Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy Pneu Year!

It never fails. I finally get a few days off, and the whole family has spent the entire time with walking pneumonia. I guess it just wouldn't be Christmas without another game of antibiotics roulette. Looks like we all got lucky and found one that is working without making our throats swell shut. I just feel bad that my little girl had to spend her 4th birthday at the minor emergency center.

We need to pull ourselves together quickly now. I leave Wednesday morning for the Paradigm sales conference in Las Vegas. Jason leaves Thursday for the Prentice Hall sales conference in San Francisco. As I mentioned back in August, textbook publishers have these twice-yearly sales conferences to get their sales representatives geared up to sell the newest titles. The winter meetings are usually someplace warm and slightly exotic (Marco Island and Bermuda are among Prentice Hall's recent venues).

My boss Sue and I will be presenting to the Paradigm reps about two of our best-selling workbooks. Our presentation is scheduled for the last hour of the last day of the conference, so hopefully the reps will be able to focus long enough to get excited about selling our books.

I'll be back in the office January 7. Have a safe and happy new year, and don't let any preschoolers cough in your face. I hear there's something nasty going around.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Don't Ever Dis a Former Employer

I just found this article from the Bluffton (Indiana) News-Banner. Gary Books talks about a bad job he had in the past. And yes, it sounds like it was awful, and that he handled it pretty well. Nonetheless, the fact that he is griping about it now (and mentioning that "upper, upper management has hated me"--even if it's tongue-in-cheek) doesn't reflect well on him.

This is a cardinal rule of job interviews: Don't ever speak poorly of a former boss or company. I don't care how crazy the situation was and how innocent you were. It will always come back to bite you. The employer will think that you were a big part of the problem, and that you could do the same thing at the new company.

Sometimes an interviewer will even try to bait you into saying something negative about a previous job by asking you point-blank what was the worst job you ever had. Resist the temptation to share a juicy story about your lecherous, bipolar boss. Soften it by saying something like "Well, all jobs have their positives and negatives. I think the job I enjoyed the least was ______, because it wasn't a good fit with my skills and interests." Just don't say "personality conflict." That's a red flag that will make employers doubt whether the conflict really was the employer's fault--or whether you're just a PITA.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The 10 Most Literate U.S. Cities

Jeanna Bryner of reports today on the results of a survey to determine the most literate cities in the U.S. Jack Miller of Central Connecticut State University conducted the survey based on six factors:
  • Newspaper circulation
  • Number of bookstores
  • Library resources
  • Periodical publishing resources
  • Educational attainment
  • Internet resources

The winners were these:

  1. Minneapolis
  2. Seattle
  3. St. Paul
  4. Denver
  5. Washington, D.C.
  6. St. Louis
  7. San Francisco
  8. Atlanta
  9. Pittsburgh
  10. Boston

Kudos to our friends in Minnesota, who managed to hit the list twice. Indianapolis is not on the list; but we did make #12 on Forbes' Most Obese Cities list. Yay us!

Number of book publishers wasn't a factor, but number of magazine publishers was. So if you are interested in a career in magazines, these are some good cities to look into.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Google Ogles Steph (an Indy Publishing Person)

Funny article in today's Indianapolis Star--made funnier by the fact that I know the person featured in it. It seems Google has been out photographing cities in great detail so that people can look them up online at Google Street View. Meanwhile, unsuspecting Steph Mineart, a web designer at Pearson, was out pulling weeds in her yard. So guess what? Google now displays a photo of her rear end online. She's being a good sport about it, though, because it's lo-res. (Check out Steph's gallery of photos of "big things" found on roadsides across America, as well as her blog.)

I also found this article from the Times of London about 10 bizarre sights found on Google Street View.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ahhh...Vacation Time!

I took off from work at 10am last Friday and won't be back to work until the new year (and really, not back to the office until January 7 because I'll be at the national sales conference January 2 through 4). When I was in school, I just took it for granted that I'd have the time between Christmas and the day after New Year's Day off. But it didn't work that way once I got a real job.

If I want that time off, I have to save up enough vacation time for it. And for the past eight years, our company required the entire staff to be at the company warehouse one day during that week. They were taking inventory, and they used their professional employees to do the work. (Don't get me started on how it would have been cheaper for them to hire temps.)

The first several years I participated in inventory-taking at the JIST warehouse were hellish. The warehouse was in a frightening part of town, was unheated, and shared a building with a foundry. So by the time the day was over, we were frozen stiff and covered in black dust.

It was also difficult for me because I was assigned to the "bulk" area. So I, a spacially challenged person, had to learn how to look at a partial pallet of cartons and figure out how many books were there. I was later promoted to "auditor" (probably because "auditor" sounds a lot like "editor") and my job was checking the counting work of others and pointing out when they made a mistake.

Gradually I began to grasp the value of working in the warehouse once a year. It gave me a better understanding of how that part of the publishing process works (there's no better way to appreciate the enormity of trade returns than standing there looking at the actual pile of them). It doesn't matter how great of a book you produce and how many you sell; without a warehouse to ship them out, you're nowhere. Also, it helped me understand why we couldn't schedule all of our books to come into the warehouse on the same day at the end of the month: The three people who worked there couldn't handle the volume.

Rarely was anyone allowed to skip out of inventory duty (I was thrilled to be able to use "in the hospital having a baby" as my excuse four years ago); as a result, we all got used to not being able to leave town between Christmas and the end of the year.

The last several years, however, it got better and better. The warehouse was moved to a cleaner, warmer place. Our accounting and warehouse departments got better organized, so the last time we did it, it took us only about two hours.

Now, enter our new parent company, which closed down our warehouse and moved our inventory to Minnesota this spring. So for all the negatives of losing control of your warehouse, at least we're not counting books this year.

Friday, December 21, 2007

What Indexing Was Like

Just one week on the Copyediting-L list, and already it's paying off! Member Dick Margulis posted about a memoir article on the art and craft of indexing. Enid Stubin's "My Time in the Indexing Trade" is a fascinating and funny look back to a time when indexing was a more tactile occupation than it is today. Most striking was the mention that they actually did their indexes on--of all things--index cards.

Nowadays it's all computerized, and indexers often mark what they want to index by placing codes directly in the Word or layout files. Then they press a button and "poof"--it's compiled. Of course, they still have to go back and edit it to perfection. But at least they're not shuffling around with a bunch of cards.

I'm planning to post a career profile from an indexer next year, if I can talk her into it. Meanwhile, I'm hitting the road for Evansville today and won't be posting again after Christmas. Have a wonderful one!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Are You Giving or Getting Books for Christmas This Year?

I'm putting the finishing touches on my shopping this year and it got me thinking. Books have always been a popular gift for me and my husband. We buy them for others and we put them on our own wish lists. (DVDs and CDs are always up there, as well.) What will it be like when e-books become the norm?

Instead of having a weighty, substantial little package under the tree, you'll say "Here's a gift card so that you can download something to your Kindle." It's bad enough that half my shopping consisted of using my credit card to put money on Ann Taylor, Harbor Freight, and Pottery Barn gift cards. At least in the end my family and friends will buy something they can actually touch and hold in their hands.

We're already doing this with music. We ask for iTunes gift cards and then download music later. I always feel like a fossil when I buy a real CD anymore (which I do when it's for my parents, since they don't have iPods--yet). Remember when the CD aisles at Best Buy filled almost the whole store? Now it's just a few racks in the corner.

If you're buying books this year, how are you buying them? Are you going to the store, to Amazon, or to a chain's website such as B& What factors influence your choice--convenience, discounts, being able to actually see the book before you buy it? And how do you figure out what books you want--do you browse the store and then go buy online, or vice versa?

One last barrage of questions: What kinds of books do you tend to buy as presents? Coffee table books? Sudoku books? Novels? Practical how-to stuff? Computer books? This inquiring mind wants to know!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Copyediting List

A great resource for copy editors (or copyeditors, if you prefer) is Copyediting-L, a listserv where editors from all over the world post items of interest to one another. If you've got a thorny style issue, a lead on a job, or questions about the business side of freelancing, you can post it to this list and you'll likely get the answer you need.

Copyediting-L has been around for 15 years (a long time in Internet terms); however, I hadn't subscribed before now because, as I said before, I'd rather edit than read about editing. But I'm monitoring it now in case the members might send out something of general interest to readers of this blog. You can subscribe to the list for free, and I think you'll pick up all sorts of good information from it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cube Chic

Wired magazine online has a fun piece on a book called Cube Chic by Kelley L. Moore. The book features photos of "22 whimsical workspace makeovers" to take your own veal-fattening pen from drab to fab. Of course, the Zen Cube and the Nap Cube are just over-the-top examples. But supposedly there are takeaway nuggets that can help you jazz up your own cubicle without getting yourself tossed out the door along with your bamboo wallpaper.

