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

Small Press, Not Small Time: A Look at Young People in Small, Indie Publishers

Both Graywolf Press and Little, Brown published books that received Pulitzer Prizes this year. Little, Brown posted a photo of their staff celebration: a seemingly endless sea of glasses of red wine. While there wasn’t any photographic evidence, I imagine Graywolf celebrated similarly. Though, if there had been a photo, there would have only been 12 glasses of wine.

Small presses are just that, small. While the likes of Penguin Random House or HarperCollins can claim thousands of employees and the title of one of the “Big” Five, small presses can have full time staffs as small as 3. What’s it like to work in a small publisher, do much of the same work, just with a reduced staff? And how does one even break into smaller publishing?

akashicSusannah Lawrence, Director of Publicity and Social Media at Akashic Books, got her start in publishing interning for one of the Big Five, but had mixed feelings about the experience: “I got to know some people relatively well, but had no idea what was going on on the other half of the floor… My workspace was cubicle outside of one editor’s office, and I don’t think the editor and I ever exchanged any words.”  Her next publishing internship was at Akashic books, which later transitioned into a full time job. Susannah says that, while she learned a lot at her internship at a larger publisher and had a great experience, she prefers Akashic’s environment which gives her a “hands-on and collaborative” workplace.soho

In contrast, Rudy Martinez, Marketing Manager at Soho Press, didn’t even intend to end up in publishing, but got into it “mostly by accident.” After interning at American Short Fiction magazine, Rudy found himself doing more publishing internships and eventually landing at Soho Press, where he fell in love with the indie press environment so much that he can’t imagine being anywhere else.  “Once I got started, nothing besides an indie press even seemed like an option….I couldn’t imagine working with people I didn’t treat like family or in an office too big for me to just shout a question across a room for an answer.”

Bellevue Literary

Crystal Sikma joined Bellevue Literary Press as a Publishing Assistant after holding different nonprofit jobs, as well as having many outside interests. “I admired the quality of the books that Bellevue Literary Press publishes, so that was my first hint that it’d be a good fit,” she says. “It was clear that I could contribute my website, grant writing, marketing, and copyediting skills in my role; in many ways, the position could be molded to fit me.”

Read More »

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 6/9-6/13

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.

Hachette‘s ebook 2013 sales figures were released this week, showing that Amazon accounts for 60% of their ebook sales in the US alone.

Simon and Schuster rolls out new author tools including a networking site for authors called S&S InkedIn.

UK campaigners called Amazon Anonymous created a fake listing on Amazon for a book called Amazon: pay living wages to your workers.

Library of Congress announced the next Poet Laureate, Charles Wright.

Beyond Hachette and Bonnier, Amazon expands their aggressive negotiation tactics to Time Warner.

A Publishing Career by the Books: Reading My Mistake, Hothouse, and Lord of Publishing

All too often I read articles proclaiming “the death of the novel,” “the death of the book,” or other such dread-inducing pronouncements. But everything that dies was once alive, and given the tremendous (and unsuccessful) effort to declare books dead, they must currently be wide-eyed, scratching out holes in their coffins, wriggling up through the still-loose dirt. I’ve seen that the undertakers and gravediggers are often those who remain rooted in the pre-digital past.

homeI recently read three books by or about established publishing veterans, at the summits of their careers during publishing’s mid-century glory days. I couldn’t help but notice that their advanced ages colored their opinions, as both their reflections on the recent past and their outlooks for the future are grim. Lord of Publishing (Open Road, 2013), an autobiography by Sterling Lord (93), charts his career as a literary agent, representing authors including Jack Kerouac and Ken Kesey. My Mistake (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013) by the sprightly Daniel Menaker (71), another autobiography, tells of his rise from fact checker to Fiction Editor at The New Yorker. The third, Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (Simon & Schuster, 2013) by Boris Kachka, tells the story of the publishing house Farrar, Straus and Giroux with an emphasis on the personal histories of Roger Straus and Robert Giroux, who, if they were still alive today, would be 97 and 100, respectively.

