Swoon Spotlight: Tamarra H.
As part of our ongoing effort to give you a glimpse behind the scenes of publishing, we are bringing you: Swoon Spotlight! This week we are featuring Tamarra H., a Swoon Reads staff member who has volunteered her time, energy, and enthusiasm to the imprint—while still being amazing at her regular job!
Common misconceptions about book publishing.
A common misconception out there about publishing is the belief that everyone working for a publisher reads every single page of every single book that we sell. The only people who do that are the editors. Everyone else, including sales and marketing folks, pick up the gist of the books from short or extended summaries, sales track records, and the author’s background information. When you produce thousands of books a year, you need efficient ways to sell and market your books–that’s an industry wide practice!
If you could have any other job in book publishing for one day, what would it be?
A marketing manager position would be perfect for me one day. And I aim to get there!
Funniest way you’ve heard a friend or family member describe your job?
“She makes books!” I don’t literally MAKE books, hahaha, the bindery does that. But I do help the people who sell them.
What does your desk look like on any given day?
Neat as a button. Nothing’s out of place, and if it is, my SLIGHT OCD kicks in, and I put it back IN place! LOL. I’ve got tons of books neatly positioned in a semi-circular row on my desk (because my desk curves). I have a cabinet above my head packed with books (seriously, I don’t know how that thing hasn’t collapsed on my head by now), and I’ve got a nice comfortable chair. Oh, and I almost forgot my fun, pastel colored, 4×6 post-it notes. I love colorful, lined note paper in general. My husband thinks I have a fetish or something. Whatever! LOL.
What’s a book you wish you’d worked on?
The Harry Potter series!
What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Keep calm in college and don’t freak out if the work seems overwhelming. You can do this! Stay focused, stay positive, and go into publishing as soon as you graduate—don’t fly around the media industry till you parachute into publishing years later! LOL. And the world is your oyster, so have a feast!
What made you want to be involved with Swoon Reads?
I love, love, love, love anything that has to do with romance. Swoon Reads gave me the perfect opportunity to be a part of something communal, romantic, innovative, exciting, and downright fun!
What do you like most about working with books for young adults?
I like books that explore that exciting time in one’s life when you’re not a kid anymore, but you’re not an adult yet—and you’re discovering things for the first time. Life is an oyster during those times, and the authors who write about the laughs, the hurts, the cries, the adventures, and the fun associated with that part of one’s life are truly special people.
What’s your favorite genre of romance?
Historical romance, particularly Regency romance. My favorite series is the Hathaway series by Lisa Kleypas. LUV! Read the whole series three times already!
What’s the first romance you ever read?
I can’t remember that far back. Ha! But I can tell you the very first Regency romance I ever read: AT LAST COMES LOVE by Mary Balogh. She introduced me to the genre and I never looked back. I was in heaven. It combines romance with history beautifully, and I can’t complain about the handsome heroes either!
What did you study in school?
I studied English, with a concentration in Creative Writing, at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. I loved going there, especially for their dual English program and their gorgeous campus, complete with gothic buildings and a church bell tower!
Do you use your degree in your current job?
What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?
I worked at the Connecticut Pharmaceutical Association, where I gave support to CT pharmacists and their many causes..blah, blah, blah. Those pharmacists were pretty self-important and anal retentive. One time, one of them pointed out that my guest list for an event should have been in alpha-order instead of the way I’d organized it for myself. She was in line getting checked in at the time, and I’d already found her name lickity-split using my system! Seriously?! “Go in and enjoy your lobster roll, woman, and leave me alone!” Ha! Oh, and my boss was a closet lunatic. I lasted 3 months and I don’t even claim the job on my resume. It’s a job I would like to leave in the dark recesses of time, thank you very much!
How did you get into publishing?
I attended the NYU Publishing Certificate Program, where I learned all about publishing from some of the most experienced, high-profile folks in the industry. I took a course called “From Writer to Reader” and it was enthusiastically taught by the President of Dutton Books—a subsidiary of Penguin Books. And Dutton’s books can always be found on the NY Times Bestseller lists. At the same time, I interned for a literary agency called The Jud Laghi Agency, where I learned about books from the agent/author perspective, and it was run by a really cool college alum of mine. See, authors need agents just as actors do. A good agent can get you the best compensation deal from publishers, and if your work is really good, there could be a bidding war over your literary masterpiece! I’m talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, people! Soon after the NYU program ended, I found a job as a sales assistant at Macmillan Publishers working primarily with adult paperbacks, young adult novels, and children’s books. That was in 2011. I’ve been here at Macmillan Publishers ever since! I was promoted to a sales coordinator position last year and my job has changed very much from what it was 3 years ago—but my love of books has stayed the same.