You can also check out the apparently out of print Pimp My Cubicle by Reverend Smoothello G. Debaclous.

And when your cube is all decorated, here are some tips for coexisting in Cubeville, from the forthcoming fourth edition of Job Savvy by Laverne Ludden, which I am editing this week:

  • Use a reasonable voice. Cubicles are not soundproof. Others can hear what you say. Use a quiet voice when conducting business.
  • Think about your cell phone use. Check your company’s policy about personal cell phone use. Avoid disturbing your coworkers with the ringing of a cell phone. Set the ringer on “vibrate” or turn it off. Take the phone with you when you leave the cube.
  • Treat your coworkers’ cubicles as offices. Knock before entering. Wait till the person responds to you before walking in. If they are on the phone or busy with someone else, leave and come back later.
  • Hold conversations in the cube. Sitting in your cube and talking to the person in the next cubicle disturbs everyone around you. Leaning over the wall for a conversation is just as distracting. When you need to speak to anyone, enter the cube for the conversation.
  • Avoid overcrowding in the cubicle. Unless you are meeting with only one other person, a cubicle is not large enough to hold a meeting. A conference room is a more appropriate place to have a meeting.
  • Be considerate of others. A cubicle office is shared space. Eating strong-smelling foods in your cubicle may irritate others. Using scented lotions or perfumes affects people’s allergies. Coworkers who hum, chew gum loudly, or clip their fingernails annoy others.
  • Express your concern. If you are unable to do your work because of a coworker’s actions, politely discuss the problem with the individual. A direct approach is much more kind and effective than gossiping about the individual or avoiding the problem.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Experience with a Career Coach

Many of the top career book authors these days call themselves "career coaches." If you've never heard the term before, it might sound a little funny. Do they blow whistles at people and make them run laps if they have a bad job interview?

In April 2006, I attended the Career Masters Institute (now Career Management Alliance) conference in San Francisco. I go to this conference as often as I can to support my authors (who are founding members) and hopefully find some new authors. At the end of the conference they were giving out door prizes, and I ended up winning one. It turned out to be two free sessions with a career coach named Wendy Terwelp of Opportunity Knocks in Wisconsin.

I figured, what better way to understand what career coaches do than to be coached a little? So we scheduled our two hour-long sessions. We started by getting to know each other. Turns out, Wendy was a journalist in her early career. So she could relate to me.

Wendy asked a lot of questions, and pretty quickly was able to pinpoint my issues and size up what's holding me back in my career. She gave me assignments and held me responsible for tackling my issues. She also helped me lay the foundations of a plan for career progress. I kept her advice in my head and it played a big role in my recent promotion.

I didn't end up paying for more sessions because, well, it would have been expensive (at that time, her services ran about $200 an hour). But she has stayed in contact with me, sending Christmas cards and birthday wishes each year, and occasionally touching base by e-mail.

So if you are feeling really stuck in your career or your job search, I can recommend giving a career coach a try. Just a few sessions can make a big difference. Check out the Career Coach Academy website for a listing of coaches around the country (but remember that you don't have to be in the same place--coaching works fine over the phone).

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Excellent Article on Breaking into Publishing

There's a fantastic article on about how to break into a job in publishing--for both new graduates and career changers. It was written from the San Francisco perspective and includes input from former Indianapolis denizen Brice Gosnell, who is now publisher at Lonely Planet travel guides (you might have seen him a few years ago as the "mean" Frommer's boss on a few episodes of The Real World). He's got some very specific advice about what he looks for in resumes and cover letters. This article is a must read!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Librarians Who Blog

Meredith Farkas has written a substantial and interesting article for Library Journal about librarians who write blogs. She managed to track down 839 librarian bloggers and survey them about their demographics and their motivations. It's good information to know, especially the examples she points out. I will definitely want to check out several of these blogs.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Use RSS Feeds to Find Job Opportunities

I have just recently figured out how to keep track of all my favorite blogs using Google Reader. You just set up an account (which you might already have if you blog with Blogger). Then you can search and add feeds to your main page. I had been doing this with My Yahoo!, but dropped them last week because my page wouldn't update to show new posts (maybe it was operator error, but I don't have time to figure it out).

So then I discovered something even cooler. Many job search sites will let you save your search criteria as an RSS feed. So, you just go to the site (for example,, plug in your criteria (industry, location, and keywords, such as "editor"), and click the Search button. After the results come up, there is usually an RSS button you can click that sends these exact results to your Google Reader page--and updates them automatically as new jobs are posted. What could be easier?

In addition to Monster, I have found RSS buttons on Indeed and Simply Hired, two very cool "aggregators" that pull jobs from everywhere on the Web, including company websites. I was unable to find this feature on CareerBuilder, though.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Whatever Happened to the Career Profiles Posts?

I just wanted to update you as to why I haven't done any career profiles so far this month, in which I interview people working in publishing about their career progressions. Lots of people have agreed to send me their information, but they're all just too busy right now to do it. After the holidays, I will follow up with those people and contact some new people, too. So I think the feature will be back in full force in 2008.

Meanwhile, if there is a particular job you'd like to know more about, leave me a comment and I will try to find someone to write about that job. And if you are reading this and haven't shared your story yet, please feel free to send it along to me at

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What Song Was #1 the Day You Were Born?

You can find the answer here at This Day in Music. Plug in my birthdate, 41 years ago today, and the answer is "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys. Man, that makes me feel pretty darned old!

Copyblogger and Writing White Paper's Top 10 Blogs for Writers

Copyblogger is a blog for bloggers. (You knew it would come to this someday, didn't you?) More precisely, it's a blog that gives tips on writing for blogs in a way that helps you promote whatever it is you're promoting (your company, your products, yourself...whatever). This week they announced that they have again topped Writing White Paper's list of top 10 best blogs for writers. Check out the full list here.

Thanks to technical writer and freelance editor Mark Cierzniak for tipping me off to the existence of this blog.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Books for an Editor's Wish List

Christmas is coming, and the relatives you see only once a year are asking you to tell them precisely what to buy for you. If you're like me, you're too busy trying to get your own shopping done to really come up with anything you want (well, everything you want is too expensive for Aunt Gladys to buy, isn't it?). So might I suggest a few books?

  • 2008 Writer's Market: A great place to look for target publishing companies and contact names of people who work there.
  • On Writing, by Stephen King: I'm not a horror fan, but I highly respect the way this man tells a story. This book has lots of insights into how he got started. The second part of the book is his own attempt at The Elements of Style, so it tends to plod along. (Ironic, too, coming from someone who won't suffer being edited.)
  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero-Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, by Lynne Truss: Have you ever found yourself editing poorly done signs in public? Lynne Truss is your girl. A very funny book, although I don't think I managed to finish it. I like to edit a lot more than I like to read about editing.
  • Stet: An Editor's Life, by Diana Athill: A memoir of a celebrated fiction editor. It's been on my Amazon wish list for five years and nobody's bought it for me yet.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Craigslist: Another Place to Look for Jobs Online

Craigslist has been gaining popularity throughout the last decade or so as a place to post a free online classified ad. If you want to unload your tacky "leg lamp" like the one in A Christmas Story, you'll likely find someone through Craigslist who will gladly come and haul it away for you. But only recently have I become aware of this site's usefulness as a place to post and find jobs.

Faced with the prospect of paying almost a thousand bucks for a local newspaper ad that will yield hundreds of resumes but few of them really qualified, Sue suggested that we try posting an ad on Craigslist. I have been thrilled with the quality of the responses so far.

Many other employers across the nation are taking advantage of this low-key way to connect with candidates. For example, in New York, High Times is looking for a proofreader; in San Francisco, North Atlantic Books is looking for an editorial director; and in Chicago, PIL is looking for a cookery editor.

So while you're out there trolling for jobs or candidates, don't forget to stop by Craigslist.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Wastin' Away Again in Kindleville?

Joe Wikert's got a brand new blog. Don't panic--he's not giving up on his wildly successful Publishing 2020 blog. He's just become so interested in Amazon's new e-book reader, the Kindle, that he wanted to give his exploration of it its own space. Thus, he's inviting us all to join him in Kindleville--not to be confused with the tranquil town of Kendallville, Indiana, home of 10,000 happy Hoosiers and famous for...uh...according to Wikipedia, its annual meth lab explosion?

Anyway, the Kindle represents another step (time will tell how big) toward the end of the printed book as we know it. It, or its descendants, has the potential to completely change the business of book publishing. And if anyone can discern the truth amid all the hype from Amazon, and the negativity from the Luddites, it's Joe. So let's all gather up the kids and hit the road to Kindleville!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Some Insight into British Publishing Careers

One of the ways I dig up ideas for my blog is a bunch of Google alerts, which let me know whenever their web crawlers run across something that contains my specified keywords. Often the results I get include pages relevant to publishing in the UK. I have tended to ignore those because I assume most of the people reading this blog are Americans (correct me if I'm wrong).

