Friday, August 29, 2008

Do Me a Favor over the Long Weekend?

If you are out and about this weekend and happen to be near a Barnes & Noble, could you drop in and do me a favor? Could you look and see whether they have a copy (or two) of The PITA Principle on the shelves?

If they do, could you take note of which section it's stocked in--the Business section or the Careers section? It's supposed to be in the Business section, but I'm getting random reports of it being mis-shelved in some stores. Drop me a note in the comments section and let me know what you see (including which store you were at).

If they don't have it, be an angel and ask for it, would you? You don't have to buy it if they come up with a copy. Just look really interested until they walk away. Then you can put it back on the shelf (face out, right?).

Have a great weekend and try not to labor too much. Next week I'll have a review of Jack Lyon's new book, Microsoft Word for Publishing Professionals, which he so kindly sent me as my first official piece of blog schwag!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Again with the LinkedIn Schtik?

Today I took a few minutes to write recommendations for three former coworkers and post them on LinkedIn. These three are currently looking for new jobs and I wanted to help in some small way. If a potential employer checks them out online (and so many of them do that these days), they will see my positive words (and those of others) and will hopefully be more inclined to call them for interviews. And not that I am fishing for this, but I certainly wouldn't refuse it: My recommending them might lead them to recommend me in return.

The recommendation feature on LinkedIn is a high-tech version of the old "list of references" that job seekers used to be compelled to provide with their resumes. Later that evolved into just putting "References available upon request" at the bottom of the resume. But these days, career experts advise you to even skip adding this line. It just wastes space and is kind of a "duh" statement--if they ask you for names of references, of course you'll provide them. But maybe if they can look you up online and see a list of endorsements there, they won't even ask for a more formal list.

And while we're talking about online networking, this week my sister tried to encourage me to join Facebook. "Everybody's on there!" she gushed. I have some good reasons for my reluctance:
  • It looks like another time sinkhole from which I might not escape.
  • Maybe I don't want to reconnect with "everybody."
  • The content there is more casual and I worry I might be tempted to post something that reflected badly on me if googled by a potential employer.
  • Isn't one social networking site enough?

Of course, reconnecting with old friends could possibly lead to "hidden" opportunities, so I reserve the right to reverse my stance in the future!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

PITA Radio Off to a Good Start

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I wanted to update you on how the PITA radio tour is going today. Selena and I listened in on several conference calls between author Bob Orndorff and radio hosts all over the country. It was fascinating to see the efficiency with which the conference call service juggled the various parties on the line and kept everything going along swimmingly.

The calls started at 6:50am ET, but we didn't manage to tune in until the third interview, with Bulldog and the Rude Awakening crew on WOCM in Baltimore (who were hilarious). We also got a big kick out of it when Libby Collins at WKRS in Chicago challenged Bob to pinpoint what type of PITA she is (he did it in just a few questions--and her whole staff agreed that he was right!). But every single interviewer did a bang-up job of discussing the main points of the book and making it easy for Bob.

We've got one more program today at 4:10pm (Eddie Fingers and Tracy Jones at WLW-AM in Cincinnati--listen live here). Then tomorrow morning coauthor Dulin Clark takes over radio duties with six interviews from Boston to Denver and several places in between.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Another Trip to the West Coast

I'm excited because I just registered for the National Resume Writers' Association annual convention in San Diego in September.

The primary purposes of attending the NRWA convention are to support three of my favorite authors, who are speaking there; and also to meet new authors. A side benefit will be further schooling in the fine art of resume writing and an update on the industry in general.

What a year for business and personal travel it's been--Las Vegas, London, Moscow, Los Angeles, and now San Diego (not to mention Columbus, Ohio; Holiday World; Indiana Beach; and Evansville--no wonder I'm all out of vacation days!).

Monday, August 25, 2008

Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance

If you live in Maine (or aspire to), take note of this great resource for authors as well as publishing people. The Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance has an active site full of information that supports writers and literary art. The organization's worthy goals are these:

  • Promoting the appreciation of Maine literature
  • Creating a network of writers, readers, and publishers
  • Promoting opportunities for writers to improve writing and marketing skills
  • Informing members and the public of Maine literary and publishing news

Cool features of the site include a message board and a frequently updated member blog.

