Q & A:
What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
My favorite class was Baseball and American History, taught by Professor John Staudt. It dovetailed perfectly with my loves of baseball and American history and Professor Staudt was equally passionate about the material. He took us on a field trip to Old Bethpage Village, where members of the class watched and participated in an “old time baseball” game, where players adhere to the dress code, equipment standards, and rules of 19th-century baseball. The class as a whole was a fascinating experience and one I think about often.
What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
I would say the best advice I could give to current Hofstra students would be to be flexible and unafraid to change course if you’re not moving in the direction you thought you would be in your course of study. I encountered this issue in my junior year when I had been focusing on the reporting side of journalism for my first two-plus years at Hofstra. I realized it wasn’t for me, but I still wanted to stick with journalism. I was confused and anxious about having to possibly change my course of study after I had been so sure this was what I wanted to do, so I spoke with my advisor, who recommended that I try copyediting. I did, and it was the key decision that got me to where I am today.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
How has your BA in print journalism helped get you to where you are today?
In my junior year at Hofstra, I chose to focus on the copyediting and proofreading side of print journalism, the more behind-the-scenes work, which fit well with my detail-oriented, organized style. My work as copy editor for Pulse Magazine at Hofstra gave me ample preparation for the sorts of things I see every day when I copyedit books. Going from news and magazine articles to books was a natural progression. It also helped me get used to the deadline pressure I deal with every day at Hachette.
Who was the person who most influenced you, and how?
I would say my mom, without question. She’s always been supportive of all my endeavors and was the person I leaned on most when I was searching for a job. It took a long time for me to get my job at Hachette, and at times the lack of leads and interviews got disheartening and frustrating. My mom was always there, forcing me to look in previously unconsidered places and motivating me to keep going, even when the search dragged. She always said, and continues to say, “Nothing worth having ever comes easy.” I took that to heart, and now that I’ve been working in my dream job for nearly eight years, I understand what she meant, and readily admit it was worth the wait.
What was your most exciting and challenging experience at Hachette?
I would say the most exciting and challenging experience I’ve had professionally has been my work on The Pro Football Hall of Fame 50th Anniversary Book. This was a high-profile illustrated book full of unique photos of artifacts from the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. It was edited by John Thorn, a sports historian and Major League Baseball’s official historian, and Joe Horrigan of the Football Hall of Fame. It was the first illustrated book I ever worked on, with a lot of images to keep track of and many moving parts, and was heavily promoted by football Hall of Famers around the country, so it was an electrifying experience for me as both a football fan and a book lover. This was a book I would want to own, not to mention work on, and it was a great opportunity to learn something new about the publishing process. It was a wonderful experience and I now display the finished book proudly.
What was a major obstacle you were able to overcome at Hachette?
I think a major obstacle I’ve had to overcome is my inherent shyness. I’ve dealt with it all my life, but in my job, communication is a key element: communication with authors, with editors, with other departments, and I’ve learned to be a champion for the books I work on and for their quality. In order to do this, I need to be assertive with all parties to ensure my books are the best they can possibly be. The more experience I’ve had working in publishing, and the more books I’ve worked on, the more comfortable and assertive I’ve become, and this has allowed me to become a consistent and valued production editor, to the point that many authors have thanked me in their books.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Where do you see your career progressing to in the future?
I hope to still be working on books in a production editorial role, and perhaps to manage the list of one of our imprints as well. Working on books is my first professional love, so I hope to have many years of that to look forward to. No two days at my job are alike, and the kinds of books I work on and their subject matter vary greatly: I love that challenge and that variety.
Carolyn Kurek is an associate production editor at Hachette Book Group in New York City. She graduated from Hofstra in 2005 with a BA from the School of Communication, having majored in print journalism and minored in American history and English. During her time at Hofstra, she was a part of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Eta Sigma, and Golden Key honor societies, and is a member of the inaugural class of Hofstra University Honors College, and worked as a contributor and house copy editor for the School of Communication's Pulse Magazine.
Carolyn has been with Hachette since May 2006, when she started as the assistant to the executive managing editor. She works in the managing editorial department, where she now coordinates the copyediting and proofreading of books for her own stable of successful and well-known authors, including James Patterson, Florence Henderson, Eric Weiner, Bill White, Caroline Kennedy, Jim DeMint, Joyce Meyer, Alexis Ohanian, Michael Bolton, and Tommy Mottola. Her responsibilities also include, but are certainly not limited to, regularly liaising with authors and editors and managing schedules to ensure all deadlines are met. She handles more than 30 original titles a year, seeing them through from manuscript transmittal to finished book.
Some of her favorite projects have been The Pro Football Hall of Fame 50th Anniversary Book, a collection of photos of the numerous unique artifacts that can be found only at the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio; No Bake Makery, a cookbook full of easy no-bake desserts; and Adulting, a humorous guide for 20 and 30 somethings about how to be a successful grown-up. Carolyn also arranged for one of her authors, Sheril Kirshenbaum, who wrote The Science of Kissing, to come to Hofstra to give a lecture on Valentine’s Day several years ago.
When she is not at work and/or surrounded by books, Carolyn enjoys spending plenty of quality time with friends (many of whom are fellow Hofstra graduates) and family and watching sports — particularly her beloved Mets, Islanders, and (football) Giants.