I love the UK. Heck, I used to live there. But I'm guessing it would be pretty difficult for an American editor to get into the field over there. Not only do they spell a lot of things differently, but their whole writing tone is different than ours (overly wordy and stilted by comparison, but with a lot of odd "cutesy-isms" thrown in).

Nonetheless, I couldn't resist sharing this link to the Publishing Skills Group's Work in Publishing site. For the aspiring British publishing professional, there's a wealth of information on the industry, training, qualifications, career paths, and job postings.

Come to think of it, I can name at least three Brits who worked for a time in Pearson's Indianapolis office. I wonder whether they had a tougher learning curve than us natives. And for the record, if there's a UK publisher out there that could use an American editor, Jason and I are ready to come back at the drop of a hat!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Do Aspiring Editors Know Enough (or Care) About E-Book Rights?

Earlier this week, Publishers Weekly e-book blogger David Rothman called attention to a startling discovery by a publishing veteran teaching a graduate-level publishing course: Of the 30 students Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti polled, none of them had ever downloaded an e-book or owned a PDA. Rothman extrapolates this to mean that young aspiring editors are more interested in the content ("nurturing future Hemingways") than the new and future forms of content delivery.

Rothman invites readers to prove him wrong. But most of the commenters just proved his point. For example, one said "Why is it the editor's job to deal with E rights? I'm a young editor, and I have yet had to deal with rights other than registering copyright on a book. Is it really the EDITOR's job to deal with subrights and such? Granted, it just may be the way my company deals with things, but the editors here aren't involved in rights issues. Yes, I'm aware of the issues, but I'm not the one going out and making deals. Are we expecting the editors to do a bit of everything now?"

My two cents on this is that if you want to move up to be an acquisitions editor and beyond, you'd better understand rights issues, especially electronic rights. Acquisitions editors often find themselves in the position of explaining parts of the publishing contract to potential authors before they will sign. And rights are a big part of the contract. So you need to know enough about them and how they work to be able to ease a skittish author's mind that they're not giving your company their first-born.

Then there's the other five percent of authors, the ones who know enough about rights to be dangerous, or have a lawyer advising them. You need to know what rights are important to your company so that you don't end up giving them away in a negotiation. And these days, you should never let go of your electronic rights. Any request from an author to keep these rights should be a deal-breaker.

Cathie Black Talks About Her Publishing Career on NPR Today

Thanks to Erik Dafforn for the heads-up on this:

Cathie Black: "Basic Black" (Crown)

In 1979, Cathie Black became the first woman publisher of a weekly consumer magazine. Today, she manages such well-known magazines as Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Harper's Bazaar, Esquire, and O, The Oprah Magazine. She joins Diane Rehm to discuss her rise to the top of the publishing world and shares her advice on balancing career and family life.

Says Erik, "It says it's on the second hour (11am) but you might check at 10am just to be sure. It's on NPR, which you probably knew. Also, the shows are available for download within several hours of airing, in case you miss it."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Some Days Are Better Than Others

What a morning! Because of the ill-timed snowstorm in Indy, it took me two and a half hours to get to work today. No sooner did I get here and read one e-mail, the phone rang. It was a potential author I really wanted to talk to. In the middle of the conversation, the entire office went dark. Thankfully, we didn't lose our connection and I was able to communicate what I needed to him.

So we all filtered out of our offices and cubes to find out what was going on. Some people launched a flashlight expedition to the restroom. Others fretted that we could freeze to death if power wasn't restored soon. I opened all the blinds in my office and several of us converged on a printout of a near-final cover design, really working it over because we couldn't do anything else. Then I graded an applicant's editing test (we make people take it on hard copy because if we gave it to them online, they could use spell-check).

An hour and a half later, the lights came back on--just in time for lunch! Jim, the world's nicest CFO, is here from Minnesota and had already planned to bring in an Olive Garden buffet to celebrate year-end. So that was festive and fun.

So I guess it's been a pretty good day, despite not getting anything done. Yesterday wasn't bad, either: We got unexpected year-end bonuses; and I got in and out of the BMV to renew my license in less than 30 minutes. I must be living right!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Eight Tips for Using Fonts Effectively on Your Resume

Part of my job as queen of the resume books at JIST has been to take the sample resumes from the authors, proofread them (or have them proofed by someone else), check the fonts to make sure they look as the author intended, and fix as needed. Then I PDF them and send them to layout. Many of my books have as many as 100 sample resumes, and some have more than 300. So, many thousands of resumes have passed through my hands this way. And as you might recall, I am in the midst of hiring a new editor. So I’m looking at lots of real resumes now, too.

I love fonts—I just adore them—and using them correctly can have a big impact on your resume’s success (or failure). Here are some ideas for using fonts as effectively as possible on your resume.

  1. If you’re using a font nobody else is likely to have on their computer, convert your resume to a PDF before you send it. Twice this week I got resumes that used some very obscure fonts. When I opened them on my computer, they had turned to generic-looking Courier because I don’t have those fonts installed. (And I just inherited a computer from a graphic designer, so I’ve got hundreds of fonts now.)
  2. Don’t use more than two fonts on your resume. I like to use a nice true bold, sans serif font for the headings and a readable serif font for the text. There are always exceptions to this rule, and they can work fine. Just don’t make your resume look like a ransom note. (OMG, is that my own original thought, or did I subconsciously plagiarize it from Mike Farr? Sometimes I lose track.)
  3. Stick to black text. I’ve seen some resumes that used color on the fonts for emphasis, and they were stunning onscreen. But when they were printed on a black-and-white printer (and not many offices have color printers), they were almost unreadable.
  4. Don’t use goofy fonts. If I see one more resume done in the cartoonish Comic Sans font, I will scream. People, that is so 1990s. And it doesn’t help your credibility.
  5. Don’t be afraid to keep it simple. Susan Britton Whitcomb, author of Résumé Magic, generally uses Times New Roman on most of her resumes—the most common font imaginable. But she makes it look elegant with proper boldfacing, small caps, and well-placed rules.
  6. Use your font choice to perpetuate your personal brand. If you want to emphasize your creativity, you can use a script font (as long as it’s readable) for headings. If you’re an accountant, Times New Roman is a good choice. I’m experimenting with old newspaper fonts on my resume to put forward a “retro-but-savvy woman of words” image.
  7. Pick the right font size. Some fonts are just naturally bigger than others. Experiment with sizes until you find one that’s readable and allows you to keep your resume on one or two pages.
  8. If you’re pasting your resume into an e-mail or an online database, use Courier. In this case, font doesn’t matter, and it will probably end up looking like Courier, anyway. Be careful not to use rules or bullets, because they will drop out. Instead, you can use keyboard characters to imitate these elements.

In all honesty, if the perfect candidate's resume came across my desk and broke one of these rules, I would hope it wouldn't keep me from calling them in for an interview. But in the ultra-competitive game of job seeking, why not give yourself every advantage possible?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Directory of Publishing Associations from John Kremer

John Kremer is a book marketing consultant and author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books. He caters to the small indie press and self-publishing crowd. But still, I get his newsletter every week and there are often tips I find useful.

So I was happy, as I was trolling for more publishing associations to mention here, to find his list of nearly 100 of them. He freely admits that some may be out of date (for instance, I can't find much online evidence of the Indianapolis Publishers Association that he mentions). But there are still plenty of good leads here for ferreting out smaller publishers and contact names.

Friday, November 30, 2007

A Blog Is Born!

Today let's officially welcome Krisan Matthews to the blogosphere. Her new blog is The Publishing Curve, about her adventures as an editorial assistant and her love of books in general. She's already off to a great start, with a post yesterday about a day in her life in Chicago (I thought my commute was tough!).

She's also got a great blogroll going, as well as several other cool widgets. So stop by and say "hi" to the newest publishing blogger. I'm looking forward to reading her future posts.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Publishing Jobs and Career Info on

What on earth took me so long to explore this fabulous resource?'s publishing section on its website is just amazing--chock-full of articles and facts on publishing careers, such as salaries, day-in-the-life articles, company profiles, industry info, networking boards, a sample resume, job and internship listings, and much more. Some of the content is free, and some of it you have to have a subscription to view.

