Editor of nonfiction illustrated books — mostly on pop-culture-related subjects — for becker&mayer! Book Producers talks about her work.
What do you do? I’m an editor of nonfiction illustrated books, mostly on pop-culture-related subjects. My company, becker&mayer! Book Producers, creates books for publishers. We work with a lot of licensors; I’ve done officially licensed books with Star Wars, Star Trek, the Grateful Dead, the estate of Jimi Hendrix, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, among others (as you can see in the photo). But I also work on cookbooks, craft books and biographies. As a freelancer, I also wrote a biography of the pop-punk band Green Day for high school and undergraduate libraries and dug up some rare photos of the band.
How did you get that job? I was working as the West Coast editor for a small music magazine, and becker&mayer was doing a lot of music biographies at the time. When I applied, they liked that I had that pop culture background already and that I was able to branch out. It didn’t hurt that I worked at a movie theater in San Francisco during college that was managed by drag queen and filmmaker Peaches Christ — I got a great education in movies and all kinds of different subcultures.
What’s a typical day like? We have a lot of collaborative meetings: I talk to designers, image researchers, salespeople, and printing/manufacturing coordinators every day. I’m not always editing manuscripts, but I’m always writing and researching: book proposals, emails to potential authors, back cover copy, etc.
What’s the best part of the job? I work with such a great group of people — first, the amazing, creative people at my office, but also these passionate authors who surprise me with their deep knowledge of Transformers history, ’90s sitcoms and the time it takes to freeze boozy popsicles (and yes, my books have covered all these subjects). I’m working with a science-fiction novelist for the first time on a licensed fictional project, and I love it! It would be great to add more fiction to the mix.
What surprises people about the job? People are surprised to hear that I go looking for authors — people don’t usually come to me. Our books and our market are pretty specialized, so most of the time we decide internally what subjects will work best, and then I seek out experts in those fields.
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