By Domenica Di Piazza, Editorial Director of Twenty-First Century Books
It’s hard to believe, but after twenty-seven years with Lerner Publishing Group, I am retired. My last day was Friday, March 29, 2019. The company had a wonderful sendoff for me, with cake and gifts and wonderful speeches. The photo above shows me with some of my amazing colleagues, with whom I’ve been privileged to work on so many TFCB books.
In reviewing my career with the company, I must say it is impressive. Here’s a very brief recap of some of my contributions, which accompanied (in slightly different language) the announcement of my retirement:
- I started with Lerner in 1990 as the company proofreader and was promoted to editor the next year to work in what was then the Geography Department. I edited and also wrote titles in the Hello USA series and eventually took on projects in a range of series, including Visual Geography, Hello Canada, and various STEM series.
- I was promoted to Managing Editor, Upper Grades, in 1999 and oversaw the acquisition, development, and production of many social studies, STEM, and human-interest series. A little-known tidbit is that I helped launch the Graphic Universe imprint with the first sets of Graphic Myths & Legends. I also worked on licensed series, including A&E Biographies, various USA Today series, and B&N biographies.
- I played a role during the transformative acquisition of Millbrook Press, from which we gained Millbrook and TFCB. I enjoyed so much working closely with Millbrook publisher Jean Reynolds during the transition, and from there, I took on the challenge to lead TFCB.
- As the imprint’s editorial director, I’m proud to say that TFCB has grown to be recognized throughout the industry for its high-quality content and is trusted by teens and librarians to tackle critical YA issues. In recent years, TFCB has received numerous starred reviews and kudos for its social justice titles, including books about feminism, reproductive rights, economic inequality, racial discrimination, rape culture, and other abuses of power.
- It’s also been an honor to have connected with Hallie Warshaw, founder of Zest Books, a few years ago and to have been part of the transition through the acquisition of that amazing YA company.
When I think about my contribution to YA nonfiction publishing, I’m the most proud of the social justice books TFCB has produced. We are living in challenging times, and I like to think TFCB titles help teens make sense of what’s happening around them and give them tools for informing their opinions and taking a stand.
I’ve learned so much from and am indebted to my talented and committed coworkers, and I’ve been honored to mentor those coming up behind me. The work we do to make books matters.
Editor’s note: Domenica’s retirement announcement was covered in Publishers Weekly’s Children’s Bookshelf, Publishers Weekly Daily, and Publishers Lunch. The announcement can also be found on the PW Job Moves board here.