|Jessica C. Napp ’00 is the Associate Director of Publicity at Rizzoli New York.
Jessica has been working in the publishing industry for almost 20 years now, where she started out in sales and transitioned to publicity (and marketing and social media).
She has held positions at large commercial trade houses like Little Brown and Simon & Schuster, including time at a university press and PR firm before concentrating on illustrated lifestyle books.
She has been with Rizzoli 11½ years and has had the opportunity to work with a variety of authors/artists/photographers and other creatives from Diane Keaton to Kim Kardashian, the Bob Ross Estate to Fox/Bento Box/Bob’s Burgers, plus a variety of lifestyle companies (Wedgwood, Orvis, Coach, Swarovski), and museum partners (9/11 Memorial & Museum, Hammer Museum).
She has worked with Michael S. Smith, the interior designer of the Obama White House and worked hand-in-hand with the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. She has planned and executed author events beyond the bookstore, locations not limited to the United Nations, Christie’s auction house, and Comic-Con.
Robb Pearlman ’94 is an Associate Publisher of pop culture and entertainment books at Rizzoli New York.
The pieces he has worked on include Bob Ross: The Joy of Painting, The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book, Stuck on Star Trek, and The Princess Bride: A Celebration, and a calendar program that includes major licenses as Star Trek, Game of Thrones, and Family Guy. He has edited monographs of the work and lives of award winning animators Bill Plympton and Ralph Bakshi, the movie tie-in books to Burlesque and Amelia, The Joker, the first book solely devoted to the DC Comics super-villain, as well as various children’s books. Robb has had events and signings at San Diego and New York ComicCons, bookstores and comic book retailers in Los Angeles, New York, and New Jersey.
He was featured as an on air commentator in National Geographic Channel’s “Generation X” series, contributed to HuffingtonPost.com, performed at the Nerdnite Nerdtacular, and has been featured on several pop culture blogs and SiriusXM radio shows.
Robb serves on the Advisory Board of the MS in Publishing Program at Pace University and on the Board of Directors of Teachers & Writers Collaborative. Robb is the author of Pink is for Boys (2018), Star Trek: Search for Spock (2017), and an extensive list of other titles.
- What do your jobs at Rizzoli entail? What are some of your favorite parts or interesting aspects of your jobs?
Jessica: My job has many components, the main component being developing and executing publicity campaigns on 40+ titles a year (two seasons). I meet with authors, develop press priorities, write press releases, pitch reviews, interviews, and features. I secure author events in the US, complete with travel and local publicity to support the event. I also help to run a five-person department complete with staff supervision, budgeting, press meetings, and sales presentations. I also consult on content for social media channels as well as live post from author events.
I love opening a newspaper or magazine and seeing coverage I have secured. I love it even more when said coverage translates into a sales spike! I love the access to places I would never have otherwise – private homes with impressive art collections, private clubs that are members only, and a world of cultural depth that is unparalleled.
- Did you intern in the past and if so, how did it prepare you for your current positions?
Jessica: In college, I had a marketing internship at a small academic press where my job was to cull the reviews received from the hardcover editions so that they could be printed on the jackets of the paperback editions. As it was the early days of the internet, I also had the opportunity to do extensive web searches for targeted groups and organizations that would be interested in reviewing the books outside the academic sphere. My internship at Pace was with Oxford University Press and I was placed in the Special Sales department. (Back then, Amazon was considered a special sales account and not trade, much less the largest trade channel.) I gained experience in selling titles to accounts, working with customer service on order placement / fulfillment / credit checks, and most importantly, seeing what other departments did on a daily basis. It was here I fell in love with publicity and decided to focus my professional interests there.
Robb: I had an unconventional internship, where I did double duty in my job at the time, at a small college. I worked on created the school’s catalogue. It definitely prepared me for working on one job from 9-5 and then another on nights and weekend!
- What were your topics for your thesis papers? Do you have any advice or tips for students currently writing their paper?
Jessica: This is probably the last major paper you will need to write in your lifetime. Do it well!
Robb: My topic involved complying with state and federal regs, it was pretty technical and not that interesting, but also working within a beurocracy in which information had to be provided in a timely, clear way that satisfied many cooks in the kitchen. I struggled to get through it, so I’d advise anyone to have an interest in what they’re writing about. I’d also suggest they make sure they’re double spacing. I didn’t, and wound up with a single-spaced thesis that had to be trimmed down to satisfy the page count requirements (in my defense, I was working on a not very intuitive word processor (yes, I’m that old).
- What do you think are the biggest challenges in the publishing industry currently?
Jessica: From the illustrated side of the world, printing costs and tariffs are the biggest issue at the moment. The ability to make money on a book is significantly impacted by the current events of the day.
Robb: The biggest challenge today is reaching the reader in an ever more crowded market, with fewer bookstores. There are so many books published every year, now more than ever thanks to technology and self-publishing, you’ve got to really know who you’re publishing a book for, and how to make the book something they’ll want to buy.
- Where do you see yourself in the future, 5-10 years into your careers?Robb:I’d like to think that I’m still working with authors, illustrators, and companies to publish new and innovative books that capture the audience’s attention and imagination. I love the book publishing process, so I’d love to continue to curate lists of entertaining, meaningful, and thoughtful books that give readers a break from their every day and give them a reason to pick up the book again and again. I’m also hopeful that I’ll be able to keep writing my own books, too.
- What were some of the highlights of your graduate experience? (Please mention your internships, teachers, courses, or just fond classroom memories here.)
Jessica: I made a group of friends early on and they were key in making many other industry connections – happy hours, weekend plans, other book industry events. I just attended a wedding of someone I met through a classmate 20 years ago!
Melissa Rosati’s classes were my favorite because they were the perfect blend of classroom and real-world experience!
Robb: I’ve so many fond memories, but the one that really stands out is when Professor Rabinowitz kept me after a particularly challenging accounting class. He instantly recognized that math is just not my thing and said, (and I’m paraphrasing here): you don’t know what’s going on do you? He gave me extra help to squeak through the class. I’ve never forgotten his kindness, and I’ve never fully understood what double accounting is.