It was better than what I expected and worse than what I expected all at the same time. On the one hand, there was no hobnobbing with the publishing elite. I handed out none of my fabulous personal business cards made especially for the occasion. There were only tons of people just like me – assistants, whether editorial, marketing or publicity. I know that someday, they (and hopefully I) will be among the elite, but it’s still strange trying to suck up to and hand your incredibly dorky business cards to one of your peers. But on the other hand, I learned a lot. A lot about how publishing works, how many of these “elite” started and, to my great relief, how many of them dove in head first feeling as though they had no clue what they were doing.
Though every single speaker/panel was eye-opening and wonderful, there were two sessions in particular that left me in awe of this giant profession that I’ve chosen for myself. I can only hope that one day I’ll have changed and shaped the industry in the ways that they have. The first was opening keynote speaker, Morgan Entrekin, President and Publisher of Grove Atlantic. The second was Closing Keynote Speaker Kate Medina, Associate Publisher, Executive Editorial Director and Executive Vice President of Random House along with bestselling author, Anna Quindlen.
Morgan Entrekin took the time to speak to us plainly about his entire journey. He started judging manuscripts with Yes, No, Maybe and moved up from there. The greatest and most awe-inducing points of his story was his discovery and promotion of Brett Easton Ellis and how he became Kurt Vonnegut’s editor. Brett Easton Ellis! KURT VONNEGUT!! These authors and publishers will never cease being celebrities to me. Could I someday discover a writer as unique and influential as Ellis and have the courage and strength to promote what I believe in? I can only hope.
The evening ended with Kate Medina and Anna Quindlen talking about the dynamics of their relationship as editor and author. Kate spoke of her editing process and Anna of her writing process, and for someone who can’t decide if she wants to discover the next great novel or write it, both women had so much to say that I listened to with much awe and attention. Not to mention these were two women who made themselves into something great – a great editor and a great writer so that young wanna-be girls like me can aspire to that same greatness.
I tell everyone I’m going to be a big deal someday. And sometimes I think think, seriously? You? But listening to everyone speak today made me feel like I am on the right path and I really am going to be a big deal someday.
In conclusion, here’s some important stuff from the seminar. Words of advice, etc:
- Always have the courage of your convictions.
- Follow your instincts and your passions.
- Understand all facets of publishing. Most importantly, the economics of it.
- Experience the international publishing community and learn another language. Most international publishers can speak at least 3 and it brings something extra to the table.
- Get a good mentor.
- It’s okay to say you don’t like a book.
- Right now is a really good, albeit scary, time to be in publishing.
- No matter what you do all day, the only thing that matters is that you deliver your book to the consumer when s/he wants it, where s/he wants it and how s/he wants it. Meet the consumers’ needs.
- In 1975, people had 8 different media choices – television having just come on the scene in a biggish way. Today, there are over 20. How do we compete?
- [SEARCH] has changed the way we gather information completely over the past 10 years.
- When marketing a book, make it simple for the consumer to talk about and share how great they think the book is.
- We all do this for that I NAILED IT feeling.
I know I do.