Q&A with a Beamer – Beaming Books Director of Product Development, Andrew DeYoung
Andrew DeYoung has been the Director of Product Development for Beaming Books since the children’s book imprint launched in 2015. With a Masters in English Literature, he began working at 1517 media in 2008 as a project manager. When he went on leave in 2015 for the birth of his daughter, Maren, he returned as Director of Product Development for Beaming Books.
With prior management experience working for Sparkhouse, a sister imprint of Beaming Books, Andrew found “working through problems and coming up with strategies and ideas for how things can succeed” exciting. The challenge of helping build a new book imprint from the ground up was both “energizing and little scary” for him and the new team.
While the experience of being involved in developing an imprint was new, working with children’s books was also new for Andrew. “I did not picture myself working with children’s books but I love it,” he said.
Andrew shared some insights he has gained about the powerful nature of children’s literature, along with some exciting elements of his work as Director of Product Development at Beaming Books.
Q: What do you enjoy about Beaming Books?
A: Beaming Books is a little bit broad. It’s focused on the wholistic well-being of kids. We can focus on any part of a child’s being that leads to their well-being. That’s really good. It gives us a lot of room to play and find new concepts. It’s broad but it’s still mission-focused.
Q: What do you find to be the most interesting part of your job?
A: The stuff I get the most pure enjoyment out of is really just editorial work. . .working with a writer to focus their manuscript on what it’s really about or what it really should be about. Briefing art is awesome. When working with an artist, you actually have to have a vision for the book. So that’s really fun.
Q: In your opinion, what makes the work at Beaming Books stand out?
A: We work really hard with authors and illustrators to push them to realize the true potential of their concepts, even where that means extensive re-writes. Where some might just fix up the spelling and push it forward, we’re actually going to make it as good as it can possibly be and we’re lucky enough to work with authors who really respond well to being pushed and come up with stuff better than we could possibly imagine.
Q: What do you like about working on Children’s books in particular?
A: Kids books are just fun. I love working with pictures, and words. It’s a really interesting challenge…Children’s books can be really profound, even in the simplicity of their storytelling. And finding that depth in a story when the words and the concepts are simple is really kind of exciting.
Q: Do you think children’s books are useful to adults as well?
Yes. I am pretty sure The Memory Box has been bought for adults. There are a few books we’ve gotten for Maren that are meaningful for us too. I think I’ve learned more from The Rabbit Listened than her. It’s about Taylor. Taylor’s building a tower out of blocks in an unrecognizable environment. Some birds come along and blow it down. The chicken’s like ‘cluck-cluck this is horrible’. Then a bear comes and is like ‘I’m so mad, aren’t you mad?’ The rabbit just listens, because you know, rabbits have big ears. Taylor wants to pretend it didn’t happen, or to remember it the way it was. Eventually Taylor processes these emotions and feels good. This book is about listening to people who have hard things going on in their lives. Our tendency might be to act like the chicken and say, “I’m really mad for you” or to try to cover up a problem in some way. This is a masterpiece of literature that anyone should read. It’s an example of a children’s book that’s really deep and poignant for adults.
…Children’s books can be a kind of metaphorical exploration of pain or hard times. Through The Storm, by Joanna Rowland – author of The Memory Box – and The Rabbit listened both address the question of how to deal with pain.
A new favorite in the house is a book called Cycle City, which is just about a town where everybody rides bikes. There’s room for everything. It’s a lot of fun in children’s literature.
Q: What makes a children’s book stick out to you?
A: A very simple but profound concept, gracefully executed.
Q: What are your hobbies?
I like to run, to do yoga, I’m a big reader and a writer. I write in my spare time and try to get things published occasionally. I spend time with my family.