Mar. 29th, 2007 08:48 pm
I met with Micah who was able to give me some guidance about the whole contract work proposal thing. She also gave me some excellent templates. It all feels within reach, again. It was also an incredible relief to feel like I'm not going it alone.

In a very strange confluence of events both she and another woman I ran into today referred me to Rocky Mountain Publishing Professionals Guild of which they are both a part. Dues are $40/year. Looking through the guide I realize that as an art & artifact photo researcher I have some real niche potential. Copyeditors and proofreaders (I don't really enjoy either activity) are a dime a dozen.

Micah's a painter. She has her own business doing design and typesetting that's really taken off over the past year or two. She's a little older than my mother and looks like she could her sister. I've never met her children, though I know she has several. We often trade books. She got me started reading mysteries, and I've converted her to YA.

I'm feeling kind of hyper at the moment, with a sense that the crash is inevitable. I'm hoping to be able to chill out shortly and make an early night of it to help build my reserve for tomorrow: my last day as Boss' assistant at R&L.
Living Out Loud with Holly Hunter )

We're having a rainy day today. The sound of the rain splattering on the sidewalk and roof, a constant hush. Added to the cigarettes I unearthed from the back of the freezer and all my old jazz tapes I decided to pull out the closet.... I'm having one of those deliciously introverted, hot cup of tea and warm sweater kind of days.

Yesterday was the last time I'll see my intern. She brought me some Japanese candy and a very sweet card (with a horoscope! something of an inside joke) thanking me for being such a great boss. I'm really going to miss her. I gave her my card and told her not to hesitate to contact me as a reference.

I also hosted beer:30 yesterday afternoon and the turnout was amazing.

Martin Scorsese's The Departed )

I've been on a real movie kick this year. For some reason I'm taking delight in all kinds of films. I also checked out The Fast Runner and North by Northwest at the library this week. I'm looking forward to both. (I haven't seen N by NW in a very long time and remember it being an incredibly sexy film.)
Here's another little known fact about moi: I follow the comic strip For Better, or For Worse like a soap opera. Yesterday, Michael (whose manuscript he risked his life to save from the fire around Xmas) got a 25K advance for his first book. To someone who has worked in publishing, (albeit academic presses) this bordered on the ridiculous. Very rarely will a first time author get an advance that large.

So, to put a little perspective on the thing, I thought I'd share the following facts about publishing:

* There are about 32 million unique titles in American libraries. Of those titles only about 6% are in print, and only about 20% are in public domain. The remaining titles are in the awkward place of being out of print, but still under copyright.
* Approximately 200,000 new titles are published each year.
* The average book in America sells about 500 copies.
* In 2004, 950,000 titles out of the 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies. Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1000 copies. Only 25,000 sold more than 5000 copies, 500 sold more than 100,000, and 10 sold more than a million.

Of course Nielsen is imperfect, and the numbers presented are only for the 1.2 million they are tracking, not the 32 million gathering dust in libraries. There are plenty of books that aren't tracked, or aren't tracked accurately, but this is just to give you an indication of how publishing operates in this country. Predominantly publishers sell to niche markets. But a great deal of money goes into chasing after those sales, and most of it does not go to the author, who can expect royalties of about 10% net on their books.

So, if the average book sells 500 copies, and the average price is somewhere around $25 (an informed guess for hardcover, plus it makes the math easy) Michael Patterson can expect to earn about $1250. In order to earn back an advance of $25K he would have to expect sales of at least 10,000 copies.

Edit: And this is assuming his royalties are gross instead of net. Most publishers negotiate royalties based on net.

I'll leave you to do the work on the odds, as it's 3 in the morning and I'm going back to bed. Let's just say that this editor doesn't consider the odds very likely that a first time book by an unknown author is going to magically become a best seller, particularly in its first two years. (Publishers never like to advance more money than they think they can make back in the first year or so. They are often in the unenviable position of having to eat advances that are not earned back, which the author's won't return, and for which it is more trouble than it is worth to pursue repayment.)

Of course, I could be wrong. Michael Patterson could've written the next great diet book, or the next book on how men and women are from different planets.

P.S. Numbers courtesy of the July 17, 2006, Publisher's Weekly, p. 164.

My intern

Oct. 30th, 2006 05:03 pm
My intern's mother has just been admitted to the ER. She has a tumor in her heart blocking the blood flow. They already knew they would have to operate, they were planning to meet with the surgeon tomorrow to schedule it. Needless to say, intern's kind of a wreck and won't be in much.

For some reason I feel really attached to my intern. She just turned 18 this weekend. This seems like a horrible thing to have to deal with in the middle of her freshman year.


Oct. 19th, 2006 06:41 am
I had a dream last night that the home office decided to shut down our branch. I agreed to stay on until the place was cleaned out on the understanding that I would receive a $5000 bonus in addition to my regular salary. I planned to buy a new(er) car with the bonus and start my new life.

