Penguin Random House invited the Girls Write Now community to their offices for the day, where our writers were paired with editors to produce a zine. Grace Han, a Girls Write Now mentee, shares her experience.
Our day spent at Penguin Random House was full of excited faces, creative voices, and eager teachers. The emerging writers of Girls Write Now were paired up with a Penguin Random House editor to edit each of their pieces and, ultimately, put them all together, creating our very own Girls Write Now + Penguin Random House zine. The room buzzed with zeal. It was a full-on game of tennis; ideas bouncing back and forth between every girl and her editor. I mean, even the breakfast and snacks of bagels and fruits were no longer the highlight of the room—no, it was the excitement that filled the room to create an amazing product filled with our best pieces.
My fellow zine contributor and Girls Write Now mentee alum and intern Tiffani Ren describes her experience: “Hearing the panelists, who were editors and marketing managers, talk about how much they love books and what they have to do in order to bring these amazing books into the world was so invigorating and informational! My editor also talked about how she got to champion certain books she really believed in, particularly books that had diverse characters, and that description of her job really just illuminated the industry for me and intensified my own desire to go into the field.”
To commemorate the day, here are the five lessons that the girls of Girls Write Now will house in our hearts:
1. Penguin Random House is indeed random.
That’s right. It’s in its name, and it does a great job at living up to it. Penguin Random House has published, publishes, and will continue to publish a wide assortment of books from the myriad of genres out there: fiction, non-fiction, mystery, fantasy — you name it! This truth was revealed the second I walked into the lobby of the building, located on Broadway in midtown Manhattan. Walls, left and right of me, from floor to ceiling, housed rows of books that the House has published, including Toni Morrison’s Sula. A simple sight, yet an awe-inspiring one. I can’t think of a better welcome and beginning to a great day than by books of all different stories, sizes, and from all different authors, but all under one House — Penguin Random House.
2. It’s pronounced like “zeen”!
I always thought zines rhymed with “vines” (or, for that case, rhymed with “rhymes”). But to my surprise, and thankfully I corrected myself before I said it out loud to anyone, zines are actually pronounced like zeens. In fact, the name for zines comes from hyphenating magazines. I guess you really do learn something new every day!
3. There’s a lot more than meets the eye… or the book in this case.
Penguin Random House is no Willy Wonka chocolate factory. Meaning, it’s no mystery and no surprise that a lot of work that goes into the books that we see on the shelfs of Barnes & Nobles, the Strand, or on Amazon. Did you know that PRH is already thinking and working with books that are to be released next year? This very second, they’re thinking about what books you and I will be reading in 2017. I realized during another highlight of the day that a lot of proofing and reading and, well, work goes in to making a book as near perfect as can be. Each word printed on a page of a book is there for a reason — after all, it’s passed all the proofreading tests by PRH’s very own editors. A quote that sums up what my editor and I focused our time together on was this: “Saying less can say more.”
4. Reading books is a real job.
A sigh of relief escaped me as I heard that, yes, being an English major can and will be useful. “Yes…” I thought. I’ve been told time and time again that English is one of those majors that won’t be. Well, that is not the case if you want to be an editor, marketer, or publicist, especially at Penguin Random House. There are no Willy Wonka oompa-loompas; just individuals who love books. Regardless of what it is you major in, always remember this: be passionate. Love what you love to do. This is what I saw in all the people I met who worked at Penguin Random House. They loved what they do. They wanted to be there; and they were happy; happiness truly is contagious.
Which brings me to this:
5. We’re all in this together.
Girls Write Now, Penguin Random House. Penguin Random House, Girls Write Now. As the High School Musical motto goes, we are all in this together. We love books. We love to write. We love to be creative. Let’s continue to love these things and be passionate. Let’s continue to work together and change the world with words — one book at a time.
I cannot thank Penguin Random House enough for inviting Girls Write Now on this amazing day, spending time, and opening up your House to us!