Algonquin Books is expanding into the young readers market – and McNally Jackson in New York City will be hosting their launch party on September 10th.
Cristin Stickles, buyer of children’s and YA books at McNally Jackson, said she was first approached by Algonquin’s Publicity Director, Kelly Bowen.
“I attended Winter Institute at the beginning of 2013 and loved the overview of the imprint that Elise [Howard] gave during the Rep Pick Lunch session. Kelly Bowen, Algonquin’s Publicity Director, contacted our events coordinator at McNally Jackson about an event for their author Sara Farizan. The request was passed to me, and Kelly and I worked together to develop the event into an imprint launch,” Stickles said.
Launch list authors include Amy Herrick (The Time Fetch), Sara Farizan (If You Could Be Mine) and Hollis Seamon (Somebody Up There Hates You). The authors will do a reading from their new books, answer audience questions and do a signing.
Elise Howard, editor and publisher at Algonquin and the person behind Algonquin’s expansion into the young adult market, had previously worked at HarperCollins with Stickles.
“I was working at HarperCollins Children’s Books as a sales assistant when Elise Howard was an Associate Publisher there, and from day one I really looked up to her and loved her taste in books. When the announcement came out about her starting this line at Algonquin I was immediately excited to see what she would do. One of my big goals for our young adult & middle grade events program is to support debut efforts that aim to enhance/ challenge/ change the YA landscape, and Algonquin’s expansion into young readers definitely fits that bill,” Stickles explained.
Hollis Seamon said she is excited to show off her debut novel.
“Somebody Up There Hates You has been made into a gorgeous book by Algonquin Young Readers, with a fabulous design by Neil Swaab, and I’ll be proud to show it off at the launch. It’s also always fun for this group of authors to get together with our wonderful editor, Elise Howard, and all of the people at Algonquin Young Readers who have worked so hard to bring our books out to the public. This really does feel like a team effort to me – and what a great team it’s turned out to be,” said Seamon excitedly.
Seamon added she was looking forward to interacting with her readers in person.
“I’ve been a teacher for a long time and I’m comfortable in front of an audience. But I think that my favorite part of any event is the Q & A session. Young readers, I’ve found, ask the best questions: they’re honest and funny and full of insight. I learn a lot from their reactions and ideas,” said Seamon.
Amy Herrick, though she’s excited for the launch event, is also nervous.
“Choosing which sections of the book I want to read aloud is my first challenge. But I will spend just as much time in deciding what to wear. Should I aim for bookish, chic, or sort of goth-witchy? I’m also going to have to clean my house since my sister-in-law and some of my cousins are coming for the event. Lots of work ahead,” laughed Herrick.
Most of Herrick’s feedback has come from adults so far – so she’s excited to hear what her young readers have to say about it.
“It’s fascinating hearing what part of the book most caught their attention. Very often their focus is on the notion that there actually could be something eating up the minutes in our days. I am going to be very interested to hear what it is that most strikes a chord in younger readers. Will it be the science fiction elements of the story or one of the characters? Or perhaps they will be taken with the mythological/folklore threads of the story—the three witches, or the green man, or the reindeer with the golden antlers. I’m hoping to get a chance to visit in some middle grade classrooms and hear what young people have to say,” said Herrick.
The Algonquin Young Readers Imprint launch is Stickles’ first imprint launch, and she hopes to do more events with Algonquin in the future. Moving forward, she says she hopes to host unique author events, rather than the tired, assembly-line style of group author signings.
“There are so many creative, dynamic YA authors that are up for anything, so there’s really no excuse to rely solely on the reading / Q&A / signing format anymore. We’ve been playing a lot of game show-like games with the authors and the audience during the events. Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian played a BBF version of the Newlywed Game when they came to promote Burn for Burn, and the audience played Russian-themed Bingo for the launch of Natalie Standiford’s latest book The Boy on the Bridge, set in Russia. I definitely want to keep doing that – for my own amusement if nothing else,” laughed Stickles.
As for the Algonquin Young Readers Imprint launch, she says she hopes the authors and audience enjoy themselves, and she hopes things run smoothly.
“When we get close to a big event I always have weird stress dreams about having a hundred authors in the store and no stock to sign or some equally ridiculous scenario – I have a very creative subconscious – so it’s a big relief when things go smoothly,” said Stickes with a grin.
But above all else, she said this launch is all about Algonquin. “Since we’re billing this as a launch for the whole imprint, it’s also really important for me that every part of the night is representative of Algonquin’s identity as a publisher, and that they feel well represented and supported at McNally.”