Our production editor, Kayleigh Rucinski, came to us just one year ago with a robust educational background from Belmont University and valuable professional experience in the field of publishing. We knew right away that Kayleigh would be the perfect addition to our production department, and twelve months later, we can’t imagine life without her!
Kayleigh joins us every day from Appleton, Wisconsin, and this week, she took a little break from reviewing cover mockups and interior print files to share some reflections on her first year at Ballast Books. Here’s what she had to say!
When did you decide to pursue a career in the book publishing world?
I have always enjoyed writing and reading and had an overarching goal of one day being a published author. However, in high school, I worked on our literary magazine, Point of Convergence, which opened me up to the idea of publishing being a career. Looking at colleges, I knew I wanted to study something in the English and writing realm, but I had no idea what exactly or where. I traveled to Nashville and toured Belmont University where I discovered the publishing program, and I knew then that that’s what I wanted to pursue.
What has been the best part of your first year at Ballast Books?
The best part of my first year at Ballast Books has been working closely with authors to help them achieve their goals and dreams, which is what I’ve always aspired to do with my publishing career.
As production editor, what is the most exciting part of the book production process?
On the trade side, the most exciting part of the book production process to me is finalizing a front cover. That’s the moment the book is ready to start being shown to people and promotion can begin, which is a very exciting step!
For children’s books, the most exciting part to me is the first look at illustrations. It’s the moment when the manuscript starts coming to life.
We know you would never pick favorites, but can you name a couple of projects you’ve particularly enjoyed working on?
This is such a hard question because when I think of some of my favorite projects I’ve worked on, many come to mind!
One children’s book I really enjoyed working on was Say Hello by Kelly Gregory. It has such an impactful message that will be meaningful to every child who reads it, and it has beautiful illustrations!
Another children’s book I loved working on was My Name Is Brandan by Barry Shein. Not only does this book make me laugh out loud, but it also has an amazing message about embracing your identity.
On the trade side, I have enjoyed working with author Vickie Kloeris on her book coming out this fall titled Space Bites. It has been fun to see her book come together and to be part of sharing her experiences as a former NASA food scientist. I think every reader will enjoy reading it!
One of the first projects I worked on when I first started at Ballast Books was A Midshipman’s Journey by Kristin Cronic. It easily became one of my favorites with Kristin’s beautiful paintings and stories from the Naval Academy.
What advice do you have for authors entering the production phase of their book publishing journey?
My advice would be to stay open-minded on edits and suggestions. It can sometimes be difficult to communicate the ideas and vision you have in your head, but we are here to help that vision come to life! Sometimes, that does come with unexpected ideas and changes, but being open-minded could lead to something even better than you imagined!
When you’re not reviewing your authors’ books, what books do you read for fun?
I enjoy reading a wide array of books and genres but mostly memoirs and YA fiction.
Working from home has some fun perks for our employees—and our authors too! Who might authors be lucky to meet during a video call with you?
Often during meetings, my cats love to join and be part of the conversation. You will likely meet Cheeto, my orange kitty who loves to be front and center, often on camera! Every now and then, you might get a chance to meet my other two cats, Boots and Luna!
Everyone is so used to seeing you hard at work on manuscript reviews, cover designs, illustrations, and book formatting. Where are we likely to find you when you’re away from your desk?
I recently moved to a new city, so I spend a lot of time exploring, whether that’s on a walk or bike ride, looking for a new fishing spot, or trying a new ice cream shop! Otherwise, I’m at home watching New Girl and starting my next art project.
We know our authors have enjoyed working with Kayleigh on every step of their book production process. If you’re reading this and haven’t chosen a home for your future book project, we hope you’ll have the chance to meet Kayleigh (Cheeto too!) and let her work her magic on your book!