Thursday, July 31, 2008

Marci Alboher on Preparing for Layoffs

Great minds think alike, right? Last week New York Times columnist and blogger Marci Alboher had an excellent post on what to do if you think a layoff might be in your future. I'm patting myself on the back that she echoed several of my suggestions from this post.

Be sure to read her post and all the comments, as well as follow her link to the article "Dear Valued Worker, You're Fired" by Lisa Belkin.

And oh man, if you want a good layoff-related laugh, check out "Terminated" by T.M. Shine in the Washington Post. In essence he says that although evacuating the building while layoffs are in progress might seem to be a good way to avoid getting the axe, they know where you live.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Editor Edited My Work!

There's an interesting discussion going on over at the Chronicle of Higher Education (a good place to look for writing and editing jobs at colleges, BTW). A professor writes to the forum for a little sympathy on having had an article edited beyond recognition. The range of responses (from "thank her!" to something akin to "my editor sucked!") is fun to see.

This is an age-old problem. Most people don't like to be edited, especially if they feel the edits have changed their meaning or made them look bad. Their writing is supposed to speak for them; if it misrepresents them, it's a huge emotional issue. Even I have felt myself wincing when I've reviewed someone's edits to my writing (but I generally keep my mouth shut because I know all too well how it feels to have an author argue with me over edits).

On the other hand, I have encountered plenty of authors who are grateful for their editors. The good ones will thank you for making them look good.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New Salary Survey from Publishers Weekly

It's that time of year again--time to see how the publishing industry is stacking up in terms of pay. Publishers Weekly released its annual salary survey results yesterday. To summarize the interesting points from the magazine's summary:
  • Average raises in 2007 were 4.2%.
  • Bonuses are lower--in some cases, managers got half of what they got in the preceding year.
  • Sixteen percent of employees are "very unhappy" with their jobs. Reasons cited included low pay, lack of advancement opportunities, and company and industry instability.
  • Speaking of instability, 18% of educational publishing professionals are "very worried" about keeping their jobs. With all the consolidation going on, I'm surprised that's not higher.
  • Fewer than 80% of current publishing employees would recommend the career to a college graduate. This is a new low in the history of the survey.
  • The gender gap in salaries is pronounced, where men earn an average of $103,822 and women average just $64,742. In the past this discrepancy has been blamed on the fact that women tend to be in editorial jobs and men are in management and sales. However, even within editorial the men are averaging $67,000, whereas women average just $48,000.

See the full article online for more details, and watch for the printed article, which will presumably contain more actual salary numbers by function.

Monday, July 28, 2008

"Deadliest Catch" Captain Promotes Book in Indiana

When I woke up this morning, the first thing I saw was crab-boat captain Andy Hillstrand on local TV news, promoting his book based on his and his brother's lives working on a fishing boat in the Bering Sea. Everybody seems to know all about these guys because they are featured on the Discovery Channel show Deadliest Catch.

As it turns out, Andy lives just a few miles up the road from my parents in Chandler, Indiana--when he's not out risking his life on the crab boat. Mom said they were promoting the book, Time Bandit: Two Brothers, the Bering Sea, and One of the World's Deadliest Jobs, at the Evansville Barnes & Noble just a few weeks ago. Yesterday he was here for the Brickyard 400 race, so he decided to squeeze some PR out of his visit.

I used to think that constantly watching "the crab show" was my household's own secret shame. But everywhere I turn, I find someone else who admits to watching it all the time. I mean, really--what's the appeal of this crazy show and why can't we ever turn it off? Here's my best guess:
  • Like all good reality shows, it gets you interested in the lives and stories of the characters.
  • There seems to be a lot of manufactured drama in addition to the real drama, so you have to keep watching to see what happens next.
  • People get a gambler's rush when they pull up those pots and they're just teaming with crab. Sometimes there's nothing there but a trash bag and an old shoe, so the uncertainty keeps us investing more of our time in hopes of the big payoff.
  • It's an interesting look into a lifestyle that's so different from ours. I like to sink back in the leather couch, stare at the 40-inch plasma, dig into my bowl of ice cream, and think, "Man, I'm glad I'm not on that boat!"

