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!