Publishing director turned author: Ebony Ladelle ’10

Ebony Ladelle ’10, MS Publishing, author turned marketing and publishing executive, writes about the universal language of love.

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laughing woman looking away from the camera

You were recently marketing director of branded publishing at Penguin House, and you’ve since become a full-time author, with your first book, love radio, released in May 2022.

Tell us about the central theme of this book and what inspired you to write it.

The book is about two teenagers, Dani Ford, an aspiring writer whose only goal is to move to New York to pursue her dreams, and Prince Jones, a local Detroit DJ who gives love advice on airways and also seeks to sue Dani. After they finally cross paths at the Detroit Public Library, Prince convinces Dani to go on three dates in order to fall in love with him, and sparks fly. However, as many of my readers have said, love radio is also a story of love for the community, the family, your hometown and yourself.

Love Radio was featured on the Today’s show; has been reviewed by The New York Timesand included on lists such as People the magazine’s best books of the summer (online and print edition); Apple’s best books of 2022; and Amazon’s Best Young Adult Books of the Month. You also wrote an article in Cosmopolitan on your inspiration to write it.

What do you think of the contribution of this book to the current genre of young adult fiction? What would you like readers to take away?

I hope this book’s contribution is a positive portrayal of black teenage life. I was born and raised in Metro Detroit, a predominantly black city, and lived there for most of my childhood. Most of the teen romance books I’d read and movies I’d seen were never directed at me – girls like me were never swept away by our feet. So with love radio, I hope every reader will come to this book because they love love. Love is a universal language, and I think it’s equally important to show how people give and receive love in different ways. I hope readers will enter love radio and enjoy it from that lens.

What was it like writing a book and being a full-time professional?

I wrote love radio when I was working as Marketing Director at HarperCollins and started promoting it when I changed jobs and started working at Penguin Random House. It was interesting, because in 2019 I was getting up very early and writing before going to work. Then Covid came along and I was able to work remotely so I was getting up at the same time I was doing pre-pandemic and using my commute time to write instead of sleeping in a bit later. That’s absolutely how I was able to finish this book, and I’m grateful that I made the most of that time.

Promote love radio at first was manageable as many of my events were virtual and I could schedule them before or after work or during lunch. However, once the world reopened and I started traveling for in-person events, I realized the pressures of work and travel were too much for me, and decided to take a sabbatical, of sorts, and to use the time to focus on my writing career. I hope to get back into publishing one day, but I’m also very grateful to have this time to be around for my freshman year.

What inspired you to pursue the MS in Publishing at Pace University?

I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Howard University in Washington, DC, during a recession, and I had trouble getting called back for publishing jobs, so I started looking for graduate programs that could help me move to New York, learn more about the industry, and ultimately start a career in book publishing. I found Pace during my research and after applying I was accepted with a scholarship and financial aid. This was essential, as financial constraints were an issue for me and I was unable to move into town on my own.

Were there certain faculty members who were instrumental in your academic journey?

Yes, I remember Professor Manuela Soares teaching one of my classes and how invaluable her knowledge was. Before I graduated, I told her that I hoped she would become [head of] the editing program one day, so it’s wonderful to see that it actually happened!

How has your graduate degree in publishing prepared you for your professional life?

He prepared me in many ways. It provided me with a network of young publishing professionals like me who were able to protect each other and help each other land jobs at different publishing houses (since getting a job in publishing well ways depends on who you know). It also taught me the basics of the bookmaking process, which helped me be more confident in the work once I started working.

The [MS in Publishing program] provided me with a network of young publishing professionals like me who were able to help and support each other.

When you think back to your time as a Dyson student, how did that influence you to become the person you are today?

Being able to attend college in New York completely changed my life. The location is so diverse and I was able to make friends with students from all over the United States and around the world, friends who are still a part of my life to this day. For me, it’s invaluable.

What do you like about New York and being a writer in this city?

Although I recently moved back to DC, what I loved about life in Brooklyn and New York in general was the access to so many literary events, the plethora of restaurants to choose from, the concerts and just the culture of New York City. I loved every moment here and what I learned working in publishing.

What advice would you give our students, as they navigate their undergraduate and/or graduate academic life?

Take each of your classmates seriously and network with them because they might be the person who can help you find a job later.