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Keeping the Conversation Going: Minorities in Publishing Podcast

Unsurprisingly, the internet is home to lots of publishing blogs. Some focus on trends, some news, some a smattering of publishing ephemera, and some a mix of all of the above. But few websites are dedicated to providing the industry with the reality check it needs. Jenn Baker and Bev Rivero started Minorities in Publishing as a blog and podcast series to get the conversation really started, and to keep itmoving, regarding the lack of minorities on publishing. The podcast is available for free on their Tumblr, and you can also find them on Twitter

MiP Logo_600x600I know episode one of your podcast is mainly about introducing yourselves, but for those who haven’t listened to it yet, tell us about your backgrounds and what brought you to publishing and starting the podcast.

Jenn Baker: Well, I’m a production editor at a small university press and also freelance as a copyeditor. My publishing experience is heading into the 12 year mark. I found publishing via the Publishing Certificate program at City College of New York and the main goal of that program was to get more people of color into publishing jobs. Once I got into the industry I jumped a bit from position to position until I find my fit as a production editor. It caters to my obsessive and overly organized tendencies.

Bev Rivero: Currently I am a publicity manager at an independent press. I’ve been working in book publishing since graduation, almost 10 years ago, and I had internships in college – it was sort of always in my mind. The podcast came out of a bunch of conversations that we started before a lot of the great media coverage that’s happened this year, like the PW salary survey backlash. We chose the format of a podcast rather than a blog or something more static to highlight how we consider this to be a conversation with everyone – readers, those working in the industry or looking to get into it, and of course authors and artists.

One of my favorite things about the podcast is that each episode zooms in on one particular person and part of the publishing industry and how it can expand within that arena. To place things in a wider scope, how would you place Minorities in Publishing in the entire context of publishing now, and your hopes for the future?

JB: It’s interesting because in one of our most recent episodes with Anjali Singh I had mentioned that we all (Anjali, myself, and Bev) worked at small presses. So the numbers are different and the diversity aspect is also a bit more emphasized. When you work with a dozen or two dozen people you may see more people like yourself, maybe not. In my company my department is mostly minorities. So sometimes that can sway opinion because your immediate viewpoint is working with those of the non-majority but in the larger industries, the Big 5 in particular, the lack of diversity is even more evident in terms of not just what is being published but in terms of who is behind the scenes and has power to make things happen for any particular title. I would say in my eyes that perhaps it is getting more diverse but from a larger standpoint I’d say it’s still a very slow going process that can be much improved.

BR: I put MiP on the spectrum of conversation starters. I work on this with the hope that people will think differently about their colleagues, perspective authors, and those around them, and work towards bringing more POCs into the literary world. Looking towards the future I hope that we can continue to be out there and reach a level where more people in the industry are aware of our work and encourage everyone to listen and send people our way to interview.

How can everyone in publishing, regardless of their background, encourage more minorities in publishing?

JB: I think one thing is to actively reach out to minorities. So many of our guests, and myself included, didn’t even consider publishing as a career. People of color know books get made but do they know they can be involved in the process of these books being produced, edited, marketed, and sold? Are publishers reaching out to a diverse group when they appear at career fairs? Are master’s programs in publishing providing the guidance (and financial assistance) to those who may not have the money to embark on this industry? How are resumes looked at and sorted? Is it all about the “in”? And where are the mentors for those new to publishing?

BR: My answer to this has and always will be “Pay them.” To me this doesn’t just mean paid internships, but also upping the starting salary for entry-level employees that hasn’t changed in decades. Read More »

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 12/1-12/5

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.

Nook and Microsoft will split after a revision of their original deal.

Google Books is back in court to determine whether or not their book scanning project is under fair use laws.

Wattpad announced it will be adding a paywall to access some of the content on their site.

HarperOne launched a new mind, body, and spirit themed imprint called Harper Elixir.

A Netherlands court scheduled a hearing to decide the legality of used ebooks later this month.