I've been cranky for a while. It's not been a great year. The absence of bad does not automatically make good. But I also think I've gotten lazy. The easiest way to explain it is like this:

Say I'm the ugly duckling. It's not my fault I'm not-a-duck. There may have been lots of bad things about my barnyard of origin. I may have decided to leave the barnyard in search of my own kind thinking anything is better than cruelty from animals who by virtue of being a different genus or species don't understand I have different means or modes.

But winter's coming on, and if I keep sulking in the pond, I'm going to get my little, fluffy, ass frozen in that pond. The key is to keep moving, because while I can't help being not-a-duck, I can absolutely keep myself from getting frozen in that pond, and do whatever I can to survive the winter.

I'm having problems distinguishing between what's my responsibility and what isn't. And I'm getting blown around like a piece of dandelion fluff by circumstance. I'm made of sterner stuff. I need to stop picking up other people's business, and start dealing more directly with my daily needs. The rest will have to follow.

Today's schedule:
9-11 Intern
11-12 Mktg. Mtg.
12-2 June's goodbye banquet
Officemate's best friend has just started her first year at seminary. She is struggling with "how can I be a leader in the church as a female." She writes Officemate. Officemate tells me. (No doubt because she's wondering which button it will push. I hate that I am so easily played for the entertainment of others.)

While privately I wonder why she hadn't thought about this prior to starting seminary, I said something silly like, "Yet another reason I won't be taking to the cloth any time soon. Along with the general lifestyle issues like getting called to prisons and hospitals and other family emergencies all hours of the day and night."

"You know it's not the emergencies that are the problem," Officemate said. (Her mother is a minister.) "It's the grudges, like the people who call complaining about the Santa at the early Xmas service."

"You have Santa at your Xmas service?" I asked, aghast.

"Of course," she said, "he brings the Baby Jesus."

"That beats the hell out of the stork!" I replied.

The rest of the post... )
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): In one of his poems, the late, great Charles Olson praised "lovers of the difficult." He didn't mean that in some sadomasochistic sense; he wasn't cheering on people who perversely enjoy suffering. Rather, he meant to express his admiration for those whose lust for life drives them to seek answers to the knottiest questions. He was recommending that we wrestle with intractable problems whose solutions unleash blessings on the world. In the coming week, Aquarius, I encourage you to be one of these lovers of the difficult.

Rob is doing those double-edged horoscopes again... I'm going to have to have a word with him when he's in town next month!

I had an absolutely rotten work day, the worst of which involved our intern who a) did not show up, and b) did not finish his assignment, which meant c) I had to stay late rushing through the spread sheet to prepare it for the meeting tomorrow. To me this kid is asking not to be our intern anymore. It's an unpaid internship, so all we have to offer him is our recommendation, and frankly, I am not inclined to give one at this point. But all the other women are prepared to keep him with a warning.

There was some other bad stuff happened, but everything was ameliorated by the following:

* a very pleasant evening spent with [ profile] ashfae and [ profile] randomchris, during which I also briefly saw the newly wed [ profile] sakuratea

* a message from Rosebud in which she told me she and her friend Laurel have been accepted as the two new apprentices to The Mark Morris Dance Company. She will dance with the company for 6 months on a paid, full time basis, and if all goes well, she may be offered a membership in the company.

I can't tell you how excited this news made me. I just wanted to dance and scream and cry. She can quit her day job. She's been dancing since she was six. This is what we've dreamed of, this is why she moved to NYC. I've been holding my thumbs for her all week through the audition process (last year she made it through final call backs). I don't think either of us were expecting such good news.

News like this makes me feel doubly blessed, first because something so wonderful is happening to a friend who really deserves it, second because it helps me to believe that good things can happen to me, too.

I have a poem in mind by Robert Hass to celebrate today, but I can't find it on the web, so it will have to wait for another day.
The twins visted the office today: two paranoid-looking babies, thirteen squealing women, one indifferent male editor, one retired greyhound, and me. Sarah is older, bigger, and phlegmatic. Amy is smaller, fussy, and constantly overstimulated. Seeing the look on some of those women's faces made me sad. Seeing my boss with a baby was a revelation. If she could quit her job and just take care of babies, she would probably be a happy woman.

In other news, I just blew my tax return on three expensive pairs of shoes, including these beauties ([ profile] sdn shield your eyes) that [ profile] muphf once told me were hot. I've been eyeing these for two years, and I told myself if they ever went under $100 that I would buy them. Of course, they may not fit, but I don't really need them anyway, I WANT them.

Also, a pair of high heeled clogs with hardware to replace the ones I've been wearing since high school. ([ profile] vyrin did you know that Chris Cooper frequently used to wear my clogs to rounds?)

And a pair of sandals, which I'm not linking to, because I haven't made up my mine and don't want to jonah them.

