Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I finished the best book I read in 2009 last night, a super fun mystery called The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. It's about this 11 year old mad scientist named Flavia in 1950 England, a sleuth who would set Poirot's remaining hair on fire. Think I Capture the Castle meets Martha Grimes. I adored it. There's a sequel in March! Whee!

I'm not really making New Year's resolutions besides just "be a better person" (and also maybe "talk on the phone more") but I am making weekend resolutions. They are:

order some wedding photos

sew the button onto my black wide-leg jeans so I can wear them again

get a haircut (? maybe. this is ambitious. haircuts take me a long time to build up to. my hair is driving me crazy, but on the other hand, you have to talk to the person cutting your hair, which really takes me six months to save energy and conversation topics for)

go to Brooklyn General Store, pick out some rich green ornate floral fabric, and sew a throw pillow cover to complete transformation of living room into Victoria magazine haven

If for some reason I have oodles of time leftover I'd also like ("like" being a relative term meant more to describe how I would feel after said task was accomplished) to scrub out the fridge, but I will probably knit instead.*

*This post would make a lot more sense if I told you that among my lovely Christmas gifts I received yarn, knitting needles, and a sewing machine.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Noggity nog

It's Christmas! That is to say, it's my last day of work till Tuesday and I'm heading out of NYC tonight. Merry holidays, everybody!! See you soon!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gullible is written on the ceiling

I sense a conflict in our marriage at some point in the future because Chris likes to live near the ocean and I now want to move as far inland as humanly possible.

(I'm reading a book about an asteroid hitting the moon and knocking it really close to Earth which throws all the tides out of whack and within the first day tsunamis swallow Alaska, Hawaii, San Francisco, Boston, Miami, and yes, New York. The rest of the world is affected, too, of course, but all communications are down so they don't really know yet. I started feeling queasy around about the part where the narrator's mom looks up her editors on the list of dead and yep, they're all on it.)

My problem is that I find all these disaster books and movies entirely too believable for my own good. I read more of the book on the subway this morning and walking through the Manhattan streets afterwards I spookily felt like the world was indeed ending...because I had to pick my way through piles of slush. I'm stopping on the way home to get canned foods and bottled water!

Although if a tsunami gets me right away I guess I won't need to worry about that.

Don't worry: I'll never, ever watch 2012.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wish I was there!

Weekend plans

Tonight, dinner with Chris and Shelby followed by His Girl Friday at the BAM

Cleaning house, maybe d(r)o(pp)ing (off) laundry, finishing up Christmas shopping, and cozying around the apartment before heading into Manhattan to meet Chris and some of his bffs for the Saints game on Saturday night

Present-wrapping party and reading various manuscripts on Sunday, but not before I peruse the Rodarte for Target collection online!

I think it's supposed to snow. Should be a nice weekend.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Commencing gum-chewing

I never thought I'd say this, but I am really looking forward to going running this weekend, I don't care how cold it is outside.

In our new office the holiday cookie table is (a) replenished daily and (b) on the other side of my cubicle wall.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

things that publishers do


read hundreds of really terrible manuscripts looking for your manuscript in which they see a glimmer of hope.

then they gird their loins and prepare their pitch (a pitch honed by reading "in their spare time" what else is being published both by their house and others) and persuade their colleagues in editorial that yes, they know how to fix it; and, if it then passes committee muster, doubly persuade their colleagues in sales, marketing, finance, inventory, etc that yes, it will sell.

then they do a lot of negotiating back and forth between the agent and the contracts department until it is all signed up. of principal concern these days are the e-book rights. agents seem to think these should belong with them. publishers feel that because it is the exact same thing as the printed page it is exactly the same as, say, a paperback edition. you can click on the three (front-page, i might add) recent nytimes articles linked in my previous post that talk about this ongoing battle. it's easy for the layman to ignore, but it's a really big deal right now.

then they edit the book. this involves careful examination of
prose (wordiness, run-on sentences, repeated words, word choice, on and on and on)
any ONE of these things being off can ruin a book. any ONE. look at breaking dawn. remember the intensely mixed reaction that hugely-anticipated book got? i don't work for little, brown, but rumor in the industry has it that stephenie meyer was too big a deal--her book was needed too quickly and she was too touchy about edits--for breaking dawn to get the edit it needed. think how much more satisfying it could have been. look at her fifth book, which was supposed to be twilight from edward's p.o.v., and how it got leaked onto the internet pre-editing and how, embarrassed, she withdrew it from publication. editors do so much. so much. i swear, if you could read the first draft next to the published draft...

