December 11, 2019

The Story of Wednesday Books: An Imprint Pushing Boundaries

By Laura G. Southern, NYU MS in Publishing student

"Publishing is all about story," said Sara Goodman, Editorial Director of Wednesday Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group at Macmillan. She sat at the head of a table in an office at Macmillan’s new building, smiling at the group of NYU MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media students invited to visit the imprint. We all smiled back, excited, and exchanged nods with the editors who’d gathered in the room to share their own stories.    

Wednesday Books is a crossover, coming-of-age YA imprint launched in 2016. Its first titles hit shelves in 2017, and it has since taken off, publishing approximately ten to twenty titles a year with multiple bestsellers. (Members of the St. Martin’s team also acquire and work on Wednesday Books.) The imprint is distinctive because of its focus on YA titles for older teens and younger twenty-something readers, an age-range that lets their writers push the envelope. “We can be nimble and experimental and really extend borders,” explained Goodman, who also stressed the importance of creating a unique identity for the imprint. Showing us the shifting Wednesday logo, which changes with the seasons, she said: "It’s fun, stylish, and commercial."

In addition to an impressive list of bestsellers, the new imprint has an impressive social media presence, with more than 8,000 followers on Twitter and approximately 20,000 followers on Instagram. In only three years, the students asked, how did Wednesday Books achieve such levels of success?

D.J. DeSmyter, Wednesday Books’ Marketing Manager, highlighted their "playful and professional" social media presence. He explained to students how the team at Wednesday Books is "passionate about their authors, focusing on helping to build their careers, not just their first books." The team works closely with booksellers to drum up excitement about their authors, and the imprint’s choice to publish a very select number of titles allows them to really promote and cultivate their unique brand.

Working with authors is also a joy, particularly for Jessica Preeg, Assistant Director of Publicity for Wednesday Books and St. Martin’s Publishing Group. "Publicity is great!" she said. "It’s a round-the-clock job, but in a good way. You forge such close relationships with authors. And it’s such a collaborative effort."

Monique Patterson, Editorial Director of St. Martin’s Paperbacks, agreed. "What I love [about Wednesday Books] is not only the teamwork," she said, "but also our conversations about the books." Mara Delgado-Sanchez, Editorial Assistant, said that one of the highlights of her career was "to watch my colleagues acquire books... and to watch books move through the process."

Wednesday Books, Assistant Editor, Tiffany Shelton

The editors, who work on both St. Martin’s Press and Wednesday Books,  each brought in a book to gush about, and their adoration of their acquisitions was infectious, reinforcing how the imprint creates a narrative around the authors’ work. "The voice is just so visceral. People told me they couldn’t put it down," Tiffany Shelton, Assistant Editor, said of Jane Anonymous, by Laurie Faria Stolarz (coming in January). Vicki Lame, Senior Editor, added that Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles (out next summer) is "atmospheric and romantic and wonderful. Think Moulin Rouge meets The Night Circus." Alexandra Sehulster, Editor, chimed in to say that Tweet Cute (a witty rom-com reinvention of You’ve Got Mail coming in January by Emma Lord) has "everything I love in a book." Sylvan Creekmore, Associate Editor, hoisted in the air her copy of Only Mostly Devastated (a queer YA romance out in January by Sophie Gonzales) and said that it has "the perfect elevator pitch. Queer stories have been very close to my heart since I became a reader myself.

The editors also discussed the acquisitions process with the students, explaining how special it was to connect with a manuscript. Jennie Conway, Associate Editor, talked about the moment when a manuscript seemingly written just for you arrives in your inbox. For Conway, it was A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe (a book about a teenage alchemist, to be published next October), her first acquisition for Wednesday Books. "As a Harry Potter fan," she said, "when I got this in my inbox I was so excited!"

Of course, the editing process was also front of mind, and Sara Goodman, who, in addition to her role as editorial director of Wednesday Books, also edits Rainbow Rowell, Courtney Summers, and Kim Liggett, explained: "I love editing YA; it is more interior. You’re right there with the author, inside their heart and head."

Wednesday Books group shot

As conversation moved around the room, everyone on the team got a chance to show students exactly how and why they loved working at Wednesday Books. It is a place for growth, new voices, and big ideas. We left Macmillan with an understanding of the publishing process and a glimpse at the bookish magic that happens everyday at Wednesday Books.

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