Thursday, December 17, 2009

Don't Forget Your Clients at the Holidays: Eight Tips for Freelancer Gifts

One of the happier moments in the work days leading up to Christmas is when a package arrives from a freelancer or vendor. Coworkers swarm in like termites to snatch a sugary goody before they're all gone. Everyone gets a sugar buzz and thinks happy thoughts about the contractor who took the time and trouble to show how much they care.

We have a faithful indexer who always sends us something fun from Harry & David, and a printer that never fails to send yummy cookies from Cheryl&Co. In fact, it was while I was happily munching a chocolate cookie with peppermint buttercream frosting that it occurred to me: I did a lot of freelance work for Frommer's this year. Perhaps I should show my gratitude.

And so I did. Online ordering made it relatively easy (despite a couple of bugs in the site). Within three days, a big box of little cookies found its way into the hands of the grateful Wiley production editors. Before I even got arrival confirmation from UPS, they were e-mailing me to thank me. Now I'm not saying that this is going to guarantee me more work next year (doing a good job, of course, is more important); however, maybe it makes them smile a little when they think of me. And that can't hurt.

Here are a few tips on freelancer gifts, from someone who both gave and received this year:

  1. Time it right. Make sure your gift will arrive before most people take off on vacation. You still have a little time to get a gift out to your best clients--but not much. There won't be a lot of people in offices past next Tuesday.
  2. Avoid perishables. I've gotten sausage and cheese a few times and wondered whether it had been refrigerated adequately. It kinda ruined it for me.
  3. Don't be too chintzy. If you file Schedule C, you can deduct the cost as a business expense, anyway. So why not get something nice?
  4. Packaging isn't so important. The adorable gift towers are fun. But people are really just interested in the food. Opt for more food over fancy packaging.
  5. Tie it to your personal or company brand. If you have a logo for your business, send a gift or card that communicates it. DeBrand's Chocolates will even make custom candy in the shape of your logo. (I'm not sure I followed this rule. Maybe my brand is traditional, dependable, and sweet. And what says that better than cookies?)
  6. Be sensitive. Don't send something that will offend or exclude anyone. If you know that any of your recipients has allergies, avoid sending them something they can't eat. And those packages of sockeye salmon are always revolting-looking to me.
  7. Don't forget a note. Make sure they know who it's from and that you are grateful for your working relationship.
  8. Keep it up. If your gift is a hit, send the same thing next year. Your client will look forward to getting your gift as the holidays approach.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Indiana Historical Society Holiday Author Fair: A Whole Lotta Awesome!

A while back I mentioned my intention to drop into the Indiana Historical Society's Holiday Author Fair, in which 80+ local authors were on hand to autograph copies of their works. Could an event be more tailor-made for me, who lives in the past and subsists on books? The event was Saturday and it lived up to all my expectations.

Immediately upon arrival I was asked whether I would like to join the society. As a matter of fact, I did want to. I want to support history in Indiana; but I also want to learn more about the historical society's press, which seems like a dream employer to me.

The next stroke of good luck was running into my longtime friend Gayle (yes, just like Oprah, I have a friend named Gayle), whom I hadn't seen in some time. We did our catching up as we weaved among the many authors, asking about their inspirations and their publishing experience.

It was an interesting mix of the self-published and those with the backing of major publishers. Our first mandatory stop, of course, was to meet Terry Border, author of the quirky Bent Objects. We'd already corresponded via Twitter, so he knew I was coming. We enjoyed hearing about his creative process later during his presentation. He's a former commercial photographer and baker who went from the mundane to doing what he really loves: Making funny scenes with everyday objects and taking photos of them. I predict big things for him.

We also visited with Larry Sweazy, the Noblesville author of The Rattlesnake Season with Penguin. He's got a four-book deal, so he's working on the next installment. (He then chided me for not keeping this blog updated lately. Duly noted.) Next to him was another fellow Macmillan/Pearson alum, Chris Katsaropoulos, who told me he is serializing his entire novel, Fragile, over Twitter to promote it. Wow.

We enjoyed chatting with Scott Sanders about his Arcadia-published book devoted to the history of Burger Chef. Cool! I also had a nice discussion with Andrew Stoner about his book, Notorious 92, chronicling the most heinous murders in each of Indiana's 92 counties.

It was also great to finally meet Julie Young in person after having some online interactions with her last year. She's the author of an Arcadia book Historic Irvington, and A Belief in Providence, about Mother Guerin, Indiana's only saint. Turns out, Julie is writing a video script for my company and invited me to be her Facebook friend.

Last but not least, I had a private audience with Philip Gulley, author of I Love You, Miss Huddleston (and quite a collection of other highly successful books with Harper). I'm sure he wondered at some of my questions, but I was sizing up his book's appropriateness as a gift. He convinced me. I bought it.

Looking back, I enjoyed that the event wasn't overrun with people. But now I hope they had enough book buyers to make it worth their while. I know I came away some $200 lighter in the pocket.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spotting Kindles in the Wild

Last weekend we went on a little family trip to Puerto Rico. At the last minute I decided to take along my neglected company Kindle, just to give it a trial run. I charged it up and downloaded Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love, thinking it might be hedonistic and fluffy enough reading for such a trip. I also discovered that you can download the complete works of Shakespeare for 99 cents, and a fairytale tome for free. So those came along too (maybe in case we ended up stranded on an island and I needed reading material for a decade or so? and the Professor [or Macgyver] would also be there and charge up the battery with coconuts and pennies?).
We also brought along my new laptop so that Cate could watch videos. A trip to the lavatory revealed that close to 75% of my fellow passengers were also passing the four-hour flight with an electronic gadget of some sort. But the only Kindle I saw was a first-gen model in the possession of a guy sitting just ahead of us in first class. (And he used it for nearly the whole flight.) Personally, I felt more like listening to my iPod and looking at the clouds.
One day at the hotel beach/pool, my husband asked: How many people here do you see reading Kindles? Practically everyone was reading something, but it was always a battered paperback thriller or a hardback borrowed from the towel kiosk. Of course, I thought. Who would risk getting sand in their Kindle or having it swiped while they were out being buffeted by the relentless waves?
One night Cate was horrified that I had not brought along any books to read to her at bedtime. Jason stepped in as the hero with the Kindle full of fairy tales. (She found Hansel and Gretel somewhat upsetting, as did I.)
Going through security on the way back home, the TSA agent in San Juan was quite taken with the Kindle, noting how handy it was. The implication was that she didn't see many of them in a day's time. Switching planes at the purgatory that is gate E35-A-F at Miami International, I saw a guy reading a Kindle DX. Now that was exciting!
Our last flight of the trip was again consumed with DVDs and iPods (as well as leftover Halloween candy I had taken along to appease our young traveling companion). So the Kindle got only brief usage. Maybe if I were on a business trip and had a different mindset, I might have used it more.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

JIST Book Gets Library Journal Review

Nothing dulls the pain of having to return from a beach resort vacation to the frigid Midwest like a big publicity coup. I was excited to learn just now that one of my books got a coveted review in the latest edition of Library Journal. You can read it in its entirety here (scroll down to the third review). But the money quote is this:

Covering all the basics, this work is recommended for job seekers, including those who have been laid off, and is especially appropriate for professionals and management-level workers.

Many thanks to Diana Lekus of the Queens Library for her excellent insights!

