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Category: Business, Work & Careers

Insights for publishers from a Marketing course

I’ve signed up to do a No-Pay MBA in the next couple of years – a self-taught equivalent of a traditional business degree using massive open online courses (MOOCs). I was inspired by the founder of the No-Pay MBA network, Laurie Pickard, who has actually done it – here’s an article about her in the FT.

I’ve just started my first course, which is Introduction to Marketing from the Wharton business school of the University of Pennsylvania, and wanted to share something interesting.

Business, Work & Careers

Technical and follow-up advice for sending submissions

This post is the fourth and last part in a series about submitting unagented proposals to publishers. Start reading here!

In this part I will share a few tips for getting the technical specs of your email right. In the grand scheme of your submission, this is not as important as some of the other things I’ve talked about before, but still worth mastering. For one thing, consider that the editorial assistant who will first receive your submission is likely to be a millennial – one of those frightful creatures who learn to use an iPad before they can speak. So creating the impression that you are someone who knows their way around a computer can help distinguish yourself (most hopeful authors come across to these millennials as terminal Luddites).

Business, Work & Careers

Stop describing career wins as ‘luck’

Tell me if you recognise this. You go to a talk or seminar about some topic to do with succeeding in your career or getting a job. There are panelists, each more distinguished than the last and clearly chosen because their careers are somehow exemplary. Excellent, you think, these people will definitely be able to tell me how it’s done.

And then they all proceed to tell you how lucky they got, and how they owe it all to fortunate circumstances. They may have a speck of talent but mostly it was that they were in the right place at the right time. Time well spent?

Geisha playing violin
I was fortunate enough to have this violin fall into my hands.

Business, Work & Careers

Presentation advice for submission letters

This post is part 3 in a series of posts about submitting an unagented book proposal directly to a publisher. Start reading here!

This part is about presentation: giving your submission the best possible chance by making sure it’s straightforwardly presented and easy on the eyes. It would be nice if everyone reading submissions was able to see directly into the soul of a book just by quickly scanning your letter, but in reality they will need help in understanding why your submission is The One. You want to try and make the essential information leap at the reader with minimal effort on their part. Here are some ways to do that.

Business, Work & Careers

Real questions from editorial job interviews

Allen_Ludden_Jack_Klugman_Tony_Randall_Odd_Couple_1I’ve been to a fair few job interviews in the past 4 years for jobs ranging from Editorial Assistant to Commissioning Editor. Afterwards, I wrote down as many of the questions I was asked as I could remember. Some of the interviews were more conversational than others, so there were fewer questions. I haven’t included my answers, because a) I didn’t write them down at the time, and b) I didn’t get most of these jobs so they would probably not be that useful! :P

The interviews I had were all at well-known trade publishing houses in London. I hope this will be helpful for people who are preparing for similar interviews!

Business, Work & Careers

To publish good books or profitable books, that is not the question

Last weekend I went to a party with some non-publishing folk, which is a rare occurrence and never fails to make me feel like a circus animal. People ask you what you do, and then exclaim ‘How exciting!’ and ‘That must be interesting!’, and then ask you uncomfortable questions you don’t have the answer to. Like, ‘Do you think publishers should publish books that make money or books that are good?’ This actually happened, and after only about a minute of warm-up. Hardly fair.

I said on instinct that I thought the former, but then they turned the screws on me and we ended up agreeing on a compromise: Publishing profitable books allows publishers to publish good books, so they should publish both. But now that I’ve given it some more thought I would like to go back to my earlier, less forgiving view. See, a couple of things nagged at me about the compromise…

Business, Work & Careers

Publishers, graduates and the morals between them

A week ago I went to the annual Society of Young Publishers (SYP) Conference in Oxford. SYP organise a lot of interesting events aimed at people who are starting out in publishing, and the conference programme was quite heavy on employment-related seminars as well.

I happened to be part of some interesting discussions about graduates and what they can expect in the employment front. The word ‘moral’ came up twice and made me prick my ears up as it was used in a rather matter-of-course manner, whereas I rarely think of employment in terms of morality. I will try to now!

Business, Work & Careers