The Future of Publishing

The publishing industry is one that is constantly changing and evolving, in many cases within the briefest span of time. Industry professionals just get acquainted with one new digital introduction only to be presented with another. This fast-paced industry is now dictated by the alacrity of technological developments and the demands that creates from readers.

As a marketing professional in book publishing it is crucial that I remain on top of all the changes occurring in the space in order to best equip my authors with new and innovative ways to engage with readers. The digital impact on book publishing is an exciting challenge that keeps us all on our toes, working to connect authors with readers in the new and shifting ways they want to be connected with.

At the Fifth Annual Digital Book World conference, the transformation of the industry and the shift of power to one dominant agent in the marketplace was a hot topic of conversation according to Publishers Weekly. Digital media, self-publishing, Print On Demand, and the outcome of the Apple DOJ case were all sited as major shifts within the industry. These factors have all drastically changed the publishing landscape and impacted the ongoing redefinition of the book. Publishers are carefully contemplating dipping their toes into the waters of new digital changes, such as bundling packages and subscription services. There is also a new trend towards publishers taking a page from Amazon’s direct to consumer e-commerce book.

Though many are still carefully weighing taking part in these emerging digital trends, early adopters are seeing great returns. Publishers must band together to keep our voice a present, fresh, and valuable asset to authors in a constantly shifting industry. We must make changes to evolve with our readers and let go of the mantle of the past. This is the only way to compete with a force that has a monopoly in the market.

Technological innovations can at times seem a thorn in the side of publishers, but I look at them as a catalyst that ups the ante on the services we can bring to authors. They do not have to be seen as factors that make publishers antiquarian or even obsolete. Instead, we simply must change our tactics to keep pace and illustrate that though the face of the industry is changing, publishers are still an essential component to both the publication of books and the fostering of connections between authors and readers. After all, we are part of an industry founded on creativity and imagination so it is only fitting that we as publishing professionals are being charged to put ours to the test.

In this dizzying whirlwind of technological change, there is one thing that has always and will always remain a constant–the readers. The future of publishing may have many twists and turns, up and downs, but what will never change is that it will always lie in the hands of the readers. As publishers it is our job to ensure that we continue to connect with them, to reach them on that very personal level, and to foster their love of the written word–whatever form it may come in.

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2014–The Year of the Writer

It’s that time of year again…New Year, New You. New Year’s Resolutions to be kept, gym memberships to be purchased, new yoga gear to be worn, more water and green tea to be consumed and so on. Though I’ll admit that I have some health and fitness resolutions on my list for 2014, there is another resolution that I’m determined to keep at the top. It’s time for me to make a serious and concerted effort to regularly exercise my writing skills. There’s no reason for me not to, it comes  easily to me (most of the time) and I get immense joy from letting the words flow out onto the page. Why should I deny myself that pleasure simply because lying on the couch in front of the TV is so much easier, but so much less rewarding?

It’s time for a change and one that I will stick to. I’m making 2014 my year of writing. In this year I will make my blog a priority, I will make my creative writing a priority (more on that to come) and I will make my personal growth as a writer and reader a priority. These are things that are near and dear to my heart and fuel my spirit and I’m not going to let the post-work laziness get in the way any longer. I will march into 2014 with this new motto in mind “The pen is mightier than the couch.” Perhaps a bizarre twist on Bulwer-Lytton’s celebrated adage, yet one that I feel is particularly fitting for the writer in me.

I have recently started contributing to my blog at work, Greenleaf Book Group’s Big Bad Book Blog and this new responsibility at work has given me the kick in the rear I desperately needed to get back on track with my personal publishing blog.  I am so excited to start 2014 as a young publishing professional. It has been a long time coming and an earnest quest of mine to be a part of this industry that I want to build a lifelong career in. I think therefore that I owe it to myself and to publishing to be an active participant in the space.

It’s going to be a great writing adventure and I can’t wait to see where the page and the words take me!

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The veil has been lifted: The secret behind The Cuckoo’s Calling

Of course while I’ve been immersed in study, the dynamic world of publishing has gone through many twists and turns. Suffice it to say, I’m well aware that there is much industry news to catch up on, including the most intriguing story of the pseudonymously authored The Cuckoo’s Calling. I know that I’ve certainly missed the boat on the “breaking news” aspect of this delightful story, but as an ardent fan of Ms. Rowling, it would be impossible for me to not write a gushing post about her exciting new venture into the world of mystery. An apt weaver of interlocking stories, with an uncanny skill for tying the most seemingly unremarkable tidbits of information into an intricate overarching tale, I am certain that Rowling’s mystery will thrill and delight with the same intensity as her fantasy.

