5th International Conference on Publishing Industry and Publishing Education in the Digital Era | Reflections from Wuhan, China by Professor Kathy Sandler

Professor Sandler and Yin “Ling” Mengling, a China Publishing Group employee who helped Sandler explore the city.

Kathy Sandler is the Senior Manager of Content Applications and Digital Workflow Development at Penguin Random House. She is also an Adjunct Faculty member in the M.S. in Publishing Program at Pace University. She specializes in management, workflow, and publishing technology for eBooks and iPad apps and enjoys developing classes for people in the industry. She recently published an article on “Innovation in Publishing: This is not an Oxymoron!” for Publishing Research Quarterly.

By: Professor Kathy Sandler

In October 2016, I traveled with Pace to China to lecture at the 5th International Conference on Publishing Industry and Publishing Education in the Digital Era sponsored by Wuhan University and Pace University. It was a fantastic experience! Here are a few of the memories I’d like to share.

Personally, I was struck by the warmth of the people I met. It was very exciting to meet dignitaries from Phoenix Publishing & Media Group and China Publishing Group, which are among the largest publishing companies in the world. But it was heartening to meet a number of former students who were so grateful to Professor Raskin and Professor Lian for what they learned at Pace.

The opening panel of the Wuhan Conference. (Professor Raskin is the fourth speaker from the right.)
I was lucky to have a tour guide in Beijing who worked at China Publishing Group named Yin “Ling” Mengling. I spoke with her at length about some of the great opportunities available in publishing associations in New York. We also discussed a book called Designing Your Life, which I recommend people use to think about their career and life goals.

After we parted, she paid for her own overnight train to Wuhan to attend the weekend conference and take Professor Lian, Professor Raskin and me around Wuhan University. She has since started a Literary Salon speaker series for her friends and colleagues, which she said I inspired her to do. Mark Fretz, who also attended the conference as part of the delegation from Pace, spoke at the inaugural session. I am very proud of Ling and happy I was able to touch her life.

Another thing that struck me in China that I hadn’t fully appreciated before was the giant contribution that Professor Raskin and Professor Lian have made to publishing education in China. Professor Lian was actually one of the founding members of the first publishing program in China at Wuhan University and was instrumental in starting the partnership between Pace and Wuhan U. Professor Raskin has made extremely strong relationships with the major publishing companies in China and, because of this, the companies have hand-picked executives to come train at Pace every year. (And they were able to start the Confucius Institute at Pace University, where I took Chinese classes before I went.) I have a newfound respect for the hard work they have done to build such strong ties.

Dinner in China with former Pace students. 
At the conference, my talk was on innovation. I spoke about projects in the publishing industry, including grass-roots efforts, where employees at any level can test their idea and pitch it to management. I was surprised that I was asked how an employee would be reprimanded if they had an idea that failed. I explained the value of a learning organization, where failing fast (and small) is a good thing. I was happy to see that they were thinking about how this idea could be implemented in their environment, and I hope in the future that organizations encourage their employees to submit ideas.

Professor Sandler speaking at the Wuhan Conference.
While Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites are blocked in China, the country is very technologically advanced. Most people use a platform called WeChat, which is a combination of the functionality of many programs in the U.S. like texting, FaceTime/Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and many others. (WeChat was created by TenCent, a phone company.) Many restaurants have you order and pay through your phone with Alipay, which is from the e-commerce company Alibaba, which has 423 million annual active buyers and about 80 per cent market share of e-commerce in China. There are QR codes everywhere on posters, bus shelters, ads, and menus, and they are very useful in connecting quickly through WeChat and other systems. I made many new contacts and friends in China and hope to stay in touch through WeChat.

I also visited many bustling bookstores in China. It was incredible to see the multi-story homage to the books owned by Phoenix Publishing & Media Group. I also visited a few branches of the Librarie Avant-Garde, including the famous one in a former bomb shelter/parking garage that has a beatnik vibe; a rustic one in a lush park, where you could sink into a comfy chair and feel like you were in a log cabin surrounded by books; and one on the Purple Mountain that sold only poetry books with lots of little rooms to explore. I felt right at home!