Publishing Careers gets an occasional visitor from Maine, and I was thrilled with my brief visit to the state back in 2001, particularly the resplendent Acadia National Park.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Simmons College Career Resources for Publishing and English

This morning the trusty Google alerts turned up the fact that Simmons College in Boston has a special section of its library devoted to career resources, with corresponding online help as well. So check out this great list of links provided by the Miller/Knopf Career Resource Library.

Simmons Librarian Julie Waddick also keeps a fantastic blog. She's reporting that today is National Punctuation Day; however, I have it on good authority that it's not until September 24. So I'm holding off on fixing that question-mark-shaped meatloaf until next month.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Two Don't-Miss Media Events Today

It's not too late to sign up for today's free Book Business webinar, Leveraging the Kindle: How to Maximize the Kindle's Benefits to Your Readers and Your Business. Not only will it be a great introduction for publishers who haven't yet dipped a toe in the waters of providing their content through this new reader device; it's also a chance to bask in the uncommon common sense and intelligence of Wiley VP and Publishing 2020 blogger Joe Wikert. See you there at 2pm ET.

And then for something completely different. At 6pm ET (3pm PT), PITA Principle authors Bob Orndorff and Dulin Clark are guests on Cynthia Brian's Starstyle radio show. It's syndicated all over the Web, but you can listen to it on WorldTalk radio here. Learn how not to be a pain in the ass at work!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Shiniest Jewel by Marian Henley

When my coworker Selena told me about Springboard Press' appeal for advance reviewers of The Shiniest Jewel, I jumped at the chance. It was touted as a book about adopting a baby at age 50, a subject that I am growing more and more interested in. One look at the cover illustration and my heartstrings were officially tugged.

Springboard quickly sent me a copy of the book and I eagerly sat down to read it at naptime last weekend. For whatever reason, it hadn't occurred to me that the book by the creator of the "Maxine" cartoons wouldn't be all texty. But it still nearly knocked me down when I opened it and found the story was told in cartoon form.

You might think that using cartoons would make the story more shallow, but you'd be wrong. Henley manages to pack a thousand words and some powerful emotions into each comic strip.

The Shiniest Jewel is entertaining, engrossing, and enlightening all at once, showing readers what happens when a single woman decides to travel to Russia to adopt a child--and resolves quite a few other relationships along the way.

I finished the book in one sitting, but I've gone back to reread parts of it since. My mom wants to read it next but I'm not ready to let it go yet.

Print Media Job Cuts in Indianapolis

Saturday the Indianapolis Star announced that it is cutting 23 employees throughout the organization. The cuts are part of a larger initiative by parent company Gannett to slash 1,000 jobs (40 percent of which they hope to achieve by attrition). The cuts amount to 3 percent of the workforce.

Says Star publisher Michael Kane, ""Unfortunately, in the short term we will be saying goodbye to some employees who have contributed to our success, and that will be difficult. The goal, however, is to strengthen our company for the future, and to get through this economic downturn in a way that positions us to grow."

Okay, that's pretty scary. The newspaper industry is in tumult and won't look the same when it all shakes out. I'm not sure the end of the downturn will be their salvation. But here's more news that will make you go "hmmm."

Local media giant Emmis Communications, publisher of magazines such as Indianapolis Monthly, Cincinnati Magazine, and Los Angeles Magazine, has announced that it is cutting 4.5 percent of its publishing team. But here's the hmmm part: They're cutting the salaries of the ones who remain by 2 percent. So while they're picking up the slack for their fallen coworkers, these poor folks are getting a pay cut, too? That's harsh.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Laurence Shatkin Serves Money for Breakfast

JIST editor and author Laurence Shatkin officially became a media darling this morning with his appearance on Fox Business News' "Money for Breakfast" program. (Watch the video here--search for the segment called "Recession-Proof Jobs.")

His appearance was in support of his upcoming book, 150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs, which will be in our warehouse at the end of September. Discussion centered on tech and health care jobs, which seem to be the safe haven of the foreseeable future.

So, Laurence, any advice for recession-proofing a publishing career? :)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Department of Labor Data on the Publishing Industry

One good thing about working for a career publisher is the facility I have gained with government employment data. Scarily, I have the Department of Labor URLs memorized. I thought today you'd like to take a gander at their stats and projections regarding the publishing industry--what the jobs are, how many people have them, median earnings, and the outlook for future employment. You can see it all on the Publishing page of the Career Guide to Industries.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Riding the Wave of Excitement over the PITA Radio Tour

When we decided a year ago to put an unprecedented PR effort behind our upcoming book, The PITA Principle, we got the okay to hire a freelance PR firm to help us get national broadcast attention. We knew it was a risk spending five figures for this kind of marketing, but I built it into the P&L budget and we decided (hoped!) it would pay for itself.