When I first read the news in Publishers Weekly that the author of the series of books that had the most formative impact on my childhood, youth, and let’s face it adulthood was authoring a new series my book lover’s heart gave a distinct flutter of joy. I had to smile at her statement to BBC News that “being Robert Galbraith [was] such a liberating experience.” She also spoke of the joy of “publish[ing] without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure of getting feedback from publishers and readers under a different name.” A celebrated novelist with worldwide acclaim, she did not want her latest work to be picked up based on the notoriety associated with her name and her previous literary successes. Instead, she wanted to inspire that exquisite curiosity and hunger in readers, to ignite their bookish passions based solely on the innumerable merits of her artful mastery of the written word and to discover the world created by a seemingly unknown author. I find this to be yet another feather in her cap as a true writer.

Under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, The Cuckoo’s Calling made it into the hands of approximately 500 people, according to Publishers Weekly. Once her secret was out however, Rowling’s mystery skyrocketed in sales by “5,000 places to top Amazon’s sales list.”  Of course there was something quite suspect about a novel crafted with all the telltale signs of a veteran, purportedly authored by a novice and she was certain to be found out sooner or later. The hype surrounding The Cuckoo’s Calling emptied bookshelves across the nation. The original 10,000 print run was clearly going to need some serious augmentation, and publisher, Little, Brown did just that when they went back to the presses for an impressive and merited 300,000 print run.

I am overdue for a trip to the bookstore to purchase my copy of The Cuckoo’s Calling and sink into Rowling’s intriguing new tale. A master of language, characters, and plot development Rowling is certain to have woven that indefinable literary brilliance that is so distinctly her own into the tale of war veteran turned private detective, Cormoran Strike and his quest to unearth the truth behind the death of a famed model. With book in hand I will retreat into a hibernation-like state, ignoring all those around me, completely engrossed in the world of Rowling’s creation. The immersive and absorbing quality of her writing is what makes her such an incredible writer, and my personal favorite. I’m predicting another series that will take the reading world by storm, that will add fuel to the passions of ardent readers, kindle the flames of lapsed readers, and ignite the curiosity and excitement of new readers. How can I predict such a phenomenon? The Cuckoo told me so.

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MIA Blogger Returns: SPI Part II

qs0gghAfter the close of the magazine program with presentations to top industry professionals, it seemed impossible to think that we were back to square one and at the start of another three-week adventure. Yet there we were with all the first day of school jitters again, albeit armed with a wealth of newly acquired publishing knowledge. I felt like a fledging apprentice awaiting the instructions of the master I had been apprenticed to–filled with nerves, passion, and an earnest desire to learn the trade.

Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster came to speak to us that day. To hear her speak of the vision of her publishing house and how their goal is to ensure that each author’s work reaches as many readers as possible spoke to me as an ardent lover of words and books. She spoke of publishing as a vessel through which author’s works were disseminated into the world and that at Simon & Schuster each work was taken on its own merit and its own timeline no matter how long-lasting it may or may not be. In these words, I heard confirmed what I have long known–that publishing is truly where I belong. The program continued to enchant and enthrall me as we heard from more incredible speakers, including Madeline McIntosh, President and COO of Penguin Random House, Reagan Arthur, Publisher of Little, Brown, Jennifer Loja, VP Associate Publisher of Penguin Books for Young Readers, and many more top professionals from “the Big 6”, newly “the Big 5”, as well as literary agents from highly regarded agencies Levine Greenberg, ICM, Writers House, The Gernert Company, and Howard Morhaim. Their knowledge of the industry is boundless and during their presentations I tried to absorb every ounce of the wisdom they were imparting. By the end of the three weeks I am certain I resembled an extremely saturated sea sponge.