It's been quite a while since we got a Library Journal review. It will be interesting to see whether this will translate into increased sales. This really is an excellent book and the authors (father-daughter duo Richard and Terri Deems) have a distinguished history of helping people get jobs and deal with the emotional aspects of losing a job. Plus, they are so very nice! I'm thrilled to see them get this recognition.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Book Review: Bent Objects

Yesterday, after finishing my freelance editing project for Frommer's, I ran out to B&N to buy (oh the irony) a travel book. See, we are leaving for Puerto Rico in less than a week and I have done very little in the way of preparation. (Note to my Frommer's friends: I gave all the competition proper consideration and still walked out with a Frommer's book.)
But once I get into a bookstore, I get lost among all the wonderful ideas, colors, paper textures, and trends. On a table near the middle of the store, I happened to see the picture book Bent Objects. I was drawn in by its cuteness (ha--a cheese doodle with arms and legs!). But when I started to absorb the jokes behind each photo in the book, I realized its true subversive and many-layered genius. There was even a most wonderful scene involving a Kindle and Gulliver's Travels--but you will have to look for that yourself.
I vowed to find the author, Terry Border's, blog (and here it is) and to come back to buy the book as a gift for someone (or maybe more than one person) on my list.
As I rifled through Terry's posts, I made the startling realization that he is a fellow Hoosier and lives someplace nearby. And then I saw that he will be signing books and doing a hilarious presentation on December 5 at the Indiana Historical Society's Holiday Author Fair (details here). Oh, what could be more fun? I love Indiana history and authors and books and shopping! So I plan to be there. Can't wait!

Friday, October 30, 2009


So, Facebook made some changes to its interface. Now instead of seeing everyone's updates in the same place in real time, there's the News Feed with just the highlights (determined how?), or the Live Feed, which (presumably) has everything. And you've never heard such an outcry. People are whining and joining groups to protest.

I, too, was befuddled. But then I remembered that yes, change is hard, but I can quickly adapt. So I decided not to protest, and rather to just go with it. And it suddenly dawned on me that I can hide all of those Farmtown, Mafia Wars, Yo-Ville, and whatever else notifications without hiding the people themselves. So my experience just got better.

And then suddenly today, Twitter adds the "lists" feature. People can now make lists of related tweeters and follow them all on one screen, filtering out the tweets that come from other categories. This is probably a cool idea. Instead of switching gears all the time while looking at a mixed bag of tweets from, say, career experts, local thought leaders, publishing people, and Pee-Wee Herman, I can sort them out using the lists feature. It's also a way to discover more tweeters that I might like to follow.

Happily, I've been added to four lists myself already:
  • @bibliojunkie/library-librarians
  • @SusanWhitcomb/career-jobsearch-wisdom
  • @kristina64/indiana
  • @CFOcoach/colleagues

I have become a follower of these four lists. And maybe when I get back from vacation, I'll take some time and make a few lists of my own.

So see...change is not always bad!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Of E-books and E-mail

This morning I happened upon a tweet from Chris Kubica, an author and FileMaker Pro app developer:

How come everyone isn't pining the demise of mail and the death of the postal service like they are for paper books?

I had immediate flashbacks to my youth and young adulthood, when I was the best little letter writer there ever was. I corresponded faithfully and laboriously with all manner of relatives, pen-pals, teachers, school chums, general acquaintances, and (the best) boyfriends. It was nothing to fill 17 pages of notebook paper with lively discourse, all ground out the hard way: with a pen or pencil. Then I would stamp it, post it, and sit back and wait a week for a response. Seriously.

Since the early 1990s, e-mail has gradually been supplanting my handwritten communication. Think of all the positives: Immediate gratification, less time spent writing, added legibility, and a writer's callous that has all but disappeared (to be replaced by a "mouse shoulder," though). So I was compelled to respond to Chris' tweet thusly:

Because getting letters faster trumps the intimacy of pen-and-paper correspondence.

And it's true. The very heart of writing letters remains the same regardless of the medium. And being able to correspond in real time enhances the experience and the connection between the writer and the reader, I believe.

Chris responded:

But u cn get books on a Kindle/Nook in 60 seconds or less. Even if ur nude sitting on the toilet. Still paper books better?

He must have thought he had a real Luddite on his hands. I responded:

Yes, for now--until we get used to the idea. I'm never in as much of a hurry to buy a book as I am to hear from a loved one.

And I'm not. I'm used to there being a lag between the time I decide to buy a book and the time I get that book in my hands. I'm used to driving to the store or waiting a few days for Amazon to put it on my doorstep.

Chris responded again:

So you aren't sad to see US Mail go. Would you be sad to see paper books disappear, replaced by ebooks?

Here is where I realized that paper books are just further behind on the extinction continuum than letters. I thought of my old boxes of sweet letters with their postmarks, colorful stamps, and tear stains. I don't want to let go of them--or the shelves and shelves of paper books lining the walls of my "library." All of this paper is my ephemeral link to the past. And I like the past. So I clarified my position:

Actually, I am sad about both. But I realize that's overly sentimental, so why stand in the way of progress?

So this is my position: Eventually I will get used to e-books. But because books aren't as urgent as letters, it's just going to take longer for the practical to overcome the sentimental.

Chris said there would always be paper popup books. True dat.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Job Opportunity: Book Acquisitions Editor, Sigma Theta Tau International

Are you a nurse in Indianapolis who's always wanted to work in book publishing? Have I got a job for you! Check out this posting with Sigma Theta Tau, the nursing honor society:

Sigma Theta Tau International

Reports to: Publisher

Time: 20 hours per week

The Acquisitions Editor will work closely with STTI staff, authors, and reviewers as well as the top nurse leaders, CNOs, researchers, and clinicians in the field of nursing to acquire books for the STTI publishing program and support them through publication.

Working under the guidance of the Publisher and in close cooperation with the book editors, the acquisition editor's responsibilities include timely collaboration with key STTI marketing and sales staff members and commitment to internal deadlines. The acquisitions editor will also:

  • Seek out, research, conceive, and champion approximately 13-15 books per year, consistent with the interest areas set forth by the Publisher, market conditions, and sales and guided by the Sigma Theta Tau International Board of Directors.
  • Guide authors through the proposal and publishing process.
  • Research, write, present, and otherwise prepare business plans, financial statements, tip sheets, book summaries, outlines, and other relevant information for each book, under the guidance of the Publisher and in collaboration with authors.
  • Compile ongoing research on nurses and the nursing profession to assist with long-term publications planning.
  • Serve as an author advocate, managing and guiding authors through the proposal and publishing process.
  • Manage and review content prepared by authors and editors to ensure manuscript submission on schedule and in the agreed-upon format.
  • Contribute input to the design and functionality of each book.
  • Contribute editorial input regarding the writing, organization, and content for each book.
  • Implement the long-term and short-term editorial plan for Publications in collaboration with the Publisher.
  • Identify and facilitate the creation of critical author relationships around the world.
  • Provide ongoing communication with authors on book performance, marketing opportunities, and speaking and signing opportunities at STTI conferences, etc.
  • Solicit manuscripts for publication, as well as assess the potential for new and revised editions of existing STTI titles.
  • Ensure that all necessary intellectual property permissions have been obtained prior to publication.
  • Negotiate financial and contract terms with authors on projects as directed by the Publisher.
  • Coordinate the work of a panel of reviewers and/or international editorial board by the STTI President and/or CEO.

In addition, it is the responsibility of the Acquisitions Editor to:

  • Review proposals and manuscripts submitted for Publication and those solicited by STT.
  • Oversee the review and market survey process.
  • Serve as a primary contact and support for authors.
  • Evaluate user satisfaction and needs periodically.
  • Prepare marketing copy, summaries, book reviews, author letters, and other collateral material for books as needed by publishing, marketing, and sales.
  • Send author questionnaires and other marketing related documents to authors and coordinate their return.
  • Submit an editorial report to STTI at the end of each quarter outlining primary activities (including, but not limited to the number, nature, and status of all proposals), and accomplishments of the Acquisition Editor for the quarter ending and plans for Publication for upcoming quarter.
  • Submit an annual report summarizing the accomplishments of the year and outlining plans for the upcoming year and other reports as requested by STTI.
  • Submit the biennial report for inclusion in the House of Delegates biennial report.

    Some travel required to key STTI or other nursing meetings, nursing schools, or other centralized locations to meet with several current or prospective authors;

Compensation based on experience and degree.

Nursing and publishing experience are recommended. A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required.