Vault does all this to promote its book on publishing careers, Vault Career Guide to Book Publishing. At $29.95 and only 128 pages, it's kind of steep. Plus, it's more than three years old at this point. When they come out with a new edition, I will be sure to review it here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Another Way to Network About Careers Online: Yahoo! Kickstart

Yesterday Lindsey Pollak blogged about another new social/professional networking site: Yahoo! Kickstart. It's billed as "a professional network with a distinct purpose: to help college students connect with professionals and alumni who can help them find the right internships, post-graduate jobs, career development advice, support and mentorship." Sounds like it's right up our alley!

Kickstart fills the gap between Facebook (more social than professional) and LinkedIn (a bit too hardcore for college students, maybe). So it has the potential to take off (but maybe not as much as if it were sponsored by Google...). I think it's worth joining to see what happens.

You gotta give Yahoo! credit for some cheekily clever positioning. In their list of reasons to join is this one: "Uncle Ron may work for IBM, but it doesn't mean you want him writing on your wall or poking your friends." Um, yeah.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Would You Use Twitter to Find a Job?

Rusty Weston on the My Global Career blog posts this question. He then proceeds to tell the story of a Dutch entrepreneur who puts out vacancy announcements over Twitter.

Twitter, BTW, is "a service for friends, family, and coworkers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?" My grandmother, who called us eight times a day even though she lived just three miles away, would have loved it. I, on the other hand, don't have time for it right now.

I suppose any medium that connects people to one another can be used to network for job opportunities. But this seems like a stretch to me. I agree with the entrepreneur that most companies want a cheaper, easier way to find new employees. But I think most companies, especially those in the somewhat conservative publishing industry, aren't ready for this one just yet.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Don't Become an Informational Interview Pet Peeve Statistic

Last week author Laurence Shatkin sent me a link to this article on Marci Alboher's Shifting Careers blog on In it, Marci lets off a little steam about the wrong ways to request and conduct an informational interview.

An informational interview is when you find someone who has a job you are interested in and ask them whether they will spend some time telling you about their job and giving you advice. It's not, as some people might think, a way to trick someone into interviewing you for an actual job opening. So you have to be very careful and clear that you are not looking for a job--just information. Most of the people who have requested informational interviews from me were well-coached ahead of time and have held that line admirably. Sometimes they are even a little surprised or flustered when I ask them to send their resume ahead of the meeting. I just like to see what they've done in the past so that I can advise them a little better for the future. (You'll see below that some experts advise against involving your resume at all.)

A few people commented on Marci's post with their own pet peeves. Not saying "thank you" is a big one. Others said to do your homework and don't overstay your welcome.

My author-friend Katy Piotrowski, author of The Career Coward's Guide to Changing Careers, devotes two entire chapters of that book to the fine art of effective informational interviewing. She provides a list of success steps for the informational meeting:

  • Determine whether you’ll be meeting in person or over the phone.
  • Decide on a time that works for both of you.
  • Double-check the appointment time and place.
  • Dress appropriately. Aim to look neat, but don’t dress as if you’re going in for a job interview.
  • Take notes (and leave your resume at home). You don’t want to present a mixed message. If the specialist asks for your resume, say something like, “Because I’m still deciding on my future career path, I haven’t created my resume yet. However, I’ll be happy to keep you posted on my decisions and share one with you at a later time. Would that be okay?”
  • Turn off distractions. Your cell phone, Blackberry, or any other beeping device should be turned off so that you can give the specialist your full attention.
  • Be an effective listener. As the interviewer, you should talk 25 percent or less of the time, and listen for 75 percent or more of the conversation.
  • Use an agenda. It’s perfectly fine to take along a list of questions. In fact, the interviewer will be impressed that you’re prepared! It’s also fine to share a copy of the questions with the specialist at the beginning of the conversation. This sometimes helps the specialist to stay focused with his or her responses.
  • Keep track of the time. You’ve asked for 15 to 30 minutes, so be sure to watch the clock.
  • Handle “want a job?” offers. Being offered a job during an informational interview can be flattering and exciting, but be wary of saying, “Yes!”, at least right away. Keep in mind that you’re still researching and making decisions about your career path. It’s better to respond with, “Wow, I’m really flattered. Thank you! Because I’m still researching my career path, I’m not ready to make that kind of decision right now. Could I get back to you in the near future, once I’m clearer about my plans?”
  • Wrap up successfully. Review your questions and notes to make sure you’ve covered everything. Confirm the contact information for any referrals you’ve been given, ask for their business card, and look the specialist in the eye and say, “This has been very helpful to me, thank you. May I keep in touch if I have further questions, and to let you know how things progress for me?”
  • Send a timely thank-you. Whether it’s an e-mail or a hand-written note (either is fine), it’s important to send a message thanking the specialist for his or her time and insights.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Arizona Book Publishing Association

When you think of Arizona, I'll bet publishing isn't the first thing that comes to mind (more likely, the mental image you get is a big saguaro cactus). But it turns out that they have a thriving publishing community made up of the 120 or so members of the Arizona Book Publishing Association. Not all of these members are actual publishers; many are affiliated businesses such as printers and binders.

Their website includes a very helpful list of members complete with contact names, in case you would like to network your way into a publishing career in Arizona (and who wouldn't--it's a lovely place!). You can also take advantage of announcements of their monthly gatherings (which sound like a lot of fun!).

For the members themselves, there are lots of reasons to join. In fact, they give a list:
  1. The contacts.
  2. The referrals.
  3. The information.
  4. The professional growth.
  5. The newsletter.
  6. The monthly meetings.
  7. The access to experts.
  8. The educational opportunities.
  9. The Web site.
  10. The fun.

This site got me thinking: If Minnesota and Arizona (and surely many other states) have organizations like these, why not Indiana?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Give Thanks for Your Mentors

"Oh no," you're thinking. "Not another cheesy Thanksgiving-themed blog post!" But really, there's a relevant message here about how mentors can help shape your career (and your life), if you will bear with me through my self-indulgent little trip back in time.

I've been thinking a lot over the past few weeks about the people who helped me figure out where I belonged and find the work I was meant to do. I wonder how I got so lucky to have literally fallen into so much good advice from so many caring people. Although I owe a lot to my parents (insisting that I go to college, and instilling in me their entrepreneurial spirit and "git-'er-done" work ethic), they were very young and naive about careers and education.

The first concerned outsider to step in was my third-grade teacher, the late Charlotte Petkovsek, who told me bluntly that just because I was a girl, it didn't mean I had to be a teacher. She told me to think bigger. (Not that being a teacher is bad, but it wouldn't have fit well with my introverted nature, anyway.)

Then there was the late Don Weil, the middle-school band director at my school. After I took his required music aptitude test but declined to join the program, he went directly to my parents (not hard, since he lived next door) to convince them to let me join the band. I shudder to think what my life would have been like without the camaraderie and joy of being a musician. It brought me out of my shell and helped me make so many later connections that propelled me to my career destiny.

As a high-school freshman, a band friend's dad, who happened to be the dean of arts and sciences at the University of Evansville, locked in on me and said, "You will be an English major at UE." Sam Longmire ended up being my advisor and confidant for many years. I still remember him trying to pry from me an idea of my dream career. "What do you see yourself doing?" he asked. When I gave a vague idea (working with words in an office, mostly by myself, but with moderate interaction with others), he steered me toward taking communications courses along with my literature (much as it pained him as a literary purist).

One summer I had an internship in the promotions department at the Evansville Courier. It was quasi- journalism--writing ads disguised as newspaper articles. But our supervisor Ann Ennis made it worthwhile, drilling us on our writing and our reporting techniques until they were strong. She lined up informational interviews to help us with our career choices. And she left us with an indelible piece of advice: "If you ever stop learning and growing in your job, no matter how comfortable you are, force yourself to move on."

After a couple of rocky post-grad jobs and a move to Indianapolis, Joe Wikert plucked me from obscurity and hired me as a copy editor at Macmillan Computer Publishing. What was special about working with Joe was how he took the time to educate everyone about the big picture of publishing, instead of just expecting us to focus on the little picture of editing. Sometimes I still find myself asking, "What would Joe do?" And I usually make the right choice. Recently, he's also the one who pushed me to post to this blog daily, and provided the "spark" that started getting it noticed by mentioning it on his own very popular blog.

And I'd like to thank my JIST mentors (Sue Pines, Janet Banks, and Mike Farr) for teaching me about the careers business and giving me the freedom to do my own thing here. Especially important was their support of my three years as a two-day telecommuter while my little girl was young. It helped balance things out better and got me a few steps closer to "having it all."

I've left off lots of people, no doubt. But I think I've made my point. Mentors are everywhere--they're your teachers, your next-door neighbors, and your bosses and coworkers. You never know when you'll run across that one person who will make a huge difference in your life. During this week when we pause about 30 seconds from eating to think about what we're thankful for, think of your mentors. And someday, you can pay it forward.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Krisan Matthews on Pace University's M.S. in Publishing Info Session

Krisan in Chicago has kindly volunteered to share with us what she learned at the Pace University informational session last week. Thanks for the detailed and insightful report!

