Grace Moss is the Assistant to the Director at the German Book Office New York. She came to New York in 2012 to chase her dream of working in publishing by interning with the Waxman-Leavell Literary Agency, and rather quickly moved on to the GBO, where she happily helps to promote German authors through events and various programs.
What was your first exposure to book business (internship or first job) and what were the most important things you gained from it?
I interned at the Waxman-Leavell Literary Agency, which is full of lovely people! I think the most important thing I learned at the agency was to ask for more work when I wanted it. It showed that I was genuinely interested in the business, and led to me being able to copyedit for pay later on.
How do you explain your current job to people?
Ha! It is a little hard for me to explain. “I’m in publishing. No… It’s not a house, not an agency… um…” so I usually tell people that I work at a publishing nonprofit. The German Book Office (GBO) is a nonprofit arm of the Frankfurt Book Fair, and we promote German authors in the US. This means I get to help plan and attend plenty of events, from readings to competitions to the Festival Neue Literatur—definitely worth checking out: it happens every February, and brings German-language authors over to the US to present their work on panels in bookstores and universities around the city. Also, I love my job.
What is the biggest challenge in your current job? In what ways did your previous jobs or internships prepare you for what you do here?
My biggest challenge at my job (and in my life) is being assertive enough. Waxman-Leavell helped me to take risks in asking for what I want, but the GBO has pushed me to demand that people meet deadlines—but in a friendly way. My bosses are great role models for diplomacy in business, at least from what I can tell.
What value has this job brought to the way you think about book business as a whole and your own relationship to books?
It’s made me realize how much personal passion really helps a book reach its potential. Since we work with translations, all the people I interact with have great burning passions for their books, and want everyone to know about them. Without the translators and agents, translated literature would be much worse off. This job has made me appreciate translations more than ever, and I’d love to keep promoting translations in the US in one way or another.