Archive for the Workin' 9 to 5 Category

BEA 2010 and brushes with fame…

Posted in Workin' 9 to 5 with tags , on June 1, 2010 by talesofanunfinishedmom

Living in San Francisco, I don’t get too many opportunities to bump into celebrities. In fact, in the 15 years I’ve lived here, I can count on one hand how many celebrities I’ve actually seen.

That all seems to change when I go to New York.  New York is a hot bed of celebrities, which is no surprise. It’s an amazingly wonderful and huge city where even the most famous can be a chameleon on any given day.

Where do I see all these celebrities you ask? Well, sometimes it’s in restaurants or chance meetings on the street — even one time in an elevator. However, the most concentrated locale that attracts celebrities that I actually run into is the annual Book Expo America — or BEA, as the publishing insiders refer to it.

Having been in publishing for many more years than I care to admit, I have to say, it’s not a very glamorous industry. That may come as a surprise to many who actually think we’re all rolling in the dough (ha!), hobnobbing with famous authors all of the time (sometimes),  and enjoying four hour lunches on the company’s expense account (more like two hours and occasionally).  In fact, on any given day, most of us are toiling away — working long hours, dealing with unhappy authors, and trying to manage the multitude of processes and pieces  (with small budgets) that go into publishing and marketing a book.

And, most of us love what we do. But, glamorous? Not so much.  

However, once a year, our industry gathers for the annual BEA. This huge show which draws thousands of people (more than 20,000 attended this year) from all over the world allows publishers an opportunity to showcase all of their big books for the upcoming Fall season and recently published blockbusters. Nonfiction, fiction, children’s titles, religious books, even foreign language publishers have a place at this energetic show. It’s a great opportunity for booksellers, librarians, publicists, and want-to-be authors to connect with publishers. (*Note: For wanna be authors, it’s generally not a fabulous idea to try to sell your book to an unsuspecting staff member in the publisher’s booth unless you’re pretty certain you’ve got the next hot thing – but, more on that later.)

Much has changed over the years. So many of the  independent bookseller buyers that used to roam the halls and visit the numerous publisher booths have diminished due to the Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders of the world putting them out of business. And, the days of publishers giving away hoards of advanced proofs to anyone and everyone making their way through the booths has changed as well. It used to be that if you hit the floor early enough, you were guaranteed to pack your tote bag with all of the hot new releases. You might break the bank on the shipping costs to get all of those advance proofs back to your home or office but for the most part, it was well worth it.

These days, with publishers consolidating, laying off, and generally trying to be fiscally conscious in our ever uncertain and changing environment, free advance proofs have  become a bit of a relic. That is, unless you can prove you are a legitimate bookseller, librarian, or member of the press – OR, are willing to wait in a line for 45+ minutes. Then you’re in luck.

I have never waited in line to obtain an advanced proof or other giveaway or to meet a famous author. Until this year, that is.

As I alluded to earlier in the post, BEA is a hot bed of celebrity action. It seems that no matter how famous someone is in their given profession – sports, music, acting, politics – they ALWAYS want to write a book. It’s a given.  And, many of them come to BEA to promote said book or simply to perform – cuz you know, someday they might want to write a book.

This year was no different. Starting with the keynote delivered by Barbara Streisand, the laughs over pastries as John Stewart provided hilarious anecdotes during breakfast, and many other celebrities and celebrity authors sandwiched in between, the show was crawling with them.

This year was an exciting one for me. I got an opportunity to see famed television journalist Bob Woodruff – simply walked right past him– locked eyes — and didn’t even register until my publicist colleague started bouncing up and down saying “OMG, that’s that journalist…Bob what’s his name…omg…”. He looked terrific, have to say. I saw Pele and Kristian Alfonso, who has played Hope on the famed Days of Our Lives for years. She looked pretty amazing.

I also got an opportunity to meet Louis Gossett, Jr. who just published his own memoir with my publishing house and did a signing in our booth. The name of his book An Actor and a Gentleman is right on the money. He could not have been more gracious when I met him – such a lovely man. (For those of you who are old enough to remember him from An Officer and a Gentleman, he was nothing like the character he portrayed, Gunnery Sargent Emil Foley).

