Publishing Trendsetter is a production of Market Partners International and Publishing Trends.

Five Years Strong! Looking Back at Trendsetter

We can hardly believe it ourselves, but on May 20th, Publishing Trendsetter celebrated its 5th year. While Jen and I have not been here from the start, I can safely say that we’re very proud of all that Trendsetter has accomplished, and what it will continue to achieve. We want to take a moment to thank all of our past interns and contributors from across the globe. Trendsetter coverage has taken many forms throughout these 5 years, but we believe that it’s all useful to our readers. Today, we look back to see what each Trendsetter editor – of past and present – treasures most about working on this site.

Elisabeth Watson, founder emeritus:

What I remember most fondly from my wonderful years working for Trendsetter is actually that first week after we launched in 2011, from roughly Friday, May 20th to Friday May 27th. This week, (as was our intention), also coincided with BEA 2011, my first BEA ever. I’d been working pretty feverishly on building the website, recruiting bloggers, queuing content, interviewing interns, etc. for the previous 4 months and was was quite nervous about our launch on May 20th. But what I remember most keenly about that week is loading up with Trendsetter logo stickers, press releases, and my newly minted business cards, getting on the crosstown bus to go to Javits, and feeling so energized and empowered. What starting and steering Trendsetter did for me was push me to talk to more people and ask more questions and have more conversations at that first BEA than I would ever have otherwise done.

In that first week at BEA I had the opportunity to meet my peers from out of state who had signed up to blog for Trendsetter (several of whom remain good friends!). I felt empowered to start conversations with more senior professionals; I attended a range of panels and listened in a more focused and engaged way than I might have done otherwise. That first week was so formative in making me the kind of publishing professional I am today, and so much of that is due to the way Publishing Trendsetter compelled me to engage with a wider community of people than I would otherwise have dared to do. I only hope Trendsetter has served as a conversation starter for many, many others in as powerful a way as it did for me, both in that first week and ever since!


Kimberly Lew, former editor:

I got to write about a few things that were close to my heart for Trendsetter, from talking about booksellers to explaining how theatre publishers are going digital. Of all the things I’ve worked on, however, my favorite article I wrote (and the series it was connected to) was writing about second jobs in publishing, a.k.a. what to do when you want to move beyond entry level. It took me over 6 years to break into a publishing house position, but sometimes you fight so hard for one thing that it’s hard to figure out what to do once you get it. I liked that the people we surveyed and talked to for this article let us know that there’s always room for growth and exploration and that beginning a career does not mean counting out other opportunities and paths.


Samantha Howard, current editor:

I have more than one favorite Trendsetter memory so I’ll keep them short enough so that it looks like one Trendsetter memory. I’m cheating, but who’s going to stop me?

  1. When I first started here I was bursting with all kinds of impossible ideas, one of them being interviewing Jane Friedman about how to market yourself in the publishing job market. She actually accepted and it was one of the first interviews I had on the site, and it’s all still relevant today!
  2. I convinced Kim that making a listicle of the end of the year listicles was a good idea, and no one has suggested I should stop so I keep doing it each year.
  3. The long tail of Trendsetter always makes me proud.  We always have folks coming to the site and commenting on how a piece from a few years ago about the publishing scene in Boston was really helpful to them. Even if I had absolutely nothing to do with the piece, it makes me proud to be a part of a site dedicated to helping young people find the right opportunities for themselves in publishing.

Jennifer Donovan, current editor:

The amazing thing about writing for Trendsetter is that it lets me explore everything I’ve ever wanted to know about books and publishing and then I get to turn that information into articles to share with all of our readers. My favorite article that I’ve worked on so far is probably The Beginner’s Guide to Publishers Beyond the Big 5: Adult Fiction Publishers You Might Not Know. This was the first article that Sam let me go full Chart Queen on and I had a lot of fun researching and learning all about the smaller presses. Beyond the fun that I had working on it, I feel like this article is useful to anyone in need of a quick guide on where to start looking for their first job in publishing “beyond the big 5.”

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 5/16-5/20

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Goodreads launched Goodreads Deals, which will send you ebook deals based on your to-read list, favorite authors, and favorite genres.

