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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Editor + Financial Spreadsheet = Headache

Part of my job as an acquisitions editor/product manager is to determine whether the books we are considering publishing will make us any money. (If they won't, I guess we'd better not do them.) Once I got up to speed with the P&L (profit and loss) spreadsheet that I somehow inherited, this was a pretty simple matter: Plug in some numbers, and if the final number is positive, it's a go.

Numbers I have to consider include the following:
  • How many copies of the book we will print.
  • How many copies we will sell.
  • What the book's cover price will be.
  • How much of a discount will the bookstores take.
  • How much it will cost to edit, design, and print the book.
  • How many copies the bookstores will send back to us in the end.
  • How much money we'll spend on promoting the book.
  • What royalty we will pay the author.
  • What commissions we'll pay the salesperson.

After several years in the same market, it became almost instinctual. Sometimes we didn't even do P&Ls for every book because we could pretty much guess they'd do OK. And they did.

But now we've got a new owner, and we're trying to enter a new section of the bookstore. So I've turbo-charged our rickety P&L to do calculations over the life of the book, not just the first year. And I was also trying to do best-case, worst-case, and middle-case scenarios. I was up to my eyeballs in numbers. And the conclusion is this: My new book will either lose $12,000, make $1.2 million in profit, or something in between. (My money is on the in-between!)

As someone who entered publishing for the sheer love of the written word, I can't believe I'm the one in charge of all these numbers. It's like the time in middle school when they put me on the math team because I had all the math definitions memorized. (I was also a cheerleader, if that gives you any further idea of the caliber of our class.)

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Name Game: Macmillan Is Back!

I'm a few days behind on the news, but was stunned today to see that German publishing conglomerate Holtzbrinck has renamed its U.S. operations as Macmillan. (See the full story here at Publishers Weekly.)

For those of us who worked for Macmillan USA for several years in the '90s (when it wasn't being called Prentice Hall, Paramount, Simon & Schuster, Pearson, and whatever else), this is bound to bring a twinge of fond remembrance. We were on top of the computer and reference book world, and the energy of that place and time were just amazing. But things change, corporations fall apart, recombine, and reemerge. Names get used and reused until really, what meaning do they have? Holtzbrinck is betting that people will still associate the name Macmillan with a solid, world-dominating publisher.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Frankfurt 2007 Wraps Up

The Frankfurt Book Fair has wound down after another hectic year, and Jason is kicking back at some monastery in the German countryside. Unfortunately, our five-minute phone calls every other day, hampered by my bout with the stomach virus, didn't yield much material for the blog. So instead I'll share some good blog reports posted by publishers from around the globe:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Magazine and book internships in Southern California

I just saw this posting on calling for applications for internships with BowTie, Inc.'s Shattuck Fellowship Program. If you will be in Southern California this spring or summer and are interested in an internship in magazine editing, website content editing, magazine design, book production and design, marketing, or editorial business, check it out. BowTie is the publisher of pet-related magazines and books.

Watch Out for "Eggcorns"!

Local author/humorist Dick Wolfsie's latest syndicated column is a tongue-in-cheek look at a blight on the English language that he calls "eggcorns." He describes them as "the substitution of a word or phase for words that sound similar." For example, "deep-seeded" as opposed to "deep-seated." On occasion, malapropisms such as these have popped up in books I've edited. So keep an eye out for them!

Thanks to freelance editor Gayle Johnson for letting me know about this one!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New York Women in Communications Foundation Student Career Conference

Thanks today to author Lindsey Pollak for blogging about the New York Women in Communications Foundation Student Career Conference, which will be Saturday, October 20, from 8:30am to 4:30pm at the Grand Hyatt New York (adjoining Grand Central Station--and a swank place for a conference). Lindsey will be a featured speaker in the "Secrets to a Successful Job Search" session. (Her blog is a good read for college students and young professionals looking for a job--and I can say that without bias, since she's not even one of my authors!)

For $60 you can rub shoulders with the likes of Linda Wells, editor-in-chief of Allure magazine, and Kristine Welker, VP and publisher of CosmoGIRL!. Although the event is geared toward broadcast and periodical (magazine) media, I'm willing to bet you'd learn something and make some great connections.