Heading into BEA, I hadn’t been thinking much about meeting celebrities. I knew Louis Gossett Jr. would be signing in our booth so I looked forward to hopefully meeting him but other than that, I was more focused on my work responsibilities. I had forgotten how fun this show can be!

At some point during my first morning in the booth, a colleague rushed up to myself and one of our sales reps and asked how old we were. A bit of an unusual query but we answered obediently. It was then that she informed us that a heart throb from our earlier years was making an appearance at 11:30am in the Simon & Schuster booth. Now, for many of you potentially reading this, this will probably not mean a thing. But, for anyone who remembers the famed “Jessie’s Girl” pop hit or Dr. Noah Drake from General Hospital, you know who I’m talking about. And, you know it’s kind of a big deal. And you KNOW I waited on my first ever line for 45 minutes to get this:

Rick Springfield - looking good!

 I may have also gotten a signed CD to boot. Which, I’m sorry to say, isn’t all that good. But, who cares, right? And, yes, he’s written a memoir too. Like I said, everyone wants to be published at some point.

Which, brings me back to an earlier point about accosting unsuspecting booth staff with your brilliant book idea. Occasionally, there is a brilliant idea or author discovered at BEA. But, mostly you get queries such as this one (and of course as you’re trying to get out of the booth and head to an appointment):

Want-to-be author (to me): I would like to talk with someone about being represented.

Me: Do you mean you need an agent?

Want-to-be author: No, I want to be represented by a publisher.

Me: Oh, ok.  What is your book?

Want-to-be author: It’s about shoes. (Looking at me dead seriously.)

Me: Um, Ok. What about shoes? Is it fiction? Non-fiction? We only publish non-fiction.

Want-to-be author: It’s a memoir about my shoe collection.

As a very funny man who I met on the shuttle bus said, “She better be one darn good writer.”

And there you have it – BEA 2010. Over and out.

Discretion…

Posted in Workin' 9 to 5 with tags , on October 4, 2009 by talesofanunfinishedmom

It’s been a month since my last blog post. I never intended for so much time to pass by. But, life stepped in and dumped some big changes on me and since then I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about them with discretion. It’s been such a struggle that I’ve even had some regrets about not creating an anonymous blog to start with.  It’s a terrible feeling to think that you can’t be completely open and transparent on your blog – a place that you own and created for the sole purpose of sharing your experiences. 

But, discretion is important in my world. Or, should I say to me.  So, backing up a few weeks…

After a long, mostly relaxing Labor Day weekend, I returned to the office to receive some big news. By most accounts the news was good. I had just been promoted to a pretty big position within my company. Actually, it was more than pretty big. It was freakin’ huge. My immediate reaction was one of shock. If you worked at my company, or frankly, any publishing company, you’d know that promotions are hard to come by. And, generally speaking, promotions are projected to be received with excitement.  And, actually, there was a lot of excitement — emails flooded my in-box, passersby offered their congratulations, and I received many personal visits from well wishers. And, yet, amidst all of the excitement, I found myself feeling grateful but grim.

Please don’t misunderstand. Amidst the shock, there was excitement — a feeling of deep accomplishment after working toward this for a long time. But, you see, this wasn’t exactly the direction I imagined my life taking – at this point in time. I don’t know why I say that, really, since starting from when I was 5 years old, I imagined myself being some big corporate executive living in some fancy schmancy New York apartment. Not that I am anywhere near being a big corporate executive nor do I think the average publishing salary, even a decent one, could ever buy you much of anything in New York. But, I digress.

When I had those dreams, I didn’t factor in that I wouldn’t actually get married until I was in my late 30s. And, I certaintly didn’t imagine I’d become a Mom in my early 40s.  These events kind of changed things for me.

So, recent events and developments have come at an interesting time for me — a time when I’ve been desperately trying to achieve some balance in my life; a time when I’d finally maybe figured out how to squeeze in a bit of exercise, and a time when I hoped I could figure out how to spend more quality time with my daughter.

