Faculty in the Spotlight – September 2012

Professor Kerstin Vogdes Diehn is an Adjunct Professor in the Pace Publishing Department.  She teaches Desktop Publishing for the Publishing Professional at both beginner and advanced levels.  The following piece by Professor Diehn describes her history in publishing, as well as her current work in the field.

I started out like a lot of students in the publishing program. My job was as an editorial assistant for a publishing company, University Press of America. Forced to read “Chicago manual of style” cover-to-cover, I soon grew bored of finding editorial idiosyncrasies, and found myself more interested in the cover mechanicals I was asked to proof. I would look at them and think, “This is awful. I could do a better job.” At that time, I had no desktop publishing skills, no typographic training, and no real design experience, just a bunch of painting and drawing courses under my belt.

So I decided to learn. I enrolled in night classes to learn desktop publishing software (at that time, Yikes, it was the now defunct Adobe Pagemaker and much maligned Quark Xpress). After honing those skills, I started working as a desktop publisher (a job that no longer exists!) in a variety of places. Once I felt like I’d reached a certain point, I went back to school (Pratt Institute) to get a M.S. in Communication Design. It was there I learned about the finer points of composition and typography, but I always had to keep myself technologically savvy as the software was constantly evolving and computers were getting faster and faster.

After grad school I worked as a designer for Blumlein Associates, Inc., a full service design studio on Long Island. But in 2001, I decided to break out on my own and freelance. I wanted more diverse projects, more diverse clients and more opportunity to learn new skills along the way.

I now do a wide range of design projects – from printed collateral to web design to logo development and branding. I really enjoy editorial work (magazine design) and currently have a regular gig art directing a few magazines for a small publisher, Sokol Media. I also design book interiors and book covers, but with the state of publishing being what it is these days, those projects are more infrequent. I’ve had to evolve with the industry and learn ebook conversion as well – recently I converted 3 books I laid out in print into Kindle ebooks (a challenge for any designer since you can’t control the font styling, sizing, and sidebars).  While I do have my hand in the publishing industry, many of my clients are nonprofit organizations with communication needs such as UNICEF, United Methodist Women, the American Lung Association, Riverside Park Fund, and NYC Parks.

I started teaching Desktop 1 and 2 at Pace about 5 years ago and my courses have undergone major changes during this time. When I started, we were laying out all of our initial designs in Quark! Fortunately, the Adobe suite has made it easier to integrate design and layout skills into a much more streamlined package. Indesign is changing with every version to adapt to ebook and emagazine design and it’s my job as a professor to make sure that I stay current with the software and know what enhancements are in each version. In my Desktop 1 course, we always focus on the core of the Adobe Creative Suite, learning a little Illustrator, a little Photoshop and a little Indesign. Students learn the programs by doing projects that relate to the book industry (e.g., laying out a few chapters of a book in Indesign, designing a book cover mechanical in Photoshop, and now, converting a document for EPUB format).  I try to have a cover designer come in and show his or her portfolio and explain how cover design works in house at a big publisher.

In Desktop 2, we delve deeper into the programs and learn more sophisticated technology skills.  This course focuses on the magazine side of the industry. First we hone our Photoshop skills by doing a large surrealist collage. Then, we develop a mock up magazine from cover to cover (ok, it’s only 8 pages…). Students must create the content, come up with the concept, find and edit the assets, and do all of the editorial design. Last semester, for the first time, we converted our designs into emagazines using Adobe’s new Digital Publishing Tools, which uses the “cloud” to save and organize files. As those tools continue to evolve, so will this portion of the course!

I’m continuously surprised that Desktop 1 is not a requirement course as basic knowledge of the Adobe Suite is critical these days in publishing! Some students may end up working on the production side (whether that is electronic or print), and using the Creative Suite will be part of the daily routine. However, it’s important in other areas as well as there will always be a need to make minor corrections to existing documents, and understanding how it all works allows people in any position to work more effectively with production and art departments. It’s good to take a little of the magic and mysticism out of the process!

As time and technology march on, I also think it’s important for students to keep up-to-date with some basic web development as well. Knowing the basics of HTML is important to understanding how an ebook is constructed and as many publishing elements move online, it becomes more and more critical to draw parallels and distinctions between web and print design.

I highly recommend students subscribe to several magazines to stay current on the industry. Personally I devour Wired, Print, How, and Communication Arts to keep up with design and technology. I also recommend students check out Design Observer (designobserver.com), a really great blog about design and culture. I also collect a lot of books that compile great designs (Rockport Publishers offers different books highlighting all kinds of materials). If students are looking for a good read from a funny and clever designer, I highly recommend 79 Short Essays on Design, and when being a designer seems too close to being a corporate zombie, I recommend reading How to be a Graphic Designer without Losing Your Soul, a wonderful collection of essays by some of the most famous designers today. Finally, I would recommend everyone own a copy of the famous Philip Meggs book, History of Graphic Design, which details the origins of the written letterform and moves all the way up to groundbreaking work in the technology age.