Register for the conference here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Workbook/Textbook Editor Needed (Full-Time)

JIST is looking for a new editor to replace Dave Anderson, our editor-turned-supah-stah author. Here's the posting from Craigslist. Contact Sue Pines ( if you are interested.

Are you ready for the next step in your career? In this position, you will plan, coordinate, and edit new and revised workbooks, textbooks, instructor's guides, and instructor's CDs focused on career and education topics.

Responsibilities include the following:
  • Research and propose new products.
  • Find and contract with authors and work-for-hire writers.
  • Read and evaluate proposals.
  • Work with authors and staff on product concepts, outlines, schedules, and specifications for new and backlist titles.
  • Work with authors to develop book content.
  • Collaborate with freelancers, production manager, graphic designers, and other staff to ensure targeted product creation on time and within budget.

Position requires excellent writing skills, good interpersonal skills, time management, creativity, self-direction, and initiative. Please respond with a cover letter and resume.

Location: Indianapolis
Compensation: Please include your salary requirements. We cannot consider candidates who do not give salary information.
OK to highlight this job opening for persons with disabilities
Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
Please, no phone calls about this job!
Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

Blogging for Career Advancement

Yesterday the Monster blog had a post about blogging for career advancement. I agree: If you've got a passion for something, you've got a "voice," and you've got the discipline to post regularly, starting a blog can do wonders for your career.

For one thing, it makes for some wonderful networking opportunities. (Are you tired of hearing me harp about networking yet? Get used to it--it's here to stay.) But an even more tangible side effect is that when a potential employer googles you (and studies say more and more of them do it all the time), if you post to your blog regularly, your posts are likely to come up in the first page of results. And as personal branding expert Kirsten Dixson says, it's better to be able to control what people see about you online than to let them dig up any "digital dirt" on you.

So try it out: Google yourself. Do you see anything horrifying--or worse, nothing at all? Better get busy with a focused and well-written blog!

Monday, October 8, 2007

25 Networking Tips for Students: It's Never Too Early to Start!

For some reason, networking seems to be a dirty word among job seekers. It always seems to conjure up images of an unctuous and insincere old dude glad-handing everyone in the hopes of getting something from them. But the truth is that networking is all about giving help as well as getting it. And experts claim that up to 80% of people find their jobs through networking. So it's worth giving it a shot, isn't it?

Michelle Tullier is Vice President, Career Transition Consulting, for Right Management in Atlanta. She's written several books on finding a job (including Networking for Job Search and Career Success, from JIST), and shares some networking tips she compiled especially for college students. Making time to network is crucial to your future career success, she maintains.

  1. Get involved in campus and professional organizations.
  2. Attend professional conferences related to your career goals.
  3. Be a leader in a campus organization.
  4. Make classes count: Use class projects as a reason to talk to people in the business world.
  5. Connect upward with faculty and staff.
  6. Get to know alumni.
  7. Use your campus career center or guidance office.
  8. “Shadow” someone on their job.
  9. Be an intern.
  10. Help out in your community.
  11. Go on fact-finding missions to get information about the career fields you’re considering and to establish relationships.
  12. Conduct career strategy sessions with a mentor or contact.
  13. Broaden your cultural horizons through a study-abroad program.
  14. Diversify your activities.
  15. Start a job search club to share leads and resources.
  16. Don’t hesitate to enlist the assistance of relatives.
  17. Use the Internet to find information and network with people.
  18. Have a resume whether you think you need it or not.
  19. Have a business card.
  20. Find role models.
  21. Take advantage of public speaking opportunities.
  22. Publish an article.
  23. Learn and practice good time management habits.
  24. Get in the habit of writing thank-you notes.
  25. Start a portfolio that provides evidence of your skills.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The (Published) Novelist Next Door

On the coasts, maybe you can't sling a dead cat without hitting someone who's published a novel. But 'round these here parts, it's a mighty rare occurrence. So maybe that's why we're all so excited that our co-worker, John David Anderson (aka "Dave"), is about to publish his first novel. Standard Hero Behavior will be released by Clarion Books on November 19. And it's already been singled out for a starred review in Booklist magazine (but it's not posted yet).

