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I am lucky enough that running events is my full-time job. I've had other jobs outside of publishing, but none ever managed to keep me busy or interested enough to stick with them. The literary events scene, on the other hand, is non-stop!
Is there something particular to Brooklyn Lit beyond geography?
The geography definitely helps—you have a really high concentration of people, which is a boon for any type of event. And then throw in the fact that this is where a lot of publishing houses are headquartered, and you've got a very literate audience, one that is paying attention. I will say that, having run events in other parts of the country, there are engaged crowds in most cities. And a lot of those stores run just as many events as we do. But in my experience working elsewhere, there's usually a specific demographic that you're pitching to. Here, you've got a huge cross-section of people with different interests, backgrounds, and reading habits. It definitely makes it more interesting!
Who's your favorite writer we've never heard of?
It's hard to pick, but there's a young author, Brian DeLeeuw, whose novel In This Way I Was Saved is one of the creepiest and smartest modern ghost stories I've ever read. It's his only book, but I fervently hope that he's working on more. I handsell that book at least once a week at WORD.
Do you also write yourself?
Nope, I'm a reader to the bone.
What's your day job?
As I mentioned before, I've been very lucky and worked very hard to make events my primary job. Of course, since New York is expensive, I do some freelance on the side—mostly data entry, and a few columns here and there.
What impact do you think Brooklyn Lit has had on the publishing world at large?
It's definitely known for being a taste-making scene—there's a bubble-out effect that can happen with a book that gets big here, it has the potential to get coverage in markets it might not otherwise. Beyond that, I'm not sure; every city has its own specific book culture, and there's only going to be so much overlap with other regions. I will say that the intense amount of competition for attention and attendance has pushed a lot of us to try new things with events, take risks, and tweak formats in ways that we might not otherwise, and then if they're successful, those tweaks get used other places as well (since publishing and bookselling really are just one big family). But then again, I steal ideas from stores like Rainy Day Books, which is in Missouri, and The King's English, which is in Salt Lake City, so it goes both ways.
What does the future look like for Brooklyn Lit?
If anything, things seem to be speeding up, not slowing down! We've already got events booked into next Spring, and attendance is strong. There are some exciting new opportunities coming around—for example, this past summer the Brooklyn Bridge Conservancy hosted a series of events at the Park called Books Beneath the Bridge, in cooperation with six Brooklyn bookstores including WORD, and those had hundreds of people attend. They've assured us they're doing it again next year, so I'm already brainstorming. I think these kinds of partnerships are going to be more and more common, bookstores and series teaming up with organizations to offer different kinds of events from your typical reading/signing. It's pretty exciting, actually; sometimes it's a little crazy trying to keep up, but when you see so many people getting excited about so many different books, it's a huge thrill.