To apply, send resume or CV and cover letter to Laura Thurman, STTI HR at For questions or more information, contact Renee Wilmeth, STTI Publisher, at

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Calling All Twitter Fans

I've been keeping this under my hat, but now that the book has been launched to the trade buyers, I can officially annouce one of the exciting additions to our spring list: The Twitter Job Search Guide. You'd be amazed at how you can make connections and establish your career brand on Twitter. I'm excited and proud that three of the foremost career experts and social media evangelists will be sharing their wisdom in this new book in March.
Meanwhile, they are looking for people just like you to contribute helpful tweets to the book. See their call for contributors. And while you're on Twitter, go ahead and follow all three of these expert authors:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tips for Getting the Most Out of the Frankfurt Book Fair, by Jason Hand

Greetings from this week's global center of publishing, Frankfurt, Germany. I am here to attend my tenth consecutive Frankfurt International Book Fair (FIBF). As an international rights manager for a sizable global publisher, FIBF is the perfect opportunity for me to meet past, present, and future business partners in person.

And my days at FIBF are usually full of 30-minute (and sometimes 15-minute) back-to-back meetings from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. But I am not here to complain about a grueling schedule, or whine about what it is like to spend so much time in the limelight of promoting my company and its products. I remain grateful for the many opportunities I have had to make long-term relationships and friendships with so many people from around the world.

It is almost a cliché to offer tips and tricks to first-time FIBF attendees. There is a small brochure published every day at FIBF informing everyone of a schedule of special events, as well as industry gossip. And on the first day (Wednesday), that brochure has a small article that typically provides in witty fashion things to do and things NOT to do.

But I will offer here ten of my modest suggestions… some are common sense, and others have been gained by experience:

  • You should be familiar with the website As the official site, you can learn all the basics here.

  • If possible, study in advance a map of the Messe (the fairgrounds where FIBF is held). And get to know how the publishers are distributed at FIBF (for example, English-language publishers are typically located in Hall 8.0).

  • Expect to be walking long distances, so wear comfortable shoes. This is a book fair, not a fashion show. You can navigate the entire fairgrounds in the covered walkways, or you can choose, as I often do, to walk outside (where it is generally cooler and less congested with foot traffic).
  • Should you be fortunate enough to have a FIBF pass that permits you to stay for the duration of the fair, remember that this pass also serves as a free pass to climb aboard all public transportation in the RMV for the duration of the fair. It is often difficult to escape from the Messe via taxi at the end of a long day, but the U-Bahn and S-Bahn trains are convenient and nearby.
  • Try to attend at least one "event," as you never really know what celebrity or semi-celebrity you may encounter. Yes, there will be many German politicians walking about, but you may just run into someone like Dr. Ruth (as I have more than once, with much hilarity, in the past).
  • Expect Saturday at FIBF to be very crowded, as the general public is permitted entrance to the Messe.
  • The Guest of Honor usually has some sort of grand spectacle at least once during the fair. This year's Guest of Honor is China. You should make a note to attend at least one of these events.
  • Underneath the overhead walkway and near the entrance to Hall 5, there is an outdoor flea market that is full of unusual trinkets and gifts. I have seen some interesting items for purchase here, but never bought a thing.
  • Near to the entrance to the U-bahn stop Messe and near the main entrance of the book fair is a used book market. Granted, most of these used books are German-language trade books, so you may not have an interest in such things. And, as it is not in my overall interest and livelihood, I am not supposed to advocate the purchase of used books (especially used textbooks). So maybe this tip is a simple FYI.
  • The Antique Book Fair in Hall 4 is worth a look, if you are interested in old books. There are some for sale (and some simply for display).


And what happens should you make plans to attend the Frankfurt International Book Fair in 2011? Here are some things I suggest to do in advance of next October's fair:

  • I heartily recommend as a travel website for fairly unbiased, basic information. There is a nice summary about visiting Frankfurt, with some recommendations and reviews for hotels as well as restaurants. You will want to book your hotel room in Frankfurt as early as possible.

  • Make dinner reservations four to six weeks in advance of the book fair, if not earlier. Most restaurants now have websites in both English and German. In most cases you can e-mail a reservation request and receive confirmation via e-mail soon after.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Everyone's Heading to Frankfurt

The annual Frankfurt Book Fair begins Wednesday and the publishing world is en route as we speak. Por ejemplo: Wiley's Julia Lampam said on Twitter that there was hardly anyone on her flight from London that wasn't in publishing. Pearson people are Facebooking their flight departures.

My husband has been in Cyprus visiting customers (and enjoying it way too much), but is now awaiting his own flight to Germany. He promises to send a guest post tomorrow: Tips for first-time visitors to the fair. He's promised us guest posts before, hasn't he? But this is his 10th year at the fair and it sounds like he really is writing something to commemorate it.

Meanwhile, you can follow updates from various attendees on Twitter by searching for the #fbf09 hashtag.

Monday, October 5, 2009

How Do You Discover New Music?

Lately I've been pondering the question: If nobody listens to pop radio anymore, how do they find new music?
The need to find an answer became more urgent last night when I was watching The Simpsons. Middle-aged and cynical Mrs. Krabappel was driving to work and singing along to McCartney's wistful 1971 hit, "Another Day." I was with her so far, since I've probably done the same thing at least twice in the last month. Then, blammo! Some teens in the next car yell, "Look at that old lady, singing a song that's a million years old!" Gah.
At this point you might be asking what this has to do with publishing, as opposed to my midlife crisis. The answer is that the music business should serve as publishing's canary in the coalmine. We need to watch how they handle the impact of technology (so far, not great) for clues on how publishing will face similar issues. Or even better, I need to understand how younger people perceive content consumption in the digital age.
So, I'm asking the younger readers: How do you discover new music to listen to? How many times do you need to hear a song before you decide to buy (or steal) it? I have so many more questions, but let's start with those.
Now, for my fellow oldsters. How do you break out of the musical time warp you've created for yourself with your iPod and your satellite radio and the retro programming on traditional radio? It's quite possible for us to go through an entire day and not hear a song that was released after 1989. So how do we break out of that and find new music to enjoy? (A corollary: Is my interest in Death Cab for Cutie as embarrassing as when my mom got into Mellencamp?)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Don't Miss Digital Content Day @ Your Desk

At a time when company budgets are being slashed, resulting in a world of hurt for conference organizers all over, here's an idea that makes sense: The Publishing Business Virtual Conference and Expo (aka Digital Content Day @ Your Desk) on October 29. Not only do you not have to spend money on a flight to New York and a hotel room, but the conference itself is free, too.

There's a full slate of sessions related to the brave new world of online content, including topics such as digital rights management, e-book pricing, print on demand, and the Book Rights Registry resulting from the Google Books Settlement (see the full agenda here).

So how does this virtual conference work? You just register ahead of time and then log in from the comfort of your own office on the morning of the conference. And the coolest part? Just like any live conference, there's an exhibit hall. You can browse the offerings of various vendors and even possibly win donuts and ice cream. And what's better than that?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Story of Hope: Marian Uses Online Social Media to Land an Awesome Job

I met Marian Schembari through Twitter last week. She discovered my blog and was excited to find someone else who has been writing about getting a job in publishing. So she followed me on Twitter, I followed her back, and we ended up chatting over e-mail. I checked out her blog and was mightily impressed: Here was someone who had used online networking sites in an innovative way to break into the publishing industry—at a time when, let's face it, jobs are hard to come by.

So I asked her to tell her story here. Check it out and get inspired!

I really wanted to get into publishing. Like, a lot. Never mind that the industry is slowly dying, the economy sucks, I had zero experience and the pay is (and always will be) crap. No, I'm a book lover, and in my naïve - but enthusiastic - mindset, I thought that was all I needed.

So I spent the three months after my May graduation carefully editing my resume, crafting the perfect cover letter, and applying for every single job at every single publisher in New York. I stalked mediabistro and bookjobs, made a ton of contacts and... well, that was pretty much it. I had one interview in 3 months.

I got bored of that real fast. Even though I was working all day every day, I just felt like I was waiting... So I took out a ton of books (of course) from the local library on finding a job, marketing yourself and personal branding. I designed a website with my resume, references and writing samples. Then, with Facebook's enormously helpful targeting options, I was able to post an ad on the profiles of people at places like HarperCollins, Random House, Penguin, Rodale, Macmillan, etc.

