A couple weeks ago my husband, teenage son and I enjoyed a trip to New York City. While I've been to NYC a handful of times, this was my first visit as a published author. Avalon Books, located on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, bought my book, Love 'em or Leave 'em, which comes out in February 2010.
Upon arriving in the city on a crisp April morning, we navigated the busy New York streets to a nondescript building where a tiny elevator delivered us directly to Avalon's offices. We were immediately greeted by a sweet older gentleman, Bob Hirsch. His workspace was right off the small reception area. Bob just may be the pulse of the organization. He shared with us that the last Broadway show he saw cost about $4.80 per ticket and it was on his 25th wedding anniversary. He was delightful.
A few feet away bookcases lined the walls. These shelves held every book Avalon has published since the 1970's. I was impressed to witness this wealth of publishing history and to know my book would soon join the library.
We were fortunate to meet everyone in the office from Editor, Faith Black; Assistant Editor, Chelsea Gilmore; an intern I called Molly, I still don't know what her name is; and finally the lovely woman who runs Avalon, Ellen Mickelsen. Every one of them was friendly and welcoming. They seemed as excited about having visitors as we were to be there. Faith showed us the book room, a small office filled with multiple copies of recently published books and ARCs. She said it is everyone's favorite space as it is the freebie room. Then she invited me to pick out a few titles to take home. Oh yeah, that was fun!
The final room was a large work space. Shelves held the slush pile, tidy stacks of unread manuscripts, not the mountainous heaps of unopened envelopes I'd been lead to believe. Manuscripts awaiting publication were organized neatly on top of file cabinets. Curious, I asked if my manuscript was there. Within seconds Chelsea located the thick stack of pages with my cover letter attached on top. Colorful sticky tags hung out the right side, where they had marked all the editorial changes. Avalon is a family friendly publisher, so I had to remove lines like, "manufactured breasts," and "the slit in her dress cut up to her wee wah."
During our visit we chatted about where to get the best burger in the city (Shake Shack), Chelsea's dream to work for Google some day (you have to be google-worthy), and the excitement of getting "the call" from Faith a few days before Christmas. These ladies were great fun and I'm so happy I was able to meet them in person. This whole experience has been a dream come true and meeting the Avalon team is certainly the icing on the cake. Okay, maybe large print and foreign sales would be the icing, but this was a close second.