Industry Innovator Spotlight Interview: Rachel Bressler of The Park Literary Group
Rachel Bressler is Executive Director, Corporate and Publisher Relations, at The Park Literary Group. Founded in 2005 by Teresa Park, the agency “represents fiction and nonfiction with a boutique approach: an emphasis on servicing a relatively small number of clients, with the highest professional standards and focused personal attention.”
Rachel joined the agency just five months ago, and is the first person to hold this newly-created position. Her previous position was VP, Associate Publisher at Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers. Publishing Business Today asked her how she likes her new job, and to describe what she does.
Is the position you hold unusual at literary agencies?
I haven’t heard of anybody else doing exactly what I’m doing. I do think this is kind of a new job that Teresa Park thought of on her own. I like to think of myself as a facilitator, advocating on behalf of our authors,
What are your job responsibilities?
I make sure decisions that get made are in favor of our authors. I can help to review jackets, catalogue copy, cover copy, print ads, and online ads. There’s so much that’s back in the authors’ laps these days, especially because of social media.
Authors want an advisor and that’s what the agent’s job is. I’m not an agent. I’m supporting the authors we already have and acting as a conduit between the author and the publisher and even retailers. I’m trying to figure out third-party promotions, thinking about other brands that might align with our brands, how can we bring different brands together. I’m looking for new opportunities and doing out-of-the-box thinking to widen readership to do anything we can to change the game a little.
You’ve had an interesting career path. Tell us about it.
It’s really exciting for me, especially because my background has been so varied. I started in retail, worked in sales and marketing, have a background as an associate publisher. A literary agency is one side of the business I never worked in. It’s exciting to come at this job from this perspective and focus on the authors, which is really what my job is all about.
I feel like I’ve been so lucky in my career. I graduated from art school and had no idea what I was going to be when I grew up. I joined Barnes & Noble 1992 when they were rapidly starting to expand the number of superstores. For eight of the twelve years I worked for them I had a new job every year because of the expansion. It taught me about working with people and customer service—the building blocks of management.
I worked in the home office with the buyers and learned from that. My background being varied has given me a different perspective and it has been helpful to be able to say I understand how shoppers come into a store and how they browse and what source materials they’re using to find a new book. This made me unique within a publishing house. Working at Harper, my colleagues had English degrees and had worked in editorial.
How is this background helpful in your new job?
My experience working at a publishing house has already helped in my new role here. It’s a small boutique agency with a very small, curated list of clients.
They don’t understand the publisher’s perspective and how things work inside the publishing house. I have the publishing calendar in my head. I know the next step and exactly what to expect the publisher to do. This brings a wider perspective to this office.
My job is to make everybody else’s job easier, by saying: “How can I help and what can take off your plate?” I think the best part of my new job is the ability to work with the authors so closely. In a publishing house day to day is taken up with so much. It’s been nice to step back and work with the authors really closely.