If you want to see samples of my work, check out my site at http://www.kvdesign.net.

Alumni in the Spotlight – May 2012

Justin Colby is a 2008 graduate of the MS in Publishing program.  Since then he has been the Project Director at Onward Publishing, a premier custom publishing company “that successfully combines outstanding leadership with exceptional talent.”  Onward Publishing is renowned for award-winning editorial and design and has a proven expertise in creating and strengthening world-class brand images.  As a premier custom publishing company, Onward publishes magazines and newsletters, and provides web/digital services. In this interview, Justin will share with us his insights on the value of custom publishing and industry trends, as well as his thoughts on the future of publishing.

Prof. Denning:  Hi Justin, and thank you for agreeing to do this interview.  It has been 4 years since you graduated from the MS in Publishing program.  Can you tell us what you have been doing since you graduated?

JC:  I actually got the call from Onward Publishing the day I handed in my thesis, and started with them almost immediately after that.  Thanks to my experience with the MS in Publishing program and the Pace University Press, I’ve also been able to help a couple of my friends self-publish their books.

Prof. Denning:  What does your job as Project Director entail?

JC:  My job is to bring together the “puzzle pieces” of what we do – the conceptualization, the writing, the design, the production and the distribution – and help make the process as seamless as possible for our client. Therefore, my week is usually split between visiting clients to learn their needs, and working with our internal editorial and design teams. Since I spend so much time in the field, I also have my finger on the pulse of what our clients are looking for from us, whether it’s the latest printing bells and whistles or interactive versions.

Prof. Denning:  What exactly is custom publishing?  Is it similar to advertising? Who are some of your clients?

JC:  That’s the beauty of it – custom publishing can be many things to many people. We combine agency-level creative talent with years of publishing and printing experience to create measurable, targeted publications for our clients that accomplish specific goals.

Healthcare is a major business for us, both big hospital systems and managed care companies (HMOs). One of the most rewarding parts of what we do is helping blue chip names like Mount Sinai and UnitedHealthcare keep people healthy. It’s sort of an enlightened self-interest for them, but the end result is healthier people.

Our business changed significantly when we signed an agreement with National Geographic in 2008; we soon added clients including Airbus and FSC to our roster.

Prof. Denning:  How does custom publishing differ from self-publishing?

JC: I love the idea of self-publishing – it’s truly revolutionary in allowing authors to reach an audience on their own terms, and I think it will only become more democratic as the barriers to entry fall with the advent of digital magazines. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to make money in the self-publishing industry with a service-based model. Most authors don’t have many resources to work with and there are already some inexpensive services available.

We have some book and magazine vets on our staff, but what we do is really a marketing tool for our clients. They approach us with a specific goal and we give them a soup-to-nuts solution. The piece is then distributed directly to their customers or referral sources, tracked and distributed. In a sense, we become a part of their communications team. Some companies call this “branded content.”

Prof. Denning:  On the webpage for your company, it states that “designing ways to communicate is what ONWARD Publishing is all about.”  Can you tell me what is meant by that?

JC: Onward has always hung its hat on design. While content is king, the key to getting customers to pick up and consume your message is to provide it in a pretty package. It’s amazing how attached people get to a well-designed and written magazine, even if it comes from a marketer.

Prof. Denning:  Your company also provides web/digital services.  Can you explain what that means?

JC:  Traditionally, it meant what we call “microsites” (web sites meant as a companion to a publication), e-newsletters, and interactive flash magazines. But with the advent of tablets, it includes everything from mobile applications to interactive optimized publications online.

Prof. Denning:  Has social media played a role in the success and growth of ONWARD Publishing?

JC: I’ve always been bearish on social media as a business tool, but I’m coming around and realizing the value it can have, particularly for a consumer-oriented brand. In fact, we are even talking to a couple of our clients about helping them to manage their social presence.

I think what’s true in publishing carries over to social media – customers are willing to listen to you if you’re “real” and, perhaps even more importantly, if you’re providing useful information. A company’s social voice shouldn’t be drastically different from how it communicates through other channels.

For publishing, I think it’s another equalizer – social media will help the best works get discovered and build a following.

Prof Denning:  What do you think the future holds for book publishers?  Do you think the launch of designated ebook readers and the iPad (and subsequent tablets) forever changed publishing as we know it?

JC:  I put a lot of value in the look and feel of a publication, and to me, there’s a certain luxury to shutting off my electronics for the day and sitting down with a good book or the latest issue of Saveur.

