Here’s the outside of the building.
It’s not what I expected. I was expecting a boring office building (probably because every time I told someone at Albert Whitman how much I was looking forward to seeing the offices, the person would laugh and say something like “it’s just a building” or “it’s really not that interesting.”). But I’m not even inside yet, and I’m interested. Look at this building…doesn’t it have character? It’s like the perfect building for a publishing house in Chicago. It reminds me of a New England college. (Not that I’ve ever actually been to New England.) There are even columns on the other side of the building.
And no, they’re not the only ones in this building. They just have a small office on the third floor. Only twelve people work there!
Personally, I think they should be listed FIRST on that sign, not last. They are clearly the most interesting company in that whole building.
Okay, ready to go in?
There’s a receptionist’s desk there right when you walk in, but nobody sits there. I wish I had taken a picture of the little couch and table to the right of this picture. My books were prominently displayed there on the table. Coincidence? I kind of doubt it…
Next we’ll walk around that big blue wall. Here we see offices on the right (the company owners, marketing/sales people, and accountant get the offices) and cubicles on the left…and that’s editorial way in the back.
This whole set-up reminded me of my husband’s office when he worked for Dell. Yes, Dell Computers had an office in Iowa City for a brief time.
There is no art on the wall anywhere…except in one of the owner’s offices. That’s because they haven’t been in this office for very long. Hopefully they’ll put up a bunch of children’s book illustration art…covers from their books etc. That would be a great way to spice up those walls.
This is Nick:
He’s the designer/art director. And look! He’s smiling! I’m amazed he would smile at me because I have made his life very difficult. I didn’t like (hmm…no, I think it’s fair to say I HATED!!!) the first “paw print” he picked out for the cover (it wasn’t a pawprint…it was a deformed human print!). And I have made him reflow entire books after they’ve been typeset (more than once!) because I made so many changes. I don’t know…it’s possible that’s a grimace, but I think it’s a smile.
He had all three of my books on his shelf (multiple copies, I think). I asked him if he put them there because I was coming. He said, “No, I put them there because I worked on them.”
And look at his computer screen…that’s the art that’s going to be on the cover of book #4!
This is Abby:
She’s smiling because she doesn’t actually have to work with me right now! Her office is right between my editor’s and Nick’s, so if one of them is yelling to the other about all the NEW changes I’m asking for, it goes right over poor Abby’s head and she probably can’t get anything done. Abby HAS worked with me in the past…she edited my My Mom’s Having a Baby. And I have to say I was much better then. I didn’t try and change nearly as much back then as I do now…’course that was a much shorter book, too. But I really was much better with that book. In fact, I was so much better that it is entirely possible that when Kathy and Nick are about ready to wring my neck, she’s thinking, “what are you people talking about? I didn’t have any problem working with Dori…she never asked for changes.” That, or she’s thinking that if she ends up with me when Kathy leaves, she’s going to whip me into shape and there will be no more “Can we please just change these twenty-five tiny, little things…”
My other editor, Wendy, (she edited my Tank Talbott books and Alexandra Hopewell, Labor Coach…oh yeah, I’ve worked my way through EVERY editor in that office!) is in the cubicle across from Abby. Wendy wasn’t there when I was, so I didn’t feel right taking a picture of her office without her permission. But I can imagine her and Abby arm-wrestling between their cubicles over who’s going to end up with me after Kathy leaves.
I’ve met Wendy before…she came to Iowa City once. Not only that, but she told me she was coming so we could get together. So I can’t be THAT bad. She didn’t HAVE to tell me she was going to be in town. (Wendy is the one who pulled my first Tank out of the slush pile.)
And here’s Kathy, Editor Extraordinaire. (It’s true…that’s what she is. It says so on the first real page of Buddy Files #3.)
Kathy’s been with Albert Whitman & Co. for more than 20 years, so that’s why she gets the corner office. (Notice she doesn’t have a window, though…) I think that’s her “please-put-the-camera-away-you-nutty-author look!” What you need to know about Kathy is she has the patience of a SAINT!!! Really!!! She’s been great to work with…I think she’s been as excited about my series as I am. And yet, she’s still going to leave before we even finish book 5 together.
And that’s it. That’s the office. Right in front of Kathy’s office is the “slush pile.” She asked me not to post a picture of it, so I won’t. She thought it was “messy.” Man, if THAT’S messy…(hmm…I don’t think I want to finish that sentence.) The “slush pile” was contained in several plastic bins…it wasn’t anywhere near as big as I expected it to be…and it wasn’t at all messy.
In fact, the whole office was extremely neat. Neater than any publisher’s office SHOULD be. It was a little bit freaky, actually…like do you people actually publish books here or not???
There was also a little room that had copies of a lot of their books. They used to have a warehouse attached to their office, but since they moved, the warehouse moved, too. So they’d like to have a copy of each of their books for reference…but that room isn’t done yet.
There was also an old cabinet that had some pretty old Albert Whitman books in it. They didn’t go back to the beginning…Albert Whitman & Co. has been in business for 90 years…but they were pretty old.
So now when I talk to these people on the phone, I can visualize them in their surroundings. Seeing this office really was a big highlight of the trip. And it was worth letting them all think I was a little bit nuts to get a few pictures.