My new responsibilities are tremendous and currently, there aren’t final solutions for what’s going to happen to my old job, which I may not have mentioned, I’m still reponsible for. I felt like I was doing the job of two people before. I’m not sure I could put a number on it now. It just feels incredibly overwhelming, at times exciting, and mostly preoccupying. At this moment, it feels as if balance will elude me forever.

I’m really hoping this book will help me sort some of this out (one of the perks of working in publishing is getting free books!):

488195_cover_2.indd

New York Times bestsellers have all the answers, right? And, this book promises big. It promises happiness — for all working moms–whether you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or manager of your local McDonald’s.  All you need are some good tools rooted in positive psychology.

Sign me up!

To be continued…

Where I bare my soul about BlogHer…

Posted in Workin' 9 to 5 on July 27, 2009 by talesofanunfinishedmom

 I’m finding this BlogHer recap post a bit challenging to write. Perhaps because I am running on fumes at this point—four nights with little sleep.  That would be the easy answer. The more difficult answer is that there were things I loved about BlogHer and other things, well, that were kind of disappointing.

Let’s talk about love first.

The main reason for my being at BlogHer was to accompany my fabulous author to various sessions, her booksigning, and steer her in the right direction if needed. This part was great. I love to get a chance to hang out with my authors and what a treat to be with a rockstar at BlogHer and see her get recognized by many of her blogging peers.

Speed Dating, BlogHer-style was another favorite. The BlogHer founders did it a little differently than last year and I think made it that much more effective. They had us all line up in two big circles around the room—an inner and outer– facing each other with the instruction that only the inner circle would rotate counterclockwise at one minute intervals. With 1,500 women, the circle went around the entire circumference of the Sheraton ballroom.  Then for about 30 minutes, we had one minute to talk with the person facing us until they told us that our minute was up and the person would move on. I was on the outer circle so I basically stood in one place and waited for new faces to greet me every 60 seconds. It was really fun, albeit a little manic, and gave me an opportunity to meet a wide array of bloggers and other marketing professionals I would not have otherwise gotten a chance to meet.

I also really enjoyed spending time with my colleagues who are a bunch of funny, smart and just downright cool women. Having my own “posse” there made navigating such a huge event that much easier—even though it was still overwhelming.

I have to admit that there was something very awesome about meeting and/or seeing all of these amazing bloggers whom I’ve been following in one form or another for the past year. It really felt like I was seeing and in some cases, meeting, celebrities – even if few would have recognized these women outside of those ballroom walls.

 Now for the mixed feelings.

The sessions were a mixed bag and part of that was due to poor planning on the part of the BlogHer folks.  Do you think it makes sense to put four of your most popular bloggers on a panel together and put them in a tiny room in the corner of the basement? It gave new meaning to standing room only. People were sitting on the floor, in corners, jammed in the doorway, and practically on top of one another. It was hard to hear and really difficult to connect and caused a bit of competitiveness as people fought to get through the doors and gain the best view.

Another complaint is related to the sessions that didn’t deliver on what they promised. For example, should we really be talking about Google alerts in an Advanced SEO session? If I’m feeling unchallenged then you know there is a problem.

With that said, I did find some sessions valuable including a Beginning SEO session lead by Kelby. She was very knowledgeable and I picked up some great tips so thanks to Kelby for that. Also very helpful was the session on getting the word out about your blog. All three panelists were fabulous and incredibly knowledgeable so thanks to Jen, Annie and Jessica for your savvy sense (even if I had to sit on the darn floor again – growl).

And, naturally I attended the “Online Safety for Your Kids” session where my author, Lenore, joined a talented panel of women and added just the right amount of humor and fact-based savvy while addressing a host of issues and concerns related to kids and the Internet. 

 I would love to be sharing more of my great knowledge from all of the sessions I attended, which brings me to complaint #3. Can we please make this a three day conference? With an average of six sessions going on concurrently on TOP of the helpful Geek labs (where one can polish up on their social media skills), it’s impossible to even scrape the surface of everything being offered — not to mention all of the random giveaways (read: SWAG) and other distractions going on concurrently. A three-day conference would allow the attendees to experience so much more –visit more panels, have more time to spend with each other (as opposed to drive-bys which is what a lot of it felt like to me).

