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Moment 2: Big City, Bright Lights (2015)

10 Great Moments in DBF History
Moment 2: Big City, Bright Lights (2015)

Frannie Gordon is the 2015 Programming Intern for the AJC Decatur Book Festival. An Atlanta native, she graduated cum laude from UGA in May as part of the class of 2015 with a Bachelors of Arts in English and a minor in Spanish. She hopes to start her career in the book publishing industry this fall. Frannie is an avid reader and music lover with a passion for travel.

“This February, I had no idea I would be where I am now: interning with the Decatur Book Festival, and actively pursuing my dream of becoming an editor at a book publishing company. It started when I met with Daren Wang, and he offered me the opportunity to go with him and Philip Rafshoon to New York to meet with publishing companies to discuss the upcoming 2015 Festival. Well, how could I say no? With clearance from my professors and parents, I headed to New York in April, just a few weeks before my college graduation.

On the way from LaGuardia across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan, Philip and I discussed the ins and outs of the book business. By the end of our cab ride, I felt confident about my position for the trip. Despite this, I was giddy at the prospect of meeting people from the companies whose names I had been reading on the spines of books since my childhood. I felt as though I was starting on a journey that felt bigger than anything I’d ever done before in my life.

We met up with Daren outside the New York Public Library after dropping off our bags, fetching sandwiches and eating under cover of shady trees near a carousel. I could hardly eat my sandwich, let alone wrap my mind around being in New York City, as part of the team that has put on a book festival I have loved for many years. The book nerd in me was doing cartwheels.

After our meeting at HarperCollins, one of the publicists gave us an unofficial tour of the newly redesigned office. There were artifacts from the beginnings of Harper, including a grandfather clock from their very first office. I felt connected to the book world more than I ever had before, and as though it were no longer a distant goal I mentioned at cocktail parties to family and friends, but a tangible destination with a rich cultural background.

Our meeting with Macmillan was in the famous triangular Flatiron building, and a publicist escorted us to the room first via a snug elevator, up a whir of floors, and through a maze of offices and corridors. Many of our meetings had four or five publicists in the room, but this meeting had somewhere around 20 publicists in it, and I was responsible for jotting down everyone’s ideas. I scribbled down all the countless names I could manage and googled them each night, laughing at my egregious spelling mistakes.

Seeing how publicists pitched books and the other mechanics of the publicity process shed light on the interconnectivity of the book world. The Decatur Book Festival works to promote authors, and at the same time offers the community insight into stories they may not otherwise know.

So, besides getting the hang of the meetings and my note taking skills, there were many other things that I look back on fondly. I’ve kept my visitor passes, which concretely mark that I have been inside Penguin Random House and Hachette. One rainy day, we had a break between meetings, and Philip, being the gentleman he is, only a little begrudgingly went with me to the Guggenheim, complete with a two-day cab right through central park.

This time gave me the chance to view the inner workings of these publishing houses in New York, coined by many as the mecca of the book-publishing world. The connections I made have helped me with this internship but have also helped me network for my future career. Traveling around New York with Daren and Philip was an exciting leap of faith and a venture that I’ll always remember as vital to kick starting my post-grad life.”

—Frannie Gordon