W.W. Norton won’t reissue an unauthorized biography of Donald Trump for fear of being sued over some of the allegations in the book.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang won this year’s Man Booker International Prize.

Lena Dunham released a surprise collection of personal stories taken from her journals between 2005-2006.

Women won every prose award at this year’s Nebula Awards, which are voted on by members of the Science Fiction Writers of America.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 5/9-5/13

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

OverDrive announced plans to start digital book clubs, pairing up with public libraries to start the programs.

Milkweed Editions is opening an indie bookstore in downtown Minneapolis.

Onebook, Audible’s audiobook sharing program, is now available to all of its customers.

PEN America sent a letter signed by 120 writers to the Egyptian president urging him to release author and journalist Ahmed Naji.

BookExpo America’s move to Chicago meant a slightly smaller show floor this year.

The Trendsetter BEA 2016 Session Wish List

We here at Publishing Trendsetter are feeling some serious FOMO about not being able to go to BEA and BookCon in Chicago this year. To make up for it, we decided to make a list of sessions we wish existed at BEA 2016.

  1. The Girl in the Title Epidemic: A panel about ending the usage of “girl” in titles to increase sales.
  2. Attention, Everyone! Publishing Will Be Okay: This session will share the best explanations to convince everyone that you know that publishing isn’t dying.
  3. In Booth Signing Session with Lin-Manuel Miranda: Possibly with a special performance, if he’s feeling up to it? Please LMM? Publishing folk can’t afford tickets to Hamilton.
  4. A Coloring Break: A short break from sessions where attendees can take out their adult coloring books to de-stress before returning to the wonderful chaos that is the Expo.
  5. Make This Book a Movie: A panel where authors/editors present their arguments about why a book should get the Hollywood treatment.
  6. And Let Us Cast That Book-Into-A-Movie: This panel meets immediately after “Make This Book a Movie” and lets social media mavens help create dream casts.
  7. Publishing Trendsetters: A panel of the big names from all over publishing honoring young folks who are making big strides across the industry.
  8. First of All, How Dare You?: A Q&A where writers and readers get to discuss the deaths of their favorite characters. Contains many, many spoilers. N.B. George R. R. Martin is unable to attend because he is busy killing more beloved characters in book six of A Song of Fire and Ice.
  9. How To Make the Most of [Newest Digital Technology]: Conference planners have to put programming together far ahead of the actual conference date, so this session will be a presentation about the best practices for whatever new marketing/tech/advertising tool comes up closest to the conference.
  10. Do You Even Sleep?: Some authors are able to crank out so many novels per year it makes our heads spin. Ask authors like James Patterson, R.L. Stine, Tessa Dare, and others how they write so many titles so fast.

BONUS Among the Ten Thousand Drinks After Party: Get your dance party on with the conference attendees and cocktails themed after the biggest books of the past few years. The menu will include A Little Long Island Life, The Story of my Tequila, The Tsar of Love and Tom Collins, City on Fire Whiskey, The Sympathizer Sour, and The Martian Margarita.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 5/2-5/6

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

The film adaptation of Blood Meridian is on hold because the rights were never secured by the filmmakers.

The New York Times featured an article about an all male book club that only reads books by and about men, which garnered quite a response.

Wired Magazine started a book clubwhich will kick off with an N.K. Jemisin title.

Goodreads has begun doing giveaways of Kindle ebooks.

Tomorrow is free Comic Book day.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 4/25-4/29

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Barnes & Noble Founder Leonard Riggio stepped down this week.

Tomorrow, 435 indie bookstores will participate in Independent Bookstore Day.

Amazon continues its legal battle against alleged fake reviews.

Readerlink Distribution acquired retail book distribution business ANconnect, which distributes to Walmarts and Sam’s Clubs.

Beyoncé’s HBO special Lemonade featured poetry by Warsan Shire, a Somali-British poet.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 4/18-4/22

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Follett booksellers bought Baker & Taylor, which provides books and many other things to public libraries nationwide.

The 2016 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced on Monday.

Google won the long-running case filed against them claiming copyright infringement over their book scanning program.

