Friday, May 29, 2009

Word 2007: Am I the Only Hater?

Change is hard, right? This week my work computer crashed. I was due for a new one, anyway, so overnight the IT fairy set me up with a brand new Dell. What they didn't tell me was that it came with Word 2007 installed. I've been using various word-processing programs for 23 years now, and rarely have I been so stumped by a new version as I am with this one.

Oh yeah, it's supposed to be easier to use. But I think that they've dumbed it down too much for my purposes. How do I attach a template? (I figured out a work-around that will probably cause production foul-ups down the line.) It even took me way too long to figure out the purpose of the "Office Button," which is really just a glorified File menu.

I'm biting my quivering lower lip and resisting the urge to go fetal. I know that in a few days it will feel like I've been using this version forever. I just wasn't prepared to have to retool this week.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thessaloniki Book Fair

While the American book industry prepares to launch BookExpo tonight, the book fair in Thessaloniki, Greece, is in full swing, and my husband is right in the middle of it. For many years he has said that BookExpo is not nearly as important to his business as the big fairs in Europe (London, Frankfurt, Warsaw, etc.), and he does not always go to it, anyway. But this year he's far, far from the Javits Center and immersed in meetings with his Greek publishing partners.

I'm not sure how he snuck this trip under my radar, because I swore he wouldn't go back to Greece without me. But here I sit in Indiana, having to be content with a Greek salad at Panera.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Heads Up About CareerBuilder's Resume "Critiques"

On its home page, CareerBuilder is offering a "free resume critique." Blogger Amber Shah decided to try it, knowing full well she'd get a sales pitch for CareerBuilder's resume writing services. What she got was "way, way worse": a canned response that made it obvious that they never looked at her resume at all (see her post about it here).

What they told her is OK advice. It also could be applied to 99% of the resumes out there. I think we can all agree that adding a summary at the top and avoiding typos are good things to do, no? Maybe they couldn't find anything else bad to say about her resume.

The moral? Be on the lookout for a similar canned response and don't fall for it. I still advocate going directly to the source--a professional resume writer whom you can talk to--over paying a fee for a bigger company to find one for you.

Thanks to @cheezhead for the heads up.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Upside of Getting Your News from Experts

I was reading the excellent Kassia Krozser's rebuttal to Motoko Rich's recent New York Times article on e-book pricing. Kassia points out in several places how the publishing-beat reporter doesn't really work in the book industry and doesn't understand its subtleties. (Of course, Kassia's post is much more complex because the issue is so complex, and I don't pretend to understand it even as well as Motoko does.)

But then I remembered a time in my short reporting career in which I was assigned the task of calling up a new plant manager, having him explain the process of extrusion to me, and then writing an article about it. I'm quite certain he found a lot to nitpick about the end result. I always felt this way when writing about something I had no hands-on experience with. How much justice was I really doing the subject?

But 20 years ago, people pretty much had to take their truths from the media gatekeepers, even if they were snotty-nosed little English majors like me. How things have changed! Now if we really want to know the facts about something, we can go straight to the experts. We'll no doubt find someone out there blogging about it who is knee-deep in the subject day in and day out.

Of course, with this access comes the need to do your own filtering. How do you determine who the experts are and ignore their occasional erroneous points? How do we know what biases are driving what they are saying? We used to be able to count on the media to do their best to avoid biases and opinion in their reporting, but I think we can all agree that's gone out the window, too. So in the end, traditional journalism is losing its advantage quickly.

As usual, I have no answers. I'm but a grain of sand on the roaring beach that is new media. Hourly my opinions on the evolution of information are picked up, tossed around, and sent back out to sea, only to wash up again, confused.

Hmmm, maybe I just need a vacation?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wiley Is All a-Twitter

Just this morning I had a reader asking me about Wiley's journals division (about which I know nothing). And then I log into Twitter and see a tweet from Ellen Gerstein (@elleinthecity) pointing me to this list of Wiley's official tweeters on Julia Lampam's blog.

This is a good way for Wiley's various divisions to promote their books and their brands. But it's also a good way for you to get the inside scoop about who they are and what they do. I urge you to follow as many of them as interest you.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Chronicle Books Goes on a Press Check

I've had many colleagues go on what is known as a press check: You travel to the printer (which could involve up to eight hours in a car, in the snow, while you're sick) to be there when your book (or catalog) is on the press. Then you check it for color and other errors as each section prints. Somehow I've always been lucky enough to avoid these gruelling trips--possibly because I'm not a designer, but more likely because I rarely work with four-color books. I have gone on a few printer visits, where you get to tour the facility, have a nice lunch, and be on your way. A press check is a whole different beast.

So thank heavens for Liz and Anna at Chronicle Books in San Francisco (whose catalogs I luuurve). They went on a press check and documented it with photos--so we don't have to.

Friday, May 15, 2009

JIST Is on Facebook

I'm happy to report that JIST Publishing is now on Facebook. Our awesome publicist, Selena Dehne, has set up a page for us and is updating it with all sorts of useful information on careers, our authors, and our books. Look us up and become a fan!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

DK Books Headed for a Dreaded Restructuring?

