I can’t believe this semester has flown by so quickly. It feels like just yesterday that I was frantically looking up the directions from the University of Delaware to Oak Knoll for my interview, and now I have done that drive twice a week for about three months.
I have become used to my routine of coming to Oak Knoll on Mondays and Wednesdays and being greeted by Laura with a list of tasks. I have become used to Danielle approaching me with flyers to edit, to James leaving me a stack of books to photograph, and to everybody else who has given me advice and support.
What once seemed scary to me, like editing a picture in Photoshop or creating a flyer in InDesign, is now simple, easy, and fun. A long manuscript may still be daunting, but I can now approach it with confidence because I know that I am capable of completing the assignment. I have even completed the most frightening task of all: creating a page of a website. I’ve learned about Adobe Dreamweaver at UD and never felt comfortable with the coding. When I was asked to make a website for St. Paul’s Bibliographies, I was eager to use the skills I learned in class to accomplish a task on the job.
While learning the ins and outs of book publishing, I learned as much about myself as I did about Oak Knoll. I have always recognized my passion for writing, so working in editorial seemed like the obvious choice. However, after creating a flyer and completing some marketing research, I realized that I also enjoy the sales and marketing aspect. I will certainly not close the door on editorial, but I now realize that I have more than one door open for me.
I want to thank everybody at Oak Knoll who has made this internship valuable and fun by assisting me with my assignments, being friendly, and trusting me with tasks other than fetching coffee and filing papers. I am sad to leave Oak Knoll , but happy to have had this fulfilling experience. My ultimate goal is to work in book publishing at home in New York, and I will always credit Oak Knoll for starting my career.
“Today the book business stands at the edge of a vast transformation, one that promises much opportunity for innovation: much trial, much error, much improvement. Long before another half-century passes, the industry as I have known it for the past fifty years will have been altered almost beyond recognition.”—Jason Epstein
This was the opening quote projected on the screen at the Professional, Scholarly, & Academic Books Basic Books Boot Camp I attended this past Thursday in Philadelphia. I found this quote to be a quite inspirational beginning to my day full of publishing education. Sponsored by the Association of American Publishers, this boot camp was intended to provide a complete overview of scholarly publishing and all its facets. It was targeted for those with less than three years experience in the publishing industry, and since I have only been working at Oak Knoll for about a year a half, the Oak Knoll team felt I was the perfect candidate for this seminar.
As I arrived in Philadelphia, I started to make a mental list of what I really wanted to take away from the conference. Since my most important job at Oak Knoll is carrying out our marketing plans, I was hoping to gain some valuable insight in to how other publishers market their books. I also wanted to learn what we could do at Oak Knoll to better relate to our customers.
With only about twenty other people in attendance, the setting was very relaxed, friendly, and open. It wasn’t long after our first speaker John Jenkins, President and Publisher of CQ Press, began his presentation that I knew it was going to be a great day. In addition to John, the other presenters Gita Manaktala (MIT Press), Betsy Litz (Princeton University Press), Elizabeth Schacht (McGraw-Hill), Matt Conmy (Springer Publishing Company), and Molly Venezia (Rutgers University Press) spoke on topics including acquisitions, production, marketing, sales, and finances. Each listed the most important details for the various parts of the business, and while I found the each presentation fundamental to understanding publishing, I was most interested in Beth’s portion as it covered marketing. She stressed that creating a solid marketing plan for each book would allow each title to reach its full potential in terms of availability and awareness. She also showed me that the best marketers are good communicators who will stick close to the customer and understand what they need. This was a great point for me to consider in my own position as Publishing and Marketing Assistant
Besides the marketing portion, my second favorite part of the day was lunch! Not only because of the scrumptious sandwiches, salads, and cookies, but more importantly because of the opportunity we were given to solve a challenge that could potentially occur working in publishing. We were broken into groups of three to five people and presented with a piece of paper that stated a problem of which we had to devise a solution. In talking to my group members over lunch, I realized that certain situations may sometimes look like “problems,” but in fact, are only excellent opportunities to use creative thinking and out-of-the ordinary concepts to overcome the predicament. At the end of the day, each group presented their solution to the speakers, who in return, gave us their own input into how they might have handled the situation.
Overall, I was very impressed with how smoothly everything flowed, and how much information was able to be presented in one day. The book camp presented by the AAP was excellent and a great opportunity for those who are just starting out in publishing. Thank you to all the speakers and all the staff who had a part in organizing this awesome day! Hopefully, I will be able to take my new knowledge and put it in effect here at Oak Knoll.
As I am still learning how we can provide better service to our customers, I pose a couple questions to all you blog followers out there. How do you hear about new books? Where do you go to find information on new books? Is there something more we can do to make you aware of new titles we are publishing?
To share your thoughts, post a comment on the blog or send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Throughout this technological transition, the publishing process remains the same: write, read, revise, design, discuss, repeat. Good writing remains a universal driver of productivity. Yet, I can’t help but find today’s intermediary industry fascinating.
True, I’ll always dote upon my overstuffed bookshelves much like Gollum does upon his “Precious.” And I will forever prefer thumbing through a dog-eared copy of my favorite novel over scanning its text on a pixilated computer screen. But the web’s unprecedented scope takes the publishing industry to an entirely new level.
Technology enhances product discoverability and expands existing audiences. It also preserves texts subject to deterioration and permits cheesy romance novel enthusiasts to read on in public unscathed. Books (and their evil e-book offspring) are both made to inform, inspire, record and admire. The insurgent e-book, though guilty of providing an inferior reader experience, can’t be blamed if the book industry suddenly suffers an onset of organ failure. Not yet, at least.
Book purists, fear not: the book industry is alive and kicking and will be for many generations to come.
To sum up, in 140 characters or less, the book isn’t dying; it’s digitizing. Gradually.
Last week I watched The Proposal with Sandra Bullock. She plays a high-powered Editor-in-Chief at a major book publisher, and her character is the stereotypical boss from hell (at least at the beginning of the movie. By the end… well, I won’t spoil it for you). Whenever she leaves her office, her assistant sends an instant message to the rest of the company, warning them that “The witch is on her broom!” I hope that my fellow Oak Knollers don’t feel the same way about me! Although, in a publishing department of 2 full-time employees, total, my assistant doesn’t have anyone to warn!
But it’s always interesting seeing how Hollywood depicts the book world. This movie was more accurate than most—we see Bullock’s character looking through proofs at her home while eating breakfast (I’ve done that!), and we hear of her attending the Frankfurt book fair (I’d love to do that!).
Has anyone else seen any interesting portrayals of the book world on screen lately?
- Laura Williams, Publishing Director