Amazon won a $30 million contract to provide ebooks to New York City schools.

Smashwords announced that 50% of their sales come from romance novels.

The Skinny on Temping in Publishing

Ever wondered what it’s like to work in a publishing house temporarily? One of our readers recently temped in the editorial department of one of the Big 5 publishers and answered all of our questions about her experience!

How long were you a temp?
I worked there for a little over three months. My role was to fill in for a SVP, Executive Editor’s assistant while her assistant filled in for a Publisher’s assistant who was on maternity leave.

What were your day-to-day responsibilities?
I was a temporary Editorial Assistant, so I did all the typical duties that an EA would do on the job. This includes answering the phone, responding to emails, and scheduling appointments for my supervisor. I also helped out with writing tip sheets, catalog and flap copy and passing manuscripts for press. I got pretty good at the pass for press process by the end of my three months there. My supervisor had a bunch of big books coming up with a lot of different special-bound editions that required all sorts of additional paperwork. My role also involved reading a few submissions and drafting rejection letters for different projects.

What was the most surprising part of this experience for you?
I think what was most surprising for me was the pace of the role. My last job in publishing had been at a small publishing house, and I had been pushed into being an editor quickly. I responded to an “Editorial Assistant” job posting but was told on my first day that I was actually their new Assistant Editor and had to start acquiring books. I started doing this without much prior knowledge and basically became an editor on day one. Coming to a large corporate company and working as an assistant was a shocking transition for me. Obviously, I didn’t expect them to ask me to acquire books as a temp, but I definitely got a little bored every now and then because the pace was so different. I also wasn’t really used to the extra support. I’m a pretty independent person, so this aspect of temping was really frustrating for me, but I also fully understand that it’s part of the job because as a temp they need to make sure you don’t skip a beat. I got used to it pretty quickly and eventually found my footing after a month or so in.

What skills did you learn while temping that you feel will translate well to your next job?
I think the most important thing I learned here was how a corporate entity works. My previous jobs (granted I’m relatively young so I haven’t had that many) have been with smaller organizations where the chain of command was different and there wasn’t a very big buffer between the powers-that-be and the junior staff. Working at a Big 5 house meant that I had to get accustomed to that chain of command. At smaller companies, it’s okay to simply email the VP or an executive office with questions, but here it’s more typical to go through a supervisor or other junior staff members for almost everything. Even something as simple as asking an editor for a copy of a book on his list meant asking his assistant instead. And trust me, finding out who assists who is a much harder research project than figuring out who edited what.

Another thing is the ability to be adaptable. Being a temp isn’t about finding your own footing in a position and making it your own; it’s about going in there and doing the job the way the person you’re filling in for did it. I have always been pretty good at finding direction, but I think that working as a temp and having to jump into the role immediately really honed this ability.

Would you recommend temping to others looking to get started in publishing? Why or why not?
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend temping as a way for people looking to get started. Any new job has a steep learning curve, but the learning curve as a temp is even steeper, so I don’t think it’s a good idea to be a temp during your first foray into publishing. I would say it’s more of a way for people who already have a background or already have experience in the industry to get a foot in the door at one of the Big 5.

It’s a good networking opportunity, because I met so many amazing and talented people and I’m pretty confident that I’ll end up back there in the near or distant future.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 4/11-4/15

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Random House is restarting their One World imprint under the leadership of editor Chris Jackson.

Amazon announced a new Kindle model this week called Oasis.

The First Lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray, is starting a book club.

Hamilton: The Revolution was published this week and sold out on Amazon, sending it into its 3rd printing.

Bookstore sales rose in February.


Full-Time Marketer, Part-Time Student: An Interview with Alaina Waagner

Sometimes, I think we all miss school a little bit. Maybe it’s having the opportunity to research something that interests you, or just having a group setting to discuss something in an academic way. Alaina Waagner actually took herself back to school after a few years off to get a masters in business all while working full time at Penguin Random House. She took the time out of her very busy schedule to tell Trendsetter what it’s really like to have a full time job and school at the same time.