Friday, July 25, 2008

Editor's Note: Vacay Day Today

We're heading out for my brother-in-law's wedding now, so no time for a significant post today. (For the record, that's my last vacation day until December.) Have a great weekend and enjoy what's left of summer!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How Long Does It Take to Find a Job?

One mistake that people seem to make repeatedly is to grossly underestimate the time it takes to find a new job. The majority of people take the attitude of "Hey, I'm going to enjoy my severance for a while and then later I'll think about getting a new job." Time flies when you're not working, and before you know it, time (and money) is up.

Here's a sobering rule of thumb: Career coach and author Katy Piotrowski says that it takes, in general, a month for every $10,000 you want to make. So if you're looking for a $50,000 job, you can plan on it taking five months--way longer than most severance packages.

Katy does have some good news in her forthcoming book, The Career Coward's Guide to Job Searching (which went to the printer yesterday): If you spend more than an hour a day working on your job search, you can shorten the time it takes to find a job. She recommends devoting six hours a day to your search (obviously, you can't do this when you've still got a job). In this way, you can shave months off your search time.

Meanwhile, in this tough economy, I think all bets are off. So, as they said in the Little House books, make hay while the sun shines.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The World's Biggest Publishers from Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly's Jim Milliot reports this week on "Publishing's Top Guns." Here's his list:
  1. Thomson (Canada): $7.2 billion
  2. Pearson (UK): $7 billion
  3. Bertelsmann (Germany): $6.4 billion
  4. Reed Elsevier (UK/Netherlands): $6.1 billion
  5. Wolters Kluwer (Netherlands): $4.9 billion
  6. Hachette Livre (France): $3.1 billion
  7. McGraw-Hill Education (U.S.): $2.7 billion
  8. Reader's Digest (U.S.): $2.6 billion
  9. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (U.S./Cayman Islands): $2.5 billion
  10. De Agostini Editore (Italy): revenues not available

Again, Americans might be surprised to see how far down the list you have to go before you hit a U.S. company. But most of the world's top companies own high-profile divisions and imprints in America.

And speaking of America, here's how our top publishers stack up:

  1. McGraw-Hill: $2.7 billion
  2. Reader's Digest: $2.7 billion
  3. Scholastic: $2.1 billion
  4. HarperCollins: $1.3 billion
  5. John Wiley: $1.2 billion
  6. Simon & Schuster: $886 million
  7. Marvel: $398 million

Even the smallest of these is mind-bogglingly huge compared to where I work!

Monday, July 21, 2008

FEEDJIT: Coolest Blog Widget Ever!

On Friday while the layoffs were happening, I stumbled upon a blog that had an awesome widget that I wanted to try. FEEDJIT shows a little map of where your blog traffic is coming from. Being kind of global-minded, I think it's neater than beans.

Some of my assumptions about this blog's readership have been validated. I assumed the majority of visitors would be from North America, and probably most from Indiana. But I am wowed at the readership on the east coast. I hope that even though I'm not all that plugged into the New York scene, I'm still giving you valuable career information.

Also a shocker: Lots of hits coming from India. I'm not surprised that some people from Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand have dropped by (message to the Kiwis: Neil Finn rules!). But Croatia, Spain, Malaysia, and Puerto Rico? I'm speechless.

I'm going to use this intelligence to better deliver relevant information based on where people are. Please don't hesitate to drop me a comment if you have an idea for a geographic-area-specific post.

Friday, July 18, 2008

It Can Happen Here

It's been a tough day here at the office. Three of our esteemed colleagues have been laid off. Blame it on a midyear budget crunch and the demands of being owned by a private equity fund.

To my three friends: I will miss you dreadfully.