This past Thursday, I had the opportunity to participate in an online chat/information session about the M.S. in Publishing and Certificate in Publishing programs at Pace University in New York City. The M.S. program is the oldest one of its kind in the country and has been in existence for approximately 25 years.

The M.S. program consists of a total of 36 credits--18 credits for required courses, 12 credits for elective courses, and 6 credits for the graduate seminar or internship. It is regarded as a high-caliber, rigorous program and is taught by current publishing professionals.

Certificates are also offered in the Business Aspects of Publishing, Book Publishing, and Magazine Publishing.

Both the M.S. and the Certificate in the Business Aspects of Publishing are offered in an online format vs. a traditional classroom format. The online classes are taught using Blackboard and are completed at the student's own pace. The online format allows for students who do not live in New York City to earn a reputable degree. It is typically completed within approximately 3 years online.

Merit and endowed scholarships are also available to students in this program at the time of their application.

December 1st is the priority deadline for applications. However, admission is rolling and applications are accepted at any time during the year.

For more information on either the M.S. in Publishing or the Certificate programs, please visit

Monday, November 19, 2007

"Young to Publishing Group" Launches Website

The Association of American Publishers last week announced the launch of a new website aimed at entry-level publishing professionals. is filled with resources, including newsletter articles, helpful links, information on the mentoring program, and updates on the group's events, which include brown-bag lunch programs featuring prominent people in the industry (most of this takes place in NYC).

"The Young to Publishing Group is an initiative of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) that strives to give entry-level and junior industry employees (typically with 0-5 years of publishing experience) a chance to build a community outside of their own publishing house and to educate themselves about the publishing industry as a whole. MEMBERSHIP IS FREE, and is open to all 'young' (not far advanced in growth, junior, lacking experience) persons currently employed by a book-publishing house," said Christina Rodriguez, project coordinator at the AAP.

Of particular interest is the 60-Minute Mentoring program, which pairs young publishing professionals with each other to share their experiences over coffee. The program is open to people outside New York, and their "coffee" can be over phone or e-mail. Once the 60 minutes is up, there's no further obligation (unless, of course, you become friends and want to continue meeting on your own).

The group, which is under the auspices of the AAP's Diversity, Recruit & Retain Committee, has been around for six years. You can join by filling out a short questionnaire at the site.

Thanks to Joe Wikert for passing along the press release!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Professional Resume Writer

In my job editing career books, I have naturally become immersed in the careers community--and in particular with the hundreds of professional resume writers. After all, I can identify with them in so many ways. I go to their conventions, read their blogs, and talk and e-mail with at least one of them every day. In the process I have become a convert to the idea of hiring a professional resume writer, even for people with excellent writing and editing skills.

So why, you ask, if a person is an excellent writer, should they pay someone else to write their resume? It costs a lot of money (according to surveys the author Louise Kursmark did for her newest book, Directory of Professional Resume Writers, the majority of the writers charge between $200 and $700, and some charge as much as $1,800 or more, depending on the candidate's level of experience). Well, here's the list of reasons I compiled:

  1. You don’t have time to write it yourself.
  2. You don’t know where to begin.
  3. You tried it yourself and got stuck.
  4. You aren’t good with words.
  5. You lack the objectivity to present your most important accomplishments and leave out less relevant experiences.
  6. You’ve forgotten a lot of your key accomplishments and need someone to help you bring them out.
  7. You’re not good with formatting and design.
  8. You don’t know the best ways to use a resume once it’s finished.
  9. You don’t know what an employer wants to see.
  10. Your resume is too important to your career success to do a less-than-perfect job on it.
The next question arises as to how to find the right resume writer to work with. I suggest looking at Louise's book (it's going to the printer today and will be in stores by mid-December). It lists 229 professional resume writers all over the country (and a few in Canada, Australia, and Hong Kong), and groups them by specialties, location, and more, and it even gives samples of their work. Whenever anyone asks me for a referral, I always suggest Louise herself, although sometimes she's too busy to take on new clients.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Rejecter: A Literary Agency Assistant's Blog

Ever wonder what goes through the mind of the person who reviews query letters and book proposals from would-be authors? The Rejecter gives you an unexpurgated look into the world of a literary agent's assistant, who, as it turns out, is the first line of defense against bad book proposals.

For anyone who's trying to get their novel published, The Rejecter gives tips on what (and what not) to do to make your submission stand out and make it to the "maybe" pile, where only 5% of submissions end up. Just don't send her your query letter: She won't read it.

And if you have ever considered a career at a literary agency, this blog gives you a really good idea of what it would be like. She even dishes about how and how much agents get paid.

But call me old-fashioned: I'd prefer that she spell it "Rejector."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Blackhawk Helicopter Parents: Do You Have Them, or Are You One?

Almost every day you hear something in the media or anecdotally about "helicopter parents"--those Baby Boomers who want the best for the kids and end up going overboard and being just a bit too involved. Many people blame/credit them for creating the monster/phenomenon that is Generation Y--the new young workers who expect the workplace to be a kinder, gentler place than it currently is.

Everyone has a different opinion. For instance, this morning I read this post from Sue Danborn, Training and Development Coordinator for Volt Information Services. Not only does she encounter helicopter parents advocating for their kids at work; she also confesses to being one herself!

Gen Y spokesperson Ryan Healy on his Employee Evolution blog writes in defense of the helicopter parent and likens them to agents.

There was talk on 60 Minutes this week that the kind of work ethic engendered in children of helicopter parents will be the downfall of our nation's economic dominance.

As a Gen-Xer stuck in the middle, I'm not going to take a side here. Just ask youself: Do I coddle my kids too much? or Have my parents coddled me too much? Or, in a world where so many kids are neglected, is it such a bad thing to be a parent who goes the extra mile to make sure their kid does well in life?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

News About My Own Publishing Career

Last week my boss, associate publisher Susan Pines, sent out the following announcement:

Our new workbook product line manager is...

...Lori Cates Hand!

As you all know, Lori has done a great job managing our trade line, which has more than doubled in sales. Now she's ready for more responsibility and challenge. Effective immediately, Lori is taking on the workbook product line as well.

In her first few years at JIST, Lori edited several workbooks, including Job Savvy, which is currently in revision. She's also worked with many of our key workbook authors, including Vern Ludden, Mike Farr, Kathy Troutman, and Bob Orndorff.

Please join me in thanking Lori for her many contributions to JIST and congratulate her on her new, expanded role.

This all came about because of Dave Anderson's departure a few weeks ago. He had been managing the workbook product line (as well as the smaller assessment product line). When he left, the idea was to replace him with another product line manager. But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made for me to volunteer to take on another line. In return, I requested that we use the open "head count" to hire a development editor (whom I will supervise) to take over more of the detailed, day-to-day editing tasks from me. It will be easier to find someone with those sorts of skills. Plus, it really does advance my career by making my responsibilities more "big picture."

Workbooks have always been the bread and butter of JIST, because they appeal to our core non-trade markets. Trade has suffered a bit of an image problem, especially since our merger with EMC/Paradigm, because the retailers take such a big discount and send back so many unsold books. We have to sell a lot more trade books to make the same amount of money that we do on workbooks. So in JIST terms, taking over workbooks is a good move.

So wish me luck during the transition period--before I get someone hired and up to speed. It's going to be busy for me.

As an aside, my parents had a big week in the filial bragging department last week. My younger sister resigned her position as Manager of Customer Research with Hilton Hotels' corporate office to take a higher-paying research job with FedEx in Memphis. Her job is to figure out who customers are, what they want, and what will convince them to buy. Her first order of business will be to test FedEx's upcoming Super Bowl ads.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Debbie Weil on Business and Professional Blogging

To continue with sharing the excellent advice I picked up at last week’s Brand You World international branding summit, here are some tips on writing an effective business blog from Debbie Weil, author of The Corporate Blogging Book. I might add that these tips are also relevant for writing your own professional blog for career advancement and personal branding.
  • Package what you write. Give numbered lists of tips, such as “Top 10 Tips for Writing Your Resume.” It makes for good reading and other bloggers will link to it. Be sure to include a synopsis paragraph at the top.
  • Always link to other sites in your posts. Every post should have at least one link. “Links are the currency of the Internet,” Debbie said. You can link back to your own past posts, articles you’ve read, Wikipedia entries, etc. Make each post a resource worth reading and coming back to.
  • Use the right keywords in your headings and posts. Think like a journalist when titling your posts. Doing so will attract readers as well as Google. Be specific and colorful.
  • If you can’t commit to blogging consistently over a period of a year or two, don’t do it. Try to post at least once or twice a week. (Debbie cited some bloggers who post three times a day!) Such frequent posting will help your blog come up higher in search engine results. (I can testify to that: After three and a half months of posting nearly every day, I have captured the #1 ranking on Yahoo for the term “Publishing Careers.”)
  • Allow comments on your blog. To generate more, you can ask for them in your posts, or e-mail a link to the post to your friends and colleagues, asking them to take a look and leave a comment.
  • Consider using “controversy” to make your blog stand out. Obviously, tread carefully and always be true to your personality.
  • Keep focused on what you’re trying to achieve with your blog.
  • Consider embedding video clips in your blog. You can use YouTube to post them and then link back to them from your blog.
  • Don’t make posting to your blog harder than it has to be. Think of it as a tiny task. “You’re always running across ‘bloggy bits’ during the day,” Debbie said, such as relevant articles and blog posts, that you can refer to. Your entries can be short.
  • Establish yourself as someone who has something to say. You’ll attract speaking engagements and media quotes, and maybe even a new job or consulting gig.