Menaker raises a point particularly relevant to young publishing hopefuls: many publishing employees, regardless of their impressive qualifications and job performance, are left with little hope of advancement. There are only so many jobs for which you are paid to read, and you aren’t the only person who wants one of them. To be successful in publishing, to earn promotions and a livable wage, you have got to be lucky.

Hothouse_JacketThe publishing career trajectories of Lord, Straus and Giroux emphasize that this fact is truer now more than ever. All three started out in the military, and although over time they proved themselves to be highly capable, if they had not caught a few breaks early on, any of them (barring Straus, who was a member of the Guggenheim family) might be best remembered as diligent assistants, or not at all. After all, it’s not every day a soldier transitions from the front lines to the front page, publishing a widely read magazine like Sterling Lord.

If you are lucky enough to break into publishing, maybe at the point when you are beginning to establish yourself a bit, you’re going to have to give up your life as you know it. Lord writes, “you have to love books, or writers, or both, so much that you put them ahead of almost everything else.” He speaks of long nights reading manuscripts, and in one chapter, he goes through all four of his marriages, each of which ended in some part due to the constraints of his career. Giroux, too, sacrificed much to work with books. He passed on both a fellowship to study at Cambridge and a film critic position at The Nation because he was interviewing for jobs in publishing. Initially, he got none of the jobs for which he interviewed, and it was only after years spent anonymously compiling books while working for CBS’ radio division that he finally got his break, landing a job at Harcourt. Read More »

Rise to the Top: Quotable Wisdom from Successful Women in Publishing

One of my favorite panels at Book Expo America this year was put on by the Women’s Media Group called “New Success Tracks for Women, Publishing Careers in a Time of Change.” It hosted 4 female industry heavyweights and asked them questions about rising to the top. The panelists were Jane Friedman, CEO and Co-Founder, Open Road Integrated Media; Janet Goldstein, SVP, Editorial Director, National Geographic Books; Libby McGuire, SVP, Publisher, Ballantine, Bantam, Dell; and Tina Weiner, Director, Yale Publishing Course, moderated by Jane von Mehren, Literary Agent, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth.  Unsurprisingly, these women had some wonderful advice for Trendsetters who are getting their footing in the field, whether they’re just starting out, mid-career, male, or female.

Jane von Mehren, Libby McGuire, Tina Weiner, Jane Friedman, Janet Goldstein

Jane von Mehren, Libby McGuire, Tina Weiner, Jane Friedman, Janet Goldstein

  • “Branding is having a point of view about your work. Having real expertise and ownership of your work allowed me to be innovative in my own work.” – Janet Goldstein on personal branding
  • “It’s about looking around and seeing what you could learn from those around you.”-  Libby McGuire on finding a mentor
  • “We all make mistakes. You have to own it and move on.” – Jane Friedman on making mistakes at work
  • “I wish I’d revealed myself earlier in my career…I wish I’d met some of my mentors on a personal level…There were great women outside of the office to talk about life with, I wish I’d had that sooner.” – Janet Goldstein on mentorship within her own office
  • “I appreciate when people ask questions because I know they care.” – Tina Weiner on those entering the field
  • “Be flexible! Things are going to change rapidly. The changes aren’t just about technology.” – Tina Weiner on remaining agile in publishing
  • “Set yourself up to be called back. Be visible; act like you’re already in the industry.” – Janet Goldstein on having a successful job search
  • “Everyone wanted to be in editorial…but it’s not just editors who affect the creative process.” – Tina Weiner on young people finding their way in publishing
  • “Do you want to keep doing the work you do? Or do you want to manage and lead?…That’s a critical moment in everyone’s career.”-  Libby McGuire on figuring out how to climb the publishing ladder

For more BEA14 coverage, read the Trendsetter Roundtable.

BEA 2014: A Trendsetter Roundtable

Last week was a busy time for all people in the book business as BEA 2014 kicked off its programming on Wednesday, May 28th and culminated in Saturday’s BookCon.  Professionals from all over the industry were represented, including your Trendsetter Editors, BEA pro Kimberly Lew and first timer Samantha Howard. They sat down to talk about their experiences and observations from this year’s Book Expo America.

