Monday, June 15, 2009


Morning lecture - Our keynote address was given by Michael Pietsch, publisher of Little, Brown & Company. He talked about the history of publishing, which was interesting, and addressed what we were all wondering - Is publishing dying?? (Answer: no.) He brought up other points in history when people thought books were disappearing, and ended up being wrong - which was just the kind of news we wanted to hear. We all know we need to embrace the internet and the digital book reader, and think of new ways to get with the times, but it was very nice to hear from someone who wasn't all doom and gloom. LB&C is actually doing quite well, even in this economy. After the lecture, I was in the right place at the right time, and got to sit at his table for lunch, and ask more questions.

Afternoon lecture - Here began the "too many of you think you only want to do editorial" section of the course. We heard from John Fagen, directory of many things marketing at Penguin. We learned all about how publishers market hardcovers and paperbacks, and decide how much money to spend on each project. He spoke a lot about marketing online, and how the whole staff is learning how to make author videos and book trailers. We learned the difference between marketing and publicity, as well as promotion and advertising. Some books with very interesting personalities behind them benefit from author tours, while others are aimed at certain demographics and special interest groups. He also brought us some awesome Penguin tote bags! Free advertising? I don't care - it's a great bag.

Evening lecture - Bob Gottlieb, editor at Knopf (Random House). Bob has edited such things as Catch 22 and Bill Clinton's autobiography, and had great stories about the authors of each (for one: "I'm not working for you. You're working for me." The other: "It was like working with another surgeon on the same patient." You decide.) He has confidence that most good authors are eventually recognized by the public - even if their first book doesn't sell, they will eventually hit the right note with readers.

As a side note, I've enjoyed meeting the other students. BU didn't have a publishing program, so I've never been around this many people who want to work with books (or magazines, in some cases). It's a little strange comparing stories with people I will potentially be competing for jobs with, but for the most part it's been helpful to hear about everyone else's experiences, and fun to meet book-type people.

Quote of the day: Publishing is "making public your enthusiasm."

Phrase of the day: While some people are "automatic writers" (write it, get it done, don't need to edit), I am an "automatic editor" - I always feel the need to correct everything I see.

Fun fact: Stores like Target and Walmart account for half of Dan Brown's sales.

Fun fact: Tina Fey's publisher accepted her upcoming book without even reading a proposal - she's such a good writer and has amassed such a following that they were confident she would succeed regardless.

Books mentioned that I have read: The Lovely Bones, The Da Vinci Code, The Memory Keeper's Daughter

Books to add to my ever-growing must-read list: The Historian, The Horse Boy, Julie & Julia, The Piano Teacher, Shadow of the Wind, Fun Home, Infinite Jest, The Chosen, The Golden Notebook

Free stuff count: 4 books, 1 tote bag

1 comment:

  1. I randomly came upon your blog on Google when searching for summer publishing institute stuff, I'm looking to go to one of these programs next summer. Thanks so much for blogging about your experiences there, I can't wait to read the rest of your posts!