In closing, Debbie offered one last piece of advice: Just do it! It will be worth the time and effort.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Richard Bolles on How His Book Became a Brand

Yesterday was the much-anticipated It’s a Brand You World Global Telesummit on personal branding. For 12 hours, 24 of the foremost experts on personal branding conducted free seminars over the phone. I was lucky to be among the 100,000 expected participants, and I learned a lot for free!

I listened in on two presentations: Debbie Weil on business blogging and Richard Nelson Bolles on how his iconic career book, What Color Is Your Parachute?, became a brand unto itself. Today I’ll focus on the latter and tell you more about Debbie’s presentation next week.

So in 1969, Bolles was terminated from his position as an Episcopal clergyman in San Francisco. He took another job that enabled him to visit college campuses all over the Western states, where he found many other clergy were losing their jobs. The ministers asked his advice, and he ended up traveling 68,000 miles in search of answers for them. He asked people two questions:

  • If traditional job search methods don’t work for you, what is your “plan B”?
  • How do you change careers without going back to school?

Bolles also met a man named John Crystal in Virginia, who sent him his research files on job search methods. Dick typed the whole thing up and self-published it in December 1970 to sell to displaced ministers. He sold 2,000 copies all by himself, traipsing each day to the post office with his “orangutan arms” full to mail out his orders.

When Ten Speed Press came calling in 1972, it was a godsend to him because it relieved him of the drudgery of being his own distribution system. The “weird” publisher from Berkeley helped him broaden his focus to include the general job seeking population and the book quickly became a best-seller.

So why was the book so successful, the moderator asked. “I have no earthly idea,” Bolles replied. The two tried to come up with some possibilities:

  • It was written for the purpose of helping people, not for the purpose of making money.
  • There is consistency between the book’s voice and Bolles’ voice.
  • Bolles became known for his own brand attributes: honesty and not being available to be “bought.”
  • The book created a language the counselors and job seekers could use to communicate with one other and work together better.
  • The book is very visual—not just words.
  • The writing is engaging.

The book somehow became embedded in the nation’s consciousness and has sold 9 million copies. It’s now updated annually, and at age 80 Bolles is still an active participant. “I’m not an author,” he said. “I’m a switchboard. I stay accessible and people tell me what works well and what doesn’t.”

Bolles ended by offering some tips for those who want to create a book that ends up as a brand:

  • Starting out to create a book that’s a brand is the wrong approach. Start with what kind of person you want to help produce as a result of reading your book (in this case, people who can help themselves find a new job or career).
  • If people know who you are and that they can trust you, you are halfway to the sale.
  • Watch out who you associate with and never lose control of your message and your brand.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Upcoming Information Sessions for Two Master's Programs

If you're thinking of getting a master's degree to further your publishing career, you'll be interested to see that two universities are hosting informational sessions on their programs next week:

  • Indiana University's Kelley School of Business is hosting an open house next Tuesday, November 13, 5-7:30pm, at the Ritz Charles in Carmel, Indiana (126th and Meridian). In addition to its full-time MBA program on the main campus in Bloomington, IU offers an evening MBA program on the IUPUI campus in downtown Indianapolis as well as in the affluent northern suburb of Carmel. It also offers a general administration MBA online through its Kelley Direct program.
  • Pace University in New York is having an online informational session about its MS in Publishing degree next Thursday, November 15, from 6-7:30pm. The MS program is offered at the midtown Manhattan campus; however, Pace also offers certificate programs that you can complete online. (Thanks to Krisan Matthews for letting me know about this one.)

If anyone attends either of these sessions, we'd love to hear a report about what you learn.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Freelance Copy Editor Turned Ghost Writer

Here's an interesting article from editor/writer Karen Cole about her freelance career. She gives some tips on upgrading your freelance income by taking on ghost-writing projects. [Edit: This link has been removed.]

She raises the interesting point that often editors are called upon to step outside their narrow roles and do other things to make a manuscript right. Sometimes as a freelancer you get paid more to do that, and sometimes you don't. I think it's a matter of making the employer aware, before you do the work, that it needs more editing than they thought. Then you can negotiate for a higher rate to do that work (be it development, rewriting, or whatever). If they won't give you the increase, in my opinion you should just do what you're paid to do and make sure they are aware that you believe it still needs higher-level work.

I used to hear all the time from in-house copy and production editors that they were doing the work that development editors should have been doing. But still they did it. They cared too much about the books to just let it slide. Meanwhile they were working insane hours to get it all done.

And I also hear from freelance proofreaders who feel that the copy editor before them didn't do their job. So they're having to fix a lot of things that should have been caught sooner. In those cases, I would suggest that yes, you fix the misspellings, typos, and inconsistencies. But you should restrain yourself from making it read like a masterpiece of editorial precision. You're making more work for yourself and for the layout person who has to make the corrections. Also, you're increasing the pre-press costs of the book and cutting into its profits. As an editor, it's hard to think this way. But most readers aren't going to know or care that the book uses "since" when it should be "because." A publisher will value you for your economy as well as your precision, so try to keep the big picture in mind. But by all means, feel free to tell your in-house contact (tactfully...) that you think the copy edit was lacking. It's something they need to know.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Does Anybody Use the Classified Ads Anymore?

Conventional wisdom among career experts these days is that reading the newspaper's classified want-ads, although not an outright waste of time, is one of the least effective methods for finding a job. In fact, Richard Beatty, author of The Ultimate Job Search, found that only 7% of jobs are filled through classified ads. (Surprisingly, he ranked the Internet as #1 at 33%, and networking as #2 at 25%.) He got his figures by combining the results of several different studies on the subject.

As a result, the advice most career authors give is this: Go ahead and look at the ads now and then, but don't spend a lot of time on it. Put most of your efforts into seeking out the jobs in the "hidden job market"--the ones that never get posted and are filled by people known to the hiring manager.

Having said all that, because I got my first publishing job through a newspaper ad, they still have a place in my heart. I've been looking at the Sunday classified ads in the Indianapolis Star every week for about 15 years, whether I'm looking for a job or not. It helps keep me abreast of new companies and the ones that seem to have constant turnover. Granted, it used to take a lot more time when the section was 75% bigger than it is now. But there are still sometimes interesting nuggets of information to be gleaned.

For example, in this week's ads, I found that
  • The Lafayette Journal & Courier is looking for a copy editor.
  • The Indianapolis Star is looking for a commerical print coordinator, a media designer, and freelance magazine reporters (for their supplementary publications).
  • DRG, a magazine and book publisher in Berne, Indiana, is looking for a "Knitting Editor."

You might be tempted to laugh at that last one. I mean, are they looking for someone to edit books about knitting? Or are they looking for an editor who knits? Or both? But in all seriousness, I can name you five people right now who are editors who knit. Some of them even blog about it. It's not really all that far-fetched: Both editing and knitting take patience, attention to detail, good eyesight, the ability to follow set standards, and creativity. And in the end, you can wear what you make when you knit.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Selena Dehne: Copywriter/Marketing Communications, JIST Publishing

Here's the story of coworker Selena Dehne and how she landed her first job in publishing. She had the good fortune to be interning at JIST when a job opened up. In a day she went from intern to full-time employee. And we are lucky to have her. Her excellent writing skills have gone a long way toward getting us more media exposure this year.

On the last week of classes before my college graduation one of my journalism professors asked the class, “How many of you have a full-time job lined up after graduation?” Nearly half the class raised their hands. I was not one of them.

No big deal. Half of us were still without a job offer. I was in good company—until my professor asked, “How many of you have an internship lined up after graduation?” Nearly the remainder of the class raised their hands. Again, I was not one of them. It was time to panic.