That said, we can’t put this thing back in the box. Tablets are here, they’re sexy, they’re personal, and they’ll get cheaper by the year. You’re not going to bring an $800 iPad to the beach, but a $50 tablet isn’t as precious. I think print will always serve a purpose, but tablets (or some similar device) will become the way we consume much of our media in the near future.

Prof: Denning:  What do you think the biggest trends in publishing are today?

JC: What fascinates me is that despite the long tail and the ability that we have to focus on our most niche interests, we still have mega-hits. Book series like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter show that the fundamentals of storytelling stay the same, and we still want something to talk about over the water cooler. I think what’s changed is that those stories come from unexpected sources. In our connected society, it’s easier for the cream to rise to the top.

Prof. Denning:  Would you like to speculate on the future of magazines?  What do you think the industry will look like in 20 years? 30? 50?

JC: Magazines have two things going for them: a great brand and editors. It might seem like in a world of unlimited content, a magazine is an anachronism, but more than ever readers need someone they trust and identify with to help them find the best information. We’re developing an iPad reader that will allow people to do just that. It intelligently filters information, learning from what users read and adapting continuously.

Prof. Denning:  Please tell me a bit about how your educational experience at Pace prepared you for your publishing career.

JC:  I think the most valuable part for me was the multi-disciplinary approach. As publishing becomes more and more complicated, employers are looking for someone who can adapt quickly and wear many hats, if you pardon the cliché. Working with professors who had worked or were currently working in the industry was also very valuable. My grandfather always told me you should know something about everything and everything about one thing. I think that’s a good way to go about a publishing career.

Prof. Denning:  Have you always been interested in writing and publishing?  Where did that passion come from?

JC:  I’ve always enjoyed creating. I wouldn’t call myself a writer, but I’ve always imagined I’d have a job where I made something I could point to. I have many artists in my family and though the talent may have missed me, the desire to create is still there. It’s intoxicating to see your work reach such a broad audience.

Prof Denning:  Where did you intern when you were in Graduate school?

JC: I worked for a bit at American Business Media and Haymarket Media. At each company, I met great people and got to see a different part of the industry. ABM is an association of B2B publishers and many of their members were pioneers in monetizing online media. At Haymarket, I learned how to cultivate a niche audience for PR week. In an indirect way, both were related to what I’m doing now.

Prof. Denning:  What was the topic of your thesis paper?  What advice would you give to students who still have to write their papers?

JC:  My thesis paper was about how business-to-business companies could monetize digital media to help them recover some of the lost profit from advertisers. The idea was that because B2B serves such niche audiences, it was easier to connect interested buyers with relevant advertisements. As for those still working on the paper, be flexible and talk to a lot of people. You’ll be surprised that the paper will take on a life of its own.

Prof. Denning:  What do you think are the essential skills our students need to leave the program with in order to succeed in the industry?

JC:  Anyone who attends the program will leave with a well-rounded understanding of the industry thanks to a great curriculum and great professors. But honestly, I’ve learned that the most important thing in any business is learning how to deal with people. If you can sell yourself and work well in a team, you’ll have a lot of success. As our company’s president always tells us, no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

Prof. Denning:  Any other advice you would like to offer up to our students?

JC:  Be patient. Even with a graduate degree, you’re still going to have to prove yourself when you get out of school. Also, keep in touch with everyone you meet in the program. Professors and other students can be a great deal of help and are usually gracious in offering their advice.

Faculty in the Spotlight – May 2012

Professor Jane Kinney-Denning, the Director of Internships and Corporate Outreach for the Pace Publishing program, was recently appointed the President of the New York Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association!  Professor Kinney-Denning previously worked as the Young Publishing Professional Outreach Coordinator for the WNBA-NYC, and in this role she reached out to many Pace students and alumni, helping to involve them in the organization and establish beneficial ties between Pace and the WNBA-NYC chapter.  Below is an interview with Professor Kinney-Denning that was conducted for the WNBA-NYC blog.

Member Monday:  Meet Jane Kinney-Denning!
Interview conducted by Hannah Bennett and Erica Misoshnik

Erica and Hannah: Congratulations on your appointment as the new President of the WNBA-NYC chapter! Can you tell us a bit about your involvement with the organization so far and what you are most excited about in taking on this new role?

Jane: Thank you! I am honored to have been asked and was thrilled to accept the Presidency.

The WNBA is a wonderful organization that has enriched my life in so many ways. Since becoming a member and starting to serve on the Board of Directors a few years ago, I have met some truly remarkable people and have attended and participated in a number of outstanding events that the organization has hosted.