To everyone else: If you know of any job openings for a marketing/sales executive, a Web marketing coordinator, or a graphic designer in Indianapolis, please e-mail me at loricateshand-at-yahoo-dot-com.

Back Up Your LinkedIn Contacts

Yesterday JibberJobber blogger Jason Alba posted about a situation in which a LinkedIn member (resume book writer Susan Ireland) had her account suddenly deleted for no apparent reason. She had to spend hours and hours recreating her profile and reinviting people to connect with her. Jason recommended that everyone immediately back up their contacts. It was an easy process (once I figured out that a popup blocker was thwarting me), and now I feel more secure knowing that all my LinkedIn connections are safely stored in my Yahoo e-mail address book.

Jason himself is a force of nature. He's working on his third online networking book (I'm on Twitter--Now What?). He blogs, he's ubiquitous at conferences (I was able to catch his schpiel at the Career Management Alliance conference last year in Louisville), and he's got this really cool job search organizer site, JibberJobber. You can do a lot there for free, so check it out.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What to Do If You Think You're About to Be Laid Off

In this uncertain economy and topsy-turvy industry, people are being laid off every day. Sometimes they don't see it coming. Other times they get a heads up or just have a gut feeling that the axe is about to fall. By that point it's often too late to do anything substantial to save your job.

From some all-too-close personal experience, here's my best advice:
  • Update your resume--pronto. I can actually recommend a great book for that: 30-Minute Resume Makeover by Louise Kursmark.
  • Reach out to your network. You've probably built a good one but maybe you haven't kept in touch with people well enough. Get on LinkedIn and start setting your network in stone. Of course, I can recommend a good book about that, too: Seven Days to Online Networking.
  • Make a pact to help your coworkers. Promise to be on the lookout for leads for each other. Offer to critique one another's resumes.
  • Get your affairs in order. Throw out any junk you don't want to take with you. Gather up important e-mail addresses. Delete personal e-mail messages. Thin out your personal items so that if you have to leave on short notice, it won't be a huge hassle to put it all in a copier-paper box and do the walk of shame.
  • Start blogging. I started this blog the day after our company was sold last year because I wanted to be able to put it on my resume (and because I had wanted to do it for a long time, anyway). I have made so many amazing friends and contacts through it and have learned so much.
  • Be sure the managers know your value. Find a subtle way to remind your boss (and his or her boss) of your impact on the bottom line. If you think you might be spared if you can adapt to a different job or department, show your willingness and ability to be flexible.
  • Now, get on with your life. You can't let fear and worry cut into your productivity. If you do, you'll become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How Kate Travers Got into Publishing

The Devourer of Books blog has an interesting guest post from publishing professional Kate Travers at HarperCollins. Kate talks about her lucky break that got her in the door, and gives a wonderful summary of how the publishing process (and an acquisitions editor's job) works. She is particularly insightful about how a book is marketed and sold. In a rather uncommon career move, she decided to jump from editorial to marketing, and found a renewed love for the industry there.

It's interesting to note how many of the commenters on the article said "I've always wanted a job like that, but I don't want to live in New York." Hello, folks! My readers and I are here to tell you that you really can have it all--bucolic living and a career in book publishing. You just have to be a bit more creative about it!

In addition to all this, check out the Devourer of Books blog itself, especially its blogroll--tons of blogs devoted to reviewing books. Looks like a bonanza for readers as well as publishing PR people!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Elephant in the Room: Offshoring

Yesterday I hinted at my persistent worry that someday my job will be sent offshore. I've seen it happen with layout and design--thriving departments of hundreds of people working three shifts reduced to just one guy who sends things to India. A whole room full of typesetters in Singapore who work for peanuts overnight. Even JIST has begun sending some software development work overseas.

Of course, it makes short-term business sense to do it. If you can get things done faster and cheaper (and presumably with good quality), why wouldn't you?

In her post Shipping the Work to India, Beyond the Elements of Style blogger Jeannette Cezanne offers some insights and some hope. If editors can find their niche, they can swim alongside the riptide of offshoring.