I still want a pair of trampy disco slides with leopard print or something loud. And a pair of cheap-o gladiator sandals, to go with the indigo tunic dress slit-up-to-there I haven't bought yet. Oh yes, and new hiking boots. The insides of my wandering shoes have become outsides.

I'm not really a shoe person, but like most women I am heartened by the fact that my feet don't change shape and size as readily as the rest of my body, and that I can usually find something that fits without having to sacrifice style. This is my first foray into the return to the shopping world. I hate shopping, but I have a lot of it to do. Nothing fits anymore, everything's worn out, and I'm changing.

In other news: Rosebud called and said, "Of course I won't put you two in the same room, you dumbass" (I'm paraphrasing) about the Other Bridesmaid problem.

And the crabapple tree has bloomed, signaling something good I'm sure. (Beauty being its own excuse and all.)
Earlier today I started a post with "I hate work birthdays."

I take it back. Despite the fact I did not get breakfast as I requested and was cranky and hungry all morning, the berry tart, and the fresh fruit (strawberries & grapes) made up for it, along with a special chai just for me.

I actually feel incredibly touched so many people have remembered my birthday today. My office mate (who I should name at some point) gave me a gift: a collection of For Better or For Worse cartoons.

"This isn't usual around here, and I want you to know it does not imply any obligation. It was not expensive. I just saw it and thought of you," she said. (We are always gossiping about comic the way other people gossip about soaps.)

My boss clearly bought not only a lovely sweet, but the chai was an thoughtful extra I did not anticipate, particularly as my announcement, "I'm taking a chai break," usually means I'm having a bad day.

The card they all signed, in addition to the usual short greetings, contained some truly hilarious messages which showed I've made an impact here, as well as a funny drawing of me reading.

The highlight of my day, so far, was a phone call from my Swiss cubemate. (We shared a cube for three years in NY. I moved back to Colorado. She moved back to Switzerland. I hang a picture of Mont Blanc above my desk, she hangs a picture of Longs Peak above hers.) I couldn't believe she had remembered it was my birthday!

Anyway, I'm feeling all weepy now, but in a good way. I'd better stop writing now so I can clean up my desk and go home. I'm taking the day off tomorrow, and aside from dinner with Carly, I'm thinking about heading to the hills and perhaps partaking in some winter sport. Or going shopping at a time when the stores aren't crowded. Or taking a hike, a bath, and reading a book, in no particular order.


P.S. June took me out to lunch. It was very sweet.

P.S. Just in case you're wondering, the ground hog saw its shadow and so did I. Six more weeks of winter isn't such a bad thing, especially as I feel I've been cheated of precipitation this season.
Well, I may not be getting a raise, but I did get business cards. These are my first, ever, in my working life.
Tuesday night I kept waking up thinking I heard someone crying. Then I realized it was me.

Last night I slept through the night, but I had bizarre nightmares where my last work situation was blended with a religious cult that was trying to reprogram me. (Including a long scene about appropriate spoons and their uses, which definitely has a link to class anxiety.)

Today I am turning in my re-taken, re-proofread test, and a sample blurb for a book dealing with the influence science fiction has on military weaponry development and political policy. Last week I could have cared less about the publishing job, but this week I am nervous because I am out of work again. I keep having to remind myself that they should be so lucky to have someone who has three years of publishing experience to consider for an entry level position as an editorial assistant.

Most my problems don't stem from who I am, but from trying to adapt myself to who I think people want me to be. The problem is, even when you are your most authentic self, there are still going to be people who don't like you. However, the odds of attracting the few people who actually might like that oddity are larger if they can actually see it. So I guess it's time to let my little light shine.

I suppose something about "Damn the torpedoes!" might be appropriate here, but I'm feeling tired, achy, and a little weepy today. It might be a good day to go for a walk, and then curl up with a good book.

I have an interview with the trade division of Rowman & Littlefield Tuesday afternoon for a position as Assistant Editor. Getting this job, a position with a trade publisher with offices located in Boulder, would be quite a coup as Boulder is considered a desirable place to live, and publishing jobs there are few and far between. Please wish me luck.

You can find a list of titles here:

Also, the bookreporter people have agreed to be a reference for me, since my library reference from college seems to have dropped off the map, and I have only had one other significant job since then. They told me, "It's the least I can do for all the excellent work you do for us. Your reviews are consistently well-written and insightful, and you're great with deadlines. It's a pleasure working with you!" I knew there was a reason I've persisted with doing two reviews a month, for no more pay than free books and praise.

I have spent most the morning crazily typing away at the computer, (I had a review due this morning, and some photo research to follow up on) alternating with phone calls (I have six appointments for varying different things next week) and interspersed by bursts of spontaneous samba in the kitchen.

I'm nervous at the idea of going into publishing again, but it's time I had steady work, and this would be a positive move for my career should I choose to stay in the field. It can't hurt to go to an interview. It can't hurt to wish for a positive outcome for all parties involved. It can't hurt to hope.




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