there's a common mistake made that assumes that picture books, because they are short, are much easier and the editor doesn't have to do anything. FALSE. i personally don't like to edit picture books because they are so tough. the text is so sparse (or should be; another common mistake: really effing wordy picture books) that every word needs to be perfect and needs to perfectly interplay with the art. picture books? really, really hard.

back to editors. they oversee the book through the production process. a vastly abridged list of what this entails includes:

taking the heat for the author's lateness in delivering at bimonthly, uncomfortable production meetings

presenting (aka PITCHING) the book (again) to sales and marketing at any number of pre-pub meetings
(subtext: maintaining a popular and trusted in-house persona so that when you say something is really good, they believe you)

reading and re-reading the manuscript each time it routes up from copyediting and never assuming that the proofreader is all-knowing. case in point: my current ms, which apparently had a moron for a copyeditor. i'm catching typos, orphans, and echoes on nearly every page. I'M NOT the one who should be catching this. but you can never be too careful. that's why i read every pass.

brainstorming jacket ideas (based on marketplace knowledge and a honed aesthetic sensibility) and writing them up for the design department

maintaining a friendly relationship with the design department so that when you ask for something to be redesigned for the umpteenth time because you don't feel the title font is bold enough, they do it

not being afraid to sacrifice your friendly relationship with the design department to go to bat for a redesign because you know the jacket is the be-all and end-all of a book's commercial chances

looking excruciatingly closely at every detail of the book's page design and recommending that, say, the leading be expanded so the type looks more readable; should the margins be a percentage point narrower?; does that flourish by the page number look too girly for this boy book? can't the chapter headers look more special? and on and on and on

going over each and every sketch to make sure that what's being depicted matches what's described in the text

standing (no chairs) in a tiny brightly lit room for an hour and a half with the designer and production manager to analyze the colors in the book proofs and recommend "add red in the boy's face." "subtract yellow in the quilt." "pump up the black in the kitchen table." etc to make sure the final book matches the artist's original art colors as closely as humanly possible. repeat, for each book, times at least three.

talking to the author each and every day for months on end

snagging your incredibly overworked marketing manager in the elevator to boast that this one author is super web-savvy and listing off all the proactive steps s/he's taken in the hopes of getting an extra dollar tossed at the book's web marketing

i'm really tired and i think i've managed to describe, oh, a tuesday afternoon. i'll stop now. i won't even mention our salaries. i've been working in publishing since 2004. i still use one whole paycheck a month for rent. 2010 is what? the week after next?

books need publishers. do me a favor. next time you buy a book, don't buy it from amazon. i'm saying this as someone currently racked with guilt for thoughtlessly purchasing several christmas gifts from amazon. i get it. they're cheaper. so is walmart. but is walmart all you want left?

In case you were curious

I don't know if you guys have been following what's happening in publishing, but if I had to sum it up in one word, that word would be apocalypse.

So the next time someone asks me about the Kindle, I'm probably going to stick my fingers in my ears and sing "La la la I'M NOT LISTENING." Just because, you know, I enjoy reading books, digitally or not, and I'm starting to think it won't be much longer that you'll be getting them in an edited, designed, quality fashion if everyone keeps conspiring to put publishers out of business.

"So what is it that an editor, like, does?"

I want to clarify that I'm not some stick in the mud backwater type of person who believes that the only true book is a printed book and that e-books should just go away. E-books are great. Hooray! Finally! E-books are here! No, I'm reacting to the fact that Amazon has decided that books should cost $9.99. That pricing is unsustainable. It's hurting everyone: authors, retailers, publishers, and in the long run, even consumers who are getting used to that unrealistic sticker price. To those who say that the e-book revolution means we won't need publishers anymore, well: I hope you enjoy reading all those unedited books. Really. I'll be sitting back cackling in an armchair stockpiled with Jane Austens. (Perhaps these exquisitely designed ones.) Unemployed, probably, but cackling.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Personal day

Social security office*, DMV, Target, Old Navy, Marshall's, Burlington Coat Factory, and DSW later, this finally official Mrs. is watching Ferris Bueller and taking a nap on the couch.

*After all that agonizing, nothing could have been easier. Big clean office, no lines, nice lady at counter who let me keep all my names, dude spritzing everything the second everyone touched it, hand sanitizer everywhere. Who knew!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Thanksgiving pies

White potato (yes, they are sweet, not savory) with homemade raspberry sauce.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tempest in a teacup

Why is this Tiger Woods thing such big news? It's clearly PRIVATE. And also NOT THAT INTERESTING. Media, you deserve to fail.