Many of you think that I’m a one man deli machine, chronicling delis, eating myself obese, writing, publishing, and promoting my upcoming book.
I’m flattered, but the truth is that everything I do is done in concert with Team Save the Deli.
Who is team Save the Deli? Well, it’s mostly female, half based in New York, and half in Toronto, with one in Boston, half Jewish, half Gentile, and all talent.
Let’s meet them.
My US publisher is Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and over there, there are two people who are bombarded by my emails on a daily basis.
The most important of these is Jenna Johnson, my editor, co-pilot, and occasional taskmaster. Since acquiring the rights to my book back in 2007 (when she worked for Harcourt), she is the person responsible for changing it’s name from “Death of the Deli” to “Save the Deli”, cutting it down from over five hundred pages, to the svelte three hundred, tightening up the prose, the flow, and the message, fighting for my cover, coordinating blurbs, art, galleys, and pretty much every single thing that’s gone into this. Some days I feel like she’s Obama and I’m Axelrod, on others, I’m Nixon and she’s Kissinger.
The woman who receives the second largest volume of email from my fingers is the wonderful Taryn Roeder, who came into my life earlier this year as my publicist. She lives in Boston, so I only met her for the first time last thursday, when she organized a media lunch at the 2nd Ave Deli. While most writers I know complain bitterly about their publicists, and how little they do, I actually feel guilty at how much Taryn is doing. She’s booking my tour, dealing with delis, and bookstores, and random JCC folk, in addition to organizing articles for the media, reviews, and other press. She’s always positive, full of energy, and great ideas, and I’m sure she prays for the day when my email barrage ends.
Here’s a photo of Taryn (on the left) and Jenna (right) taken last Thurs at the 2nd Ave Deli with yours truly.
I shouldn’t forget Lori Glazer, the head of publicity at HMH, who is directing the overall campaign. She tends to work quietly, without getting too excited, and yet everything she does hits large. Just word from Lori sets the wheels in motion. Also, she’s taken to inviting me to various Jewish fundraising events, ostensibly to help pump the book, though I secretly think to eat the rubber kosher chicken that’s served.
For nearly two and a half years I’ve been in the hands of the venerable Canadian publisher McClelland & Stewart, who bought this book from a proposal called “Hold the Mustard”, which look nothing like the finished product.
Heading up M&S (as it’s known) is Doug Pepper, a Toronto Hebrew with British style, who lived and worked in New York publishing for many years, before returning home to keep Canadian culture alive. So to speak. If building this book has been a long, complicated process, than Doug is the Frank Gehry figure who sketched out the idea on the cocktail napkin, and let me and his team to the rest. Ever so often he’ll pipe in with a thought, decision, or advice, but generally he lets everyone figure stuff out on their own, which is great. If he was a lapsed deli lover before, he’s a die hard by now.
While Jenna Johnson edited me in New York, Jenny Bradshaw in Toronto was working side by side with her (though they’ve never met), slicing into my words with dramatic slashes of red ink, whittling away at my ramblings until they sounded somewhat coherent. Jenny never once lost her cool, even when I bombarded her time and again with grammatical imperfections and un-hyphenated words that were too numerous to count. Her eye for detail is flawless, like Spock with words, which makes me Sulu perhaps?
Marilyn Bederman is responsible for selling my book to the US, then Harcourt, now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (oh sweet leveraged buy outs), and eventually she’ll sell it to other countries as well (I pray). Ashley Dunn, my PR maven in Canada, is just getting warmed up, but we’re all expecting fantastic things in the next few months.
So there you have it folks. Team Save the Deli. Everyone here is supported by many many more, some of whom I’ve met, and some who are doing what they do in the background.
How about some digital applause?