It has been around four months since David Behrman, from Behrman House, contacted me with interest in becoming the publisher of Seltzertopia (after a cold call proposal I sent last February), telling me that my “manuscript brought smiles to the faces of our whole Editorial team”. It has been quite a whirlwind ever since.
First I weighed their offer against two others. Then we had to negotiate the terms of the contract. Once all the logistics were out of the way, we were able to get to work. Dena was brought on board, their Executive Editor, and together we developed a schedule – which includes the timeline for when I send them revisions and they send back requests for further revisions, the development of a publicity campaign, the timing for getting rights for photographs, and illustrations, and creating the cover design… and so much more.
And in all that time, working over Skype, we never met in person. Until yesterday.
Taking a day off from work, I drove from NYC into Jersey to step into Behrman House for the first time. Parking in the wrong location, I accidentally entered through an employee entrance, right into the heart of their warehouse (okay, maybe it wasn’t so much of an accident…). Surrounded by wall-to-wall books, boxed and neatly organized on shelving, I was so excited, imagining how, in just a year, on one tiny corner on just one of these many shelves, there will rest Seltzertopia, ready for distribution.
Once inside I met David and Dena for the first time. They were even more sweet in person and couldn’t have been more welcoming. Dena gave me a tour of their offices, meeting all the staff, and returning to the warehouse as well, to learn how it’s run. Then we got down to work.
Over the next four of so hours, we hammered out challenges we all saw with the structure of the book. When should we foreground the human interest story line and when focus instead on seltzer’s history, or the many ways we bring meaning to it? We explored three different options for restructuring the book, and picked the one with the most promise (Now I have my homework).
Over a lovely lunch, we were joined by others on the team and, after answer their general seltzer questions, I introduced this group of non-millenials (myself included) to the cult of La Croix (through the La Croix Boy music video, the La Croix Over Boys t-shirt, and fnnch’s 9 Cans of LaCroix (2017)) and then explored various promotional opportunities. My two favorites so far is a Which Seltzer are You? quiz and a campaign for seltzer-lovers to share photos in response to the prompt: “Where’s do you find your Seltzertopia?” But who know – it’s still early.
By the end of the day, I was exhausted but so pleased to be working with this incredibly talented and thoughtful group of people. They both understand what Seltzertopia currently is and, more importantly, how it can become so much more. Their feedback was always insightful, incisive, and respectful. David often checked in with me to make sure I was comfortable with whatever direction we were taking, which was very kind.
On the way home, in the car, in my head, I wrote an entirely new prologue, to sum up the new frame we want to explore for the book, and now I have to go off and restructure the Table of Contents.