So Dave has the unique experience of being a fiction author and a nonfiction editor at the same time. We chatted a little about the book and his experiences in publishing it:
From the review, your book sounds like a cross between Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Monty Python, and Not Another Teen Movie. What genre would you classify it as?

It's your typical pseudo-fantasy-satire-mystery-road-buddy novel. With singing. And a werewolf.
Set the scene and give us a rundown of the plot.
Mason Quayle is a bard. Bards sing about heroes. But Mason's not a very good bard because there are no heroes to sing about. Well. Not entirely true. There's one, but he's a total jerk. So life is pretty crappy until a couple of orcs sneak into town with a giant battle ax and an ultimatum. What ensues is a sometimes less-than-heroic quest to find real heroes (whatever that means). And Hilarity also ensues. And a swordfight or two. Am I being too secretive? Oh. And somebody swallows a pixie...but that's all I'm gonna' say.

Lots of people write novels, but very few actually get them published. Tell us about the process you went through to find a publisher for your novel.

Hard to believe, but I actually went through the painful "send out query letters to the names in the book" process. I understand it helps to have connections or an agent. I had neither. Thankfully I got some good feedback from editors who took enough pity on me to read the manuscript. About one out of every five queries landed me a manuscript request. Then one day I got a phone call from Clarion Books asking me if the book was still available. I tried to play it cool, but I'm sure she could hear me screaming even through the fist I had crammed in my mouth. It doesn't hurt that there is a strong market for middle grade and young adult fantasy fiction right now. Thanks J.K.

What are the most rewarding things about writing a novel? What are the most excruciating?

The most rewarding thing for me is unpacking the mystery. I'm not the kind of storyteller who plans it all out in advance. I start with a character with a problem (or several) and see how he or she tries to wiggle out of it. The narrative often unfolds in surprising ways (surprising even to me), so the endings are always satisfying. Of course I also like the blank page when I'm about to start something new. That pulsating "I" of a cursor just begging for a first sentence. There's so much potential in that white space. The most excruciating is the copy editing process, at least for me. By that time I've been through it at least seven times. I'm tired of tinkering. It's finished. Set it free. But then along comes some brilliant copy editor who finds all of the times I used the same word twice in a paragraph, and the book is back in front of me again. Don't get me wrong, I would die of shame if anything I wrote was published without the keen eye and ear of a good copy editor, but I'd rather be churning out fresh sentences full of errors than deliberating over an adjective for an hour.

You have the unique experience of seeing publishing from the inside, as an editor, and from the outside, as an author. What insights can you offer from your experience that will help authors and editors understand one another better?

I think editors and authors "get" each other for the most part. Sure it's a delicate dance, and power struggles ensue, but once the writer realizes that the editor only wants what's best for the book, I think it can click along smoothly. I think authors need to trust their editors--after all, these people earn their paycheck making an author's work better. Their (the editor's) livelihood is at stake. At the same time, I think editors need to let authors feel like they are an integral part of the process. As much as I complained about having to okay every change in my novel, deep down I always appreciated the opportunity. After all, you should at least ask me before you trim a bush or cut down a tree on my intellectual property. It also helps when an editor stays in touch, even after the book goes to the printer. I know as an editor I have a tendency to disappear into the next project when the last one is out the door, but for the author, that journey might just be getting started.

What differences have you noted between nonfiction publishing and fiction publishing?

Author credibility. You don't need a Ph.D. to write a work of fiction. If your story, your talent, and your commitment are strong enough, you can see it through. Fiction publishers acquire stories, and then the marketing departments hope the authors will go out and promote them. In the nonfiction world, who you are matters almost as much as what you've written. There are exceptions, of course, but I think a lot more rides on an author's credentials and connections when the decision to publish a nonfiction work is made. I don't think that makes it harder to publish nonfiction--in some ways I think it's easier, provided you know your stuff and show what you can do to help sell the book. Though to be honest, getting published is a chore no matter what you write. Sometimes I think I'd have more impact as an author scrawling limericks on bathroom stalls--at least then you're ensured a semi-captive audience.

So you spend a weekend immersed in a world of fantasy and creativity as you write your novel. How do you keep from gouging you eyes out when you have to go back to psychometrics on Monday morning?