One of the first events I attended was a National Reading Group Month panel, a WNBA annual event (in October) which was organized by Roz Reisner and Lori O’Dea, and I was hooked. The authors there were engaging, interesting, and inspiring. It was incredible to listen to authors like Julie Metz, who wrote Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal, and to hear her and the other writers there tell their stories of how their books came to be. This year’s panel was just as fascinating and included the 2012 PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author Julia Otsuka, who wrote the beautiful, poetic novel, The Buddha in the Attic.

It is just so wonderful to have the opportunity to meet and listen to writers who have achieved a certain level of success and who write such amazing books. If you are a writer, or a reader, for that matter, you gain a tremendous sense of community by attending these events, and if you are working in the publishing industry, you have the opportunity to share ideas, network, and be reminded why a career in publishing is so rewarding. One can’t help but to be inspired!

I also had the privilege of interviewing Deirdre Bair, an author (and WNBA member) who has written a number of important biographies, including the National Book Award-winning biography of Samuel Beckett. I was also fortunate to have been asked to co-moderate a panel on “The Making of a Bestseller,” in November 2011, which featured Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, and her outstanding team of publishing professionals from Random House.

So, to answer your question about what I am most excited about, I would have to say, everything! I am especially looking forward to continuing to work with the amazing group of people in the NYC chapter who are so dedicated and work so hard to organize events, write and publish the monthly newsletter, update and edit the blog, handle our social networking and media presence, manage the chapter’s finances, and take care of all of the other tasks that keep the chapter vital and in good standing. In addition, I am looking forward to another year of outstanding events that promote the book, to possible collaborations with other organizations that have similar goals, and to expanding our membership. It is very exciting for me to think about what the next two years hold.

Erica and Hannah: Can you tell us a little about yourself? How did you end up in New York?

Jane: Well, I am a native (and proud) Wisconsinite. I grew up in the northern part of the state (very close to Lake Superior) in a small town called Hayward, WI, which is famous for its very large fiberglass museum in the shape of a giant muskie and a really great old-fashioned candy store. My parents still live in the house on the lake that I grew up in and I travel back every summer with my family. It is a beautiful part of the country and, for me, there is nothing like lakeside living! I went to the University of Wisconsin, Madison for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees and also spent a year studying abroad at the University of Bologna in Italy. My master’s degree in Italian Literature—a very luxurious degree, to say the least—really allowed me to pursue my love of reading, writing, and travel. I was not exactly sure what direction my career would go in with a degree like that but I knew it had to have something to do with books. I moved to Chicago once I graduated and, like many publishing careers, mine was a bit accidental: I met somebody who knew somebody, etc., and before long I was working in sales with Little, Brown and had moved to St. Louis, Missouri. I traveled all over Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, and Tennessee, selling college textbooks. It was a hard job, but I had the opportunity to scout for manuscripts and my success in doing that was what ultimately brought me to New York in 1989. One of the editors I had worked with called me up out of the blue and asked me to interview at Harper & Row (later merged into HarperCollins). I got the job, packed my suitcases, and moved to New York.

I spent the next several years acquiring textbooks for the English curriculum, from basic skills books to rhetorics, readers, and handbooks. It was a challenging job but a lot of fun; I traveled all over the country and met some remarkable people in the process. My next few jobs were still on the acquisitions side of things but I managed to merge my talents with my interests and worked primarily acquiring books for the environmental sciences. I was also doing some writing then, mainly interviews with environmentalists and activists like Leonard Peltier, Bianca Jagger, and Michael Moore, for a magazine called PLAZM that was published in Portland, Oregon. My own writing got sidelined a bit when I had my children but I am still writing and plan to continue doing those kinds of interviews as well as other kinds of writing. I also started teaching as an adjunct professor at Pace when I was an editor at HarperCollins, and 12 years ago I left my publishing job to become Director of Internships and Corporate Outreach for the Master’s in Publishing program at Pace University. I love my job because it is the perfect blend of teaching, learning, mentoring, advising, and the constant study of this dynamic, rapidly changing industry. It is simply fascinating to witness (and teach about) the impact of new technologies like the iPad, the Nook, and the Kindle on the industry. I am the thesis advisor for all of my internship students and reading their thesis papers on current topics in the industry is a revelation; I learn a great deal from my students.

I also manage the blog for the program and started writing a series of alumni interviews and faculty profiles. It has been really interesting to do this and I love having the opportunity to hone my interview skills!

Erica and Hannah: What has been your favorite part of working in publishing?