I have long admired Pearson's Dorling Kindersley from afar. I'm a highly visual learner and their books are filled with magnificent photos. I find the photo approach especially effective in the Eyewitness travel guides because it gives me a real feel for what I will see at my destination. (No disrespect to my friends at Frommer's: When I want solid travel-planning details on hotels and restaurants, they're still my go-to.)

So it's sad to see this report from regarding the possibility of a restructuring at DK.

Thanks to @mviolano for the heads up.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Apress Moves Offices from California to New York

Berkeley computer book publisher Apress has posted this announcement on its website:

Apress, the leading publisher of books on emerging technologies announced the full implementation of a revolutionary, scalable, technology-based publishing process that will be unveiled at Tech Ed 2009.

The new publishing system is largely based on the collaborative tools, SharePoint and Biztalk, and features document check-in and monitoring, automated scheduling, integrated financial analysis, seamless information creation and delivery, and enhanced billing, invoicing and contract controls.

Apress further announced the relocation of its offices to the Springer office in New York City to unify the Apress workforce and to implement the new workflow system. With the move to New York, Apress will be closing its current office in Berkeley, California.

If you have any questions, please contact us at

Uh, yes, we have questions. What of those people in Berkeley? Have they been laid off? And what about the freelance editors who have worked for them for many years (my friend Linda included)? Will someone from Springer be in contact with them? Will they continue to receive assignments?

Friday, May 8, 2009

ANGEL Learning Sold

The Indianapolis Business Journal (and others) reported yesterday on the sale of local web-based teaching and learning tools developer ANGEL Learning for $95M to Blackboard.

On the surface, this looked like good news. Indiana University, a major investor, will walk away with more than $20M. But closer scrutiny of the story and the comments (a perpetual source of the other perspective), yields this information:
  • There will be layoffs, despite the fact that it's downplayed in the article.
  • The Indianapolis area is losing potential for future growth and high-paying local employment.
  • Some feel that Blackboard's products are inferior, which will in the end hurt the customers.

One of the reasons I felt this was important to mention on this blog is that more and more publishers are partnering with firms like ANGEL to get their content into schools. The other reason is that at least two people I used to work closely with at Macmillan are now at ANGEL. I am wondering how this will impact them.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Are You a Senior Sales Manager in Publishing?

I know of an opportunity for a top-level sales manager here in Indianapolis. The ideal candidate will have trade and school sales experience, as well as personnel management, marketing, operations, and possibly even editorial. If you are interested in knowing more, give me a shout-out at loricateshand-at-yahoo-dot-com. I will put you in touch with the right people.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Negotiating the Freelance Economy

This article in today's Wall Street Journal careers section caught my eye. It substantiates my theory that a lot more people are going to be free agents in the future, getting their work on a contract-by-contract basis.

But what bugs me is the suggestion that Elance is a freelancer's panacea. The few times I have explored this site, I have seen thousands of people vying for jobs that pay ridiculously low rates. I've seen offshore freelancers underbidding to the point that no American could afford to take the job. Personally, all freelancing work I've ever gotten has been the result of carefully cultivated personal networking, anyway.

From the employer side of things, I can't imagine hiring someone I'd never met before. I just know way too many talented editors to take a chance on an unfamiliar face. I'm betting that the majority of publishers feel the same way.

What are your experiences with sites like these? How on earth can you stand out in a database like that? Have you ever gotten a job through a site like this? Have you ever hired someone through Elance or a similar site?

Meanwhile, we're chuckling here about an over-eager potential freelancer, with zero experience, who keeps desperately calling our home office and practically demanding that we send her some work.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Job Hunting? "Look to Your Library"!

Hooray for the King County Library System in Seattle, which is doing its part to help job seekers by opening an hour early every day this week, demonstrating job search tools, putting together a list of job search books and online resources (see here), and responding with vigor to a community that needs help. Have you hugged a librarian today? If you live in Seattle, I think you should!

Thanks to @danschawbel via NWjobs.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Getting Your Book Proposal Noticed

A while back I mentioned the amazing Help A Reporter Out mailing list, which connects reporters with subject-matter experts to help them write their stories. We continue to monitor it daily in hopes of finding places for our authors to be quoted. But occasionally, it yields a place for me to be quoted.

Case in point, the April newsletter. I volunteered my advice on what I look for when I screen and evaluate book proposals. That advice, plus tons of spot-on information from other editors, is available by subscribing to the free newsletter (sign up here).

If you are thinking of sending me (or anyone else) a book proposal, I suggest that you read this first!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Publishers Are from Mars; Librarians Are from Venus

If you've been following my updates on Facebook, you already know that my trip to the Career Management Alliance conference came to an abrupt cancellation due to an ill-timed bout with a stomach virus. I am still disappointed about all the missed connections; however, I took advantage of the tweets and followed the highlights anyway.

I wanted to be sure and share this article from Library Journal, in which a librarian attempts to bridge the gap between the people who make the books and the people who facilitate their use. I felt like the part told from the editor's point of view was a pretty accurate depiction of the challenges we face. And I enjoyed hearing about the issues that librarians deal with. All of these problems are constantly evolving. You'd think we'd figure out better ways to work with each other. Can't we all just get along?