The Most Popular Publicist in New York

One of the first times Sloane Crosley made a real friend outside of work after she moved to New York was at a party she threw for the 20th anniversary of Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City in 2004. Ms. Crosley was 26 at the time, and she’d been working as a publicist at Vintage Books since 2002. The party was at the Odeon, and Candace Bushnell was there giving out advice.

“The night had sort of whittled down to a table,” Ms. Crosley said over coffee at the Bouchon Bakery in the Time Warner building earlier this month. “It was [former Page Six scribe] Jared Paul Stern, Candace Bushnell, me, Elizabeth Spiers, [Grove/Atlantic president] Morgan Entrekin and a couple of other people at the end of the table who I think worked for Grove. And Candace Bushnell very sweetly started to give me and Elizabeth advice about, you know, work and life and all this stuff. It was actually very nice of her, but I’m not sure either of us really agreed with it. … A lot of it was about getting out of publishing, and how we were never really going to make money doing what we did.”

According to Ms. Spiers, who had recently taken a job as editor in chief of MediaBistro, Ms. Bushnell was talking to her and Ms. Crosley because they were the only ones still at the party who were under 40.

“She had Sloane by the shoulders,” Ms. Spiers recalled, “and she was saying, ‘You want a yacht, don’t you?!’ We exchanged e-mails about it the next day.”

Ms. Spiers, who is now a freelance writer finishing up a novel, is still one of Ms. Crosley’s closest friends. Among other things, this means that if the two of them find themselves at the same party, they might leave together afterward to get food. This is saying something, because when Ms. Crosley goes to a party, a lot of people want to leave with her afterward to get food. (Vegetarian food, that is.) As well groomed as she is well read—the first time we met she wore jeans and a delicate red shirt with frilly lace at the front not unlike what you might see on a very elegant pirate—Ms. Crosley is the most popular publicist in town, and as such, she is more universally admired than anyone who’s been working, dating and going to parties in this city for longer than a few months has any right to be. Against all odds, just about every book editor, magazine writer and media blogger in New York seems to think the world of Ms. Crosley—not an easy feat considering how much most of these people tend to snipe at each other.

“She’s a pretty damn genuine person,” said Curbed’s Lockhart Steele, who was a longtime managing editor of Gawker. “[Sloane is unique in this way] especially among media people. You deal with so much bullshit from people and so much bullshit from publicists trying to tell you this is great or this is the next great American novelist.” Ms. Crosley, by comparison, cuts to the chase with editors and writers, and conscientiously tailors her pitches to suit their tastes. In other words, where publicists of all kinds—for movies, books, socialites and dentists—have created a giant wall of noise, Ms. Crosley manages to be heard above the racket, recommending her writers and titles to others with a gentle caress instead of a swift kick.

Indeed, whether you’re talking to the effete musician Moby—who went on a couple of dates with Ms. Crosley some time ago and remains her friend—or the unequivocally manly Maxim editor (and former Page Six reporter) Chris Wilson—whom she counts, along with (current Page Six-er) Paula Froelich, among her inner circle—Ms. Crosley seems to inspire the same sort of tenderness and praise. Even Joan Didion confirms, “She is a very sweet girl.”

Call it a lazy comparison, but Ms. Crosley is kind of like that other Sloane, the beautiful, sly and assertive one played by Mia Sara in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

“I have really shiny hair. I think that might be it,” Ms. Crosley replied when asked why everyone is so crazy about her.

 

LATER, WHILE SITTING in a coffee shop in the West Village—inexplicably one of the only areas in Manhattan Ms. Crosley can comfortably navigate in spite of the spatial dysphasia disorder from which she has suffered since childhood—she politely said she did not find the question of her universal appeal very interesting.

Instead she wanted to talk about the book she has written, I Was Told There’d Be Cake, a collection of irreverent personal essays set in New York that will be published by Riverhead in April.

The book was born out of an e-mail Ms. Crosley sent to a group of friends during the winter of 2004. The e-mail was about how she’d tried to move from one apartment to another and managed to lock herself out of both—first the old one, then the new one—over the course of the day. Among the recipients of this e-mail was Ed Park, then an editor at The Village Voice. Mr. Park told Ms. Crosley that if she made it a little tighter and wrote an introduction, he could publish it in The Voice.