In the wake of Egmont’s January 21 announcement that it would be shuttering its U.S. offices, we caught up with some of the staff and authors to update what’s next for them.
Michelle Bayuk, formerly associate sales and marketing director at Egmont USA, has joined Quarto Publishing Group USA in the newly created position of associate director of children’s book marketing, publicity and social media.
Jordan Hamessley, formerly an editor at Egmont USA, joinedAdaptive Books as editorial director overseeing all imprints on February 9. Adaptive Books is the publishing division of Adaptive Studios, which is located in Los Angeles (though Hamessley will be based in New York City). Adaptive Studios acquires abandoned intellectual property and repurposes it for engagement across a range of evolving traditional and digital entertainment platforms.
Alison Weiss, former associate editor at Egmont USA, is joining Sky Pony Press as an editor, effective February 17. In her new role, Weiss will be focusing on middle grade and YA acquisitions.
Egmont USA’s former managing director and publisher Andrea Cascardi and former sales and marketing manager Margaret Coffee are staying on board for the short term in roles that are “ever-evolving,” according to Coffee, involving seeing the spring 2015 list to publication, author care, and stock transition.
Coffee described some of the support efforts for books and authors. “Galleys for the spring books have gone out to booksellers, reviewers and educators, we attended EBMA, ALA Midwinter and Winter Institute to spread the word about the spring list, and created list ads for the education market,” she notes. Egmont USA is still sending its email newsletter to 15,000 subscribers. And authors are participating in blog and bookstore tours and honoring their commitments to appear at such forthcoming events as Tucson Book Festival, Houston Teen Book Con, YAFest Junior, TLA, and Romantic Times. On the stock side of things, Coffee adds, “Penguin Random House continues to sell and distribute all our titles and has remained an invaluable partner.”
The Last List
In order to give their books a fighting chance, the authors of Egmont USA’s spring 2015 titles have joined together via social media to act as their own marketing and publicity force, in a campaign they are calling Egmont’s Last List. Debut author Sarah McGuire, whose book Valiant is now due out April 28 (bumped up from June), sparked the effort.
“I got the news on January 21 just before it broke,” McGuire says of when she heard that her publisher was closing. “I had an early morning message that my editor, Alison Weiss, needed to talk, so I had someone cover my classes [McGuire is a high school teacher] and she called and told me. We spoke very briefly and we were both a little teary trying to absorb it. These are fabulous people and I’ve loved working with them. It makes you sad for them. My book Valiant was supposed to come out in June. It was shocking – I had a million questions.” Weiss explained that whatever work there was left to do on the book had to be done by the following Friday – a week and a half away. “The following Saturday we spent five hours on the phone going over everything page by page making sure that it was all set and good,” says McGuire.
As news of Egmont USA’s closing spread, McGuire says she was amazed that she immediately started receiving emails and texts “checking on me and offering help.” One of those notes of support was from Harold Underdown, an independent children’s book editor and consultant who runs the Purple Crayon website.
“Harold is a Facebook friend and has been a mentor to me since the Nevada SCBWI in 2010,” McGuire recalls. “He suggested that we authors band together. I thought it would give us something to do – a way to actively deal with this.”
McGuire’s agent Tracey Adams thought it was a good idea, as did Cascardi, who then reached out to the remaining authors about participating, rounding out a group of 10. “We spent about a week and a half getting to know each other and figuring out a name,” says McGuire. “[Author] Amie Kaufman contacted me and said she was interested in helping and she did a post for us. [Reviewer and blogger] Kat Kennedy set up a blog hop for us. [Fellow Egmont author] Sarah Cross set up a Tumblr. It all happened really quickly.” Additionally, the hashtag #LastListEgmont is helping to get the word out on Twitter and other social media.
The Egmont’s Last List Tumblr contains a complete list of the spring 2015 releases, including originals and paperback reprints and their release dates. Unfortunately, projects on the fall 2015 list and beyond will need to find new homes. One exception is Scar Girl by Len Vlahos, the sequel to his 2014 novel The Scar Boys, which is now scheduled to be released in August by Egmont UK.
“People are really pulling for each other,” McGuire says of the campaign. “We want people to know that we’re here and our books are still coming out. We need to keep this up through April 28, which is the pub date of the final three books. We need to cross that finish line.” Moving forward, McGuire says Egmont’s Last List could use assistance publicizing the younger titles for middle-grade readers, most of whom are not as entrenched in social media as their YA counterparts.
Throughout, however, McGuire remains in awe of how things have transpired so far. “I have been reminded so many times that this is a fabulous community and they rise to the occasion,” she says. “People have stepped out of what is comfortable to help and it’s been breathtaking.”