And I got responses! At least one person from every publisher I focused on emailed to say they passed on my resume, wanted to meet, or even just to say they liked my idea. The encouragement was fantastic, and within a week I had four interviews and a freelance gig.

Of course, advertising yourself to get a job is a little weird, I have to admit. It's one of those stories you hear about people wearing their resume on a t-shirt or taking cookies to an interview. No one wants to be that person.

Except I was that person. And an article written about my search on the HarperStudio blog resulted in a lot of lovely and encouraging comments (many of which said they weren't hiring. Figures). Only two people were cynical, not much liking my use of wording, but the ad generated much more positive feedback than negative, so I'm over it.

After the novelty of the ads wore off, though, I knew I needed something different to get people's attention. So I started a blog, chronicling my search and talking a little about publishing and where it's headed. Then I (reluctantly) signed up for Twitter, which 1 week later landed me a sweet interview at Penguin.

One month later and I'm employed. Long story short, a woman at Rodale saw my ad, emailed me and thought I should consider book publicity. She passed my resume on to an old employer who ran a book PR firm. One thing led to another and I'm now in my third week as associate publicist.

I couldn't be happier now that I'm officially "in" publishing. I also know I'm enormously lucky. The thing is, I don't actually know one person who's gotten a job the old-fashioned way. Sorry HR, but it's true. Plus, it makes for an interesting story. My campaign made me consider a career I had never considered and now I'm loving it. All in all a pretty successful endeavor.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Week in Review

My, what a long week it's been. My little girl was home sick Monday through Wednesday. I took a sick day Monday, Jason worked at home Tuesday, and I worked at home Wednesday. Even with taking time to take her to the doctor, I still got more done than I would have in the office (I reviewed third pass of a 450-page book and first pass of a 370-page book). That disruption in my routine really stressed me out, though, so it's good to be back in the office and gazing at the prospect of a free weekend with a well child.

Meanwhile, lots has been going on in the publishing careers world. Let's see if we can get up to speed now:

  • DOJ Gives the Google Book Settlement the Thumbs Down: In a nutshell, the Department of Justice is urging the New York court to reject the Google Book Settlement and have the parties modify it to comply with antitrust and copyright laws (see a good compilation of news reports on the subject here). This is actually good news. Even though I had put some work into getting my company ready to claim its rights, it was still a daunting task that I don't have time to tackle now. Also, I had reservations about whether the settlement was fair to publishers. So it's all good.
  • O'Reilly to Distribute Microsoft Press Titles: See the press release here. Microsoft Press, which has long suffered as not much more than a marketing tool for Microsoft, will get a big leg up in the trade and e-book markets. It's unclear what ramifications this will have for the editorial staffs in Redmond and Sebastopol, but it bears watching.
  • Professional Resume Writers Converge upon Annapolis: The annual National Resume Writers' Association conference is wrapping up today. I decided not to attend this year due to budget issues (and with a sick kid, I might not have been able to go, anyway). But I have been able to follow several people tweeting notes from the conference.
  • National Punctuation Day Excites the Twittersphere: In celebration of National Punctuation Day, throngs of grammar gurus (and plenty of wannabes) tweeted punctuation song titles (like "Comma Chameleon"), made question-mark-shaped meatloaves, and made the day a trending topic on Twitter. I especially enjoyed this confession of an ellipsis abuser.
  • Frankfurt Is Coming Up Soon: My husband leaves in just over a week for his 10th trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair. As usual, he's tacking on a side trip to an exotic locale. This year: Cyprus—his 40th country to visit. (Next year might be Sicily, and I might actually be invited!) Meanwhile, he's keeping up the annual tradition of torturing me over how many customer account sheets he needs to do and how little time he has left to do them. He always gets them done right under the wire, but the drama is almost too much for me.

So, that's the big stuff. Next week I'm looking forward to introducing you to another blogger who has been writing on the subject of careers in publishing—and scored an awesome job as a result. Meanwhile, my resume writing business is picking up now that school is back in session and people are getting serious about their careers again. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Be Nice to Everyone, Because You Just Never Know

Last Saturday I went to my salon to get a long-overdue haircut. I've gone to my hairdresser, Kevin, for over a decade. He does a good job; however, the reason I keep coming back is that I like him. He's smart, he's funny, he's edgy. He's also got two little girls, one of them my daughter's age, and we share stories of their precocious escapades.

During the conversation he asked whether I could recommend any good DVDs to rent ("Uh, 'Monsters vs. Aliens'?" I offered). Later he mentioned that his wife, also a stylist, had just returned from New York. She was styling hair for a photo shoot related to Fashion Week.

"Funny thing happened," he said, almost casually. Jen had spent the shoot getting chummy with an older woman whom she didn't recognize. They hit it off quite well, so at the end of the shoot she asked the woman, "So, what do you do?" "I'm the editor of Vogue," she returned.

At this point in the story I nearly jumped out of the chair. "Anna Wintour?" I exclaimed.

"Yeah, I guess that's who she was," Kevin said, somewhat surprised that I knew anything about the fashion world.

"Holy cow, do you know who she is?" I yelled. "She's the one they wrote 'The Devil Wears Prada' about." (Suddenly I did have a video-rental suggestion for him after all.)

"Well, she did have a herd following her around," he said.

Anna was fresh in my mind because I have been reading about "The September Issue," which is a documentary about her and a day in the life of Vogue. Various reports have said she's been showing a nicer side lately, possibly related to the movie release. But I never thought she'd spend a moment being nice to a hairdresser from Fishers, Indiana.

My point? I guess I already said it in the title of this post. You just never know who you might run into in the course of doing your job or looking for work. Being consistently nice might help additional opportunities come your way.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Post-Launch Euphoria

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you've been hearing tweets and squawks from me about our big trade launch meeting today. Well, it's over now and I am taking a second to catch my breath.

I instituted the tradition of biannual launch meetings at JIST 7 or so years ago. It's a chance to get everyone around one table and talk about the new books that will be coming out the following season. I do my sales job on the salespeople and try to get them as pumped about the books as I am. We critique the working covers. We bounce marketing ideas off one another. It's a good thing--but somewhat stressful in the run up to it.

The day after a launch, I have to start thinking what I'm going to present at the next launch. First I plan the revisions--new editions of our best-selling books. I have to time the releases to coincide with stock depletion and optimal market conditions (it's best to avoid times of the year when people aren't thinking much about their careers, like summer and Christmas).

Next I look at existing series and see whether there's room for another book in the series. Since our topic area is so narrow, I've already maxed out most of the slots, though, so this gets harder each year.

The icing, then, are the totally new books on edgier topics. I've got three of them on this list. (I'm going to wait a few more weeks before I get too specific about them here, though.) These are the ones that are the biggest risk because they don't have a sales history behind them. They could stick and become mainstays. Or they could sell 2,000 copies and fade away.

Meanwhile, my boss is going through the same process for her reference list, which we also sell into trade.

There are myriad details to attend to before these ideas can be presented as books: contracts, paperwork, competitive research, sales research, outlines, author schedules, cover designs, catalog copy...just a lot to do. Finally we get it all nailed down and ready to present at the launch (and usually without more than a few days to spare).

After doing these presentations for so many years, I'm no longer nervous about them. But I'm still an introvert, and it still zaps my energy to be "on" for three hours like that. So right now I'm feeling quite a sense of relief--until tomorrow, when the whole process begins again. And that's not to mention the fact that now that I have signed all these books, I have to make sure that they get done!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Looking for Me? Try Twitter

Oh, I have been quite remiss in my blogging as of late. It's not that I've written everything that I know (although that's a distinct possibility). It's just that my attention span is shorter these days. If you still want to catch some great career and publishing tidbits, follow me on Twitter: @loricateshand.

I am constantly amazed at all the great links and information that people pass along there. I don't retweet everything I see--just the things that pass my "gee-whiz" test. Occasionally I even write some original stuff. I must say, having to keep things to 140 characters is a real test of my editing abilities. But it's fun.