The firm we hired, Krupp Kommunications, came highly recommended (despite the fact that the second "K" just seems so...wrong). They've been working for months now to line up a media blitz for the on-sale date at the end of this month. And as the clock ticks ever closer to that magical date, they are starting to rack up the bookings for authors Bob Orndorff and Dulin Clark. At the height of the radio tour on August 27 and 28, they will be doing 14 local, regional, and national radio shows (for a complete list, see the PITA blog sidebar).

This is so cool and exciting for us. We're just sorry that Natalie, our recently departed publicist, can't be here to enjoy the fruits of her labor. Copywriter Selena Dehne and I are planning to listen in on the conference calls between the authors and the radio stations. This will be a learning experience for both of us.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Return of an Old Friend: The Library

Blogger Holly Hoffman on the Brazen Careerist blogging network recently extolled the virtues of visiting the public library. If everyone these days is too broke to buy books, borrowing them from the library is an acceptable alternative in my mind (granted, we don't make as much money, but at least people are still reading).

Like Holly, for a long time I forgot about the library. If I wanted a book, I just bought it. I put them on my Christmas lists because, aside from cash and peppermint bark, that's all I want. But if you don't mind waiting until the "hot" new books cool off and drop off the wait lists, you can have just as much fun with a borrowed book than a new one from the store. Some commenters on Holly's post say used books are even more fun because they've "been places."

I did notice on a recent visit to the local library that their job search books are about 12 years out of date. So if you're looking for current how-to information, you might still have to spring for a new book.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Publishing Jargon Translated

I stumbled upon this cool article this morning in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Writing teacher Rachel Toor provides a primer on publishing terms, prompted by her students saying she was using too much jargon in class.

As I read it, I thought that maybe I, too, am guilty of using too much jargon in this blog. So when I do, feel free to call me out on it in the comments. Recently I had two different potential authors ask what "TOC" means as I casually threw it out there in conversation. That's short for "table of contents," which is an essential part of any book proposal.

I'll admit that I learned something from the article myself. For example, I had never heard the term "AA" used for "author's alterations," and I didn't know you could charge an author for them (that probably depends on what the contract says). We don't generally charge people for AAs, but we highly discourage them. And I just recently learned what a "headband" is when we worked on specs for our first hardcover trade book.

Class participation: What other publishing terms has the writer left off the list?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tell Me a Story

Who doesn't love to hear a good story? Appreciation for storytelling in its various forms is basic human nature and the reason we buy books, watch movies and TV, and read the newspaper. Someone who does it well can hold your rapt attention through every twist and turn to the ultimate payoff: laughter, tears, learning, motivation, and more.

It should come as no surprise that the people who can tell interesting and impressive career stories on their resumes and in interviews are the ones most likely to get the job. For example, the trend in interviewing these days is to ask candidates questions like, "Tell me about a time when you saved your company money." If you can tell a story that really captures their imagination and demonstrates your skills, you've aced it. (Needless to say, you've got to be armed with your stories ahead of time!)

Career expert and author Katharine Hansen writes about various forms of applied storytelling in her blog, A Storied Career. And here's where I get to brag: After years of admiring her work, I am happy to announce that I've just signed Kathy to write a book on career storytelling for JIST. Tell Me About Yourself, which is slated to be released in April 2009, enables readers to harness the power of storytelling to land jobs and advance their careers. Welcome aboard, Kathy!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Getting Freelance Work in Tough Times

Beyond the Elements of Style blogger Jeannette Cezanne, whose offshoring posts I've picked up on in the past, extends the discussion today. She acknowledges prior discussions on how much freelance publishing work is being sent overseas, and couples that with the dire implications of the economic downturn. Freelance work might be more difficult to come by these days, so she had good tips on how to scare up more work.

I just got out of a meeting with a rep from a publishing services company who commented on the downturn as well, saying that many publishers are trying to defer expenses to 2009, and thus are scheduling projects to finish up and be billed in January and after. They don't want to spend money on freelancers; yet they've gone through so many downsizings that there's nobody left in-house to do the work. So something's gotta give. Will that result in title count cuts, more things being done exclusively online, or what? I don't know, so what do you think?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Why Won't You Blurb Me?