Jane: Well, as I mentioned in response to the previous question, I have worked in publishing as an editor, writer and most recently as a professor at Pace. What all three professions have in common is the written word, whether it be found in books or magazines. As an editor, I love the process of getting to know authors, understanding their passions and goals for writing their book(s) and working with them to help make their ideas into a published book. The writing process is so interesting and such a unique journey for whoever is embarking upon it. It was always so rewarding to hold the published book in my hands at the end of the process and to share in the author’s sense of accomplishment and joy. As a writer, I love being able to communicate ideas, passion, and information and to tell a good story. I have primarily done interviews and plan to continue in that vein. I love doing interviews with people who are making a difference in the world—I get to know them and get to help them share their stories and experiences. And, there is the personal journey that I go through during the writing process, just like any writer. There is a remarkable sense of accomplishment when one finishes a piece. As a professor, I love working with students and other publishing professionals. Since the industry is constantly changing, I am always learning. I accomplish this in many ways: by reading, interacting with other professors in the program and other industry professionals, and by attending interesting panels, seminars, and conferences. I really can’t imagine working in any other industry. Publishing is such a rich profession and one can go in so many different directions with his or her career. In this time of great change, I see only opportunity in terms of a publishing career.

Erica and Hannah: You have been involved with the WNBA as the Young Publishing Professional Outreach Coordinator. What were some of the highlights of this experience? What was the most rewarding aspect of this position?

Jane: Yes, I took on this responsibility a couple of years ago. It dovetailed nicely with my position at Pace and was a wonderful opportunity for me to involve our students and make them aware of the wonderful things the WNBA does and has to offer. The WNBA also benefited in terms of membership because our students are interested in networking and in being more involved in the industry they have chosen for their careers. These students became aware of the organization at Pace, but many are now working in the industry and in a position to spread the word about the WNBA to their colleagues. I also talked to everyone I could about the organization—be it an alum of the program or someone I met commuting or at other publishing-related events. My successor (to be named shortly) will be working to expand our reach even further—to other publishing programs in the city as well as to young professionals working at the many publishing companies in New York. I believe that this position on the Board of Directors is a critical one to the health of our chapter (or any chapter for that matter). Already some of the young professionals who have joined the organization are making significant contributions.

Erica and Hannah: Do you have any advice for young publishing professionals who are just starting in the business?

Jane: Well, as I mentioned earlier, I think this is a time of great opportunity—for a lot of reasons. The first being how quickly technology is changing and impacting all aspects of the business. What this means is that the industry needs people with good skill sets: computer and social networking skills coupled with good writing and communication skills. You need to be open to change, willing to learn new things, and flexible in the workplace. If a new social media site like Pinterest becomes wildly popular and you are working to promote an author, you need to see if a site like this might be of use to you and then figure out how to maximize its potential for your author. I am also a big believer in education, both formal and informal. Keep yourself current. Take classes if you need to learn new skills, attend seminars, panels, and conferences and join organizations like the WNBA where you will have the opportunity to meet like-minded people. Also check job boards regularly, even if you are not looking at the moment; there are so many new positions out there now that did not exist a few years ago. This will help you keep abreast of what kind of people publishers are looking to hire and give you a sense of where you stand in terms of your own skills. Lastly, enjoy what you do and read a lot of books!

Erica and Hannah: What are some of the initiatives that you hope to launch in your upcoming term?

Jane: At the moment, my main goal is to keep the wonderful momentum that the organization currently has going. Valerie Tomaselli, the current Acting President of the NY Chapter and soon to be National President, is a hard act to follow! She is so dedicated, organized, smart, and focused. She has guided the organization through some rough waters with a sense of calm and clarity that is truly admirable. I am very happy that she is my friend and that I will be able to turn to her for advice when I need it!

This past year was particularly exciting and the events were outstanding. I recently had lunch with a good friend of mine who is involved with another organization and he commented on how interesting and unique our programing is, from author panels, to bookstore crawls, to open mics, to panels on current trends in publishing, to neighborhood lunches. I could not agree more and hope that the coming year will bring more of the same. I am really looking forward to working with all of the talented people in the NY chapter—they have so many great ideas and are so skillful at organizing and promoting our events. I also hope to be able to bring more of my professional and personal contacts into the organization as members, panelists, and moderators, or as committee chairs and board members. In addition, I would like to see our social media presence and publicity efforts continue to grow as the chapter grows. The women doing this now are doing a phenomenal job and I am looking forward to seeing what they do as we continue to move forward.

Erica and Hannah: What are you currently reading?

Jane: Well, in my opinion I never get to read enough! That said, I do have a really, really long commute to New York (two hours each way), so I try to take advantage of it by filling that time with books. I also have three children (10, 12 and 13) who are avid readers and keep me current with what their current favorites are and I love that. My daughter will spend a whole Saturday curled up with a book and I often find my son under his covers with his Nook—he was the first in our family to read The Hunger Games series and was so passionate about it that we all read it. My youngest is an independent reader but we still like reading together at night. I will miss doing that someday!

