Ink In Her Blood: The Passionate Pursuits of Susan Petrie
Susan Petrie’s passion for putting pen to print began at a young age. “I have ink in my blood,” she fondly said in a recent interview with Excelsior Life. Today Petrie uses her interest in books to help writers become published in traditional and new formats, using both old and new technology. Excelsior Life sat down with her to learn how she helps coach book authors for Hudson Whitman.
Excelsior Life: Where did your passion for books and publishing begin?
Petrie: My passion for books began around the age of four, at Christmas time. I remember I ran around the house reading Green Eggs & Ham to everyone. I could read! I had cracked the code! It was thrilling.
Family lineage may have also played a role in my passion. As I got older, my father who was a trained journeyman and printer used to bring metal type home from the Times Union letterpress printers for us. My grandfather also worked at the Times Union newspaper, in “ad alley.” Through genealogical research, my dad has brought the family name within two generations of Heinrich Petri, a Swiss printer who published works by Copernicus in the 1560s.
My passion for publishing started after graduating from college and working for my Uncle Joe (Girzone). He was a best-selling author and needed someone to answer phones, fill orders for his books, ship them, invoice, and keep track of inventory. When I worked for him, I became aware that publishing was more than just a passion for words. Over the next ten years I learned it was also relationships, sales, design, production, manufacturing, technology, and bringing dreams into reality.
Excelsior Life: How does your passion tie to your career?
Petrie: Learning to read is one of my best early memories, and growing up, I read all the time. I’d spend Saturday’s at the Troy Public Library (that’s where I had my first date, in 5th grade). I even majored in English because I loved to read. Today, my career is publishing at Hudson Whitman/Excelsior College Press. It brings my personal interests and professional skills together. It’s really the chance of a lifetime.
Excelsior Life: What advice would you give to someone interested in writing a book?
Petrie: First, do it. If the urge is there, you’ll always regret it if you don’t give in to it. Second, temper expectations. It’s often a labor of love.
Excelsior Life: What are an author’s responsibilities before publishing?
Petrie: Good writers are not necessarily good authors. If a writer wants to become a published author, he or she needs to be receptive to what a reader expects and needs. Empathy and honesty are important, too.
Writers take risks to become authors. Like a conductor, an author has to lead, engage and entertain, be in control of the subject. It’s a big responsibility that many writers don’t consider.
Excelsior Life: Who is your favorite book author and why?
Petrie: I don’t know that I have one favorite. They’re all like comforting companions. Joan Didion, Annie Dillard, Barbara Kingsolver for life’s persistent questions. Paulo Coelho, when I’m spiritual. The repressed scientist in me likes Natalie Angier and Ernst Mayr. Diane Ackerman writes prose like a poet. Oh, and Stacy Schiff because she is so stinking smart.
Excelsior Life: Where can someone find more information on Hudson Whitman Press?