What Does Publishers’ Reinvention Mean for the Industry?

In the last couple of weeks three iconic companies made major moves toward reinvention, however these moves are not reflecting a positive outlook on their own futures, or for the print magazine industry overall.

First, Time Inc. laid off 300 people recently. “The June 13th cutbacks came three years almost to the week when the company spun off from Time Warner,” according to the Folio article. The company is also relocating one of its titles, Food & Wine, to Alabama, partly because of cost considerations. Wenner Media announced it had sold Men’s Journal to American Media. This sale leaves the once-powerful company with just a 51 percent stake in flagship Rolling Stone and a gaming website launched last year. Rodale was also said to have cut 80-100 employees ahead of an announcement “that it is exploring strategic options.” The company announced in January that “it was selling some of its properties in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, in a bid to centralize and to raise $4.6 million.”

Time Inc. CEO Rich Battista, through a spokesperson, told Folio writer Tony Silber “that further consolidation (presumably of the kind that just happened at his company) is likely given the long-term secular decline in print.” It seems for media companies today, it is more important to build a bran than to rely on print businesses and practices.

“The industry is evolving quickly, and while change can be disruptive, it also brings opportunity,” a senior Rodale executive said to Silber.

Volunteers Needed- VIDA

VIDA is seeking a determined, meticulous, and thorough intern to assist with the VIDA Count. The VIDA count is a well-publicized annual tally of the gender disparity in publishing. It is the counter’s job to research and determine the gender identity of writers as well as the genre of the work published.

The VIDA Count will require strong knowledge and use of:

• Google Docs
• Microsoft Excel
• DropBox
• Doodle
• Google Hangout

The 2017 internship will run from August 2017 through March 2018. Counters must be able to commit to the full term and spend an average of 5 hours per week on the project, in a combination of solo tallying work and team numbers reconciliation sessions. Applications for the 2017 Count are due by July 15, 2017.

If you are interested in volunteering to be a Counter for the VIDA Count, please send a resume and letter of interest with subject line “VIDA Counter Candidate [Surname]” to Sara Iacovelli at siacovelli@vidaweb.org.

Harry Potter 20 Years Later: How Harry Potter Saved Young Adult Fiction

This month the magical realm of Harry Potter, created by J.K. Rowling, is celebrating it’s twentieth year. The success of the book series transferred into a successful film series starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, as well as a popular website (Pottermore), Spin-off titles like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (which also found success as a film), an amusement park attraction (The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios), and now a stage play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

At the time that the first Harry Potter book was released, young adults and children were accustomed to titles and series such as The Babysitter’s Club, that were a bit more lightweight. The Harry Potter series made way for blockbuster sagas like The Hunger Games, Twilight, and Divergent. Harry Potter easily changed the game for YA fiction.

Though not necessarily original in its common tropes of magic, fantasy, adventure, unfair teachers, a common enemy, heroes, etc., Harry Potter was able to resonate with children and young adults in a way that other tiles could not. Claire Fallon in an article for the Huffington Post writes, “Children’s book writers, especially fantasy authors, who were once the masters of their domain found themselves ignored in media coverage and discussions of ‘Harry Potter.'” Perhaps it was Rowling who wrote the right book at the right time, or she was able to masterfully and creatively construct a seven-book mystery/adventure story arc following characters as they aged into adulthood that coincided with her aging and growing audience. Either way, as Joe Monti, Editorial Director of Saga Press says, “Harry Potter made the careers of many authors possible.”

Harry Potter was able to boosts the sales of YA fiction altogether because of its success. “The Atlantic reported that the number of YA books had increased by a factor of 10 between 1997 and 2009.” The series was also able to help rebuild the disparaging reputation that fantasy had as a genre in YA fiction. Monti says, “Fantasy is mainstream.”

Rowling and Harry Potter as a series took on many risks, including long-form story arcs, thick-sized books, and a fantasy genre as well as the idea that the books also age with the audience. Harry Potter takes on darker themes like lengthy battle scenes, concepts of mortality/fatality, and romantic relationships, all of which challenged what YA fiction was at the time and what publishers can put in front of children and young adults.

Harry Potter was able to open up the horizons for what YA literature could be. Rowling also capitalized on the success of her series, which is part if the reason why Harry Potter has been cemented in pop culture history. It continues, to this day, to pave the way for YA fiction authors.

Link of the Week: Greenpeace

Greenpeace, a non-governmental environmental organization, focuses its campaigning on worldwide issues such as climate change, deforestation, overfishing, anti-nuclear issues, and now a long-running battle against Resolute Forest Products over the forest company’s logging practices in Canada’s boreal forest.

Greenpeace unexpectedly tabled a booth this at this year’s BookExpo. Their presence at the trade show and the subsequent ads in Publisher’s weekly were “designed to pressure Resolute to modify its forest practices and also to drop a lawsuit it brought against the environmental organization.”