I did just that until the same professor forwarded an e-mail to me announcing a publicity internship that was available with JIST Publishing. Within minutes of receiving the e-mail I e-mailed my resume and writing samples to the publicist at JIST. Two interviews later, I was hired and my panic subsided.

I spent the summer writing news releases and feature articles, developing media kits, and collaborating on publicity strategies to promote JIST’s products and authors. My internship paid off when a job opportunity in the marketing department became available and I was offered a full-time position. I wanted a good job where I could write, be creative, and bounce from one project to the next. JIST needed someone who would work well with the rest of the staff and knew the products and customers.

Now, as copywriter for marketing communications, I write and proofread copy for brochures, catalogs, flyers, and e-campaigns; develop marketing strategies with other members of JIST’s team; and continue to assist the publicist with news releases, articles, and media kits.

Although, at the time it felt as though my job came through on a stroke of luck at the last minute, it was actually my internship and writing experience in college gave me the skills I needed to land the job I have today. More than a year into my career, I’m thrilled with the direction I’m moving. However, I could have been well on my way to a great career much sooner had I considered the following advice before graduation arrived:
  • Gain experience early. I wrote articles for Indiana University’s student newspaper, but that’s not the only opportunity on campus to get experience. Most student organizations need volunteers who can help promote their organization and events—whether they’re writing news releases, designing flyers, or just brainstorming ideas. The key is to contact leaders in the organization to find out how you can help.
  • Visit your college career center. Not only will they work wonders with your resume, they can set you up with career fairs, on-campus interviews, and suggest several resources for finding jobs that connect to your interests and studies.
  • Talk to professors, counselors, classmates, and friends. Professors and counselors know better than anyone what types of employers are likely to hire students like yourself. With classmates and friends you can share what’s worked and what hasn’t in the job search and may even gain leads as to who is hiring.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Two Events of Note Next Week

On my radar are two events next week, one of which is more of an FYI. The other is a must-do.

First, I see that Santa Barbara City College is having its annual Meet the Pros communication career expo on Wednesday, November 7. Much like the event at SMU last week, alums with communication (including publishing) careers are coming to campus to relate their experiences to students as they plan their impending transfers to four-year colleges. Unless you're a student there, you probably won't be attending (but get a look at their campus and maybe you'll decide you want to be a student there!).

The other event is a huge, worldwide teleconference. The Personal Branding Summit, which takes place November 8 starting at 10am New York time, celebrates 10 years of the personal branding phenomenon. Anyone looking for a job or working to advance their career should be working on defining and communicating their own personal brand. And what better way to start than to hear 24 of the world's foremost experts on the subject--for FREE? Presenters include William Arruda of REACH Branding, Richard Bolles (author of What Color Is Your Parachute?), Guy Kawasaki, and Susan Britton Whitcomb (my author!). I spoke to William Arruda about it earlier this week and he noted that although the event runs 12 straight hours, people are certainly welcome to drop in for just the presentations that interest them most. All speakers and sponsors are donating their time and money to the event. You too can make a donation, which will go to KIVA, an organization that sponsors third-world entrepreneurship. See you there!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Places Where "Editor" Is a Popular Job

Thanks to author and data-meister Laurence Shatkin for directing me to a cornucopia of statistics on jobs, called CityTownInfo. Here, among other things, you can plug in a job title and see the cities where that job is most popular (has the highest percentage of the total population working in it).

So, as a for-example, I put in "editors" to see what cities came up. Here are the top 10 places where the job is most popular:
  1. Ithaca, New York
  2. Champaign, Illinois
  3. New York, New York
  4. Bloomington, Indiana
  5. Dubuque, Iowa
  6. Ann Arbor, Michigan
  7. San Francisco, California
  8. Colorado Springs, Colorado
  9. Boston, Massachusetts
  10. Charlottesville, Virginia

Now, it doesn't take a genius to see a pattern here. What do all of these places have in common? Most of them are college towns. My hypothesis is that the confluence of all that knowledge just naturally spawns places to publish it, and it's not necessarily limited to university presses.

You can, of course, pick any other job in publishing and see where it's popular. I just picked editors because it's a job so closely associated with publishing.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Publishing Careers iPod Playlist

Wondering what to listen to on those occasions when you're feeling a bit bookish? Here's what's playing on my iPod:

  1. "Everyone Needs an Editor": Mates of State
  2. "Unwritten": Natasha Beddingfield
  3. "The Book of Love": The Monotones
  4. "Ed! It! Or!": Dan Melchior
  5. "Book of Days": Enya
  6. "Bookstore Girl": Common Shiner
  7. "Paperback Writer": The Beatles
  8. "No More Words": Berlin
  9. "The Book I Read": Talking Heads
  10. "Every Picture Tells a Story": Rod Stewart
  11. Anything by the Editors
  12. "Every Day I Write the Book": Elvis Costello

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Lindsey Pollak: "I'm a Literature Major...Help!"

Today author and careers blogger Lindsey Pollak answers a reader question that could have come from any of us: What can you do with a literature major?

Her advice is solid and exactly what I would recommend:

  • Learn about career options other than teaching.
  • Take classes in other, more marketable areas to supplement your literature major.
  • Get an internship.
  • Join related professional associations.
  • Get a related part-time job.
  • Find a mentor.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Have a Publishing Panel Discussion!

I read this article a few days ago in the student newspaper for Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The career center at SMU sponsored a panel discussion of alums who have worked in publishing. They shared their experiences with current students interested in learning about jobs in the publishing world.

Their advice is interesting and helpful (if not a little superficial--but it's a newspaper article, after all). It made me think how easily this could be done on other campuses. If you're a student interested in publishing, go to your college career center and ask whether they can bring in an alum (or two or three) to give a presentation on the subject. Maybe you can even volunteer to help set up and publicize it. (Something for your resume!)

There's a lesson here for those of you who already have a job in publishing, too. Why not volunteer to go back to your alma mater and give a presentation for the students in the English and journalism programs? Your university will be grateful (but don't be surprised if they start asking for more—like hiring students as interns, buying an ad in their publications, or being a sponsor for a job fair). It's also a wonderful networking opportunity. It can never hurt to get chummy with your former school's career staff. They often are aware of job vacancies suitable for older alums.

I do practice what I preach. I've spoken to University of Evansville students about publishing careers (although just informally in a class). I also met recently with their alumni/careers liaison when she was in town and I told her I'd be willing to come back again and speak about publishing careers and critique some resumes (I think I've read close to 5,000 of them in my years as a resume-book editor—and I am not, as Dave Barry says, making this up).

Friday, October 26, 2007

Roving Indexer Finds Herself in the Middle of the California Wildfires

Former coworker Joy Dean Lee has a unique lifestyle. She is a freelance indexer and copy editor; and thanks to the magic of the Internet, she doesn't have to stay in one place to do it. So several years ago she sold her home and took to the road. She is also a house- and pet-sitter, so she travels all over the country to watch people's homes for them while they are on vacation, all the while keeping up with her freelance work.

It's been an awesome thing for her. She gets to visit friends and family and see all sorts of new places. This week, however, word came that she is in the San Diego area as the flames approach the house she is sitting. She has the great responsibility of saving what she can of her client's possessions (and her cat) if the flames get too close.

We have been anxiously awaiting updates. This morning she e-mailed a link to her blog, where you can keep up-to-date on her current saga and read about some of her past exploits.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Napping at Workman

My Google alerts just turned up an interesting article from the The New Yorker. Apparently, after publishing a book on the benefits of napping on the job, Workman Publishing (one of the largest and most celebrated independents) decided to give it a try themselves. So now they're all jamming themselves into nooks and crannies to catch a few Zs, not unlike a scene from Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book.

I dunno. On one hand, this could be a boon on those days when you're not feeling well or were up at all hours with a teething toddler. But something like this seems like it would be easy to abuse--on both sides. Hungover slackers might take more than a short cat-nap. Employers might use the priviledge to justify asking people to work extended hours. I think I'd rather just get my work done and then go home and sleep in my own bed.

The Society for Scholarly Publishing

If you are interested in learning more about jobs that are available in scholarly publishing (at universities, professional associations, and even mainstream publishers), check out the job board at the Society for Scholarly Publishing. This organization, founded in 1978 and headquartered in Colorado, is "a nonprofit organization formed to promote and advance communication among all sectors of the scholarly publication community through networking, information dissemination, and facilitation of new developments in the field."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Chicago Book Clinic

Thanks today to my former boss Michael Cunningham, who is now publications manager at the University of Chicago Press Journals Division. He alerted me to the existence of the Chicago Book Clinic, a professional organization founded in 1936 to "encourage excellence in publishing by providing a platform for educational, social, and professional interaction of their members." Those members include professionals in media and book publishing, printing, editorial, design, and all business aspects of the industry.