From a professional standpoint, I did walk away with more blogging and social media insight than I had going in but I know I could have come away with that much more if I’d been able to sit in on more sessions.

 The part that kind of sucked.

This was my first year attending BlogHer as an actual blogger. So even though I was there in a professional capacity, there was a part of me that felt a bit vulnerable. Sure, I could have not even mentioned that I’d started a blog, but, what good is that? If I wasn’t going to feel comfortable telling people I have a blog at a BLOGGING conference, well, I might as well just shut down and call it a day.

I even went so far as to create new business cards to *advertise* myself if the opportunity were to arise. And, of course it did.  Repeatedly. After awhile I got used to explaining that while I was at BlogHer for business purposes–and what that business was– I also had a blog. Most people were very nice and we went through the exercise of exchanging cards.

As I mentioned in the Love part above, it was exciting to see and/or meet some big name bloggers – at first. After about a day of being there it felt a bit like there was a hierarchy at play – the popular bloggers and everyone else. I didn’t fully realize that some of the bloggers that I’d been following religiously (and commenting on their posts regularly) were the most popular bloggers. But, once I got to BlogHer it became clear. And, while I realize, of course, that they don’t owe me a thing : What am I to them but just another reader?  I can’t help but think that it’s all of your readers and commenters that MAKE you popular. If not for us, where would you be?

It made me even question if I wanted to do this blogging thing if it’s all about popularity. I started blogging because I wanted to write – not to be popular. I thought if I ever got to a place where even a few people were commenting that that would be significant. And, if anyone ever came up to me and told me that they loved my blog, I’d be thrilled and gracious. But, I guess, like with any celebrity – after you hear it a few thousand times, it just gets old.

Regardless, this little undercurrent of elitism left me a little bruised but also the wiser. And, while this certainly isn’t my main take away from BlogHer 2009, it saddens me that it’s a take away at all.

BlogHer fashion panic…

Posted in Workin' 9 to 5 with tags , , , on July 14, 2009 by talesofanunfinishedmom

 I have to say that I’m really excited for the upcoming BlogHer conference. I attended last year, but in a purely professional capacity (my company was a sponsor and the conference was local). I’m even more excited to be attending this year. Even though I’m still attending in a professional capacity with a few other colleagues, and one of my parenting/author bloggers whom I love is speaking, this year I will be attending for the first time as an actual blogger! Ok, so, I’ve only actually written about 10 posts but you gotta start somewhere, right?

With that said, I am TOTALLY stressed about this fashion business. I used to be fashionable. Really, I did. That is San Francisco fashionable – which kind of means you set your own style. Since I’ve had a kid though, I can BARELY muster the energy to get dressed or even find the time to shave my legs, much less put together a hip ensemble.

 I got wind last week that there is going to be a designer on hand at BlogHer —  Tim Gunn – and he is parceling out fashion advice in advance of BlogHer. Something like:

 *Must have a little black dress for the cocktail parties (I can only assume that fashionable strappy sandals or pumps must also be purchased)

*Designer jeans (Ok, he didn’t say designer, but, obviously he meant that) for the day so you’re comfortable in the sessions

*Blazer (Must be tapered correctly – not some $20 job you bought from JC Penny – what, who me?)

 I have none of these items on hand and no real time to shop or real money to spend. If only he’d said, “Make sure you show up with the following…” :

 *Roots from two-month old highlight showing

*Fuzzy eyebrows

*Faded jeans (if you’ve had them since before you were a Mommy, even better)

*Flip flops (extra points for Reef)

 I’d be loving life. I expect that when the time actually rolls around that I’ll show up with some combination of the above — designer jeans with fuzzy eyebrows, black dress with flip flops, or any combination of the above.

 Please don’t judge, Tim Gunn. I’m a Mom. If my two-year-old had a pass for BlogHer, I can assure you that she’d knock your fashion socks off. Where do you think all my time, money and fashion sense went?