Resolute Forest Products first filed a lawsuit against Greenpeace in Canada in 2013, charging the organization with defamation and economic interference. Then came another lawsuit in May 2016 in Georgia alleging RICO violations and defamation. Greenpeace believes this is an infringement on free speech and aims to silence the group and possibly other advocacy groups as well.

Greenpeace brings this issue up to publishers due to the fact that publishers are buying products from resolute Forest Productions. Greenpeace took a petition to BookExpo, that was signed by more than 100 authors, calling for publishers to stand up for free speech by opposing the Resolute lawsuits and pressure Resolute into engaging in more sustainable forest practices.

“The message isn’t that publishers are the bad guys,” Rodrigo Estrada, a spokesman for Greenpeace, said, “we want to show them we aren’t the enemy.”

Carla Hayden & Louise Erdrich Honored With WNBA Awards

Carla Hayden and Louise Erdrich

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden and novelist, poet, and bookstore owner Louise Erdrich have both been named winners of the 2017 Women’s National Book Association Awards.

Usually awarded to one person a year, the WNBA decided to present the award to two people this year in honor of their centennial. Hayden was awarded for her involvement in the business of books and Erdrich for her involvement in the creation of them.

Jane Kinney-Denning, WNBA National President, said, “These two women, via their work, have made significant cultural and societal contributions [that] are deserving of this prestigious award.”

Hayden and Erdrich will be honored at the WNBA’s centennial celebration on October 28 in New York.

BookExpo America 2017- A First Time Experience

BookExpo America is where Publishing Professionals gather to exchange valued information on new titles, breakout authors, and many, many ARCs. As a first-timer to this trade show event, it is very overwhelming at first glance. Left and right, ARCs are being signed and distributed. Major publishing houses like Macmillan and HarperCollins are represented in whole sections decorated with large rugs and smaller companies are housed within booths throughout the show floor.

As someone who is experiencing BookExpo for the first time, I thought it best to take a second to look around and get a good feel of what is going on around me. It is easy to get lost in the shuffle and it is important to soak it all in. If you have a short window to visit BookExpo, as I did, then you should not take too much time soaking it in. After I walked around for a bit, I made sure to network with publishers such as Soho Press, Penguin Random House, and Arcadia Publishing. I saw this as a learning opportunity, a chance to network, and a fun event all wrapped into one.

I made sure to heed Professor Richter’s advice and checked out what events were happening on each day of BookExpo and also brought in my own bag to carry all the free stuff in, though I was given a free tote as soon as I stepped into the building. I ended up going home with 17 new books and a sore shoulder. Nevertheless, it was exciting to meet publishing professionals and authors who all gave me advice and encouragement on my future publishing endeavors.

The Adult Book Editors’ Buzz Panel

There are a wide range of people to meet, events to participate in, and books to obtain. Everywhere you look, there are people mingling, trading business cards, and sharing stories and information that will benefit their publishing careers. I can only imagine how attending BookExpo as a publishing professional will differ from my experience as a student.

Of course, this is just my experience. Articles from the Tampa Bay Times, and the Star tribune offer more insight what is was like at this year’s BookExpo.

Taking a Small Break

Now that the semester is over, all of us here at the Pace MS in Publishing Program would like to wish everyone a good summer and good rest. The Pace MS in Publishing blog will be taking a brief break as well, but rest assured, we will up and running at the start of the Summer I semester on May 30th.

To students who are graduating this semester, congratulations and may your future in publishing be bright. For those of you returning for the Summer semester, rest up and good luck with classes.

Have a great summer everyone!

Lisa Sharkey on Changing Careers

Lisa Sharkey, Senior Vice President, Director of Creative Development at HarperCollins Publishers and The 2016-17 David J. Pecker Distinguished Visiting Professor shares with The Reset how she transitioned from working on television news to working on book publishing.

In the article titled, Looking for Substance, Sharkey explains that after a five year long conversation with Jane Friedman, then CEO of HarperCollins she decided to leave her job at Al Roker Productions, and Good Morning America Senior Producer before that, to pursue book publishing.

She says that she was looking for a job with “more substance and something more closely aligned with my values.” Sharkey is now celebrating ten years in book publishing.

Book Expo America – How to Get the Most Out of the BEA

BookExpo America, the largest annual book trade fair in the United States will take place at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City this year from May 31 to June 2. Major publishing houses will congregate to showcase emerging authors, new titles, and meet with other publishing professionals and colleagues. For students and incoming publishing professionals, BookExpo is an exciting event and provides an opportunity to learn from some of the world’s most influential publishers and to gain significant insight into the publishing industry.

Along with faculty, Pace MS in Publishing students will be attending the BookExpo again this year, trading off passes, supplied by the program, throughout the three-day event.

Program Director, Sherman Raskin says:

“I am delighted that Pace University publishing students will have the opportunity to visit the Book Expo this Spring. They will meet publishing professionals, authors and have opportunities to network. The BEA is in NYC this year and New York is the heart of the publishing industry.”