 

Event Recap: Happy Birthday, Margaret Atwood at 92Y

“Fewer than ten, but more than six,” is how many 75th birthday party events Margaret Atwood has had in the last few months.  The event at 92Y was one of the last and featured speeches from The Night Circus author Erin Morgenstern, author and Terrible Minds blogger Chuck Wendig, Magicians Trilogy author Lev Grossman, and surprise guest The Ocean at the End of the Lane author Neil Gaiman.

Margaret Atwood, whose birthday is actually November 18th, is one of the literary staples of the publishing world and will probably remain a literary staple.  Her first book of poetry was published in 1961 and her first novel in 1970.  According to her website, over the course of her career, she has published 14 novels, 8 short fiction books, 8 children’s books, 17 books of poetry, and 10 nonfiction books.  Her newest publication, a collection of short stories titled Stone Mattress, came out in September of this year. 

She is a living legend; “literary royalty” in Chuck Wendig’s words.  She has also embraced new technology like ebooks, Twitter, and Wattpad and even patented the LongPen, which allows authors to sign works remotely, in order to connect with as many readers as possible.

While onstage, Atwood said she felt herself a writer at the young age of 16, when she wrote a poem while walking across the football field.  “I was very ignorant.  I didn’t realize you had to do all these other things,” using the example of not believing she needed an agent until a film contract for her first novel came up.

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Top 5 Publishing News Stories 11/24-11/28

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.

JetBlue launched the Fly-Fi Hub service, which will provide in-flight reading materials to passengers through a partnership with HarperCollins and Time Inc.

Amazon placed interactive ads in the New York City subway that allow consumers to browse for books while waiting for their trains.

Ferguson Public Library remained open in Missouri while other public services closed due to protests.

The University of Texas bought Gabriel García Márquez’s archive.

In an effort to encourage Black Friday shoppers to buy print books, Barnes & Noble is selling 500,000 signed books from prominent authors.

Book Jobs Not by the Book: Andy Meisenheimer, Freelance Writer and Editor

Andy MeisenheimerAndy Meisenheimer is a freelance writer and editor. He edits manuscripts for writers and for publishers, coaches published and unpublished writers in the art and craft of writing, and writes for fun and for profit. He is a fiction editor for The Red Fez, an online literary magazine. He lives with his family in New York City.

Give us a little bit of your history in publishing, and how you got started freelancing.

I started in college working at an indie bookstore, managing frontlist and backlist, among other things. From there, I began working at a publisher in sales, the kind of sales that has you traveling a three-state region visiting other mom-and-pop bookstores and small chains. I know Minnesota-Wisconsin-Illinois really really well. I moved from sales to acquisitions at the same publisher, and had a blast. Signed a bunch of good authors to write good books that all of nobody bought or read. Signed one New York Times Bestseller. Seemed as good of a time as any to retire (not really how it happened)—and so I became a freelancer. At first, I split my time between a long-term contract editing a series of mysteries, and working smaller gigs directly with authors themselves, and that’s sort of how I got started. Since then, I’ve co-written a book, I’ve written a lot of back ad copy, and I’ve done some acquisitions consulting and other odd jobs.

What kind of projects do you normally work on, and how do you get those projects?

My expertise, as it were, is in development and line editing. So most of my work is with authors and publishers early in the process, as opposed to the later copyediting and proofreading. I love to work with novelists, and I also have lots of experience with non-fiction as well, so I have been moderately successful at keeping a balance between the two.

The work I do with publishers comes from relationships I’ve built with editors and marketers in the business. But I also do work directly with authors, and that comes mostly from word-of-mouth. I really enjoy working with authors, and I think for the most part the feeling’s mutual, and that gets me a decent amount of referrals.
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Top 5 Publishing News Stories 11/17-11/21

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 started their own literary journal and created an Author Advisory Board.

Google launched Google Contributor, a crowdfunding tool for publishers.

Simon & Schuster lifted its required “Buy It Now” stipulation for digital library lending.