So, come follow me on Twitter. If your avatar is G-rated and you don't look like a spammer, I will probably follow you back.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Putting One Foot in Front of the Other: More on the Google Book Settlement

If you are sitting there stunned and wondering how to tackle this Google Book Settlement thing, I have some good first steps for you.

  1. Go to the settlement site.
  2. Do yourself a big favor and don't scare yourself silly by downloading the PDF versions of the forms that are used to claim your company's part of the settlement. Instead, go ahead and set up an account for your publisher by clicking the "claim books and inserts" button. It's pretty simple to do, but it takes Google several hours to activate your account.
  3. Next, search for your company's name in the database. You'll then get an option to download all of your titles as a spreadsheet (and it's a WHALE of a spreadsheet). As it turns out, we had many more books in there than I was able to spot from the outside (more than 800!).
  4. Find the titles that have a "yes" in the column marked "Digitation Status...." As it turns out, only 60 of our books have been digitized, and a good percentage of those are long out of print and their rights have been returned to the authors.
  5. Resave the spreadsheet with a different name and delete all the "no" books.
  6. To get an idea of how involved the claiming and registration process is, I selected one of our "yes" books that is still in print and was written by a coworker. The settlement requires that you get author consent to set the different access levels, so I e-mailed him for his quick consent.
  7. Proceed to claim, register, and set access levels for the book. There are many options with radio buttons, but there are also semi-helpful links to explain each of them. For example, I was stopped dead in my tracks over the pricing option--set your price or let Google do it, using its secret price-optimization algorithm? My first impulse was the set the book at its retail price. But then I remembered all the backlash I'm reading about publishers that price their Kindle books at the same price as the actual book. I decided that maybe Google knows better than I what will help it sell. I think we'd be able to change that later if we needed to.
  8. I intend to send letters to the authors of the other 20 or so in-print titles that have been digitized and get their consent to set their access levels. At that point, I will be done with everything that absolutely must be done by January 5 in order to get our chunk of the settlement. Then I can go back at my leisure and claim our other in-print titles that have not been digitized.

It took me about 30 minutes to do the first title. I presume this will be much faster on subsequent titles because now I (sorta) know what I'm doing. You can also upload a spreadsheet of all your titles and claim them that way, which is something I might also investigate doing.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Small Publisher Tackles the Google Book Settlement

Did someone say "Google Book Settlement"? La-la-la, I can't hear you because I've got my hands over my ears and am humming loudly. This has been our company's official stance on the matter since we got the settlement notice in March. But it has begun to dawn on me, if not on anyone else, that we've got to react.

To get everyone up to speed, for five years, Google has been taking books out of libraries and scanning them into its own database. They've now got more than seven million titles on file. The object, it said, was for people to be able to locate information within these books and then to decide whether they want to buy them. But the publishing industry saw it as a violation of their copyrights and dismissed Google's claim that the scanning was protected under the Fair Use Doctrine. So the industry, represented by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, sued Google. And before it could go to the Supreme Court, which is where it was surely headed, the parties settled. Johnathan Kirsch, a publishing lawyer, has an excellent summary of this whole matter here.

That settlement has not yet been finalized (and the DOJ has started an antitrust investigation); however, publishers and authors are being directed to get online and claim their books from the database. Then they will be eligible for a cash settlement ($60 per book) and can get their cut of Google's future proceeds from making the content available online. Publishers can also decide how much of their books they want available to people who search online--from nothing at all, to snippets, to 20% of the book, to the whole shebang.

But oh, the burden this puts on small publishers who have been in business a long time and have a huge backlist. First and foremost, they've got to wade through all the information of the settlement itself and make decisions along the way, such as whether to opt out or participate in the settlement, which levels of access to allow, and how to inform their authors. (They aren't getting much guidance from the AAP, and there are so many strong and conflicting opinions from the experts.) Then filling out the necessary forms will take untold hours of research and labor, which really can't be spared when everyone is working with a skeleton crew these days.

Some may decide that the settlement money isn't worth the effort that will go into claiming it. However, I believe publishers still need to get out there and claim the copyright to their titles. Otherwise, Google will use the content for its own ends and make money from it, and will not owe the true copyright holders a dime.

And so I begin the process of slogging through 678 of my company's titles that Google has in its database and prioritizing our next steps for each. I'd love to hear other small publishers' experiences and opinions on this whole mess.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blog (and Cook) Your Way to a New Career

Kansas City career coach Meg Montford (who not too many years ago joined me for a dinner of "Hot Brown" sandwiches at Louisville's Brown Hotel while we were at a conference) today blogs about a new movie that will inspire career changers. The movie is Julie & Julia, based on Julie Powell's book of the same name.

Meg shares how the movie shows Julie stuck in a miserable career. Then she gets the inspiration to cook every one of the more than 500 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking--and blogging about it--in just one year. Of course, her husband thinks she's nuts. But followers flock and before long Julie has found a new career as a writer. Meg believes you'll find some career inspiration from this delightful-looking movie.

I have to confess that I read Julie's book when it was still in galley form (I picked it up at Book Expo). And it turned me on to the magic of blogging. Seeing what it did for her, I resolved to start my own blog. And although I don't anticipate it being made into a Hollywood production anytime soon, it was still a good decision that has opened doors and made great connections for me. Best of all, it's gotten me into the discipline of writing regularly instead of always fixing other people's work. Both are noble occupations, but they take different skill sets. Keeping both sharp has been a blessing.

You'll note that publishers Little, Brown and Knopf have taken advantage of the movie's release with special editions of both Julie and Julia's books with covers that call attention to their connections to the movie. They will get a new sales boost as a result.

Of course, I want to see the movie. But I used up my "one theatre movie per year without the kid" allowance this weekend on Johnny Depp (and I do not regret it). I might have to wait for the DVD.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Inside INdiana Business Internship

A coworker let me know about the following internship posting for Inside INdiana Business, which produces TV, radio, and print reports featuring business news and interviews with Indiana's movers and shakers (and yes, we have some):

Indiana's business news leader is looking for an intern for our content team. This self-starting individual will assist the IIB newsroom on a variety of market-leading business news products, including the INside Edge Morning Briefing and Mid Day e-newsletters, Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick television, Inside INdiana Business Radio and Please forward a cover letter and resume to Assistant Managing Editor Wayne Pratt at

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

O'Reilly's Data Gurus Report on Online Job Market

I have it on good authority that the people at O'Reilly Media are a bunch of stone cold geniuses. So it was a thrill to see Ben Lorica analyzing trends in online job postings in this blog post.

Click through and just take a gander at that first chart. The number of jobs posted online ticked up a bit in July. But look how this entire year is lagging below the preceding three. It's dramatic.

His entire post is full of other good insights, especially the last chart, which shows the percent decline in job postings by state. Places like Oklahoma and Virginia look best, whereas Wyoming, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and DC show postings declining by as much as 58%.

What Ben and the rest of us know, of course, is that not all job openings get posted online--or posted at all, for that matter. You'll fare much better if you can use your network to root out the jobs that haven't been posted yet. But his statistics are an interesting snapshot of one aspect of the current job market. Thanks for sharing, Ben!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Use a LibraryThing Widget to Showcase Your Projects

Freelance editor Katharine O'Moore-Klopf generously shared a stroke of brilliance via Twitter today. She suggests using LibraryThing, an online book-cataloging service, to put a widget on your blog or website that features the covers of books you have edited. This is kind of an off-label use for the site, which was meant to catalog the books you've read, share them with others, and find new people who have "eerily similar" libraries. But how perfect for the publishing professional, whose accomplishments consist primarily of finished books.

As you'll notice, I put her advice to work immediately. To do the same, follow these steps:
  1. Go to LibraryThing and register (it's free).
  2. Search for books you've edited and add them to your list.
  3. Go to the widget-making page.
  4. Select your widget preferences.
  5. Copy the "Embed this widget" code.
  6. Paste it into your blog or website. (As Katharine tutored me, in Blogger you have to go to the Customize page, open one of your gadgets, and paste the HTML into the window.)