But this isn't the end of the discussion as far as I'm concerned. I want to know what all of you think about the offshoring trend. Do you see it happening? Are you doing it? Is it taking work away from you or driving down your rates? How can we as American editors justify our continued existence?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Christine Larson on Ghostwriting as a Career

Thanks to author/editor Laurence Shatkin for pointing me to this fun piece in the New York Times by Christine Larson. Larson was surprised to find ghostwriting on the U.S. News and World Report list of best careers for 2008. She gives an overview of her career without overglamorizing it (in fact, she refers to her career as "a pig in a prom dress" compared to the other jobs on the list). You can find out more interesting information about ghostwriting in U.S. News and World Report's detail page for that job (be sure to check out the links at the bottom of the article).

I will now express equal surprise that "editor" is also on the list. Here's the detail page on that one. Since JIST is in the business of putting out books that recommend the "best jobs" for everyone, a list like this always makes me ask: What criteria are they using to pick these jobs? Here's what they said:

  • Job satisfaction, defined as spending a high percentage of time on activities that many people would consider rewarding or pleasant.
  • Training difficulty, defined by the length of training typically required, adjusted by the amount of science and/or math involved.
  • Prestige, based on an informal survey of college-educated adults.
  • Job market outlook, based on data from the U.S. Department of Labor and professional organizations, with the career's resistance to being offshored considered.
  • Pay, with data provided by, which has an extensive database of individual employee compensation profiles.

So this looks like good news to me. The "informal survey" says my job is prestigious, and the Department of Labor says it's resistant to being offshored. Are they sure about that second one?

Friday, July 11, 2008

One Day, One Job Profiles Penguin

I've blogged before about One Day, One Job, which profiles a different company each day with tips about how to get an entry-level position there. Yesterday the blog featured the Penguin Group, a giant among trade publishers.

In addition to the helpful information the post imparts, I can tell you that Penguin is part of Pearson. And contrary to what the post implies, not all of Penguin--not even all of its U.S. division--is in New York. Alpha Books, publishers of the Complete Idiot's Guide series, is headquartered right here in Indianapolis.

And I'm certain that our U.K. readers don't need to be reminded of Penguin's headquarters on The Strand in London--with a breathtaking view of the Thames and within an easy walk of Covent Garden. I sound like I've been there, don't I? Well, I have--if you count standing outside of it. Back in April, while my husband was conducting his group's annual foreign rights summit meeting there, I happened to walk by while I was having a leisurely tourist day. They wouldn't let me in, though, so I just went shopping.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Say It Ain't So, Fake Steve!

I was hit with some disappointing news this morning: Fake Steve Jobs is quitting his blog. I could always count on FSJ for a belly laugh from The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, even if it was sometimes over-the-top cruel and ridiculous. It's a parody, after all.

The good news is that Daniel Lyons, the real Fake Steve, is starting another blog under his real name. He's also published a book based on the blog's premise (Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs, a Parody), is working on a screenplay, and is making available two Blurb versions of the blog's greatest hits.

Much love, Fake Steve. We'll be watching you.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Taking Personal Branding to the Grave

When I heard what my uncle had engraved on his tombstone (nevermind that he's only 64 and nowhere near dying), I had to go see it for myself. Uncle Larry has always been known as the sportsman of the family, taking every opportunity to hunt and fish. He became known for this--it was his brand. I wondered whether he got tired of getting fish-themed Christmas gifts, such as the largemouth bass downspout covers. But apparently not. He's chosen to put fish on his tombstone.

While I was at the cemetery (which also contains three of my great-grandparents and is ideally situated next to the mall), I spotted a few other tombstones that perpetuated their occupants' personal brands. For example, this guy apparently liked cars:

Inevitably, my thoughts turned to how I might be able to sum up my life and brand on a slab of marble. I'll have to ponder that one further. My husband suggested the slogan "Gone Editin'," but maybe instead it should be "I'm with Stupid."