One of my favorite genres is biography, and right now I am reading Walter Issacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. I bought it as soon as it came out because, as Isaacson puts it, Jobs is viewed by so many as “The ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination,” and because Apple completely changed the landscape of publishing forever. Jobs, like all of us, was an incredibly flawed human being, but I can’t help but admire his candidness and believe that his story is, as Issacson states, “. . .both instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership and values.”

I have also been reading a lot of contemporary fiction lately. One of my favorite books is a novel by the South Korean writer Kyung-Sook Shin, Please Look After Mom. Oh, what can I say about this book? That every woman should read it? That every man should read it? Maybe it moved me so because of where I am in my own life or because the theme of motherhood is universal no matter what the culture is. Or perhaps because it is so relevant to think about how modern society is impacting our familial relationships. It is a tragic story about an elderly woman who gets separated from her husband as they are getting on a subway in Seoul to go and visit their children, and the feelings of the woman’s family as they unsuccessfully search for her. As the author stated in a recent interview, “It’s the mother who goes missing, but that’s a metaphor. It doesn’t have to be the mom who disappears; it could be anything precious to us that has been lost, as we’ve moved from a traditional society to a modern society.” I could not put this book down and cried when I read the last sentence of the last chapter. I have not been so moved by a book in a long time. A beautiful, sad, moving story.

I also just finished a wonderful book about Hurricane Katrina and a small town in Mississippi called Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward. It won the 2011 National Book Award, and reading it, I can see why. It, as many reviewers state, has the aura of a classic about it. The story is so removed from my own life but really transported me to the lives the characters are living. It is a remarkable book that reminds us of how tragic Katrina was and about how prevalent poverty is in our country. In spite of all of that, one of the things you walk away with from this book is the power of family loyalty and the strength of the human spirit.

Recently I found a book of short stories by Margaret Drabble called A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman. I had not read any of her writing before and have to admit I bought it because of the title. I have not been disappointed and am so pleased to have discovered her. She is a magnificent storyteller and I can’t wait to read more of her work. Other books sitting on my desk are Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, which I bought after reading an interview with Susan Larson, the WNBA New Orleans Chapter President and chairperson of the jury that nominates the finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. She spoke so eloquently about the book that I could not resist getting it! I also have The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman, and Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout, waiting for my summer vacation!

Erica and Hannah: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. Let’s do a follow-up interview next year, not only to get your feedback on your first year as Chapter President, but to reassess the advances in technology within the publishing industry.

Faculty in the Spotlight – April 2012

Professor David Delano is an adjunct professor who has been teaching the Book Production and Design course in the Pace Publishing program since 2002.  For the past five years, Professor Delano has also been a Senior Account Executive for Toppan Printing Company, America.  Based in Tokyo, Toppan Printing Company is the largest printer in the world, and Professor Delano works with US publishers to create, produce, and deliver all sorts of high-end gift and illustrated books to the US market.  His current publishing accounts are Random House, HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, and many others.

With years spent in production, design, managing editorial, and operations management for book publishing companies like Harper & Row and Random House, Professor Delano’s career has been diverse and wide-ranging. He spent much of that time innovating and implementing desktop publishing, electronic files, digital prepress, and FTP sites, and wore a variety of different hats along the way: everything from book production assistant to VP of Global accounts, and every stop in between! Professor Delano has also contributed his time and expertise to several organizations, including Bookbuilders West and the Book Industry Guild, serving on boards, committees, and even as a judge for the NY Book Show.

Professor Delano teaches the required Book Production and Design course online in the Fall semester and in the classroom during the Spring semester.  According to Professor Delano, the biggest change to the course over the last 10 years has been expanding the vision of the class beyond mere production.  Only three sessions are devoted to print, paper, and binding — the basics of book production.  The balance of the classes cover how the production department interacts with all the other departments, how publishing decisions get made, and who makes those decisions and why.  “I view my students as the publishers of the future,” he explained, “and try to give them the tools they need to make sure that their company’s intellectual assets are viable into the next century.”

It’s clear that book production has undergone some incredible changes over the last decade, and Professor Delano has been on the cutting edge of understanding those changes and what they mean for the publishing industry.  According to Professor Delano, “Content is still king, only the delivery devices are changing.  The presentation of ideas and images still has to happen, and the principles of visual design will continue to be a critical element of how those ideas and images get to market.  The book is not dying, but the book market is developing other channels.”

Along with the knowledge and experience that he has to impart, one of Professor Delano’s biggest gifts to his students is his enthusiasm for what he teaches.  Of all the aspects of the business in which he has worked, Professor Delano says, “what I teach is my favorite part.  How and where it all comes together: production and design.  Where the 0s meet the –s, the files meet the server, the ink meets the paper, and the eye meets the idea.  And from a global perspective, too.  In my day job, I work with US publishers to find ways to make beautiful books all over the world.”  Students are incredibly fortunate to have Professor Delano, whose expertise is second only to his enthusiasm, energy, and passion for what he teaches.