I keep my nails trimmed so that gouging out my eyes ultimately is just more effort than it's worth. I also keep phone cords and sharp objects more than an arm's length away. Truthfully I think Monday morning is why I write. I won't lie. I often use fiction, whether reading it or writing it, to escape. I believe that quality fiction has a didactic role to play--it can help us to ask questions and envision innovative answers; it can help us to grow as human beings and make the world a better place, and all of that good stuff. But it's also nice to lose yourself in another universe, or at least another part of the world, and see how it operates. Then, when you come back to yours, you often have a slightly different perspective on it all. Then Tuesday comes and you clip your nails again, just to be safe.

I hear your publisher wants to see your next novel. What obstacles will make that difficult?

Twins. They're two and a half and they happily consume most of my non-work hours. There's never a shortage of ideas, only a limited number of hours in the day. I think the vast majority of published authors out there aren't making a living from their writing. The key is to try and find a balance. You eke out your time when you can. Get up early (or in my case, go to bed late). Pick one evening a week that you will devote to your craft. Keep a notebook handy so that you can jot down good ideas at work. Or you could always marry someone with a great job and convince them that you are some kind of brilliant artist ready to shed your cocoon and let them be your patron.

Will you remember us when you're famous?

Oh. No worries there...

P.S.: Dave announced earlier this week that he is leaving JIST to be a stay-at-home dad and start work on the next book. So now he's going to be living the dream, and we are so happy for him!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Trek to Frankfurt Begins

At about this moment, my husband is taking off for the Frankfurt Book Fair. This is arguably the largest gathering of the world's book publishers in one place to buy and sell foreign translation and publication rights. (But it's far from the only one. Here's a calendar of this year's other book fairs around the world. Jason usually also goes to the London Book Fair and the Warsaw Book Fair in addition to Frankfurt.)

Those of you in the know might be asking: "Isn't it a bit early to be leaving for the fair? It doesn't start until next Wednesday!" True. But Jason always takes full advantage of his trans-Atlantic flights and tacks on a few vacation days to go someplace he hasn't been before. Great stories always ensue, such as the time he escorted three Swedish women around Dublin, met Ron Jeremy in the hotel bar in Barcelona, and was a guest at a big, fat Greek wedding in Athens. This time he and his coworker Shawn are heading to Helsinki, Finland, and Tallinn, Estonia. He got some funny looks wearing his wool sweater and coat onto the plane, when it's like 90 degrees here today!

He's promised to be our Frankfurt correspondent and send me some "content" for the blog. But we'll see. Usually he's so busy he barely has time to access his e-mail.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Three Publicity Victories in One Week!

Last Friday we got the announcement that Katy Piotrowski, author of one of our new books, has a one-and-a-half-page feature in Essence magazine this month. With an estimated readership of 7 million people, this is a huge boost for The Career Coward’s Guide to Changing Careers (which, by the way, is a fabulous look at how to discover your work passions and then go after them).

Then yesterday we learned that author Wendy Enelow’s interview with the Wall Street Journal about her newest book, Expert Resumes for People Returning to Work, made it on the front page, above the fold, of the business section. This is just HUGE.

And before the day was over, we got word that LA Times columnist Sheryl Silver will be featuring her interview with author Shawn Graham regarding his new book, Courting Your Career. This article is being syndicated and will be popping up in newspapers all over the country. I’ll be talking more about this book in a future post because I have a “book crush” on it. It’s all about how finding the right job is a lot like dating. So it makes an intimidating subject a lot of fun to read about. And the practical advice really works!

So why all the excitement? In theory, all of this exposure should be driving people to the bookstores and to buy copies of these three books. And perhaps better yet, it shows the book buyers at the chain stores that we are capable of getting the word out about our books and sending them customers.

