Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lecture: Industry Trends

We live in a crazy time. The publishing industry is constantly changing, adapting to its readers and the technology they use. But where are things now, and where are they going? I had the opportunity to attend a lecture at NYU last night that covered exactly that. Libby Jordan, president of Misubu Inc., and Jay Ehrlich, executive director of online editorial for Women’s Health, put into words all the things I’ve wanted to tell you guys. And then some! (For the record, I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee lately. My brain’s a little bit whack. I apologize.)

Libby really delved into current industry trends. Did you guys know there’s been a triple-digit growth in self-publishing in the last few years? And to accommodate all these new writers and their audience, 3000 new publishers were registered in 2010 alone (95% of which were created strictly to serve  self-published authors). Crazy, right?

Nowadays we have sites like smashwords.com, lulu.com, authorhouse.com, and createspace.com that are there to help people who think they have a story to tell (another fun fact for you guys: 81% of the population wants to write a book). If you want to write a book, and you don’t want to spend the time looking for an agent, and consequently an editor, you’ve got loads of options. Some are better than others, so like any other major venture, you need to do your research. But the option is out there if you want it.

And how about that Amazon, ey? They recently announced that they, too, were planning to dive into the world of publishing. Which only makes sense when you consider the fact that they are responsible for roughly 80-90% of all print sales, and that they sell more ebooks than they do every form of print combined.

But with these new and expanding markets, there’s also some major competition. As a seasoned publisher, Libby spent some time talking to us about marketing, and what she’s found that works. And this information is relevant for any of you — published, or hoping to!

The first thing she told us was to remember that you can’t be wrong. Things change so quickly that you need to be willing to try new things. Best case scenario, you stumble upon something great. Worst? You don’t do whatever you did again. But there are proven methods…

- Sampling. More and more authors are posting the first chapter of their novels online, free of charge. The beauty of this is that we all like to try things before we buy them (For example, shoes!). And who doesn’t love free things? Sampling also creates buzz. Say you read the first chapter of someone’s novel online five months before the book came out. In those coming months, you tell a bunch of your writer friends about this great book you heard about, and they, in turn, check out the sample and then tell their friends. Everybody wins!

- Net galleys. Netgalley.com is definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re a book blogger. Once you sign up, you can download galleys (ARCs) of upcoming books. It’s another great way to create buzz for books that are coming out.

- Promoted tweets and facebook ads. Annoying at times, but worth their wait in gold. Both of these offer extensive analysis on the people clicking on your link. If you want to know that your key demographic is 14-year-old girls from Alabama, you can. So if you want to promote your book, twitter and facebook are great tools to utilize.

I tend to reiterate this a lot, but the more involved I get in publishing, the more useful twitter becomes. So this is just another service announcement telling you that, if you want to network, twitter is a great tool.

So many people these days are worried about publishing and where it’s going. Are books dying? The answer, my friends, is no! I truly believe there will always be print books. However, the shift toward digital publishing is obvious, and it’s moving fast. I think we all need to accept the fact that ebooks are here to stay, and in a big way. But publishing will continue to provide jobs, along with books (in multiple forms) to those who are looking. Libby and Jay especially noted SEO writing, video editing, design, coding, and social media as jobs that are definitely on the up and up.

But what about you guys? How are you feeling about the publishing industry as it continues to change?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Week 1: Survival of the Fittest

It's Friday. And you know what that means?

It means I made it through my first week of work!

It's still kind of weird to think that I have a job. A Real Job. I moved out here expecting to toil away in a coffee shop somewhere (while maybe waitressing at Hooters, as well as shining shoes for pennies) while I furiously sent out resumes and prayed someone would call me for an interview. And maybe I had the abbreviated version of that -- I certainly sent out a crap-ton of resumes and had some interviews -- but I got lucky. So while it's still surreal to actually be working and doing something I absolutely love (and working with some really incredible people whom I also love) (and also, avoiding homelessness), I am SO incredibly grateful. Anyone who played a part in me getting this job, thank you. I owe you a cookie.

Bienstock isn't your typical literary agency, and at the same time, it's exactly what you'd expect. The company is known for its broadcast clients since it is, first and foremost, a talent agency. But the literary department (aka three people, including me) operates exactly like a lit agency would. I'm just surrounded by people who shout names like Anderson Cooper and Bill O'Reilly across the room. And that's cool, too. If Paul and JL's offices were closer, I'd shout names like... Well, I don't know. But I'd shout names too. Because who doesn't like shouting?

I'm already busy reading manuscripts, editing, doing contracts, acquainting myself with our clients, and all sorts of stuff you'd expect an assistant to be doing. And I've loved every second of it. Coincidentally, I got to meet Hannah Hart this week, and if you haven't seen My Drunk Kitchen, well... now you have no excuse:

If you get the chance to go to one of her Q&A's, go. She's lovely. And told me I should watch Portlandia, and now I'm kind of hooked. So.

I think someone needs to pinch me. I still feel like this is all one really awesome dream.

Minus the part where I tried to drink writing utensils out of my pencil holder today because I wasn't paying attention and mistook it for a water bottle.

Highlighters. Fucking delicious.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cash, Money, Hoes. Minus The Hoes.

I was going to write this earlier today but couldn't form coherent sentences. There was a lot of arm flailing and phone calls, but things have calmed down now. Which means I can tell you my good news!


As of this morning, I am officially employed by N.S. Bienstock Talent Agency. I'll mostly be working with the book department as a literary assistant, but I'll also be a general assistant to the other agents who deal more with broadcast journalism. I moved to New York to find a job in publishing, and I managed to do that and work in journalism, which is what I originally went to school for. It's absolutely perfect. I start on Monday, and I couldn't be more thrilled. I owe a huge thank you (and my first born child) to Kat Zhang and Jenny Bent, who basically got the ball rolling for me. Without them, this wouldn't have happened.

So! I've been in New York for about a month and have an apartment and a job. I'd say things are looking pretty good right about now.