Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
For starters, here are some resume don'ts from the HR manager panel discussion moderated by Jobing.com Community Relations Director Rosanna Indie:
Top 10 Things Recruiters Hate About Resumes
- Spelling errors, typos, and poor grammar
- Too duty oriented, not highlighting accomplishments
- Omitted or inaccurate dates
- Incomplete or incorrect contact information
- Inappropriate e-mail addresses (like firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Functional resume formats instead of chronological
- Long resumes
- Long, run-on paragraphs
- Person not qualified for the job they're applying for
- Inclusion of personal information not relevant to the position
The whole group had their eyes opened by #6. Many people prepare resumes that highlight their relevant skills when their job history has gaps or isn't relevant to the position they seek. But this panel was unequivocal about it: They hate those. They throw them in the trash. They want to see a chronology and actual job titles. A compromise: Use a summary of your skills at the top of the resume before launching into the chronological job listings.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Come to think of it, conferences are kind of a racket. Organizers lure participants by scheduling the meetings in fabulous locales that offer the opportunity for a little R&R between sessions. Then they add in greatly reduced rates at fancy hotels. Who can resist? I guess everybody wins: Organizations make money, participants have an enjoyable learning experience, and companies benefit from the knowledge they bring back.
Speaking of all that reading time on planes, I panicked earlier this week when I realized I didn't have a paperback on hand that I was dying to read. Luckily, Steph and Stephanie, fellow publishing folks with an amazing personal library, came through for me and lent me three cool books that I have been wanting to read:
The only question now is, which one to read first?
Have a great week. I'll try to check in from the conference, but I am not lugging my ancient laptop through airport security. Besides, it feels good to be untethered for a few days!
Sunday, September 21, 2008
But just what should we be doing today to make sure we're still employable in the future world of book publishing? Here to answer that question is Wiley VP and Publishing 2020 and Kindleville blogger Joe Wikert. I posed a few questions to him about the brave new world of publishing careers, and his responses are enlightening.
I'd love to get your insights on how all the new technology in publishing will affect the careers of individuals. What sorts of retooling should we be doing to make sure we're still relevant to the publishing industry of the future?
I think the most important thing we need to do in this (and probably any) industry is make a commitment to being lifelong learners. Technology is causing rapid change everywhere and if you're not keeping up with it, you're highly likely to fall behind. That's why every time I see a new and interesting applet, website, tool, device, etc., I try to test-drive it. I miss quite a few, but I also think I do a reasonably good job of staying on top of the important ones.
As far as our own industry is concerned, it's pretty clear that e-content is the future. E-books only represent a tiny fraction of any publisher's revenue base today, but that's likely to change--maybe not tomorrow or next year, but it will happen. (Btw, I'm still a big believer in print books...that's not going away in my lifetime, but e- is where it's at.)
With that in mind, I'm amazed to talk to so many people in our industry who have never touched a Kindle or Sony Reader, for example. Even though the Kindle is harder to find (because of Amazon's online-only distribution model), the Sony product isn't; just go to your local Borders or Target and check it out. I've had my Kindle for three months now and I can't tell you how much it's influenced my thinking, not just for the Kindle but for e-content in general.
Social networking is another critical area. Every publisher will want their content where communities are forming. What better way to accomplish that goal than to tap into social networks? You can't be overly obtrusive, of course, but I'm convinced we'll see all sorts of innovative ways to expose our content through this sort of platform.
Do you think book graphic designers should be learning skills for laying out/converting e-books, such as XML and whatever other technologies are being used?
Yes, I definitely think designers should be familiarizing themselves with the new challenges involved in e-devices. It's a totally new world and it introduces a new set of challenges from the print space. Every time I get a file/book/newspaper on my Kindle that looks like a simple port from print I just about want to scream! The tricky thing here is that we're working with rapidly moving targets. Right when you think you have all the angles figured for something like the Kindle or Sony Reader, boom, they'll probably release a new version or add new functionality. There again, staying on top of all the developments will be crucial.
What about editing--if the world moves to an e-book-heavy model, will editors need to adjust how they do their work?
The same goes for editors. This brings me back to the "content layering" drum I like to bang from time to time. It also applies to authors as well as editors. Just because a print product features a two-dimensional reading surface, why should we feel compelled to limit ourselves to that in the e-world? Simple hyperlinks are one thing and should be considered baby steps in this area. What I'm talking about is building a truly collapsible and expandable work.
Are you familiar with any of those book summary services out there? getAbstract is one and I believe another is called Executive Summaries. These guys take a 300-page book and boil it down to 4-5 pages. So in the e-world, what I'm describing is a product that could be read as a four- to five-page summary or a full-blown 300-page book. The reader gets to decide based on how much they want to drill down in each area. So I envision a getAbstract-like approach that allows me to click on any of the summary paragraphs and they expand into more in-depth coverage of that particular topic. Maybe there are only a few small pieces of the four- to five-page summary that I want more info on, so I expand there and cruise right through the rest of the summary. The key is I can shrink and expand as needed.
Authors and editors would have to learn how to write to this layering model I've described above, and that's no small task. But think about how much more usable the resulting product could be! Then again, I tend to get overly excited about this stuff...and I might be the only one!
How will acquisitions editors compete against people self-publishing their own e-books and selling them online?
We'll have to look at reinventing ourselves, don't you think? Author platform is such an asset to any great book these days and it doesn't matter whether it's self-published or done through a big publishing house. So where do we add value? Marketing and PR are two areas. Then there's the editorial/selection process. I'd like to think that editors still play an important role in finding the highest-potential projects, but there have been enough self-publishing hits to show that we don't catch everything. I think it will also be important for publishers to play a role in helping authors build their platforms. It should be a joint effort, not something an author should have to do on their own.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Michael and Ann, the really excellent bloggers at Books on the Nightstand, have challenged their readers to show them their nightstands. At the risk of exposing my slothful ways, I'm obliging them here.