It was a fascinating trip, and I’m extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to go! It really opened my eyes to different perspectives and I learned a lot about international publishing, innovation, and myself.

 

Lisa Sharkey on “Book Publishing with Celebrity Authors”

Working with celebrities to get their books published may seem daunting, but Lisa Sharkey—the Senior Vice President and the Director of Creative Development at HarperCollins Publishers—is an expert. On April 26th, Sharkey talked about the joys and challenges of working with well-known public figures on their projects in her lecture, “Book Publishing with Celebrity Authors.” This was Sharkey’s second talk as the 2016-2017 David Pecker Visiting Professor, following-up the presentation on transferable skills she gave in the fall.

With years of experience working with both intentional celebrities (actors, athletes, reality stars, etc.) and unintentional celebrities (people who became famous as a result of news story in which they are a major personality), Sharkey’s familiar with how different it is publishing and promoting a celebrity’s book versus working with a traditional writer. Through personal anecdotes and behind-the-scene details on books she’s published throughout her career, Sharkey illustrated the experience of working with people who aren’t necessarily writers themselves to publish a successful book that might even reach the New York Times bestseller list.

For the first part of her presentation, Sharkey outlined the top joys of working with celebrities. Despite most of the celebrities she works with not being professional writers for their day-jobs, Sharkey says that these books are still important to them “to their legacies.” They value the opportunity to publish their stories without having them filtered through the press for their families and friends—and, of course, for the fans. Fans of celebrities also make a huge difference in how big the book signings and sales will be and what sort of appearances they can do.

Fans “crave the first-person stories of celebrity lives” and are interested in keeping celebrity books “on their nightstand,” enough so that books by celebrities are consistently reliable holiday gift sellers, such as Alec Baldwin’s memoir Nevertheless and Gabby Douglas’s autobiography Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith. Sharkey also reveals that celebrities are used to being in the spotlight and are sociable, always camera-ready, and “rule” social media, which are all important elements for the successful marketing of books. Any area of weakness they have, Sharkey said, are also easy to deal with since celebrities generally “know what they don’t know” and are open to accepting that they need help in an arena beyond what they’re famous for.

The challenges working with celebrities are also something different than working with traditional authors. Entourages, the amplified fear of failure, and unrealistic expectations all add to the list of struggles Sharkey has dealt with when working with celebrity authors. There’s also the issue of how in-demand they are; getting celebrities to do book promotions when they’re already so busy and marketplace collisions with them when they are trying to advertise other products, are stand-out instances of how their fame can make them difficult to work with. Also, not every celebrity author has the skill to write their own books despite their desire to. Sharkey says that ghostwriters are often necessary to always have ready to assist the celebrity authors.

The pros and cons aside, working with celebrities is always memorable for Sharkey. She has met Charles, the Prince of Wales, at the Clarence House while working with him on his book, Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, and sharing tea with royalty in a once in a lifetime moment. She discussed the intensity of working with Jenna Miscavige Hill on her book exposing scientology, Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape, and recalled a time where the two asked their driver to ditch a suspicious car following them that Hill thought might be associated with Scientology. Rock star front man of Van Halen, Sammy Hagar, shared with her how emotionally moved he was over the success of his autobiography, Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock, which was a chance to share, for the first time, his challenges growing up and making it through life from his point-of-view.

Lisa Sharkey with her intern and current Pace student, Jennifer Thompson

Sharkey had already shared her interesting career with us in the fall lecture, so it was fascinating to listen to her talk about the work she does getting celebrities to open up and to be honest about their lives and work in their books. As with her previous talk, Sharkey had no trouble keeping everyone invested in her talk through insightful anecdotes and straightforward, honest details about a part of the publishing industry that can feel secret and elusive to publishing students.

We appreciate and thank Sharkey for giving another well-informed and valuable talk, and for concluding her David Pecker Distinguished Visiting Professor lectures on such a memorable note.

