did get a lot of coffee or lunch meetings out of the event. So far we don’t have any deals to report, but we know that can take a long time—you might find an agent or editor you’d really like to work with, but not hit on the exact right project for years! It’s a long game, but we’ve been so pleased to hear that people’s calendars filled up after the event.

PT: I know this is still a crazy time of year for publishing, but what’s next from the League?

Meredith: We’ve just announced our second Dealmakers event and you can buy tickets now! We’ll be having more office hours sessions, where anyone can come and talk to us about things they’d like to see us tackle (events, publishing problems, linebackers), and we’re toying with putting together a panel discussion or two. But the next Dealmakers event is our number one focus right now.

PT: If you had to create a mission statement (assuming it’s different from your three tiered plan on your tumblr), what would it look like?

Allyson: Our mission is to increase the volume of submissions being shared among young (but not brand new) editors and agents by creating networking opportunities with a clearly defined professional purpose. Our vision is a publishing industry where young and hungry professionals buy and sell books and get promoted. Faster.

PT: Meredith, why is it so important to you to help continue the League despite having left publishing?

Meredith: Part of my job at HowAboutWe is amping up our literary coverage, so between that and my continued efforts for the League, I don’t know that I’ve fully left. As we all barrel into the already-occurring future, publishing is going to have to evolve even more than it already has. The reason Allyson and I founded a group instead of just throwing an event is because we love talking about that evolution.

Plus, it’s a good reason to get together with publishing people and make them listen to me rant about high advances. I am the Jimmy McMillan of advances.

PT: Allyson, what changes have you noticed in your submissions since starting the League, if any?

Allyson: I get them! And they’re good! I have had a few calls from agents who’ve said they first noticed me because of The League, and that’s beyond gratifying. I’m new enough to acquiring that I do happy dances in my chair every time I get a submission in, especially when it’s clear the agent genuinely thinks I’d be a good reader for their clients’ work. I hope Dealmakers attendees and the editors and agents who have contributed to our monthly newsletter are seeing similar benefits.

PT: Why did you choose tumblr as your main form of outreach?

Meredith: We both spend a lot of time on Tumblr. We think it’s a great online community, especially for book people. We’re also on Twitter and have been encouraging anyone and everyone to sign up for our monthly newsletter —it’s a big Internet out there but we’re trying to be in all the places our fellow agents and editors already live online.

PT: What advice would you two like to impart on young agents and young editors?

Allyson: Oh gosh, we could go on.

I tend to encourage people to talk to strangers: if you see on Publisher’s Marketplace that an agent has sold a book that sounds like something you’d like to have seen, it might be worth looking into that agent’s background and introducing yourself. I also think you can’t overvalue just being really good at what you do. People tend to notice.

Meredith: I agree wholeheartedly about getting out there and networking, with an extra reminder to be super nice and always conscientious of a person’s time and effort. Networking done badly is just netdisabling, which is not a thing so don’t make it one. Think about what you’re interested in or preoccupied by and what holes there are in the market, and find the intersections. Pick really good lunch places. Never pay for a tote bag.

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  1. […] League of Assistant Editors, whom we covered last December, held a speed networking event at Housing Works […]

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