It may be safe to say that writer and editor Caitlin Leffel has a thing for New York City: she grew up in Manhattan, works as an editor with Rizzoli Press in the Flatiron District, and wrote a book about falling in love in New York. She is also a VCFA alumnus. A few weeks ago, she made the five-hour journey north—or 45 minutes from LaGuardia—back to Montpelier to discuss with our class her fascinating career in publishing.
Rizzoli Press specializes in illustrated books, aka “coffee table books,” covering topics from art to fashion, cooking to wristwatches. Leffel ran through the steps of how a book is born: from the agent’s pitch, to the editor’s book proposal, to setting the price and determining profit margins, to mocking up titles and cover art. We asked questions. We looked at the proposed covers for a celebrity chef’s cookbook across myriad permutations and drastic title changes. Then, we wrote our own book proposals for our own imaginary books. Maybe we’ll see them on a coffee table someday. We’re publishin’ here!
Later that evening, alongside Julianna Baggott, she read from an introduction she wrote for one such book: a collection of photographs by the German photographer Bernhard Hartmann, of (where else?) New York City. Hartmann casts his artist’s gaze across the city’s geometric forms, from day into night, from the sky to ground level. And Leffel’s introduction is a love letter to the city: from buildings to pigeons, bodegas to billboards, circles to triangles, Guggenheim to Grand Central, she writes: “geometry makes the city.”