And there you have it: a rotating display of your bookly accomplishments. Thanks, Katharine!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Field Trip!

At lunch today, I got an offer I couldn't refuse. My coworker needed to go to the Pearson offices to pick up something for her spouse. She invited me and another coworker along for the ride. Of course, I've spent plenty of time there bugging my hubby. But he's not even there today--along with a good percentage of the employees, who were enjoying their privilege of working extra hours during the week so that they can take off summer Fridays. (Quite honestly, it's the thing I miss the most about working there.)

This time I was struck by the cool professionalism of the place--more than just a notch or two above the small company where I work. Covers of so many exciting books were all over the walls. For a moment, I was envious (okay, maybe I still am).

As we went down the rows, I read the name tags: some unfamiliar, but many I had worked with before. The names even included some of my blood relatives and a guy I knew in elementary school. Familiarity is nice; too much, however, is not.

Soon, the object of our quest was retrieved and we were back in the parking lot. We dined at La Margarita, one of my favorite haunts when I'm on that side of town. It was nice to get out of my daily routine and shoot quickly down memory lane.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Bookless Bookstore

Through a circuitous Twitter path, I discovered this blog post from author Moriah Jovan. In it, she shows a sketch of her vision of the bookstore of the future: a coffee shop with ordering kiosks and instabook machines (called Espresso). Order the book and then it will be printed on demand while you sip your espresso. Astute readers already know that this magical machine is not fantasy. Several Espresso machines are already in operation in several libraries and universities throughout the world.

I think this could very well be one of the ways we are headed. Think how many problems it solves, such as the one we struggle with daily: whether to reprint a marginal-selling book or to let it die. Instead, we'd just make the PDF of the book available to Espresso and anyone who wanted it could just print themselves a copy. No more worries about getting stuck with too much stock or paying exorbitant unit costs on small print runs (granted, the unit cost is probably pretty high for an Espresso edition, but maybe the price to the consumer goes up as well).

The benefit to authors (longer availability of their books) would have to be weighed against the negative of maybe never being able to get their rights back from the publisher because the books would never be declared out of print.

I have a suspicion that Moriah isn't thinking about big reference titles and glossy, four-color coffee-table books. I don't think any quick-print machine is going to be able to match the quality and feel of a really nice offset-printed, heirloom-quality book. As long as we all recognize that going in, that's fine. Maybe the manufacture of those books will be left to specialists.

Of course, this is just one path our industry is likely to take. There's still the issue of e-books and which reader/format combo is going to emerge as the book version of the iPod. There will always be people who prefer their books printed (at least until we die off in about 40 years). But growing numbers of people will prefer getting their content electronically. So maybe eventually even the espresso/Espresso store will fade away as well.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


If you haven't seen this yet, you might get a chuckle out of this photo of the field of contestants for the annual Hemingway look-alike contest in Key West. Very funny!

Meanwhile, I just realized that my last post was post #500 on this blog. Woo-hoo! We need a cake or something. Thanks for coming along with me on this amazing ride. I'm sorry I'm not posting as often lately. Let's call it summer mode. I promise to get back to regular postings as soon as I think of something to say that I haven't already beaten to death.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Untangling My Social Media “Strategy”

On this blog, I've done a lot of talking about online social media—partly because it's an important aspect of job searching, and partly because I'm so fascinated by it. But all the options become a little overwhelming sometimes, don't they? I thought maybe if I wrote about my various online presences, it might start to make a little more sense to me (and you).

First there's the blog. I keep the blog very narrowly focused on its topic: careers in book publishing. Very rarely I'll stray into something tangential, but not too far afield. I think everyone agrees that a well-written, professionally focused blog can only help your career efforts. It can raise your profile and make you an instant "expert." And if you blog most weekdays, you can really get great search engine visibility.

Then there's LinkedIn. Every professional should have a profile on LinkedIn. It should put forward your most important experience and accomplishments and be able to stand in as your resume, if necessary, because some people will judge you by it. When choosing contacts to link to, I now skew toward job-related contacts. True, you never know where an opportunity will come from, but LinkedIn has become less of a social sphere and more of a get-down-to-business place. I'm not using the built-in apps much anymore. TripIt tells me when Joe Wikert is going on a trip (which is, like, all the time), but that's about all. The discussion boards seem to be way too busy with people who want something.

Next comes Twitter. I joined it really just to keep up on the information that the experts were putting out on it—usually tiny tidbits that might not be worth a blog post, but still quite enlightening all the same. Often Twitter is my first heads-up to information that blossoms into bigger news—for example, the recent Gannett layoffs. I occasionally retweet the most compelling info I see related to publishing and/or careers, especially if it's relevant to Indianapolis. Without even trying, I've got 123 followers (if you want to be one, find me at @loricateshand). Hope I don't bore them!

Might as well mention Plaxo here. I fixed it so all my blog posts get put into Plaxo. But I'm no longer updating my status there or actively checking it. But it's there if I need to contact any of my connections there.

Last, of course, is Facebook. I resisted joining because I knew it would derail my life. And it has. I often catch myself narrating Facebook threads to my husband and others, and wonder just how crazy I sound. All the experts warn against putting things on Facebook that will destroy your career. But here is the place where I let my real personality show—as much as I dare. Yeah, so, I'm a closet Trekkie. I like British music. I dote on my kid. If someone doesn't want to hire me because of all that, so be it. I also feed my blog posts into Facebook, and I get a lot of comments there from publishing friends who wouldn't have read the blog otherwise. But mainly, it's the place where I have found all my lost best friends and am holding pinkies with them in cyberspace.

So where does this leave us? I don't know. I'm sure I could be managing all of this better. I know that the blog has suffered from a little neglect since I found Facebook and Twitter. I'm sure there's another social media outlet that I am not using but should be. But this is where I am right now.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Roger Ebert on Being a Critic

Not too long ago, after many years of obsessively plundering his movie review archives on the Chicago Sun-Times website, I discovered that critic Roger Ebert writes a blog--a fantastic one, at that. Unlike in short reviews published in newspapers, he's allowed to write as much as he wants. And it's brilliant.

This particular post caught my eye last week, in which he discusses the viewpoints of commenters who disagreed with his negative review of Transformers 2. Roger uses the opportunity to talk about what goes into being a critic, but also answers his hecklers: "We should respect differing opinions up to a point, and then it's time for the wise to blow the whistle."

What is fascinating here is to read his thought process in judging films. To those who say he is an elitist and a brainiac, they might be right. But that's why I love him so. Let others get their movie news from tabloid T.V.; I like being able to compare my own opinions to those of another snarky smartypants--albeit one with decades more life experience (did you know that he and Paul McCartney were born on the very same day?).

Several years ago I had the good fortune to meet Roger at BookExpo in Chicago. I waited in line for his autograph on a free copy of the preceding year's edition of his movie yearbook. I was tickled at the opportunity to meet a like-minded soul and tell him how much I've appreciated him all these years. But when I stepped up to him, all I could muster was "I love reading your reviews!" The look he gave me was sheer "you gotta be kidding me."

So, Roger, if you ever stumble upon this, what I meant to say was thank you for being the voice of art, literature, and intelligence in an industry that's based on flash and cash and big explosions. You've got the world's most awesome job (except, of course, when you're forced to go see movies like Transformers 2), and nobody does it as well as you do.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hey, Unemployed Journalists: Join the Dark Side

Last week's Gannett newspaper layoffs were upsetting in many ways. It was tangible evidence of an evaporating career field, not to mention a blow to the quality and depth of the local news in nearly 100 U.S. cities. I began to wonder what will happen to all the journalists, left free-falling without an abundance of desirable career options. (And always in the back of my mind is the idea that book publishing is not far behind on the continuum.)

But along comes David Meerman Scott, writing for, with an idea of how to use your journalism skills at private corporations, nonprofits, educational institutions, and government agencies (see the article here). Although media relations has always been a good tangential option, that's not what he's talking about. He's talking about using your storytelling skills to create internal and web content that educates and informs various audiences. And he says your skills are badly needed now.