Kimberly: Last week was a crazy week of BEA goodness. Let’s discuss.

Samantha: Yes. My first time!

Kimberly: Your first time. How does it feel to no longer be a BEA virgin?

Samantha: Really great! I know people get a little grumbly about getting over the the Javits Center and the inevitable exhaustion of enduring such a truly massive event, but I loved it. It’s cheesy, but it was invigorating to see so many people excited about books and authors. And I briefly stood next to Billy Idol, so I have no complaints. What did you think about this year’s event having been a few times before?

Kimberly: Hahaha. By “a lot of people” complaining, do you mean me? Because I definitely have complained about those things before.

Samantha: Well not just you! Lots of people get a little grumbly about it.

Kimberly: I think every year of BEA has been dramatically different for me. My first year, I was really overwhelmed. I got a little structure in my day by attending a few panels (though none of them said anything really new) and otherwise walked the floor in a confused haze.

The second year, it was a lot more business-oriented. I had set up some meetings to talk to some startups for the children’s conference I help plan for Market Partners, so it was a lot of running around for that. I also helped out with the Publishers Launch day-long conference last year, which was a great experience but an all-day affair.

This year was a nice balance between work and play. I made the rounds, saw a panel, said hi to some friends, and also got to do a little geeking out, which I feel was absent from the last times I’ve gone.

Samantha: I’ve heard that this year had a lot more fun elements added to it than years past, does that seem right to you?

Kimberly: It’s hard to say. I think the thing, as someone who attends a lot of publishing events, is that it’s easy to get kind of jaded about these big industry events, especially if things don’t run totally smoothly. BEA seems to have made a lot of moves in the past few years, though, to incorporate authors and readers more into the day-to-day events. This is great because it spices things up a bit. And seeing BEA through a reader’s eyes really makes you realize how cool our industry is. At the same time, sometimes I feel like it creates a divide between the people who are there to see their favorite authors/geek out and those “in the biz.”

Samantha: That’s a fair assessment. There were a few times where I was standing in line to meet an author I admire and then realized I had to get to a panel or meet up with someone. It was a tricky balance, but I guess when you have a space as large as the Javits to fill up with bookish things, there’s bound to be some overlap between panels, events, and meetings. Did you enjoy the panel you went to?

Kimberly: Yeah, I did. I went to the Women’s Media Group panel on gender-specific book packaging “Girl Books, Boy Books, Gender Hooks: Packaging, Position and Reviewing in the Fiction Marketplace.” Firstly, any collection of women talking about gender in business is inherently interesting. But there was also a nice mix of panelists, from the NY Book Review Editor to the outspoken Jennifer Weiner, who has often talked publicly about how there should be less elitism surrounding the way women’s fiction is presented/viewed. Read More »

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 5/26-5/30

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.

Amazon and Hachette both made statements this week regarding their ongoing contract negotiations.

Target announced that they are teaming up with Librify to sell ebooks through their stores.

Kirkus Reviews is launching three new and substantial book prizes.

Bonnier Publishing created a new children’s imprint in the United States called Little Bee.

LeVar Burton created a Kickstarter to bring back Reading Rainbow.

BONUS: A video of LeVar Burton tearfully thanking his supporters for the outpouring of donations.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 5/19-5/23

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.

Oyster and Scribd both strike deals with Simon & Schuster.

Publishers might be able to learn a thing or two as The New York Times reevaluates its digital strategy.

Smashwords partners with Overdrive to put more of its titles in libraries.

Publishers Weekly is launching, BookLife, a new self-publishing website.

Beginning July 1st, US sales of Quercus books will be taken over by Hachette Book Group.

Lifecycle of a Book in Translation: Foreign Publisher

Just because a translator’s work is done, it doesn’t mean a book is ready to go straight into print. Joana Costa Knufinke is an editor at Cruïlla in Barcelona, Spain for middle grade and YA books in the Catalan language. In this video, Joana gives an inside look at the challenges foreign publishers face in finding the right books, selecting a cover image that will resonate with foreign readers, and everything in between.

This concludes our Lifecycle of a Book in Translation video series, and we appreciate having you along for the ride!