Kudos to our publicist, Natalie Ostrom, and our copywriter, Selena Dehne, for using their immense talents to take JIST’s PR efforts to a new level!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Freelance Proofreader Needed This Week

John Meehan at Consona (formerly Made2Manage) in Indianapolis needs a freelance proofreader for a very short, rush job. It's about 12 pages of marketing-related/company background material in single-spaced format. He'd like to have it finished by the end of the week. If you are interested, you can e-mail him at

WritingHermit's Big Job and Resource Page

I stumbled upon WritingHermit yesterday, a self-described "slightly cabin-feverish Canuck" (that's a Canadian, BTW). WritingHermit is doing a great job of collecting links to job banks and other leads specifically for writers and other "writerly types" (editors, I'm guessing).

Monday, October 1, 2007

Krisan Matthews: Editorial Assistant and Permissions Editor, American Dietetic Association

Today we meet Krisan Matthews, editorial assistant at the American Dietetic Association in Chicago. I met her through this blog and am thrilled to share with you her experiences in association book publishing, yet another type of publishing with great promise.

How did you get your job? What education, experience, and skills do you have that made you a good candidate?

I found my job approximately a year after I finished college. I had been searching for an entry-level position in publishing and nothing seemed to be coming along. But then one day, I applied for the position of Editorial Assistant after seeing it posted on CareerBuilder. Shortly thereafter I received a call from the HR department. I came in for two interviews and then was offered the job. I think the fact that I had my Bachelor's degree in English Language and Literature definitely helped me to land this job. I had also taken courses in college on editing for print and had experience using the Chicago Manual of Style. I also believe that being a good writer is a very important trait to have in this industry, and my degree in English definitely helped me in that respect.

Did you have to take an editing test?

Yes. Usually when you apply for an editorial job within the publishing industry you can expect to take either an editing or proofreading test of some sort. I took a couple of tests that consisted of various proofreading exercises.

What are your job responsibilities and what is a typical day like for you?

Well, there really is no "typical" day for me. Each day is different because my job consists of so many various responsibilities. My job also involves juggling multiple (and often competing) projects and priorities. I provide support to 8 team members, so my days can be very hectic at times. Some of my job responsibilities are administrative, such as distributing mail, scheduling meetings, making copies of various documents and manuscripts. But I also am involved in the editorial process, as well. I work closely with the editors and assist them with such tasks as coordinating manuscript peer reviews, conducting market research, and writing publishing proposals, or what we call "pub packs," which are presented before our publishing committee. Additionally, I serve as the team's reprint permissions editor. This means that when another publisher or an individual wants to reprint our copyrighted material elsewhere (such as another book), they need to seek permission from ADA to do so. I am the person who reviews their requests and then either grants or denies permission for them to reprint our materials. This role involves at least a basic knowledge of copyright law, as well as good interpersonal skills because you have daily contact with various publishing companies and the public.

Tell us about the ADA. What types of books do you publish and how many per year? How many people work in your office?

The American Dietetic Association (ADA) is the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA serves the public by promoting optimal nutrition, health and well-being. ADA members are the nation's food and nutrition experts, translating the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living.

The Book Publishing team at ADA creates books that are mainly by and for our members. The majority of what we publish is professional reference materials for Registered Dietitians (RDs) on topics such as diabetes and weight management. However, we do publish some client education materials, including CD-ROMs with print-on-demand handouts, brochures, and booklets. We have also partnered with larger publishers (e.g., John Wiley & Sons) to publish consumer books, such as cookbooks. Additionally, we have an online, subscription-based diet manual called the Nutrition Care Manual (NCM). On average, we publish 8-10 new titles per year.

As I mentioned before, our team consists of 9 people, including myself. The positions include the
  • Publisher
  • Manager of Acquisitions and Development
  • Development Editor
  • 2 Production Managers
  • Editorial Assistant
  • Publishing Manager, Electronic Products
  • NCM Sales Manager
  • NCM Sales Assistant/Customer Service Representative

What advice do you have for others who might like to find a job at a professional association's book publishing office?

The advice that I would give someone who is interested in working in book publishing at an association or other non-profit organization is to be prepared to wear many hats because the team tends to be much smaller than at a traditional publisher. This can be a good thing, though, because you get a bird's eye view of the entire publishing process that you wouldn't necessarily get at a traditional publishing company.

What are your favorite blogs and websites for people interested in publishing?

Besides "Publishing Careers," some of my favorite blogs about publishing are

These blogs offer great information about book publishing, as well as the new technologies that are changing the industry.