Scott admits that many journalists will see working for a corporation as selling out, but argues that it doesn't have to be like that if you adjust your thinking and align things correctly.

He doesn't go into great detail about how to get these types of jobs, however. But for now, maybe it's enough just to open the door a crack and get people thinking in that direction. Work your extensive networks and try to set up meetings with people in charge of corporate communications and web content at companies you admire in your area. Be open to the idea of working as a contractor for more than one company. Open your mind and explore your options.

Meanwhile, if you're feeling cynical about journalism, enjoy this modest proposal, from Richard Sine in the Huffington Post, who says we need to close the journalism schools and stop cranking out more gullible media hopefuls into a dying industry.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pearson Now Tops List of World's Biggest Publishers

My post last year on the subject of how the world's publishers stack up against one another is perhaps one of my most consistently popular posts (not because it was any stroke of genius on my part; it's just a popular subject and I have wicked-good SEO).

Last year, Pearson was #2 on the list, behind Thomson. According to this article on, Pearson has taken over the top spot, with more than 7.4B in annual revenue. Here are the world's new top 10 publishers. (I've taken Bookseller's list and converted the euros to dollars.)

  1. Pearson (UK): $7.4B
  2. Reed Elsevier (UK/NL/US): $6.7B
  3. ThomsonReuters (Canada): $5.1B
  4. Wolters Kluwer (NL): $4.96B
  5. Bertelsmann (Germany): $4.38B
  6. Hachette Livre (France): $3.17B
  7. McGraw-Hill Education (U.S.): $2.6B
  8. Grupo Planeta (Spain): $2.59B
  9. De Agostini Editore (Italy): not available
  10. Scholastic (U.S.): $2.2B

You can see the whole list of the world's top 50 publishers here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Gannett Delivers on Promise of Layoffs

Last week I tweeted the news that Gannett was planning to lay off up to 1,000 people in its various local newspapers across the nation. Looks like it's all going down right now. Worst hit at this point are the papers in Detroit (132), Cincinnati (up to 100), Nashville (60), and Tucson (about 60), although people are also reporting that four people have been let go from the Indianapolis Star. (When I find out who, I'll let you know.)

For the very latest, check the comments at the unofficial Gannett Blog. Tomorrow that blog shuts down, though, and you'll need to visit the layoff tracker at Gannettoid.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009 Shames Me

Professional resume writer Teena Rose's blog on becoming a resume writer recently featured, a site that will spell-check entire websites for typos. You pay for various levels of access, but can check 100 pages for free. This is useful because once you have content on a site, it's tough to go back and spell-check each document on it.

I decided to give it a try with this blog. Yikes, people. You didn't tell me I used "everytime" 27 times, as well as a couple dozen other howlers. It also looks like I have a particular penchant for "youself."

I've said before that bloggers should get a little slack because of the nature of the medium. But come on: I'm supposed to be the eagle-eyed editor, here. The problem is that I have been working without a net by composing all my posts directly in Blogger. No more, folks. From now on, I'll be typing things in Word first before publishing them into the blog. (I also just discovered, the hard way, that the new version of Word won't let you copy and paste into Blogger; instead, you compose posts in Word and then hit the Publish button.)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Responses to the Freelancing Question

A few weeks ago I wrote this short post, asking what people were seeing in terms of the recent availability of freelance editing work. I had heard from too many people that they didn't have much--if any--freelance work to do. The more I think about it, though, the more I realize that the majority of people saying that are people who work for Pearson.

But others wrote in with various opinions on the situation and advice for those seeking work:
  • Greg Albers of Hol Art Books agreed that things might be slacking up now because of the recession, but that in the long term freelancing will become a way of life for many more people. He also turned me on to his cool publishing concept, in which editors and others volunteer to work on book projects in exchange for royalties down the road. It's a gamble, of course, but one that could pay off if you choose your projects well.
  • Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said that in her specialized field of medical editing, things are hopping. She's still having to turn away the occasional project.
  • Susan Hobbs said that she learned not to put all of her editorial eggs in one basket, so she keeps a diversified client list. She's stayed consistently busy over the last several months but has noted that some publishers that used to pay in 30 days are now taking 60 and even 90 days to get a check out.
  • Tim Huddleston is always busy and attributes that to his flexibility and being able to do many different kinds of editing work.
  • Susan Cox, a lady I played in bands with back in the early '80s, recommends the Writer's Market as a good source of leads on publishers. (Tim and I concur.)
  • John, a freelancer in Columbus, Ohio, has seen work dry up from a major client. If anyone has leads for him, let us know in the comments.
  • Marc, a local writer, says the work is fairly cyclical: It gets heavy after layoffs and then gets "dodgy" again later.

Any other observations or tips?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bad Vibes: Longstanding Hip-Hop Magazine Shut Down

Every day we hear of another print publication shutting down--declining ad revenue cited as the primary cause. So it was not out of the ordinary to hear that Vibe magazine is ceasing publication immediately after 16 years. But what stopped me cold this time is the fact that Vibe is owned by the same private equity fund that owns us. I'm not drawing conclusions here; I'm just sayin'.

Up to 50 people are losing their jobs. The magazine's original founder, Quincy Jones (who was already having a bad week), is making noises about buying it back and putting it exclusively online.

If I hear anything more, I'll update you in the comments section.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hall of Shame: Elsevier and Elisabeth

I really try not to be judgmental, especially because I know there are always many sides to a story and the media usually spins things way beyond recognition. But today I can't resist pointing the finger of shame at two parties in the book publishing world:
  • Elsevier, which stands accused of offering $25 Amazon gift cards to anyone who would post a 5-star review of one of their books (see here). Sure, we've all wanted to encourage people to post reviews of our books on Amazon because it helps boost sales. Some publishers have gone so far as to send out free books and galleys to get the general public to do just that. But to dictate that it's a good review and to offer a bribe? For shame!
  • Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who stands accused of plagiarizing parts of her gluten-free diet book (see here). I spent one long maternity leave muting her empty-headed rants on The View. Looks like anybody can be an "author" these days. Give us a break. Her 15 minutes should have been up a long time ago.

Okay, I feel better now. I might just have to make this a regular feature on this blog.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tale of Woe from One of Harcourt's Vendors

Freelance editor Katharine O'Moore-Klopf pointed me in the direction of this really depressing article from the New York Times. To sum it up, Inkwell Publishing Solutions did a lot of editorial work for Harcourt's textbooks. Now that Harcourt is in trouble, it's not paying its vendors. So Inkwell has gone belly-up, leaving approximately 50 freelancers scrambling for their very survival.

Something similar happened here in Indy about six years ago. A packager declared bankruptcy and many freelancers got just a fraction of what they were owed. (Somehow I got lucky and got my money just in time.) The lesson we all learned is to never let a client owe you too much. If they owe you money and it's more than a month overdue, you might have to refuse future assignments until you are paid. You have to go with your gut, of course. You don't want to risk being seen as a troublemaker. But you also have to be able to minimize your losses in case the worst happens, as it did for the Inkwell people.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Is Freelancing Drying Up?

I've heard from way too many people recently that their freelancing pipelines are empty. Naturally, publishers that are hurting are going to try to cut back their title lists and pull as much in-house as possible. It makes me nervous for all of those who make their livings this way. Is my anecdotal evidence just that--anecdotal? Or are you having the same experience? What can a freelancer do to adapt and get more work? Will some people have to give it up and go back in-house? Will there be jobs for those people? Is the sky falling?

Monday, June 15, 2009

TitleZ Is Back!

For the past several weeks I have been frustrated and in mourning over the loss of TitleZ, a site that allows you to track and aggregate your books' Amazon rankings. One day it just went down, leaving behind only a simple message that it would return. I worried that it would never happen, given that the site has been in "beta" for several years. I figured it had been abandoned by its creators.