Alaina Waagner works in the marketing department of the Random House Publishing Group. She is a graduate of the University of Florida, and is currently pursuing her MBA at Baruch’s Zicklin School of Business. She lives in Brooklyn, loves travel, and can usually be found petting stranger’s dogs on the street.

Describe your current role at Random House:A Waagner

I am an assistant marketing manager at the Random House Publishing Group. If you looked at my resumé or LinkedIn, it’d tell you that my job involves a lot of things like consumer insight research, testing out new digital vendors, and platform evaluation. In simpler and more realistic terms, my job is to communicate with consumers and booksellers and relay their thoughts and information to editors and authors in a way that informs the way that we talk about and sell the book. I do a little of everything, from writing copy for e-newsletters to planning social media campaigns to doing book mailings. And of course there are a lot of meetings. Meetings with authors, with agents, with publishers, with sales. Marketing involves a little bit of everything, and it’s crazy busy in the best way possible.

What master’s program are you in currently?

 I’m in a part-time MBA program at Baruch’s Zicklin School of Business, but I haven’t decided what I’m going to specialize in yet.

What made you want to go back to grad school?

My educational background is very liberal-arts and soft-skills heavy (aka I majored in English) — when I got into publishing, I originally imagined that I’d work in editorial. Landing in marketing, however, turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me. I decided to go back to graduate school to help me develop more of those “hard” marketing skills that I missed out on in my undergraduate years. While not all of my classes are focused on things like analytics, taking courses across business disciplines has already given me a much broader view of the industry and how management operates in general.

What’s your class load like?

 Baruch’s program is 57 credits for most specialties, and I’m trying not to take more than two classes in any given semester in order to give myself some breathing room. This usually translates to class two nights a week for about 4 hours. I also took a microeconomics class during the January intersession, though, which is an abbreviated, 3-week “semester” that allows you to take an intensive course to get it out of the way. That was certainly a challenge. At this rate, I’m likely to complete the whole program in about 3 years.

Did you always want to go to grad school? Or was it something that came up later?

 I’m actually not sure! My parents heavily encouraged me to go to graduate school right after undergrad, but in hindsight, I’m so glad that I didn’t. I would have ended up with a master’s in English Literature or something similar, and a career track in academia and teaching that I’ve realized would not suit me at all. I think once I moved to the city and started working for a living I appreciated so much more what you can learn in an academic setting and how that can be more directly useful in your day-to-day career. When I figured out what I enjoy most about my job, I started thinking about programs that would give me the skills and credentials I needed to continue to grow.

How will having a master’s degree affect your current job?

I think it’s going to depend. I don’t necessarily see myself staying on the imprint-specific side of marketing, or even in marketing as a discipline. The great thing about the MBA is that it’s allowing me to expand a bit and take a look at other business angles that might appeal to me in the future (for example, I found my accounting and statistics classes weirdly satisfying, but I don’t know that I want to do that as a career full-time) while also strengthening my skills on the marketing side.

What is it like working full time and going back to school? Do you have any free time? Do you get enough sleep?

It’s definitely not easy! More difficult than the workload is convincing myself to go to class after I’ve already worked a full day, especially when the professor doesn’t count attendance. I usually dedicate a full day — Sunday — to catching up on reading and homework, which is usually enough to keep me up to date. What I’ve found, though, is that I feel so much busier since I have to limit my social interactions to just a couple of days a week — and since I have a hard time saying no, I frequently overschedule myself trying to fit everything I want to do into those limited days. I’d probably be healthier and less stressed if I gave myself some time off, but I also perform best when my time is rigidly scheduled and I don’t have much room to lie around and do nothing. Luckily, that tendency has been extremely helpful for my success in the program.

Is Random House helping you in any way during this process?

Random House has been incredibly supportive. The tuition reimbursement program that they offer is one of the major reasons that this has been financially feasible for me; additionally, my boss completed her MBA a few years ago, and thus understands exactly what the program requires. She encouraged me to apply to the program, and has been very flexible about allowing me to take a few hours to study when I need them before an exam or to get feedback on a project that I’m working on. It’s difficult to imagine having the capacity to do this in a less supportive environment.