I met Steven Ramotar on a rooftop in Chelsea a few years ago at a screening of a short film I wrote. He was one of the first people when I told him about my idea for BookHive, he was genuinely excited, and in turn, it helped me believe in myself a little bit more, and what I was developing could be useful to authors. We’ve stayed in touch and he’s been helpful with giving me inspiration and ideas on how to grow BookHive. In the interview, we’ll hear about his role working with the acclaimed author Warren Adler – www.warrenadler.com
Jennifer Bowen: Tell us about your literary background.
Steven Ramotar: Reading has always been the most accessible means I’ve had to navigate challenging times. The one line that continues to resonate with me today comes from Joan Didion in “Year of Magical Thinking”: In time of trouble, I had been trained since childhood, read, learn, work it up, go to the literature. Information was control.
I graduated from CUNY Hunter College in NYC with a B.A in English Literature, Language & Criticism and a minor in Communications/Advertising. Being in the arts just struck me as the natural next step to take in my career path. Being in the city regarded as the hub of book publishing opened a lot of opportunities to me and I was lucky enough to be entrenched in the industry when I interned with two reputable literary agencies: Fletcher & Company and Elyse Cheney Literary Associates. It was there that I learned the most about the book publishing industry and the experience I gained there was in large part how I got through the door at Warren Adler’s publishing house. The usual reaction I’d get from folk is that there’s no living to be made with an English degree and that is something I’ve never believed. There is always work for ambitious people who are methodical about how they want their professional lives to develop and who go the extra mile to learn practical skills. I’ve always considered myself a pragmatic and industrious person and that has definitely guided the professional decisions I’ve made thus far. I’ve always felt that if you’re savvy and extremely disciplined, leaving nothing to chance, then you’ll more than likely end up where you want to be, or at least somewhere close to it. I’m happy to report that I’m pretty content with where I am.
JB: How did you end up working with Warren Adler?
SR: It was the product of effective networking, a magical sprinkling of luck and hard work. But the story itself is interesting – a few years ago I happened to meet the then creative director at Adler’s publishing house at a retail shop in Manhattan’s Midtown East and after what turned out to be an extensive conversation about literature and our respective backgrounds she mentioned an open position for Publicity Director. I jumped at the opportunity right away. I went through a three-round interview process, with the third round requiring me to write an actual publicity plan for one of Adler’s then forthcoming novels, CULT. I was in a pool of other candidates who were a lot older and more experienced than me, so the pressure was definitely on. The creative director removed the names from all of the publicity plans and gave it to Adler to judge for himself. He happened to like my plan the most. It was all just a really wild, cool experience and it obviously felt pretty damn good when I found out he unbiasedly liked my plan. Nearly all of my work/internship experience up to that point had involved working with start-ups (I love start-up culture) so once I started working with Adler, who is a serial entrepreneur himself, it felt like home.
JB: What kind of work do you do at Warren Adler?
SR: I’m Director of Brand Strategy, Sales & Communications. A typical day in the office involves working with my staff to create a constant flow of content that is as interesting as realistically possible and finding feasible ways to put new spins on things thought of as old or outdated – as an example, I’ve made it a practice to take articles that Mr. Adler has written 5 – 10 years ago and transform them into content that is presented in funky-fresh ways (infographics, videos, quizzes, etc.) that is new to anyone coming across it. In every conversation I have with Warren I listen closely for themes that can be the seeds for new content and marketing campaigns. It’s a cathartic process and something I enjoy doing everyday. I also spend a lot of my time identifying and securing solid relationships with top retailers, promotional outlets and, most of all, influencers that can break us into new demographics. We work in collaboration with a third-party eBook distributor to plan and schedule effective price promos, merchandising and outreach throughout the year. My staff is comprised of a small, extremely talented group of individuals and together we oversee the branding of Warren Adler, the man behind the books and films, as well as his diverse 50+ collection of novels which each have very different worlds of their own. The most essential part of the task of making sure branding, marketing and sales support one another and yield positive results. That involves having a deep, complex understanding of our client and the goals we want to achieve – as soon as that’s established then we can intelligently figure out what kind of initiatives we can create that will make people stop, look and ultimately become customers. There are no sales to be had without first engineering something that is at its core interesting/engaging. The real fun is in taking what you know and what you have to work with (ideas, budget, resources) and whipping it into fascinating, sticky marketing campaigns across multiple forms of media. Everything works itself out from there and it’s a real adrenaline rush when people respond.
Stonehouse Press – Adler’s Publishing Entity
JB: How do you think social media and the changing ways people are publishing these days affects the author’s approach to getting their work out there?
SR: I think social media and all of the other innovative ways in which communication and advertising are possible for authors these days is amazing. Authors have A LOT more authority and agency in connecting with new and existing readers without having to depend solely on a single entity, i.e a traditional publishing house. That is precisely the reason Adler set up his own shop. Being traditionally published obviously has its perks and Adler was in fact represented by a number of major publishers before he decided to go independent as an author. One of the most obvious and natural consequences of the changing ways people are publishing these days is that it has led to the presence of millions and millions of eBooks all vying for attention and that of course can make it a lot harder to distinguish yourself. But even then I’m optimistic that it’s possible to stand out from the crowd if, to begin with, you’ve produced quality work and you’re armed with a smart, trendy plan for publicity and marketing.
JB: Can you tell us about Warren and his writing process these days? What gets him excited?
SR: I’ve never met a man with such an insatiable appetite for storytelling – he’s pretty mystical to me. Warren is constantly writing or at the very least thinking of what to write about next. As he always says to us, “A day without imaginative thoughts and story ideas is a wasted day.” In terms of what gets him excited, it’s the following: A burst of inspiration that becomes the seed for a new book, short story or play, reading a book that engages him emotionally and intellectually and a great conversation that is both opinionated and argumentative.
JB: Do you write at all?
SR: I’m a bit conflicted on that front. As much as I fantasize about writing I just can’t find the time to truly indulge it at this stage in my life without feeling like I’d be sacrificing my work and social obligations. Let’s face it, writing requires time and lots of it. I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels that way. Thankfully I find my work right now to be both intellectually stimulating and challenging so I don’t necessarily feel like something is missing deep down in my soul or that I’ve reached a point of creative stagnation. I’ve admittedly felt the need to put some of my own personal creative activities on the sideline while I navigate my professional life and work toward a point of relative stability. The truth is, I consider myself a wildly creative person and self-starter so the inevitability is that one way or another I’m going to end up fulfilling my creative impulses or else risk insanity!
To connect with Steven, please follow him on Linkedin! https://www.linkedin.com/in/steven-anthony-ramotar-7b24b46a
BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors. Please enjoy coupon code BUZZ for $100 off. www.bookhivecorp.com
Jennifer Bowen, Queen Bee (more fun than CEO) of BookHive Corp.