Because it’s Prospect Park’s tenth anniversary, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I got here, and how my co-workers, authors, and I have navigated the many, many obstacles that make book publishing one of the most challenging businesses out there. Other than trial and error, I’ve learned almost everything from others who are smarter and more experienced than me. So for ten weeks, I am thanking ten publishing heroes who have helped me get here—even if I’ve never met him or her. Here’s the second: Jen Bilik.
The founder and head honcho of Knock Knock, a book/stationery/gift company in Venice, California. I first met her at BookExpo America, before I’d even started Prospect Park and when Knock Knock was in its infancy. She doesn’t remember meeting me then, but I’ll never forget how dazzled I was by Knock Knock’s hilarious books and witty paper goods—but mostly by Jen’s vivacity and radiance. A few years later, we met again through publishing channels in LA, and since then, whenever I get a chance, I absorb some of her genius.
What She’s Known For
An exuberant sense of humor; bold, visionary design; an uncanny knack for creating things that delight people; her dog, Paco.
Three Things She Taught Me
1. Hold to your high standards. Jen has always had a vision for what she wants to create, and in the early years, it wasn’t easy to find employees and vendors who could help execute that vision. But she stayed focused on making it happen. And she did.
2. Have fun. Knock Knock’s office is every bit as colorful and inviting as you’d imagine from their stuff (that’s what they call it); the staff is smart and witty; and they know they can’t create exceptionally engaging books and fun stuff if they don’t have enjoy life in the process.
3. Take risks. I’ve watched her step onto the ledge a few times, trying projects and products that sometimes failed fairly spectacularly. But without that creative chutzpah and willingness to gamble, she’d never have built Knock Knock into the national (and international) success that it is.