I tried to find a substitute for it, but none of the sites suggested by other bloggers had the power, ease of use, and low price (free) that TitleZ does. So, given that my repeated requests for Bookscan access have fallen on deaf ears for half a decade, I resigned myself to having no daily barometer of sales. And I was bereft. Although Amazon sales are by no means a complete picture of our sales, they were a good indicator of how our PR efforts were impacting things. Also, our trade sales rep appreciated getting top-10-seller reports from me, so that he could compare those results with brick and mortars and look for opportunities.

Just now I discovered that after surviving a nasty virus, TitleZ is back. It lost some data and isn't functioning quite right. But I can at least see my top sellers again. Whew!

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Great Travel Book Controversy

Here's an example of a story I might not have known about had it not been for social media. I am a "fan" of Frommer's travel guides on Facebook because I have edited their books off and on for 13 years. Yesterday Frommer's posted a link to this blog post from Arthur Frommer himself, the nonagenarian who once traveled Europe on $5 a day (these days, that will buy you a can of Pepsi). The problem? A bookstore chain in Britain has signed an exclusive deal with Penguin to stock only Penguin travel titles (including the lovely DK Eyewitness Guides and the Rough Guides).

But what makes this bad is that the chain is WHSmith, which has a monopoly on stores in all British airports and train stations, not to mention its huge "high street" presence (Brit-speak for the stores you see on the main road through towns). So you can see why Arthur is mad. His Frommer's books are being pushed off the shelves of 400 stores.

You can google it and see the media reactions, most of which side with Arthur. The public is being denied freedom of choice (and coverage of many destinations). Many publishers are being hurt and jobs are at stake. Penguin (part of Pearson) acknowledges that it's a sweetheart deal (but at a 72% discount, they are going to have to sell a lot of books to make up for such an unprecedented concession--good thing those Eyewitness Guides are expensive and are probably printed overseas, bringing down their unit costs).

As always, though, it's the comments on the media stories that shed the most light. (You have to love those Brits for their polite, insightful, and grammatically correct comments!) The point has been raised that smart travelers do their research ahead of time and don't buy overpriced books at the last minute in airports. Others have commented that by limiting their selection, WHSmith will lose sales.

However it turns out, you can bet American publishers and booksellers will be watching. None of us would like to see B&N making exclusive deals with the competition.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

More Media Reaction to the New Playboy CEO

Indianapolis is now officially abuzz with the news of former Macmillan CEO Scott Flanders's appointment to the top job at Playboy Enterprises. On Sunday, we saw this jaunty sketch on the front page of the Indianapolis Star's business section. What would be better, it asked: Flanders's new job, or that of a beer taster in a brewery?

And just now MediaBistro linked to yet another interview with Flanders in Folio magazine. What is striking about this is his firm belief that the print version of the magazine will rebound. I'm skeptical.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Another Winner from Not Hired Gets Me Thinking...

Almost daily I have to check in with Not Hired for the latest examples of job seekers who just don't get it. Today's find was a real gem: a misogynistic ex-military actor who thinks a resume is a good place to tell stories about how all his employers, girlfriends, customers, etc. have wronged him.

Wow. At first I was sad, thinking about how many people just have no clue how to write a decent resume. But extreme examples like this turn up almost weekly. It's beginning to dawn on me that people who write resumes like this don't really want a job, do they? In order to continue collecting unemployment, people have to prove that they've been applying for jobs. So what better way to ensure that the checks keep coming (and you don't accidentally get a job) than to send out resumes like this one?

Sometimes I'm slow, but eventually I catch on.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Coveting the Netbooks

Last night I was flipping through the channels and saw that QVC was selling Dell netbooks. For the first time in my life, I actually watched that channel without making fun (except yelling "They're almost sold out of the green ones! Must call now!"). The thought of a thoroughly portable (and oh so cute!) computer really appeals to me. I could take it anywhere!

But I wonder whether a person could really edit on one of those things. Can you even get Word on them? Would the tiny screen drive me insane? I'm wondering whether anyone out there has used one and what they think about it. (Also, has anyone had any success actually editing poolside, or is the glare insurmountable?)

Meanwhile, I couldn't help but notice that it's not much bigger than a Kindle. At what point will all of our various devices morph into one all-purpose thing?

I guess today I'm asking more questions than I'm answering...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Will the Real Bozos Please Stand Up?

Here's your Friday funny, straight from my mailbox to your computer screen (see the third indented, boldfaced line):
You're a force to be reckoned with in the online retail world, Jeff, but they can't get your name right. (Wonder how often this happened to him on the playground growing up?)

The bigger point here is that although I have heard great things about Montessori schools, do you think I will be sending my child to this location? (I'm not even mentioning the random capitalizations and the notion that the young British princes have made a significant impact on our lives as a result of their Montessori schooling...)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Top 50 Book Blogs

Just caught a tweet from @jwikert that led me to this: blog-rank's list of the top 50 book blogs. Blog-rank (spelled several different ways on its own page, btw) used 20 different factors to rank the blogs, including how many people subscribe in a reader, how many incoming links there are, and the blogs' popularity on social sites.

Joe himself is well represented at #14, and there are several others that I've got on my feeds. But what blows my mind is how many of them I hadn't heard of before (like, oh, the one with the #1 ranking). This either shows my spotty attention span, or it demonstrates just how darn many awesome book blogs there are. And Joe says he thinks they've missed a few.

At any rate, I guess I'll be putting a lot more on my feeds.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Scott Flanders: The New "Boy Next Door"

I'm checking the calendar because it surely must be April 1st. Multiple sources, including the Chicago Sun-Times, the Associated Press, and the acrid OC Weekly are all confirming that Scott Flanders, former CEO of Macmillan USA, will be taking over as CEO of Playboy Enterprises as of July 1.

Flanders, a lawyer and accountant, skyrocketed to prominence here in Indianapolis in the late '80s and early '90s as president of Que Corporation, which through a series of mergers and acquisitions he parlayed into a 1,500-employee operation that encompassed a dozen imprints under Macmillan Computer Publishing and Macmillan General Reference. It all came crashing down in late 1998 when Pearson bought Simon & Schuster and found itself in possession of Macmillan. Amid rumors of book-cooking, Dame Marjorie showed him the door. We feted him with a washtub full of beers in the lobby of the "castle in the cornfield" offices. I told him he was going to do great things and that I would be watching him.

He's spent the last decade moving among bigger media circles such as Sony and Freedom Communications, and all the while the shadow of new media has continued to overtake his efforts. So now, today, he's landed at the Playboy mansion. Sounds like the folks in the OC are glad to see him go. I continue to watch and wait for those great things.

Thanks for the heads up to my friend Linda, always the best source of inside info!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Falling: Living with Polio and a Peculiar Family in Dayton, Ohio (1938-1957)

I've got a pile of books to read on my nightstand and precious little time to do so. But when I found out that Falling, my late college mentor's memoirs, was available, I pushed everything aside and eagerly dove into reading about his family history and early life.

His purpose in writing his memoirs was to share his experience with having contracted polio at age 8, and to show how it shaped his character. It was a part of his history that was painfully obvious when strangers looked at his twisted body, but one that those who loved him ceased to notice.

Particularly poignant were the memories of his time in the iron lung, from which some of his wardmates did not emerge alive. It was a horrible disease that he believed he contracted through the innocent act of swimming in the public wading pool. And when the vaccine came too late for him, I felt like I was right alongside his sobbing mother.

Of course, the "cheerful warrior" persona that the local media tagged him with stuck with him to the end, and so the book is not maudlin and contains plenty of charmingly odd stories of his Appalachian ancestors and his attachment to his siblings. When his father admonished him "Don't step in anything," I laughed and cried at once. He'd issued that same literal and figurative warning to his own kids--and me.

Another point at which I broke down was when he spoke of a high school teacher who "decided" that he should attend Earlham College with the same force of conviction with which Sam determined that I would attend the University of Evansville. And so I did, and Sam's influence changed my life--and those of countless others.

I am biased about this book because I loved Sam. But I do believe even those who did not know him will be entertained and enlightened by this folksy but learned memoir.