During the book section of the program we also got the opportunity to visit publishing houses. Another early morning in Woolworth spent lined up, sizing up my competition to the left and right as I prepared myself for the stampede that would occur when the sign-up sheets were posted. We truly turned into a herd of wildebeests when those sign-up sheets were out; it was as if all rational thought fled from us and we reverted to our primal instincts. I got the opportunity to visit HarperCollins and was more than a little giddy standing in the lobby waiting to be taken up to the gilded halls of book publishing. I was certainly not disappointed when those elevators doors opened. It was a strikingly beautiful office and the fact that I was in the hallowed halls that held so many powerful books, a repository of knowledge, depth, beauty, vibrancy, and stirring imagination was nothing short of breathtaking. As we sat in the conference room and heard from editorial, art, and subsidiary rights directors I couldn’t help but feel a certain dreamlike quality overtake me. After all, it has long been my aspiration to be a part of this industry and to actually to be in the office of one of the Big 5 publishing giants was overwhelmingly wonderful. I felt a strong desire to head deeper into the office, seat myself with the other employees and begin diligently working–perhaps if I was quiet and efficient enough they might not notice that I was an imposter.

As if there were time for anything other than raptly listening to presentations of publishing gurus, fanciful thoughts dancing in my head, and visiting publishing houses and indie bookstores, we also had an imprint to create. I was a part of the romance imprint, which we christened Ardour Press. At first I was a little disconcerted about being a part of the romance imprint, but as I began writing my three book ideas prior to the start of the program I actually found myself enjoying the genre. My ideas of course were all woven in the vein of my favorite genre, historical fiction, but nevertheless they were romance novels. One of my ideas, my favorite in fact, was chosen to be one of our imprint’s titles. Exquisite Talent: Love and Ballet in the City of Light, set in 1920s Paris, tells the tale of a fiery and tumultuous romance between prima ballerina, Caterina and her rival Luka. Filled with passion for the arts from ballet to the literature of The Lost Generation, this story aligned perfectly with our imprint’s mission to share love stories through the vein of people’s passions in life. We wanted to steer clear of the stereotypical bodice-ripping romance titles and bring something more intelligent and multi-dimensional. It was such an exciting adventure to see three books coming to life, and one of them my own. My zeal for book publishing increased further as did the passionate conviction that I am on the right path.

All too soon, the six weeks came to a close. We had made it through our crash course into publishing. Looking back on the program now I am so thankful to have been a part of it because it has given me such great insight into the industry and experiences and memories that will never fade. This is most certainly the first step in a new chapter, and as the door of SPI closes, I can only hope that the next door to open will be that of my future position in publishing!

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MIA Blogger Returns: SPI Part I

qs0gghAfter seven long weeks of hibernation, I am finally reemerging to first catch up on what I have been up to and then get back to blogging about the intriguing industry of publishing that I am so earnestly seeking to be a part of. During the course of the past seven weeks I have been on a whirlwind ride of a deep and intensive immersion in the world of publishing. NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute was the most absorbing and wonderfully challenging experience, as evidenced by my lengthy stint away from my beloved blog. This is of course by and large my fault for not continuing to blog during the program. However, always the consummate perfectionist, I poured myself into the program and was completely disconnected from the outside world.

Though I regret my absence from my blog, I cannot begin to articulate what an incredible experience I had throughout the course of the program. We were lucky enough to have leaders in the magazine and book publishing industries take the time to come and impart some of their wisdom. It was, I must admit, a bit unnerving to be sat in the same room as Editor’s-in-Chief and Publishers of some of the most high-profile magazines and publishing houses in the industry. The most amazing thing was their willingness to be a part of the program and to invest their time in aspiring young professionals. It is a testament to their dedication to the essence of publishing and to their desire to ensure that the up and coming members of the publishing world are filled with the same passion that they have. Passion was the theme that ran throughout the six-week course. Credentials, experience, networking etc are all important elements, but it is the passion that we have for this industry that keeps it alive. To me it is incredible that an industry that touches people all over the world can be fueled on passion. As a reader, writer, and let’s face it, a bit of a romantic, this touches me.

It’s difficult to encapsulate in one blog post a six-week program that certainly included at least a semester’s worth of information, but I will attempt to give a good snapshot. In the interest of making this blog post a manageable read I am going to split the magazine and book sections into two posts, otherwise I will surely loose readers’ attentions along the way. The magazine program was a high-speed operation from day 1. It was certainly what I would call trial by fire. It was time for us to all show what we were made of as we set out to launch a new magazine in a mere three weeks. We were guided through this process by industry experts from editorial, marketing, publicity, web development, and finance who shed light on the complex world of magazine publishing. If we were magazine illiterate at the start of the program, we certainly had a new vocabulary to show off at the end, complete with acronyms such as CPM, P&L, FOB, and many others that at the start seemed like a foreign language.