Staff in the Spotlight: Barbara Egidi, Program Manager, M.S. in Publishing

If you are a student taking classes at the Midtown Center or an online student, chances are that you have heard from or met with Ms. Barbara Egidi, the Program Manager for the M.S. in Publishing program.

Ms. Egidi, who began working at Pace over 40 years ago and who holds two degrees from Pace, an A.A.S. in General Business and a B.S. in Office Information Systems, works diligently to keep meticulous records for all of the students in the program.

She is also the “go to” person if students have any questions about their course schedules, course planning, course substitutions, status in the program, graduation questions, and just about anything else our graduate students might need help with.  “I enjoy working closely with students, assisting and advising them through the many ups and downs they face while trying to pursue their graduate degree.  It is most fulfilling being a part of the process and being there when our students finally complete their degree.”  Ms. Egidi says she often feels like a “mother hen who is not only very protective of her flock but also very proud of them too.” 

When asked what advice she would offer to new students entering the program, Ms. Egidi replied, “I would like to remind them to always use their worksheet that they are given when they enter the program.  They should be completing it every semester as they continue to enroll in courses.  By doing so, they will always be aware of their status in the program and will be assured of graduating on time.  Students who do not have a publishing background should enroll in our strong internship program.  Not only is it an asset on one’s resume but an internship may open a door to a full-time publishing position.  I always like to remind students to network with other students, the faculty, guest lecturers, and the M.S. in Publishing Advisory Board.  And I cannot stress enough that if a student is running into difficulty in a course that they should contact their professor immediately.  Faculty are always willing to work with students.”

Ms. Egidi is also an invaluable resource for the M.S. in Publishing Faculty and the other staff members in the program.  If a Professor has a question about a particular student, a particular procedure, or simply needs someone to talk to, Ms. Egidi is there for them.

One of the most remarkable things about Ms. Egidi is her ability to give each and every student her utmost care and attention – nothing falls through the cracks under her care and guidance.  Many students have benefitted from her wise advice and kindness, and she is a wonderful colleague and friend to those who work with her.

The best way to reach out to Ms. Egidi is via email at begidi@pace.edu – 7 days a week!

Alumni in the Spotlight – January

Alum SpotlightDyana Messina is a 2007 graduate of the M.S. in Publishing program and is currently a publicist at Crown, an imprint of Random House. In this interview, Dyana shares her thoughts with us on the value of her publishing education, the role of the publicist today, the impact of technology on the trade book business and the the future of books.

If you are an alumni and would like to be interviewed or, if you would like to suggest alumni for future interviews, please email Professor Jane Denning at jdenning@pace.edu.  Be sure to include all of the relevant contact information.

Prof. Denning: What year did you get your M.S. in Publishing degree? What was the work environment like then (in terms of job opportunities) as opposed to now?

Dyana Messina Photo

Dyana: I completed my MS in Publishing Degree in 2007 but I began working at Random House in 2006. At the time I was applying for jobs, there seemed to be a lot of great opportunities at the entry level into the industry. Then the financial crisis happened not long after and many of those opportunities dried up. Things finally seem to be improving, however, and there seem to be more and more opportunities cropping up.

Prof. Denning: How has the industry changed since you began your career?

Dyana: When I first started working in publishing, e-books, blogs, and online marketing were not a major focus in terms of my day-to-day and that has certainly changed! So much marketing and promotion is now centered online (advertising, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.), it’s really been amazing to see how quickly things have changed. Working in publicity, we are more and more looking to online outlets for coverage and trying to find new venues to promote our books.

Prof. Denning: What have you been doing since you graduated? Where have you worked?

Dyana: Since graduating from Pace, I’ve been working in the publicity department as a publicist at Crown, an imprint of Random House.

Prof: Denning: Please tell me a bit about your educational experience at Pace.

Dyana: While at Pace, I interned in the publicity departments at both Simon & Schuster and Penguin. I had great experiences at both companies and it was because of these internships that I decided to pursue a career as a book publicist. While I was interning, I took the Marketing Principles and Practices course at Pace which was especially enjoyable for me because it dovetailed with everything I was learning in my internships—I would learn about something in class and then head into my internship the next day to see it being practiced.

Prof Denning: What was the topic of your graduate thesis paper? What advice would you give to students who still have to write their thesis papers?

Dyana: My thesis paper was on the future of book marketing and publicity. For students who are writing their thesis or about to, the best advice I could give is to choose a topic you are truly interested in and want to explore in depth. I remember how overwhelming writing my thesis was, so you need that motivation to help get you through.