Prof. Michelle Richter  also shares her experience and provides some tips and advice on how to achieve the most rewarding BookExpo experience:

The first time I went to BookExpo, I was exactly where you find yourselves now: a grad student in the publishing program, wildly enthusiastic about books and the industry and the city. And broke. But somehow I managed to scrounge up enough for a ticket.

The Benefits of Going to BookExpo

Of course the first thing that comes to mind is free loot: ARCs, finished books, tote bags, swag. But there’s much more than that. I can’t stress enough the value of the panels. You can learn so much about the industry. Go to the keynote speech if you can. Try to attend at least one of the Buzz panels.

BookExpo in 2015 at the Javits Center

There’s one for adult, one for young adult, and one for middle grade. 5 or 6 editors talk about books they’ve acquired that are getting a lot of buzz, and everyone who attends the panel can get the ARCs afterward. But there are also panels with the authors of the Buzz books. And breakfasts and teas or lunches (the meals require separate tickets) where you can listen to major authors. And panels that talk about industry trends, technological innovations, promotion, social media, and so much more.

Author signings  are everywhere, some in publisher booths, some in an autograph area in the back. Some are ticketed, some are first come, first serve. Some will have huge lines. Some will have lonely authors waiting. If an author offers to sign their book for you, say “yes, thank you”. If you discard it later, do it out of their sight. You don’t have to have it personalized. If there’s a book you’re dying to get and have signed, line up early. Not all books in a booth are free for the taking. Some publishers only have display copies or books for sale.

  • Tip 1: Check the schedule of signings and panels ahead of time, and have a tentative schedule so you don’t miss the things that are really important to you.
  • Tip 2: Though the lure of free books may intoxicate you, remember you have to carry all of them so be discerning. But if you go hog wild, there’s a post office between the Javits and the A train–you can mail books to yourself.
  • Tip 3: Bring your own tote bag, one that won’t dig into your shoulder. Just in case free ones are hard to find or subpar.

Prof. Jane Denning says:

“I love the BEA! It is such a wonderful opportunity to really get a sense of the size and power of the publishing industry and, it is a great place to network. I also really love getting to meet authors and have them sign their books. My advice is to go with an open mind and soak it all in. Learn about publishers you have not heard about before, talk to people about their work and bring a few copies of your resume to give to people who might help you get a job.” 

Networking

Be pleasant to anyone working in a booth. Don’t be too grabby getting free stuff. Check out people’s badges to see where they work or who they are but keep in mind that some people share a badge and may be incognito.

These people may someday be your colleagues. They’re often from the marketing department, but could also be sales, sub rights, publicists, editors, even authors. They may be taking meetings with foreign publishers or booksellers or librarians or agents. Most people are dressed professionally, as they would in the office.

Every time I go to BookExpo, it’s like a giant reunion. I see editors, publicists, marketing managers I used to work with, agents I know, authors, foreign publishers, and people I’ve only met on Twitter until I run into them on the floor at BookExpo. “Wait, have we ever met in person before?”

  • Tip 4: Wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers. It’s often freezing in the Javits center and the floors are cement. I think you can’t go wrong with a dress and a cardigan if that’s your style, ladies. Gentlemen, I would suggest you dress business casual (not in jeans).
  • Tip 5: Bring a water bottle so you don’t have to buy overpriced drinks. You may want to bring snacks.

The Overall Experience

It’s overwhelming, exhausting, exhilarating. I love it still. Some people get jaded by it, but I hope I never do. Try to walk the entire expo. Visit the remainder houses’ booths, the foreign publishers, the packagers, the Big 5s and all the indies. This is your best opportunity to see the wide range of people who participate in the industry, to randomly encounter a rock star author (I once walked by Margaret Atwood and managed not to lose it), to see something like a book being printed in an Espresso Book Machine, to meet awesome librarians and booksellers, and to listen to some terrific speakers.

Inkluded’s First Reading to Support WNDB’s Internship Grant Program

Inkluded will be hosting their first reading in support of the We Need Diverse Books Internship Grant Program, Wednesday, March 15th at 7pm(doors open at 6:30). Authors speaking at the event include: Leigh Stein, Cristina Moracho, Mia Alvar, and Jazmine Hughes.

Inkluded champions diversity in publishing by supporting like-minded organizations toward actualizing their missions and goals and, in doing so, encourages along inclusivity amongst publishing professionals and readers of all ages.

WNDB’s Internship Grant Program provides economic assistance to applicants of diverse backgrounds interested in pursuing highly valuable, but low-paying children’s publishing internships—internships that might not be accessible otherwise. Without internships on their resumes, applicants are always disadvantaged when pursuing careers in publishing. Already, eleven participants of the program have landed entry-level positions in publishing; so, the program is working. Inkluded would like to help WNDB expand their program.

Tickets are $20. Due to limited space, only 40 tickets available for this event.