As we sat in the freezing classroom in the historic Woolworth Building, publishing giants Pilar Guzman, Editor-in-Chief of Martha Stewart Living, Michael Clinton, President, Marketing and Publishing Director of Hearst Magazines, Anne Fulenwider, Editor-in-Chief of Marie Claire, and David Granger, Editor-in-Chief of Esquire, gave us a glimpse into that magical, glamorous world of magazine publishing and the behind the scenes actions that breathe life into the books each month. We were also fortunate enough to get to go on visits to magazines’ headquarters, and the foodie that I am I eagerly scrambled through the crowd of students to sign my name for the Bon Appetit visit. As I walked through the test kitchen where scents of pecorino risotto wafted through the air I was overcome by how surreal the whole experience was. We continued our tour through the art department where the creative gurus were deep in discussion about an upcoming issue and wanting to push the envelope with a certain design technique. We passed the Editor-in-Chief’s office where Adam Rapoport sat engaged in a meeting detailing his creative vision. We truly were in the midst of a magazine at work, seeing the heart and soul of the people who work tirelessly each month to create an exquisite issue that provides readers with  much more than just incredible recipes.

Of course it was easy to get engrossed in all the wonderful presentations and tours, but there was the small nagging detail of that magazine we had to create in three weeks. I was selected as the Editor-in-Chief of my magazine group, a role that I was equally excited and terrified about. Falling in line with my love of food, I was in the food group and couldn’t have been happier. After many hours of brainstorming, bandying ideas back and forth we settled on creating a wine magazine. This would not be your typical wine magazine, however, this magazine would be for twenty-somethings to thirty-somethings that were interested in learning more about wine, but were put off by the snobby culture surrounding it. And thus, Genuwine: Wine Without the Snobbery was born. During the next three weeks I certainly got much less sleep than is advisable and may have forgotten to eat a meal or two. This may sound hyperbolic, but for anyone who has been a part of an intensive graduate program they know that they mean intensive.

It was the most challenging, frustrating, and ultimately rewarding project to see our amorphous idea come to life. We began with our name, mission statement, and reader as the foundation of our identity and then built the magazine from there. From writing articles and creating a design aesthetic to developing a publicity and marketing plan and creating an online and social media presence, and don’t forget the money side of things advertisers and finances, we created a full-fledged magazine that we were incredibly proud of. As I stood bleary-eyed and stomach-aflutter in Fed-Ex the night before presentations and watched our magazine emerge from the printer, I felt tears wet my cheeks. I will admit to being a sentimental person, but this experience truly warranted my tears. It was another surreal moment to actually see all the hard work and late nights come to fruition. What had started out as merely a vision dreamed up by 13 aspiring kids had somehow turned into a beautiful, tangible magazine.

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July 23, 2013 · 3:58 pm

Bewitched by BEA

What a thrilling whirlwind of literary bliss. There was nothing that could have prepared me for the stunning experience of Book Expo America. The opportunity to be in the mix with all the publishers I have such respect for and such fervent desire to be a part of and the incredibly talented authors who have had such a formative impact on me as a reader and writer is one that I cannot quite find the words to do justice to. I was swept away in a delicious haze of exquisite literary induced rush. For three days I walked around in the most glorious heightened state of what can only be described as euphoria. Anyone who shares my burning passion for this industry can understand that my language is not hyperbolic but rather decidedly apropos.

The literary gods seemed to be always in my favor. While volunteering at BEA I had the most surreal experience of meeting some of my favorite authors. I am not the type of person who gets starstruck, but with authors that’s a completely different story. It takes everything in me to maintain composure and speak intelligently, rather than let show the flustered, tongue-tied, and giddy person beneath that veil. Of course with some authors there could be no such façade. Helen Fielding, Bill Bryson, and Elizabeth Gilbert were the three authors that left me stumbling over my words. It’s crazy to be able to say that I have met each of them.

I stood in line waiting to meet Helen Fielding with this bubbling feeling that was a mixture of bursting elation, anxiety, and disbelief. She was so kind and gracious and as funny as her charmingly endearing character Bridget. After gushing about how much I loved her books (which she’s certainly heard countless times) I was caught completely off guard by a camera crew from The Today Show.  They had overheard how excited I was to meet her and how much I loved her books and wanted to interview me for the launch of her third book. I am certain that I fumbled through every question still buzzing on the high from meeting Helen, but I can only hope that I made some sort of sense. My interview is going to be featured on The Today Show in October for the launch of Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy! I am going to be actively searching for the date it airs. I still can’t quite believe it happened.