Transferable Skills: Using What You Know to Develop Your Career

by Breana Swinehart and Kevin Mercado

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-12-46-24-pmLisa Sharkey, the Senior Vice President and Director of Creative Development at HarperCollins Publishers, shared her unconventional path to becoming a book publishing professional with her presentation, “Transferable Skills: Making the Change from TV to Publishing,” which she posted on Facebook Live here. Sharkey is the 2016-2017 David Pecker Visiting Professor, and this was the first of the two talks she’ll be giving at Pace University.

Sharkey defined transferable skills as “skills you pick up early in life and work to improve [that] will be useful to you as you climb the career ladder—or even if, like me, you jump off of one ladder and onto another.” Her talk focused on the transferable skills she utilized from different points in her career and life and how others can develop and harness these for their own careers.

p27aRevealing personal anecdotes and advice accrued through years of professional working experience, Sharkey explained how she went from being a major player in TV news and handling TV production and development for programs such as ABC’s “Good Morning, America” to becoming a SVP and Director for a major book publisher.

From being a teen that was looking for a way out of a rough social crowd by seeking early-admission into college, Sharkey sought to make every struggle into a lesson learned to help pivot her to success later. Some of the main transferable skills she shared—such as “thinking outside the box… the ability to start fresh… listening to your customers”—are lessons that most people who have work experience should already be familiar with to some capacity.

Sharkey’s later lessons offer more insight for people looking for professional and personal growth. “Concise writing… knowing how to take a step backwards in order to get ahead… writing in someone else’s voice… knowing how to ask for a career shift or change to make it work for your life” were some of the key transferable skills she mentioned.

imgresAdditional skills she told the audience to make applicable in their lives ranged from lighthearted “have a sense of humor” tips to managing up/down/across. She also encouraged us to “plu[g] into the zeitgeist” by keeping connected to those around us while still managing to stand out.

In Sharkey’s position at HarperCollins she oversees the acquisitions of over 40 New York Times Bestsellers, including Tim Tebow’s Through My Eyes, Van Halen front man Sammy Hagar’s Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock, and books by celebrities such as Lauren Conrad, Pat Benatar, and Toni Braxton.

Sharkey leads Book Studio 16, which seeks to connect authors in relaxed, personal, and accessible platforms.

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-12-40-24-pmSharkey used her charisma, sincerity, and candidness to engage the audience and share creative ways to approach the workplace and how to interpret and manage life lessons learned through negative experiences and new opportunities.

We are honored to have Sharkey as one of the well-respected David Pecker Distinguished Visiting Professors. We thank her for sharing her valuable insights and knowledge!

Interview with Paul Levitz, David Pecker Distinguished Visiting Professor for the 2014-2015 Academic Year

paullevitzIt is an honor to have Paul Levitz serving as the David Pecker Distinguished Professor for the 2014-2015 academic year.  Mr. Levitz is a comic fan, editor, writer, and executive.  He formerly was president and publisher of DC Comics and presently teaches Publishing Comics and Graphic Novels and Publishing Transmedia at Pace University.  He is currently working on a book on Will Eisner and the birth of the graphic novel for Abrams Comic Arts.

To read Professor Levitz full biography, click here.

His first lecture will take place tomorrow, Thursday, October 30, 2014 at Pace University, 163 Williams St, 18th floor, from 6-8p.m., where he will be discussing how we as publishers define our mission in an era when our own audiences are constantly connected: to each other and to the flow of raw data, old and new.

Professor Jane Denning had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Levitz as he assumes his new role.   The pair discussed what he hopes to accomplish as the David Pecker Distinguished Professor as well as some advice he has to offer to current Pace M.S. in Publishing students.

Prof. Denning:  Hi Paul, thank you for agreeing to do this interview!  Congratulations on being named the Visiting David Pecker Distinguished Professor for the 2014-2015 academic year.  What do you hope to accomplish this year at Pace?

Prof. Levitz:  Thanks, Jane.  I’d like to extend my reach to the students who aren’t able to take my two courses.  I haven’t had the courage to do online teaching, so I miss out on a fair number of the program’s students, and hopefully the lectures will be available to them.

Legion of SuperheroesProf. Denning: As the Visiting David Pecker Distinguished Professor, you are expected to give two lectures throughout the course of the year.  What do you want students to take away from these lectures?  Any pearls of wisdom you can impart for us now?