I did find one fellow whose method rang true with me:

It's succinct, it's classy, and it's fairly nice (although don't you sometimes use "unique" to describe the weird people you know?).

So what about you--what do you want on your tombstone?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Motley Fool Editor Job Posting

I just read this job posting and got a good giggle from it. I sometimes catch the Motley Fool radio show on NPR, and it's good to see that their sense of humor carries over even to their job postings.

Want to work for them? Here are a few of the qualifications you'll need:

  • Ability to leap tall buildings and catch typos in a single bound

  • Grammar neurosis--you just can't stop thinking about it

  • Ability to juggle porcupines

  • Patience of a saint

If you want to work in Alexandria, Virginia; have at least two years of experience; and have a sense of humor, check this one out!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Jane Friedman: Editorial Director, F+W Publications

Today I am thrilled to share an interview with Jane Friedman. No, not that Jane Friedman. This Jane is Editorial Director at F+W Publications in Cincinnati, and also a fellow graduate of the University of Evansville. She's already had phenomenal career success and has a lot of interesting and valuable insights.

In undergrad, were you a composition major or a literature major? How did what you learned in college help you get into publishing?

I was a creative writing major (BFA), which is a somewhat uncommon degree. I took a combination of creative writing and literature courses, and had nearly complete independence in choosing what I studied. It wasn’t my coursework that was particularly helpful in my career, but rather my practical experience on the university newspaper and literary journal, as well as community publications work. It was also amazingly helpful to be schooled in AP style (which I did learn as part of a copyediting course through the journalism department).

Who were your favorite and most influential professors at UE and what did you get from them that helped you propel your career?

I was lucky enough to have two professors with connections to prominent people in publishing, Dr. William Baer and Margaret McMullan. Both of these professors were involved in publishing in one way or another, and Dr. Baer’s connection to someone at F+W Publications resulted in me securing a valuable internship between my junior and senior years at UE. Also, both professors were actively publishing their own work or others’ work, so they had significant practical experience, and offered very grounded and career-oriented advice to students. Based on what I’ve heard from other people’s experiences, particularly in MFA programs (or in just your basic English major program), this type of mentoring can be rare or neglected.

Tell us about your work on the Evansville Review. How did you get involved with the publication and how valuable was that experience?

The year before I became its editor, the journal was called the University of Evansville Literary Review, and it published only work from the UE community. At that time, I served as a volunteer reader of submissions. Every year, a new editor is chosen by a university publications board, and I was happily selected in spring 1996 to serve as the 1997 edition editor (I ran unopposed, so not a tough battle). Dr. Baer served as the journal’s adviser, and he and I talked about raising the profile of the journal by soliciting submissions from the public, rather than limiting it to the university. So we decided to change the journal’s name to the Evansville Review, and we ran an advertisement in the AWP Chronicle. From that point on, the dynamics of the publication changed tremendously; the staff become much more formalized (I hired a Poetry Editor, Fiction Editor, etc.), we designed a streamlined process for reviewing submissions, and we met on a weekly basis throughout the year. I learned a lot about how to build a team, the quirks of a nonprofit journal, and also just how much unpublished material is out there in the world!

Why did you decide to go to grad school and what did you study? How has it helped your career?

I started working at F+W Publications immediately after undergrad, even though I had wanted to attend graduate school instead. (I was strongly considering Emerson’s program in publishing at the time.) So it was always in the back of my mind that I would return to school once I was financially able to do so. However, rather than leave F+W entirely, I remained part-time while earning my master’s in English from Xavier University because a few key things fell into place: (1) It was across the street from the F+W offices at that time. (2) F+W was flexible with my hours. (3) I secured a graduate assistantship at the XU Writing Center that covered all my costs. The degree has been irrelevant to my publishing career, but I’ve put it to use by serving as an adjunct in composition at the University of Cincinnati, and teaching is something I do enjoy, so I’m glad I have it. It probably does give me a little extra credibility with some of our authors (particularly in the Writer’s Digest line), but still, the degree was more of a personal thing than a professional thing.

