Monday, December 31, 2007
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
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
- Newspaper circulation
- Number of bookstores
- Library resources
- Periodical publishing resources
- Educational attainment
- Internet resources
The winners were these:
- St. Paul
- Washington, D.C.
- St. Louis
- San Francisco
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
I also found this article from the Times of London about 10 bizarre sights found on Google Street View.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
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
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
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&N.com? 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
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
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
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
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
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, Monster.com), 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Thanks to technical writer and freelance editor Mark Cierzniak for tipping me off to the existence of this blog.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
- 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
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
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
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
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: "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
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
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.
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.