Rebecca Johnson has a fun article on about what happened when her editor asked her to start gathering endorsement quotes for her novel.

It is a belief widely held that having quotes from authoritative famous people on your book cover will help convince the reader to buy it. "Regis Philbin loves this book, so I surely will, too!" people supposedly think. So in both fiction and nonfiction, authors are charged with enlisting the people with the right names and credentials to read their books and then say something nice about them.

Come to think of it, it's a huge imposition, and Rebecca met with all manner of opposition in her quest to find the "right" writers to blurb her. My favorite is the nameless writer approached at a party, who began edging away even before the question was asked. "The expression on her face--part horror, part sneer--was exactly what I would have expected had I released a large fart and asked what she thought of it," says Rebecca.

The process doesn't usually go smoothly for us here, either. One author sent brownies to Dr. Phil in an attempt to woo a quote out of him. She's still waiting, but I give her big points for her chutzpah. Most of our reviewers end up being smart people with impressive credentials, but of whom you've probably never heard.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bad Day/Good Day

Yesterday was one of those days that seemed destined to be remembered in history as a Bad Day. My associate editor gave his two weeks' notice. Given our budget crunch, it's uncertain whether I can replace him. Our publicist is also leaving, so the two people I rely on most will not be here much longer.

But then something wondrous happened: The PITA Principle was reviewed by Publishers Weekly. That in itself is cause for jubilation because we think it's a first for JIST and it will certainly help our sales and marketing efforts. But even better, it was a good review. Here it is:

The PITA Principle: How to Work with and Avoid Becoming a PAIN IN THE ASS

Robert Orndorff and Dulin Clark. JIST Works, $22.95 (224p) 9781593575519

Despite some self-help jargon and overuse of quotation marks, this book will educate readers about personality types and how to work with them. The authors work the PITA acronym (Pain In The Ass) in seemingly every way imaginable, for example designating people Sealed (closed-off), Crusty (grouchy) or Overstuffed (self-important) PITAs. Happily, these metaphors work, describing accurately and simply common defense reactions and how to manage. Psychologist Clark and long-time educator and consultant Orndorff are gentle in their approach, encouraging readers not to attack or dismiss difficult coworkers: “[It] helps to understand that defense reactions are to a degree shared by everyone. No one is exempt from feeling defensive.” Most surprising is the authors’ emphasis on self-reflection and accountability in their readers, offering easy-to-understand methods to change your own PITA qualities. This traditional, considerate and well-organized handbook should prove valuable for people struggling to spend their work days more peacefully. (Aug.)

Of course, as a fan of The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks, the criticism of our punctuation stung just a tad. Perhaps the copy editor (one of the best in the business) and I should have put the hammer down harder. But all is redeemed with the words "well organized." Yeah, it is! Hooray for us!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Summer Sales Meeting Time

EMC is having its summer sales meeting this week. As opposed to last year, when they asked us to do presentations for our workbooks, they only want to hear about our two textbooks. So, thankfully, my presence is not required. Don't get me wrong--I really enjoy going to these meetings, making connections, and learning about new products. But Jason is in the middle of two weeks in south Florida for Pearson's sales meetings. So we'd have a child care dilemma.

So instead, I'm playing single mom for a while again--handling both the dropoffs and pickups, setting up and executing playdates, and spending an inordinate amount of time in drive-throughs. Luckily, though, our girl is four-and-a-half now, so there's not the issue of having a highly unreasonable being who communicates only through screaming and crying. Now there are words alongside the screaming and crying.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Twitter Thought Leaders

I've mentioned before that I don't do Twitter. The reason is the same as why I don't buy donuts or keep Valium in the house: I am a weak person. If I tried it, I would totally love it. And the rest of my productive life would grind to a halt and I would lose what remains of my sanity.

But in case you do Twitter and are looking for good people to follow who are authorities in social media, marketing, PR, and business, PR guru Peter Shankman has provided a good starter list:

  • @brianmorrissey
  • @chrisbrogan
  • @philgomes
  • @guykawasaki
  • @colinmckay
  • @jspepper
  • @skydiver (himself)
  • @sarahmorgan
  • @mashable
  • @overthinker
  • @jowyang
  • @savvyauntie
  • @zappos
  • @maratriangle
  • @prblog
  • @pistachio
  • @DougH
  • @JanePorricelli
  • @astrout
  • @michaelallison
Anybody got any suggestions for good publishing people to follow in Twitter? It would be fun to put together a list.