How did you get your first publishing job?

A few months before I graduated from UE, I e-mailed the editorial director who supervised my summer internship at F+W, and asked him for a job. Miraculously and generously, he said yes. (I can’t see that happening in the current publishing climate, at least not at F+W.)

At F+W, you went from managing a magazine to managing books. Was that a difficult transition?

Not at all, though I suspect my experience is unique. F+W is more like a media company that parcels out its content in different formats and packages, across a variety of niche audiences (in my case, writers). So I worked for Writer’s Digest magazine for a while, then moved to Writer’s Digest Books, which is really the same kind of game, with a lot of the same players. It also helped that I had previous experience in the book division before moving to Writer’s Digest magazine. But F+W editors often move between the magazine and book division successfully.

You've risen to the role of editorial director and yet you are still relatively young (at least compared to me!). What factors contributed to your amazingly successful career progression so far?

There’s that old saying that luck is where opportunity meets preparedness, and that has proven particularly true in my career progression at F+W. Within the past five years, I’ve advanced because I was the most natural person to take on the responsibility, plus there’s an element of making it up as you go along. If you go back 5 or 10 years, you wouldn’t find anyone in my role; I haven’t really replaced someone as much as I’ve nurtured a multi-faceted team that’s responsible for many types of products. Aside from pure circumstance (and sticking around one company for a long time!), I’d say my flexibility, passion for publishing, and desire to push boundaries has been integral.

What is your job description and what are you responsible for?

I’m responsible for the vision, strategy, and performance of multiple book imprints at F+W, including Writer’s Digest Books (15-20 new titles each year), Writer’s Market annuals (10 new titles each year), HOW Books (15 new titles each year), TOW Books (still evolving), and, to a lesser extent, Betterway Sports and what remains of the Story Press imprint. Day to day, I direct and support the staff who do the hands-on acquisitions, development, and editing/design of our titles, and of course I deliver reports and assessments to the people above me (or partnered with me). I feel like my job description changes month by month, given all the technological advances in media and publishing. Right now, I spend a great deal of time on the digitization and online efforts for all of my imprints, as well as on communication with our niche audiences, through my blog and other sites. I’m also becoming an active partner with our conference division, in an effort to launch a new event for writers.

What do you look for when you hire people (skills, experience, personality traits)? Do you find it difficult to find qualified people outside the east coast "hub" of publishing?

Yes, it is difficult to find qualified people, especially since Cincinnati is not exactly a cultural hotspot (yet), and F+W salaries rarely entice someone to relocate. What usually happens is we hire relatively young people, with little to no publishing experience, who demonstrate some kind of passion or sensibility for publishing and/or for the subject area in question. Then we groom them to advance into positions of greater responsibility. If I look at my staff, this is a very accurate description of how all of us came through the door and have landed in our current roles; there isn’t a single person who came to us from the coast (though some people have left for the coast!).

How many editors are on your team? How many titles do you produce a year?

There are seven editors on my team and three designers. We also have three data-entry assistants for the Market Books area. We produce about 50 books every year in my area alone.

Here's your chance to plug some books. What's new at F+W?

I’ll mention some of our most innovative books in 2008 that give a sense of the diversity of our list:

  • Kawaii Not by Meghan Murphy (HOW Books), a collection of charming cartoons on perforated pages, so you can share them with friends.

  • The Serfitt & Cloye Gift Catalog by Bob Woodiwiss (TOW Books), a parody of upscale gift catalogs, with wonderful illustrations; coming out later this fall and one of my favorites this year (maybe because I did the editing).

  • Alone With All That Could Happen by David Jauss (Writer’s Digest Books), perhaps the most sophisticated fiction-writing instruction guide we’ve ever published; should impress even the writing-instruction naysayers!

  • Chicken a la King and the Buffalo Wing by Steven Gilbar (Writer’s Digest Books), a gifty reference (with recipe cards!) of how certain foods got their names from people or places. Coming out this fall.

