Publicist (and frequent blog contributor) Christina Gates recently decided to take on a brand new job with the website yelp.com. We wish her the best of luck in her new position, and we are certainly going to miss her like crazy around here! On her last day, Christina shared her reflections on her time at Algonquin, beginning with her first post-college job in 2004.
I first arrived at Algonquin the summer after I graduated college. I was nervous, jobless… and pretty sure I’d accidentally walked into an abandoned warehouse. There were boxes of books haphazardly strewn and not a single desk or cubicle or person in sight. I finally gathered enough courage to wander out of the “lobby” in order to let someone know I was there for my interview. I heard about the gig through the creative writing department at UNC and knew it was a part-time opportunity as the “publishing coordinator” (which I later learned equates to: office manager and then some).
I landed the job and began my days at 10am with a pick-up at the PO boxes. Most of my time was spent folding press materials, stuffing jiffy bags, weighing parcels, and kicking the photocopier. We had an ancient meter machine that allowed us to illegally turn back time (and make a few last-minute awards deadlines!). The strips were wetted to adhere (blegh!), and the machine had to frequently be un-jammed with the help of a paper clip (and infinite patience).
I loved the casual atmosphere and all my cool colleagues, but being in grad school and working for less than peanuts was not cooperating. So after a year-and-a-half, I found full-time work elsewhere. One production house and one university press job later, I was thrilled to hear about an opening in the publicity department at Algonquin. An opportunity to come back to my old stomping grounds and work with Craig and Michael all over again? Yes, please!
I found a lot of the things had stayed the same: we still have bagels every Wednesday; we still rely a lot on our awesome interns; we still hold our 10am meetings closer to 10:30; and we still publish great books. But things had changed too. The majority of mailings go out of our warehouse now, which makes that “lobby” a lot more spacious (if not quite yet feng shui). And there’s a real-deal state-of-the-art meter machine! The house seems to have really found its stride and – though it’s always pumped out great books – now it’s also tremendously successful in making sure all of them get noticed. I was lucky enough to cheer on several Algonquin titles as we watched them climb the New York Times bestseller list and I can’t tell you how rewarding that’s been. I feel so lucky to have been a part of that process and a player on the Algonquin team.
But the winds have shifted, and once again I find myself saying goodbye to my friends (and “family”) here. It’s time for me to explore the world beyond publishing and dive into something entirely new. Believe me, I’m putting on my floaties first! I’ll miss all my colleagues and the fab authors I’ve worked with over the years. If any of you ever need me, I’m just a Yelp away!
Farewell, Algonkians, farewell. I leave you with my gratitude, my best wishes – and my toaster. Enjoy.