Prof. Levitz:  I don’t know if they count as pearls of wisdom, but I’m exploring the future of publishing models in my first lecture, since the world around us is changing so rapidly.  One of the points I make is that publishing has to move from a banking model to more of a venture capital approach…but to make sense out of that you probably have to listen to the whole talk.
Prof. Denning: Many of our students here at Pace have varied interests within the world of publishing.  When you were first starting out in the industry, what prompted you to pursue the publishing of comics and graphic novels?

Prof. Levitz: Comics is a very unusual field in its accessibility, and even more so when I was a kid.  Because of the structure of comic conventions and the zine world, I was able to get to know most of the industry’s creative people while I was in high school.  That’s not possible today, and would have been impossible in the ‘70s if I had made a similar effort in other publishing worlds that I loved, from sf to mysteries to the magazine field.

The Golden Age of DC ComicsProf. Denning:  As the President and Publisher of DC Comics for eight years you have a unique perspective on the industry, are there any recent developments/trends in the comic book industry that you’ve noticed?  Where do you think comics and graphic novels are headed given that so many beloved characters are being brought to life on the big screen (i.e. The Amazing Spider-man, Man of Steel, Thor: The Dark World)?
Prof. Levitz: The movies bring a lot of fresh capital to the comics field and its creators, but it’s much more interesting to me to watch the explosion of new subjects and genres that are being explored in graphic novels.  In Japan, the manga market is about a third of their publishing industry, compared to the 2% of ours that is comics-driven.  The wide range of subjects for manga is part of that, and I’m hopeful that as our subject range continues to increase, so will our share of publishing.

Prof. Denning:  If a student is interested in the comic book industry, what is the best way to break in?  Should they be attending Comic Con?

Prof. Levitz: Comic conventions are great places to learn about the field, and you don’t have to start with the giant shows.  Smaller events like MoCCA Fest, here in New York, or Comic Art Brooklyn, are great ways to get a taste of the avant garde of comics…and full of young people with so much in common with our students.  The energy is amazing.   And another approach is simply to hit a great comic shop, and start talking to the folks behind the counter.  Even more than indie bookstores, comic shops tend to have passionate fans of the field working there.

Prof. Denning:  As our students gear up to enter the workforce, what sort of skills should they really develop while in the program so they can embark upon a successful career in publishing, whether in editorial, marketing, sales, or production or any other aspect of the business?

World's FinestProf. Levitz: Learn all the technical skills they can: photoshop, in design, programs for e-book creation, and enough accounting for self-defense.  Use your social media time to see how publishers and authors function in that space, and think about how it can be done better—so many of our students’ first jobs are social media-related now.  Learn how publishing companies think: that’s one of the virtues of having professors who have functioned in the industry.  Develop the habits of a publishing person: don’t browse looking for books you like, stalk a bookstore for knowledge, paying attention to which companies are publishing which titles, what seems to be selling, and watch how people make their selections.   And develop networking skills: the people you meet in this program will include folks whose career paths will intertwine with yours.

Attention Students and Alumni–Please Mark Your Calendars

September 10, 2014

Dear Students and Colleagues,

It gives me great pleasure to invite you to the David Pecker lecture presented by Paul Levitz, David Pecker Distinguished Visiting Professor of Publishing for the 2014-2015 academic year.  The title of his lecture is “The Era of Constant Connection.”  Mr. Levitz will explore how we as publishers define our mission in an era when our own audiences are constantly connected: to each other and to the flow of raw data, old and new.

paullevitzMr. Levitz is a comic fan, editor, writer, and executive.  He formerly was president and publisher of DC Comics and presently teaches Publishing Comics and Graphic Novels and Publishing Transmedia at Pace University.  He is currently working on a book on Will Eisner and the birth of the graphic novel for Abrams Comic Arts.  It is an honor to have Mr. Levitz serving as the David Pecker Distinguished Professor for the 2014-2015 academic year.

His first lecture will take place on Thursday, October 30, 2014 at Pace University, 163 Williams St, 18th floor, from 6-8p.m.  We would appreciate your response as early as possible to assure you a place at this important event.  Please RSVP to puboffice@pace.edu no later than Monday, October 13, 2014.