  • Written on the City: Graffiti Messages Worldwide by Josh Kamler and Axel Albin (HOW Books), a book of photographs of text-based graffiti. Striking and lovely, also coming out this fall.

Do you get tired of living in the shadow of "the other Jane Friedman"?

Quite the contrary! I adore having a doppelganger, considering how admirable and forward-thinking TOJF is. When she exited HarperCollins just last month, I received a few misdirected e-mails wishing TOJF all the best, and one of them referred to her as “El Jefe.” Could I really ask for anything more?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A New Take on the Cover You Critiqued

After some very frustrating floundering, I think we have remade the cover (and title) for Be Your Own Agent into something that hits our target audience a little better. If you'll recall, the old cover and title looked like this:

The general consensus was that the cover looked like it was meant for 40-year-old women. In fact, the target audience is young graduates and college students, and even though the author is an accomplished woman in a man's world, I think guys will be more interested in her career as the agent to people like Jon Smoltz, Jeff Francouer, Chip Caray, Isiah Thomas, Mark DeRosa, and Ryuji Imada. Even the title confused people. So it was back to the drawing board.

Here's the latest incarnation. What do you think? I think we will be tweaking the subtitle to change "connect with" to "score." And the colors are all out of whack here. But you get the idea.
Update: I tried a different file format and got the colors right now.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Giving an Informational Interview Today

I don't know how it happened, but somehow I became the official informational-interview go-to girl at JIST. An informational interview is when a job seeker or career explorer requests a meeting with someone in their target field, just to get information and advice, despite the fact that there is no job opening. Because so many of our books tell people to go out and set up these interviews, and because they are really helpful to people, I never felt like I could turn anyone down when they asked for one.

For a while after I started this blog, though, I was telling people to just go read it and then contact me again if they had further questions. Being an introvert, it was nice to be able to avoid meeting strangers and taking time out of my day.

But I've agreed to meet someone today at 11. I don't even know the person who referred her to me. She found me in a roundabout way through LinkedIn. But she seems very nice and I am happy to try to help her.

I'm in a weird position, though, because I read so many books about how to conduct these interviews (from the job seeker's perspective). I feel like I have an unfair advantage. Do I go ahead and hit her up with sports agent Molly Fletcher's key interview question: "Who are you and what do you want?"

I don't have to prep too much for this beyond reading her resume ahead of time (most books tell you not to send a resume, but I always request one because it helps me know the person and figure out how to advise him or her). I am trying to do some neglected filing and recycling so that she doesn't think I work in a dumpster with a window. And I managed to put on makeup today. But no pantyhose--not on a 90-degree July day.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Jumping on the Meme Bandwagon

One popular game that bloggers like to play is to take one of those lists of "things you didn't know about me" that we used to get via e-mail and put them on their blogs. Then whoever reads them is tagged and has to put them on their blogs. They call these sorts of self-perpetuating cultural phenomenons memes.

Not to be left behind in the latest fad, I'm going to do a meme today. I saw it on Krisan Matthews' Publishing Curve blog, and also on bluelightful, bluelicious, bluelovely (the blog of a publishing job seeker in Washington, D.C.).

Here are the instructions--consider yourself tagged:

(Disclaimers--Where is #51? I'm not counting books I haven't read completely. Seeing the movie also doesn't count.)

The National Endowment for the Arts has an initiative you may have heard of called the Big Read. According to the website, its purpose is to "restore reading to the center of American culture." They estimate that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed.

For fun, let's see how many of the top 100 books we've actually read. My list is below. How well did you do? Have you read more than 6?

Here's what you do:
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE. (We're using square brackets since Blogger won't underline)
4) Reprint this list on your own blog.

1 [Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen]
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 [Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte]
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
[12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy]
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (close, but no cigar)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
[22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald]
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
[54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen]
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
[68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding]
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - A. S. Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert (the author and I share a birthday)
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

My score: 33/100