This is an unedited, unstaged view of my nightstand. Note that the lone "grownup" book (David Sedaris's When You Are Engulfed in Flames) is outnumbered by the books I read to my four-year-old daughter every night, including Happy Halloween, Hello Kitty; Little Quack; and Parts. Every night she drags in three new selections from her bookcase. She hasn't mastered putting things back where they belong (my fault, and the bane of my existence), so they pile up for weeks until I do a massive purge and sort, and take them back to her room.
Note also my phone charger cord, which I now unplug every morning because Barack said I should.
Friday, September 12, 2008
So if you're thinking of starting your freelance career, Tim's got some great advice for you. Take it away, Tim!
- On timing and the economy: I’m not sure there’s a perfect time to make the leap from in-house editing to freelancing. You just have to prepare yourself as best you can, then jump. Strangely enough, in my area of specialty (college textbooks, apprenticeship training manuals, software documentation, and self-training manuals), a bad economy means more work for me. When things take a downturn, more people go to school or look to improve their skills; this creates a greater demand for the products I develop.
- On how much money you need to make: The big question is whether you can find enough work to generate the income you need. So, your first step is to figure out what that income has to be. You might want to discuss this with an accountant, because whether you become self-employed or incorporate your business in some manner, your tax situation will change. And it’s much more painful to pay your taxes yourself, especially 100% of your Social Security tax, than to let an employer do it for you.
- On setting rates: Once you determine what your income (including enough to cover all your taxes) has to be, you can figure out how much you need to charge your clients. I suggest determining what your average hourly income should be and then using this as the basis for negotiating your contracts. If a client wants to pay by the project, you can estimate the number of hours required and multiply that by your desired hourly rate. Rates, by the way, are all over the map. Some clients are happy to pay $65/hr and up for a top-notch developmental editor, writer, or revisionist. Others can’t see spending more than $30/hr for the same set of skills. You have to decide what you’re comfortable with and be open to negotiating. I have found that some clients don’t bother negotiating; they ask what your standard rate is, then they pay it.
- On demonstrating your value to clients: I try to position myself as a “utility player” with my best clients. They know I can edit, develop, write, author online help, do acquisitions or project management, capture screen shots, walk their dog, or clean toilets. I try to remind them frequently of the value I can create for them, so they tend to think of me first no matter what they need. This is helpful because it means a variety of projects without having to juggle a large list of clients. In situations like these, where a client needs you to do a lot of different tasks, you may be able to land a retainer-style contract that guarantees you a specific amount of work over a set period of time. Such contracts can help you manage your time and provide an excellent sense of security.
- On emergency employment situations: If you think your employment is about to end, start lining up clients as quickly as possible. Don’t walk out the door without at least one contract in your back pocket. Having a freelance arrangement with your current employer can cushion the blow if you have to exit. However, don’t look for other clients on company time/phone/network; do it at home, at lunch time, or on a day off.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Ironically, I haven't seen Joe since 9/11--the actual 9/11, seven years ago today. That day we'd planned to meet for lunch to talk about a job he had open. Even though the world was turned upside-down that morning, we still met, along with Chris Webb, another well-known publishing blogger who also worked in Joe's group. I was so unnerved by the morning's events that I think I shook throughout the entire lunch. But the quasi-interview seemed like a breeze in contrast to what was going on in New York.
The job wasn't quite what I wanted at the time, but we've stayed in touch. I won't bore you again with the story of how last summer he urged me to step up this blog, but I'm so glad he did. Today we had a great time catching up on each other's families, careers, and blogs. I made him promise we won't wait another seven years to connect again (seeing as how we cross paths every single day!).
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert was also in the audience (she is giving a huge presentation tonight at a local church). One of the organizers tried to get her a seat next to me, but ran out of time, so she ended up standing in the back. Seriously! I've made a vow to read her book next.
The other diversion was watching the Secret Service guys. They are quite intimidating and focused. And whatever you do, don't make eye contact with them! It'll freak you out.
Michelle herself is breathtaking. She is so warm, poised, graceful, articulate, and sincere. She was flanked by former Indiana first lady Judy O'Bannon and former Lt. Governor Kathy Davis, along with several regular working women, who all told their stories of their personal struggles as working moms. I laughed; I cried; I reaffirmed my 20-year commitment to the Democrats.
I believe that even though Barack faces near-insurmountable challenges in straightening out this mess our country is in, his heart's in the right place and his wife is an excellent ambassador for him. Afterward, I thanked Michelle for fighting for us, and she asked me to fight, too.
So there you go. I'll post photos tonight.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Two main points that stood out to me were that those printers that didn't invest in newer equipment are losing out. Also, there's the familiar refrain that a lot of printing business is going overseas, where government subsidies make it difficult for local printers to compete.
And of course, as newspapers suffer the consequences of more people getting their news online, printers suffer right along with them.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
At any rate, this recent post caught my eye. It makes some good points about how to redirect your writing career dreams in a way that capitalizes on the fast-moving trends of the industry. I've been thinking of doing a post on this very subject, with a more specific spin toward the book sector. So stay tuned for that one (hint: I think graphic designers and page-layout people should be learning XML).
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Deck's Typo Eradication Advancement League website has been taken down, although it seems poised to host a forthcoming statement from him.
So they've put his head on a pike as a warning to the rest of us grammar vigilantes? I assure you, we will not be deterred. But we will avoid defacing government property for sure.
Thanks to fade theory for her post about this.