The 2014 National Book Award winners were announced during the 65th Annual National Book Awards ceremony.

Running Press and HBO have partnered together to develop new Game of Thrones products.

Bonus VideoUrsula Le Guin’s National Book Awards acceptance speech after being awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 11/10-11/14

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 have reached an agreement, bringing an end to their contract negotiations that began in May of this year.

Reed Exhibitions announced that BEA and BookCon will have separate dates in 2015.

Nook Media is expanding their author services offerings by adding print options.

HarperCollins was denied their request for over $1 million in damages against Open Road.

Amazon won their bid to own the new .book domain.

 

Fanfiction and Fandoms: A Primer, A History

This article was originally published on our parent site for the book publishing industry, Publishing Trends

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The Magicians Trilogy author Lev Grossman in his 2011 Time article summarized the mentality surrounding fanfiction in mainstream culture as “what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker.” Now don’t get Grossman wrong—he is pro-fanfiction, but he also acknowledges that to outsiders, it’s an odd world of what some might call extremists. Despite being considered a niche subculture, fanfiction has been steadily growing in popularity, particularly over the last three years.

Fanfiction is divided into “fandoms,” which are fan groups for movies, TV shows, comics, books, celebrities (called Real Person Fiction or RPF), cartoons, anime, manga, games, or plays. The posts can be long form fiction, short form, drabble (100ish words long) or a one-shot (a standalone chapter). When fans start a story, they can choose to put the characters in a completely different setting in what’s called an Alternate Universe (AU). They can re-characterize a literary figure completely, making them Out of Character (OOC) or introduce a new character of their own to a familiar fandom, known as Original Character (OC). They can choose to honor the fandom’s tradition couplings (Canon) or change it up with a non-canon same-sex couple (Slash). These are just to name a few fanfiction colloquialisms that writers use to describe their stories within the fan communities.

The limitless aspect of these fan rewrites draws in writers and readers. They take something the fandom loves and make it new over and over again. That’s a major part of the appeal of the fanfiction community: it’s driven by the fandom. The fans run the websites, they write the words, they edit the chapters, and they review the stories. Because it’s completely fan-sustained, the content is heavily influenced by what the users want to read or by what they sometimes wish the fandom’s creators had done originally.

Fans get to actively participate in the fanfiction world through comments and reviews. The communities are an exchange of ideas, often viewed by both budding and established authors alike as a viable and free forum for feedback on work or as a comfortable place to exercise their writing chops. Most fanfiction websites give readers the option of favoriting a chapter, story, or author. Aside from the occasional flame (a bad review), the community is largely helpful and encouraging. Reviewers can give guesses and hopes for the plot as the serialized chapters are posted, which might possibly help a writer tweak their timeline to better cater to the public’s interest.

One of the recent trends in fanfiction is fiction written by teens, stated Wattpad Head of Content Ashleigh Gardner. Peer-to-peer writing is different from traditionally published YA and New Adult content, because “when teens are writing for their peers, we see stories that are far more true to life, and often include themes important to the life of teens today, like the complications of social media and impact of technology on their lives.”

Read more > >

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 11/3-11/7

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.

Scribd announced that they’ve added 30,000 audiobooks to their preexisting ebook subscription service for no additional charge.

In more audiobook news, Barnes & Noble brought back their audiobook department which includes an app for the Android platform.

This week Diversion Books launched EverAfter, an app for reading romance novels.

HarperCollins will be moving Harlequin’s non-fiction titles over the to the William Morrow imprint.

Rosetta Books published an interactive YA book that was financed by advertisers.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 10/27-10/31

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.

Sony is developing a new DRM that would allow the sale of used ebooks.

Doubleday and Vintage Books announced the launch of a new imprint with movie company Blumhouse Productions.

Here are the highlights from Literary Agent Andrew Wylie’s keynote address at the International Festival of Authors.

Google Play Books added a skim mode to its Android app to make reading nonfiction easier.

Kobo partnered with Marvel to add comics to its digital library.