In her first book, I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Crosley, a publicist at Vintage, explores urban life in a collection of essays (Reviews, Nov. 26).

Did your position in the book world make you think differently about publishing your first book?

It's daunting, knowing how the burger gets made. Of course I secretly hope my book will transcend everything I know about how rough the publishing industry can be on first-time authors. I think the trick will be to remember how I felt when agents started responding to the material—which was a little like Sally Field on “repeat.”

How did this collection come about?

I was moving apartments in Manhattan and I locked myself out of both the old apartment and the new one in the same day. I sent a long e-mail about it to friends, including Ed Park at the Village Voice, who told me that if I cleaned it up and expanded it, he would print it. After that I started writing for the Voice regularly, then a variety of magazines and newspapers. Eventually, I noticed that a bit of a theme emerged—comic disappointment.

You wrote the cover story for the worst-selling issue of Maxim ever. Do tell!

The magazine sent me to L.A. to interview The Women of One Tree Hill, a show on the CW network. I explained that I had never read the magazine, seen the show or interviewed anyone in my life. This made me supremely qualified. Apparently the issue didn't sell because there were three women on the cover, all of whom refused to strip down past a certain point. But I like to think it was my poor reporting skills and my inability to ask them where they purchased their underwear.

Manhattan figures as a prominent character in so many of your essays. What's your relationship with the city?

Living in New York is a bit like looking at the art on the top floors of the MoMA. It's constantly crowded and everyone is jostling to get a glimpse of something classic and beautiful and all you can think is: I wish these people would clear out of here so I can get a good look. Then the second you do, you instantly want to share it and you miss the throngs. The city's like an ideal publicist who handles many projects at once but makes you feel like yours is priority—a pleasant delusion that all the sights you love exist for you.