 

David Pecker Lecture

Thursday, October 30, 2014, 6 to 8 pm

163 William St, 18th floor

RSVP puboffice@pace.edu by October 13, 2014

 

I look forward to seeing you on October 30, 2014.

 

Sincerely,

Sherman Raskin, Director MS in Publishing

Spring 2013 David Pecker Lecture by Arthur A. Levine

Inspiration from Arthur A. Levine

By Professor Manuela Soares

 

Children’s Book editor and publisher Arthur Levine shared insights about his life and career at the 2nd David Pecker Lecture on April 10th at the Midtown Executive Club.

 

With charm, enthusiasm, and wit Arthur revealed his professional journey  — from looking for his first job in publishing to being offered his own imprint at Scholastic years later.

 

Arthur wanted this lecture to be less formal and so he chose to talk about his successes and failures. It seemed like a strange topic, he said, but it was important to look closely at the decisions that led to those successes and failures.  It was important to be able to say,  “Yes, I made mistakes and I’m still here.  You’ll all make mistakes …. Some big, some small – and you’ll be OK, too.” 

 

Being committed to what he wanted to do was very important, especially in those early years. Having graduated from college and taken a publishing course, Arthur was told that he would never find a job in children’s publishing. Despite that, he persevered, which led to this advice to students: “Hold out for the job making books you really care about.”

 

Arthur offered many inspiring life lessons, from those early days of job hunting to learning from some of the legendary editors in children’s book publishing. Having been mentored in his own career and having sought out mentorship  – he has always hired and mentored young talent. 

 

In talking about mentoring, Arthur stressed that students must be active in their own careers – making connections to people, finding a mentor.  Taking chances helped him in his own career.  Too much caution, he said, is short-sighted.  And he gave examples of books that he didn’t pursue, didn’t fight hard enough for – that went on to become very successful.  Overcoming opposition to your decisions is important, he said. But also knowing when to fight was important, too.

Editors have the power to say no to a project, but acquiring it involves getting support from your colleagues in marketing and sales. There is no such thing as real power, only influence. Deciding when and how to use it were key elements.

 

Arthur made a point of saying that in today’s world, editorial must listen to the business side, but not at the expense of editorial clarity and vision. It’s not business versus editorial, but business and editorial together.

 

Harry Potter was an important acquisition in Arthur’s career, but it’s important to  remember that his career is full of  a great many award-winning and notable acquisitions and projects: Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, Rafe Martin and David Shannon’s The Rough-Face Girl, Jerry Spinelli’s Crash, Barbara Bottner’s Bootsie Barker Bites, Gary Soto’s Chato’s Kitchen, Tomie dePaola’s Tomie dePaola’s Book of Poems, and two Caldecott winners, Peggy Rathmann’s Officer Buckle and Gloria, and Emily McCully’s Mirette on the High Wire, along with many other awards and honors.  Arthur is also a writer himself  —  the author of seven picture books: All the Lights in the Night, Bono and Nonno, The Boardwalk Princess, Monday Is One Day, Pearl Moscowitz’s Last Stand, Sheep Dreams and The Boy Who Drew Cats.

 

Arthur revealed his passion for his work, but made a point of the importance of leading a life rich with family, friends and other interests – being captain of his tennis team, belonging to a synagogue. This richness in his life has a positive effect on his work and keeps him from getting burned out or too self-reverential.

 

Arthur’s talk was funny, informative, insightful, and at times, poignant, but I have to admit, I missed him singing, as he did in the first lecture.

 

It was a wonderful talk from a talented, generous, and insightful industry professional. Our gain is Refrigeration Weekly’s loss.

 

Mr. David Pecker developed the David Pecker Distinguished Visiting Professor Lectures to foster publishing education and the Pace University MS in Publishing program.

Report from the Trenches: Spring Publishing Lectures

By Natanya Housman and Hannah Bennett

In recent weeks, the Pace University Publishing Program has presented two lectures for the benefit of publishing students, faculty, and staff.  The first, presented at the end of March, was the David Pecker Distinguished Visiting Professor Lecture, featuring Michael Healy.  The second, presented in April, was the Eliot DeYoung Schein Lecture, featuring Neil De Young.  Both speakers drew on their multifaceted publishing backgrounds to extend their opinions on this time of dramatic change.

