Gabrielle Balkan Profile
During the summer of 2007, Gabrielle Balkan served as the manager for Scholastic CDF Fellow Gillian Levinson. As of that summer, Ms. Balkan served as the Editorial Manager of the Trade Paperbacks department, a newly created position. Ms. Balkan had previously worked in magazines and in Scholastic’s Book Clubs division. Originally from Indiana, she attended Barnard College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and received her middle school teaching certificate. In the following profile she discusses her role at Scholastic, professional background, and advice for interns.
Q: Tell us what you do.
A: As the Editorial Manager, I hold a new position within the Trade Paperbacks group. I work very closely with our Editorial Director on planning the scope and sequence of what the Paperback group publishes. My job is to represent the Paperback group to the rest of Scholastic including Sales, Marketing, and Finance so that the other departments understand that each book has its own identity and reason for being published with respect to both our individual department and all of trade.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am currently working primarily on two things. The first is making sure that sales and marketing have all the information they need for the summer 2008 list [of books to be published]. Since summer is traditionally the paperback season because children are out of school, this is especially important. Second, I am working on two main properties. My goal is to position them correctly so that they each feel unique within the marketplace and Scholastic as a whole.
Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: The best part of my job is working with authors and for readers. I feel like I'm here for the authors and readers and I do whatever I can to make authors feel excited about being published by Scholastic and to help readers discover the magic of reading. And as part of this, my job is to make sure that the books we publish stand out and have a place in the world.
Q: What's you first daily task at the office? Your last?
A: First, I make a pot of coffee; and last, I try to clean up my office before leaving.
Q: What did you do prior to joining Scholastic?
A: While in college, I interned at W, a fashion magazine, in the accessories department. I thought that maybe that was something I wanted to do, so when I was offered a position as an editorial assistant, I decided to take it. As an editorial assistant, I assisted on photo shoots and was responsible for securing location permits, calling in clothes, and tracking budget expenses. Before coming to Scholastic, I worked there and at Women's Wear Daily, another fashion magazine.
Q: Why did you join Scholastic?
A: I love books. I collected picture books when I was in high school and college. I come from a family of teachers, so books were always a big part of my life. I actually thought that I was going to go into teaching right after college, but then I realized that I wasn't ready for standing in front of a classroom every day; and so then I ended up first in magazines and then in book publishing, which is a natural fit.
Q: What are the most important attributes for someone in your position?
A: Being a creative problem solver is probably the most important. As a manager, it is also critical that you listen well to other people's challenges so that you can empathize and understand how to help them. Along with that, it is necessary to be well-versed in the jobs of the people you work with and what they entail, so that you can anticipate their needs and future challenges.
Q: Getting personal... Family? Children?
A: I have been married for two years. My husband is a writer and he teaches at NYU. We have one cat named Horace the Toe who is named after the poet.
Q: What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of from the past year?
A: Being a big sister and mentor to a twelve-year-old girl with a complicated family life. I've been able to spend time with her and introduce her to things she doesn't normally get to see or do, including everything from the zoo and books to healthy relationships.
Q: Favorite authors?
A: My husband is my favorite poet. One of my favorite authors is Dr. Temple Grandin, an animal behaviorist with autism who received her Ph.D. She writes non-fiction books including Thinking with Pictures in which she explores how having autism helps her relate to animals.
Q: What's your favorite book from when you were a child?
A: Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni. It's about a fish who is envious of a frog living on land and how you should be happy with what you have.
Q: What did you want to be when you were six?
A: I wanted to be a librarian. I was always interested in stamping books.
Q: What advice would you offer to college students looking to break into publishing?
A: Be passionate and you will find your way. Passion will shine through the questions you ask and everything you do. Be varied in your life and you can carry those interests and passions over.