That's all well and good. But what you're probably most interested in is their Jobline. Although it's not super-active (maybe just a few posts a month), reading the older postings gives a really good picture of the companies in the Chicago area, their jobs, and their hiring requirements.

The CBC's big event for the year is coming up in just a few weeks. The 56th Book and Media Show is an awards ceremony, exhibit, and dinner celebrating the outstanding quality of publishing in the central U.S. and Canada. It's November 8 at the Chicago City Centre Hotel.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Don't Judge a Book by Its Editor

Here's an inside view of scholarly publishing from the point of view of an anonymous philosophy professor in the Midwest, from the Chronicle of Higher Education. Scholarly publishing is very different from the trade publishing I'm used to, but the author still imparts some valuable lessons about being proactive and planning for the worst-case scenario (which he didn't do).

Monday, October 22, 2007

Returns: Publishing's Big Buzzkill

Perhaps no aspect of book publishing generates more wailing and gnashing of teeth than the practice of returns from bookstores. In a nutshell, whatever books a store buys from a publisher can be returned to them for full credit if customers don't buy them. And in some cases, it's as much as 40% of the books that the store bought initially. And often they're so beat up that they can't be resold.

Industry experts are always making the point that a grocery store can't send back unsold food to the farmer, or unsold fashions to the factory. So why does publishing have this singular albatross to bear? The mythology goes that it started in the early part of the last century, when Simon & Schuster decided to offer a returns option to booksellers in order to convince them to take a chance on crossword-puzzle books. And the fact that it continues to this day is testament to the relative power of the retailers.

I always try to be upfront with my authors about how returns work. They might be excited that Barnes and Noble, for example, has initially bought 600 copies of their book (commonly referred to as "sell in"). But six months later, if some of those books haven't sold to customers (referred to as "sell-through"), they'll be coming back in droves. This means that the authors won't be getting as much money in royalties as they thought they would. And really, not much makes them angrier.

I encourage my authors to get out there and promote the heck out of their books in the first few months, because the traffic they can drive to the stores largely determines whether bookstores will be ordering more copies--or sending back the ones they bought.

And some industry insiders say that if your returns rate is too low, it means you're not getting enough books out there. True, we sell a lot more books to the trade now, with a returns rate of about 25%, than we did when our returns rate was more like 5 or 10%. But ouch, it hurts.

As a publisher, I am biased on the issue. Returns should be abolished, or at least limited. The ability to return books willy-nilly absolves bookstore buyers of the responsibility of ordering in sensible quantities. It eats into a publisher's profits and an author's royalties. And it leaves a carbon footprint the size of Belgium.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Gawker: A Window into the NYC Media Scene

I just discovered a listing of publishing jobs on Gawker. Gawker bills itself as a purveyor of daily Manhattan media news and gossip. I will, of course, take exception to their claim that they are at the center of the universe. But it looks like an entertaining read nonetheless.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Working with a Difficult Boss

In honor of Boss's Day this week, I wanted to share some tips for working with difficult bosses of all types. These tips come from our book, First-Job Survival Guide. One of the authors, Diane Decker, is here this week presenting at JIST's job search seminar. She's an organizational effectiveness coach in Chicago.

In your working life, you'll have all different sorts of bosses, from ones who partner with you for success to those who make your life miserable just because they can (for example, Michael on "The Office"). You can learn something from all of them. Here are the authors' tips for making the best out of some of the most common bad-boss situations:

What to Do if Your Boss Is a Poor Performer
  • Write short reports summarizing your accomplishments and send them to your boss and other relevant team members.
  • Find ways to use your talents to offset your boss’s weaknesses.
  • Stay alert for open job positions within the organization.
  • Establish or strengthen a network to help you stay in the flow of communication.

What to Do if Your Boss Doesn’t Communicate

  • Meet with your boss and have a list of questions you would like answered, with the reasons the information will help your results.
  • Keep your eyes and ears open to learn needed knowledge from the informal network.
  • Try using e-mail and assess how your boss responds.
  • Talk directly to the recipients of your work to learn what they need.

What to Do if Your Boss Shows Favoritism

  • Accept that some people will click together better than others.
  • Look for a mentor to give you career guidance and coaching.
  • Ask your boss what he or she expects of you, and regularly seek feedback.
  • Focus on improving and maximizing your own results, rather than concerning yourself with the favorite employee.

What to Do if Your Boss Is Hard to Pin Down for a Meeting

  • Send a short e-mail or voice-mail message when you need an issue resolved or a question answered.
  • See whether your boss is available over lunch or a cup of coffee.
  • If you have a problem or issue, come forward with various solutions or options and your recommendations.
  • Request short meetings, send your agenda ahead of time, and come well prepared.

What to Do if Your Boss Takes Credit for Your Work and Ideas

  • Acknowledge your boss’s contributions to your success.
  • Share your concerns with your boss about others’ awareness of your results.
  • Keep track of and publish a summary of your goals and accomplishments.
  • Actively look for a career mentor to provide guidance and coaching.

What to Do if Your Boss Is Unapproachable

  • To increase your understanding of the situation, identify the possible cause(s) for this behavior.
  • Stay communicative and interact positively with your boss.
  • Use nonconfronting language to let him or her know what you notice and its impact on you.
  • During a meeting with your boss, identify common concerns and challenges, share your perspectives, and offer assistance.

What to Do if Your Boss Looks Over Your Shoulder

  • At the beginning of a project, ask your boss what he or she would like his or her role to be in the project.
  • Instead of waiting until the end of the project, or when your boss comes to you, schedule regular project updates.
  • Proactively communicate to help instill confidence in your ability to manage the details.
  • Regularly communicate barriers and the ways you are addressing them, to help prove your abilities.

What to Do if Your Boss Has a Large Number of Direct Reports

  • Ask your boss his or her preferred method of communication. Be concise and clear in what you share.
  • Tell your boss what is going well and the ways you are addressing your challenges.
  • Identify ways to stand out from the crowd of subordinates--look to expand your role in a way that can help reduce your boss’s workload, or forward articles of relevance with a short note.

What to Do if Your Boss Pits Direct Reports Against Each Other

  • Share your concerns with trusted peers, and decide to work together collaboratively, despite your boss’s behavior.
  • Go to your boss and share your concerns with the culture that has been created, what you would suggest, and the reasons it would be an improvement for the organization’s results.
  • If you stand alone in a desire to change the culture, determine whether you are willing and able to stay and endure your boss’s regime.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Generational Musings at the Author Dinner

Last night I traveled downtown after work to meet up with several of JIST's authors, who are in town to deliver a job search conference for 75 attendees from across the nation. The attendees are all counselors who help clients find jobs. JIST has been doing these semiannual conferences for as long as I can remember, and the highlight is that we always give away a ton of free books. The idea, of course, is that these people will continue to be loyal customers.

I wandered the Sheraton's meeting areas for a bit looking for our group and ran into the national conference of the American Legion. They were having a gala ball and the live band was in full swing, a clarinetist blasting out Bing Crosby's "It's Been a Long Time." It felt like 1945 (although how would I know? My parents were babies then).

Then I chatted with author (and friend of this blog) Laurence Shatkin, who thrilled me with his tale of living in London in the summer of 1969 (the infamous "Summer of Love"). At that point in time, I was the baby.

And then I got to sit next to JIST's copywriter, Selena Dehne, who was a baby when I was in my Wham-influenced glory days in the UK myself. I envy her youth and freedom and all the possibilities ahead of her.

I guess the conclusion of all of this is that we all go through the same stages in life, just on a different schedule. Although the four generations I hobnobbed with last night think they don't really understand one another, deep down I think they do.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Book Signing Among Friends

This morning our soon-to-be-ex-coworker Dave Anderson brought in a carton of his new novel, Standard Hero Behavior, hot off the press. He also brought breakfast for everyone and signed copies for us. Of course we all bought one (or more). Not only do we like to be part of a "happening," we also like helping Dave because he's been such fun to have around. I guess we're hoping that when he's gone, reading his book will be the next best thing! He even donated $3 from each book's sale to the Make a Wish Foundation.

And speaking of helping, everyone here has been doing a little something to nudge the book's sales along. One person convinced a local independent bookstore to order several copies, while others went back and bought them. Another person is working on convincing Borders to carry it on their "local authors" shelf (since they inexplicably decided not to stock it chainwide). I'm planning to nominate it for a Cybil bloggers' award for young adult fiction. And when Dave appears at the Carmel Barnes & Noble in December, we'll all turn out and make him look important.

And here's one more pitch: If you are looking for a gift for the young adult in your life, consider Standard Hero Behavior. It's like Lord of the Rings with a smart-aleck twist. I can even score you an autographed copy.