My Path to PRH: Kristen Capano on the Importance of Listening and Working in the Audio Division
Everyone has unique career stories to tell. In our My Path to Penguin Random House series, PRH colleagues share how they entered the world of book publishing, what led them to our company, insights into their jobs, and their future professional aspirations.
How would you describe the course of your path to book publishing and PRH, including practical, professional, and educational?
My path to book publishing took a leap of determination soon after my freshman year of college. I had always excelled in reading and writing throughout school, taking AP classes in literature and creative writing throughout junior high and high school, so when college approached, I knew in my heart the English Major was the right one for me. As soon as I declared as an English Major at The College of New Jersey, the standard question “so, what do you plan to do with an English degree?” became a regular acquaintance amongst family and friends. I knew immediately that teaching was out of the question for me—I didn’t have the patience, nor the composure, to lead an entire classroom of students. I often gave directions like I wrote essays; beginning somewhere in the middle until the introduction came along, ending with a haphazard conclusion that took eons to get just right. I could go on and become a writer, which was my initial goal until I read John Steinbeck’s EAST OF EDEN after which nothing I wrote sounded remotely intelligent enough. As my first semester of college came to a close, the question of my future profession still remained, but my happiness had reached new and enlightening heights.
Around my Sophomore year, I interned with Princeton University Press as an editorial assistant, where my main tasks included collecting, reading, and oftentimes, rejecting, book pitches. It was during this time I saw my passion for the publishing industry begin to flourish. I sincerely felt for those authors I sent rejections to—they had taken weeks, months, sometimes years out of their daily lives to pour their words and emotions into a piece of art, only for it to be discarded and overlooked. Often times, I didn’t agree with the decision to reject the proposals I read, but who was I to judge?
Soon after my internship ended, I became the president of my college’s English Honors Society chapter of Sigma Tau Delta. Throughout my participation, I was offered the opportunity to attend several conventions around the United States and present my academic writing. During my senior year, I sat on the national board of the organization representing the students of the eastern region, which spanned from Maine, around to Ohio, and down to Florida. I learned so much during my time as a board member, as I was able to read many student essays, and this time, could send way more acceptances than rejections. I could see the passion that each essay encapsulated, and knew that I wanted to remain around that passion for the foreseeable future.
During my time on the board, I was also able to apply to the Sigma Tau Delta internship opportunity with Penguin Random House. I still remember getting the call that I had been accepted for the internship. At that point in my educational career, I had declared a second self-design major in Publishing that allowed me to choose my own classes to gain a better understanding of the industry and its many sectors. I was in my professor’s office chatting about one such class when the call came through, and I immediately jumped out of my seat to answer the call. The HR recruiter mentioned that the imprint Avery/TarcherPerigee would like to hire me as a marketing intern, and I accepted without hesitation. A few short weeks later, I was in Manhattan walking up to the PRH downtown office!
A few short months after my internship ended, I graduated college and reached out to the marketing manager I had worked with at ATP. I was eventually hired as a full-time marketing assistant for Penguin Publishing Group, and back in August of 2021, moved over to the audio production department where I assist in collecting important information for the creation of our audiobooks, facilitate relationships with the print and marketing teams and outside publishers, and work on our This is the Author podcast.
What have been some of the highlights of working at PRH Audio so far? Has anything surprised you?
Working for Penguin Random House has been the best-case scenario for me, and I’m beyond lucky that this was my first full-time introduction into the industry. The people, the passion, the opportunities, all inspire me to continue serving authors who have words of wisdom they need to share with the outside world. Working for PRH has also helped me connect with others around the world who love literature. Some of my favorite memories as a PRH employee include attending the yearly New York Comicon Conventions and working the PRH booths to help market our upcoming titles. I was able to meet so many creators and authors through this experience that taught me greatness stems from the ordinary, and inspired me to pick up writing again.
Assisting with the Penguin Hotline was another spectacular opportunity that I received while working at Penguin Publishing Group. To see all of the thoughtful responses and help facilitate conversations between the community and our colleagues was a proud accomplishment. I also loved participating in the event myself, and plan on continuing that tradition!
Unironically, joining the Audio division has taught me the importance of listening to what others have to say. As a fairly new division to PRH, it has been a wonderful opportunity to brainstorm actionable solutions to obstacles with an incredible team of kind, intelligent individuals. Getting to attend the annual ALA conference and a few in-studio sessions virtually has helped me to understand the importance of the relationship between our team and the audio narrators and authors. I’m consistently humbled by the talent and stamina it takes narrators to record in-studio, and am looking forward to continuing to champion these audiobooks and all of the work and talent poured into them!
Tell us more about the This is the Author podcast!
This is the Author (TITA) is a podcast created and produced by Penguin Random House Audio that goes behind the mic with authors who read their audiobooks! It is a great way for listeners to learn more about their favorite authors, their interests, why they wrote their books, and more. Working on the podcast has allowed me to learn more about our authors needs and brainstorm better ways to serve them both in and out of the studios. You can listen to episodes and learn more about the podcast on our PRH Audio website under the “Our Podcast” tab, or listen to episodes on Apple Podcasts, Audible, Stitcher, Tunein, Soundcloud and Spotify.
How does working remotely inform your work-life balance?
Working from home has definitely changed my life for the better. Before the pandemic, I traveled two hours each way into and from our Manhattan office, which did wonders for my book and audiobook consumption but little for my social life. Now, I’m able to have my mornings back, and have routines that work best for me to be the most productive during work hours.
This past summer, my fiancé received a job offer from the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. My current situation allowed us to move out to Pittsburgh and begin a new chapter of our lives. We have had an amazing time out here attending Steelers football games and exploring the rich literary landscape, often known as “Litsburgh!”