Michael Healy presently serves as the Executive Director of the Copyright Clearance Center.  He assists in expanding market presence and refining business models to accommodate Backlist Rights.  Formerly, Mr. Healy served as the Executive Director of the Book Rights Registry.  For the last three years, Mr. Healy has been the David Pecker Distinguished Visiting Professor of Publishing.

Mr. Healy’s speech on March 29th, entitled Global, Mobile, and Personal: the Future of Publishing in Hazardous Times, was a broad discussion of the challenges and opportunities he sees in the future of the publishing industry.  In his analysis of the industry, Mr. Healy posed a series of questions, each of which highlighted a specific challenge for publishing professionals. What is the future value of publishers?  Does DRM help to reduce piracy?  If consumers only care about content and not brands, where does that leave the publishing industry?  These questions prompted audience members to evaluate their own potential roles in the industry, and the value publishers will have going forward.  Despite this inherent uncertainty, Mr. Healy’s final position was that now is a great time to enter the industry, and especially to start one’s own company.  He believes that the world has opened for new players, innovative and creative thinkers, and a new approach to publishing.

Neil De Young is the Director of Digital Media for Hachette Book Group, USA.  His responsibilities at Hachette include digital business development and strategy, eBook development, and website product management.  Mr. De Young reviews and assesses new business opportunities for Hachette, including contract negotiations and profit and loss assessment.  Prior to his position at Hachette, Mr. De Young held various positions at Scholastic, Inc.

Mr. De Young’s speech on April 11, entitled Disintermediation in the Digital Age: What Publishers Will Need to Do to Stay Relevant, discussed the digital transformation of the industry.  He did so through a series of parables.  In one parable, recounting the tale of a complacent pheasant and an opportunistic fox, Mr. De Young stressed the dangers of a lack of competition.  He later discussed the issue of competition in more detail when, speaking for himself and not Hachette, he answered an audience question regarding the agency model and the current litigation with the Department of Justice.  The government’s lawsuit poses questions about how to maintain healthy competition in the emerging ebook market – questions that professionals, like Neil De Young, must answer.  Other questions that must be answered are ebook pricing, DRM management, piracy, and disintermediation, which will require real innovation from Mr. De Young and his colleagues.  Based on his informative and thoughtful lecture, Mr. De Young is certainly up for the challenge.

These lectures, held every year, are unique opportunities for students to gain firsthand insight from brilliant publishing professionals.  They provide information that students cannot learn from the pages of a textbook.  Both inspiring and thought-provoking, these lectures encourage students to think creatively about the future of publishing and their places within the industry.

David Pecker Distinguished Visiting Professor Lecture!

All M.S. in Publishing students and faculty are officially invited to the David Pecker lecture presented by Michael Healy, David Pecker Distinguished Visiting Professor of Publishing for the 2011-2012 academic year.  The title of the lecture is “Global, Mobile, and Personal: the Future of Publishing in Hazardous Times.”

When all the traditional certainties have disappeared, when the past is no longer a guide to tomorrow, and when new competitors encroach at every turn, what type of publisher will succeed in the future and what type of consumer and marketplace will they be serving?  In what will be his final lecture as David Pecker Distinguished Visiting Professor, Michael Healy will offer a personal perspective on the future facing book publishers in a world that is no longer familiar, predictable, or safe.

Mr. Healy presently serves as the Executive Director of the Copyright Clearance Center.  He assists in expanding market presence and refining business models to accommodate Backlist Rights.  Formerly, Mr. Healy served as the Executive Director of the Book Rights Registry.  Pace is fortunate to have Mr. Healy in residence as the Visiting David Pecker Professor during this academic year.

His lecture will take place on Thursday, March 29, 2012 at the Midtown Executive Club at 40 West 45th Street from 6 to 8 pm.  We would appreciate your response as early as possible to assure you a place at this important event.  Please RSVP to puboffice@pace.edu as soon as possible.