After my amazing luck with meeting Helen Fielding and being selected for an interview I didn’t think it could get much better. There was more literary excitement to be had. I later had the good fortune to get a free ticket to the exclusive Author’s Tea sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association featuring a panel of author’s, including one of my favorites, Bill Bryson. I had been hoping to get the opportunity to stand in the back of the event, but actually was able to go into the tea as a guest, get an ARC of Bryson’s latest novel, One Summer, and meet him as well. I had a lovely conversation with him about my love for England and his uproariously humorous Notes from a Small Island. As a fellow Anglophile, it was the icing on an already decadently rich cake.

The final day of BEA held still more literary bliss. I attended the Author Breakfast and got the opportunity to hear Helen Fielding speak about her experience creating the character of Bridget Jones and about the themes of Mad About the Boy. I met her for the second time and to my sheer delight she remembered me! We had a really nice chat in which I was much more composed than the first day and was actually able to speak intelligently to her. It was such an amazing experience to get to speak to one of my favorite authors as if we were friends (in my mind we are now of course).

Later in the day I met the final author on my wish list, Elizabeth Gilbert, at a conference about the importance of book clubs to the reading experience. I was intrigued to hear about her latest novel, The Signature of All Things, and am anxious for its release in October. I was so pleased to hear that she actually holds a book club with her fans on Facebook and they are currently reading Jane Eyre. I am quite embarrassed to say that I have yet to read this classic, but I purchased the new Penguin Drop Caps edition at BEA and plan to begin reading it as soon as possible. With my SPI program starting on Monday it is unlikely that I will be able to make the June 8th book club discussion with Elizabeth and the book club members, but it is high time I add this classic to my list of “read books.” Elizabeth was so engaging and personable and was even kind enough to give me some advice about how to grow my own writing to cross the precarious bridge from short stories to novels. She gave me hope that one day I too might be able to say that I have completed the extraordinary feat of writing a novel of my very own.

My experience at BEA can only be described as exquisite perfection. I was overwhelmed by how incredibly lucky I was to be at an event that spoke to the two most fervent desires of my heart: to be a part of the publishing industry, and to one day be able to call myself an author. It fueled my hope that there is a spot in this industry for me and that I am on the right path. Since arriving in New York  everything has fallen beautifully into place. I have never in my life felt more certain that I am on the cusp of achieving what I have wanted for so very long. I can feel the heartbeat of publishing pulsing through the city and mine beating along in time.

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The Journey Begins

The time has swiftly arrived—I’m off to New York in pursuit of my dream of a career in publishing. It’s a surreal feeling to think that I’ll be volunteering at Book Expo America this week and amidst publishers and authors from across the country. It is such a thrilling opportunity to get to volunteer at the publishing event of the year that I can’t quite believe it’s happening. I’ll be volunteering in the autographing area and am giddy at the thought being so close to the authors and perhaps able to have a conversation with them and get a few autographs of my own.

I am most excited for the opportunity to see Bill Bryson and Helen Fielding speak at the author events.  Bryson’s dry and witty reflections on the cultural differences between the UK and the US have me in stitches. As someone who’s grown up living in both places I am very familiar with the cultural debacles he describes in his musings. I have known and loved the comical character of Bridget Jones and her blundering antics for years now and I am confident in my ability to quote lines from the book (though when I meet Ms. Fielding I will do my best to refrain).

This will be my first time spending an extended period of time in New York. I went on two day trips to the city with my family as a teenager, but other than that I know very little about what this glittering city of dreams holds for me, which is quite an adventure itself. I always love exploring a new city and finding those hidden gems—quiet parks, quirky bookstores, quaint cafes—all tucked away and waiting to be stumbled upon.

The excitement and energy within me is pulsing expectantly as I am on the cusp of beginning this new journey. To get hands-on training from skilled executives in the publishing industry is something that makes my book lover’s heart flutter, and I am anxiously awaiting the start of my classes. I’m looking forward to delving into the world publishing, to gaining experience in the diverse facets of the industry, and to moving one step closer to this ardent dream of mine. It has been a long courtship between the publishing industry and I, with me being in hot pursuit and the industry coyly playing hard to get. It is my fervent wish that this experience will flip the scales and the industry will begin pursuing me as eagerly as I have pursued her. And so another adventure begins…

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