Prof. Denning: What types of courses in the MS in Publishing curriculum do you think are essential for our students to take? What kind of new courses would you like to see added to the curriculum?

Dyana: I really enjoyed—and found most helpful to my career—the classes that went into the nuts and bolts of publishing. I took classes that delved into marketing, production, the different areas of editorial, finance, and they really helped me understand the larger picture of publishing and how each department works together to help make a book succeed.

Prof. Denning: What do you think the biggest trends in book publishing are now?

Dyana: Non-fiction seems to be the focus today—there’s of course the celebrity bios and memoirs, but psychology/sociology, health, humor, business all seem to be enjoying some popularity.

Prof. Denning: Which technological innovations are having the biggest impact on the book publishing industry today?

Dyana: At the moment, I would say e-readers like the Kindle and the Nook. It seems like everyone on the subway now has some sort of e-reading device that they’re downloading books to.

Prof. Denning: What kind of books to you promote? Are there any inherently different publicity strategies associated with fiction vs. nonfiction books?

Dyana: I promote both fiction and non-fiction and there is a difference when it comes to promoting the two. For both, you’re really trying to highlight for the media the specific aspects/topics that are going to be of the most interest to them, but fiction can often be a lot tougher because it’s really all about the read and you have to convince someone to invest the time in it.

Prof. Denning: Have you found that you’re doing more promotional work online?

Dyana: Yes, most definitely. Unfortunately, so many publications have either had to fold, transitioned from a print to an online format, or are cutting back on print space and doing more online, so a great deal of my focus has shifted to online coverage.

Prof. Denning: Do you find that organizing interaction with authors via online chats, social media applications like Facebook, and blog posts are an effective way to sell books? Can they ever replace book tours, readings, and signings?

Dyana: I think there are two sides to the coin. On one side, authors who wouldn’t normally tour or go out on the road now have the ability to interact with readers all over the world. Sitting in front of a computer they’re being exposed to more readers and fans then they would at a traditional reading. On the flip side, however, that social interaction isn’t the same as meeting your readers in person and having that face-to-face interaction. I think for most authors, online interaction is going to be more beneficial, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing traditional readings and signings completely go away anytime soon.

Prof. Denning: What are some difficulties associated with starting a campaign promoting a book? Where do you start?

Dyana: Since we’re dealing with the media, the news cycle can be a big impediment to a campaign or it can give it a great boost. If your author is an expert that can speak to a big topic in the news, it can open a lot of additional doors. At the same time, if the media is so focused on one particular topic, they may not be able to focus on the book or author you’re trying to get attention for. We’re always trying to be creative and see how we can best pitch our books and authors to get them maximum exposure.

Prof. Denning: Do authors ever appear disinclined to participate in promotional campaigns? How can they be motivated to push their book?

Dyana: This has really never been a problem for me! I work with wonderful authors who put so much time, effort, and energy into their books (sometimes years!) they want to do anything and everything they can to support it.

Prof. Denning: Can you think of any examples of where a unique publicity campaign did much to sell an otherwise run-of-the-mill book?

Dyana: I’ve seen a number of books over the years succeed because of a strong media line-up. I’ve also seen how one media hit—an NPR interview, a Today Show appearance, etc.—can give a book a major sales boost. I’ve also seen books that have incredible media line-ups and yet all the coverage unfortunately just doesn’t move the needle.

Prof. Denning: What advice would you offer our current students? Specifically if they want a career in trade book publishing/publicity?

Dyana: I would encourage students to really explore and research the various publishing companies and imprints because they can be so different; you want to be sure your pursuing a career that will allow you to work on the type of books that you really want to be working on. I would also encourage students to try to find out all they can about the various departments and positions that exist within publishing—of course there is editorial, publicity, marketing, but there’s also subsidiary rights, production, ad/promo that I feel people may not necessarily think about when they’re considering publishing. There are also so many new positions being created to help with the rise of digital publishing and technology that can be really great to explore.

Prof. Denning: Would you like to speculate on the future of books?

Dyana: I think books will be with us for a long time. Yes, e-books are certainly becoming more popular, and may eventually account for a large share of the market, but I personally still prefer the experience of reading a real book—and I don’t think I’m alone!

Prof. Denning: What are the essential skills you think students need to leave the program with in order to succeed in the industry?

Dyana: As cliché as it may sound, a real love of books and reading is essential—you have to be passionate about what you’re doing. In this ever-changing industry, being able to think strategically and out of the box is also crucial and, as in any other career, to always be professional and courteous.

Prof. Denning: Would you be interested in guest lecturing or teaching a course in the program? If so, what would be the focus of your talk/course?

Dyana: Yes. Having worked in publicity for a number of years now, I would love to guide a course in modern day book publicity/marketing.

Prof. Denning: Thanks Dyana!