Friday, July 31, 2009
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
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
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
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
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
But along comes David Meerman Scott, writing for EconentMag.com, 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
Last year, Pearson was #2 on the list, behind Thomson. According to this article on Bookseller.com, 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.)
- Pearson (UK): $7.4B
- Reed Elsevier (UK/NL/US): $6.7B
- ThomsonReuters (Canada): $5.1B
- Wolters Kluwer (NL): $4.96B
- Bertelsmann (Germany): $4.38B
- Hachette Livre (France): $3.17B
- McGraw-Hill Education (U.S.): $2.6B
- Grupo Planeta (Spain): $2.59B
- De Agostini Editore (Italy): not available
- Scholastic (U.S.): $2.2B
You can see the whole list of the world's top 50 publishers here.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
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
Professional resume writer Teena Rose's blog on becoming a resume writer recently featured Spellr.us, 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
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
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.