Encounters in Publishing

Encounters in Publishing #10 by Dianne Choie

I am annoyingly delighted to talk about my job. More than once over the years I’ve found myself in social situations where I’m surrounded by, say, lawyers and finance people (nothing is more mystifying to me than the latter; a “hedge fund” sounds like a piggy bank that you break open when you’re ready to pick up some new shrubs) and the old “What do you do?” line of questioning comes up. A spark of interest often lights up the inquirer’s eyes when I say I work in book publishing: that’s, like, a real trade! I help make stuff that people are familiar with, that involves paper and glue and ink and other stuff that magically comes together to create something you can hold in your hand.


Encounters in Publishing #9: Who Am I? by Liz Mathews

A Dual Life

Within two days of each other, I was both a publishing cheerleader and a publishing naysayer. How do I live with myself, one might be inclined to ask, and I don’t have an answer. I just do.


Less than a week ago I had the opportunity to travel up to Harlem and meet some schoolchildren who’d won a writing contest. I stopped in on two classes and presented four kids with their awards (well, three kids, because one was absent). The classes were electives, and were headed up not only by a teacher in the school, but also some outside folks who happened to be employed in publishing, with the idea that having real editors involved would better encourage the kids to write, and would also maybe turn their eyes toward the publishing industry as a possible career idea. To go along with that, during the students’ feedback session, it turned out they really enjoyed their field trip to a publishing office. And they also suggested getting authors such as Rick Riordan and Suzanne Collins to visit the following year. The visiting editor suggested she’d see what she could do.


Encounters in Publishing #8: Squinting Just Hard Enough, by Erin C. Dunigan

NYC backlot in LA

I think I’ve attended too many panels on “The Life Expectancy of the Book” and “The Future of Publishing” lately. After working in the industry for only four years I already get the unshakable feeling that anything representing the “old world” of printed books and city streets lined with bookstores is more like something out of a movie than real life.


Encounters in Publishing #7: The Woes of Summer Fridays, by Liz Mathews

There is a phenomenon in book publishing called summer hours, or half-day Fridays. If you work in publishing, you might be aware of it upon entering the industry, or it might come as a nice surprise perk to an otherwise pretty straightforward work environment. It’s also a nice thing to hold over the head of others who don’t have their Friday hours slashed in half from Memorial Day to Labor Day—if, for some reason, you need something to hold over another’s head.

Truth be told, I use most half-day Fridays to do my laundry. Some people do fun things like go to the beach, though, so we don’t all waste them.


Encounters in Publishing #6: Behold the Village Idiot Syndrome, by Maria Gagliano

My first job in publishing was as an editorial assistant at a major cookbook publisher. It was…how do I say this? It was a high-stress situation. Most of the books were on a crash schedule, meaning they had to be transformed from a vapor of an idea to a fully-designed, finished book with hundreds of recipes and double that amount of photos in a few short months. The authors were usually celebrity chefs, which meant they had other responsibilities aside from their books. Most things got accomplished via a chain of he-said-she-said exchanges among trembling assistants.


Encounters in Publishing #5: The Germans are Coming! by Liz Mathews

I took a Monday off a week or so ago, and on my next morning back I ran into a coworker in the elevator. “The Germans are coming tomorrow,” she told me. “We have to be in at 9:00.”

At first I had no idea who she was referring to. Did we have a German author I’d forgotten about? Or maybe the Flatiron had been sold to Germans, and not Italians like I’d previously heard? I looked at her funny.

Then I remembered that when I get paid, my paycheck gets automatically deposited in my bank account from Holtzbrinck. Those Germans were coming.