Monday, June 19, 2006

Bringing it In-House: Chronicles of a New Managing Editor

A couple of months ago, I left both the Textbook Mills and the Freelance Lifestyle for a new job as the managing editor of a small textbook company. After fifteen years in the business, my new employer thought he should have an editorial department in-house, and hired me to start it.

He furnished me with a big desk, a sexy laptop computer, a minion junior assistant, and the formatted, unreviewed, unedited preliminary pages for a secondary school textbook that had be in development for three years and is due to go to press in mid-July, for distribution along with a Teachers' Guide (TG) and Student Activity Book (Workbook) in September.

Two months in, we're incorporating changes from the reviewers and getting the beast ready for copy editing. Everything takes longer than I want it to. I'm learning a lot, am convinced we're not doing things optimally, and fear the looming deadline. My TG authors are not responding to e-mails. My lead author is also the lead salesperson for my book. My publisher gives me almost unlimited authority. I'm generally exhilerated and terrified.

And I'm going to share all my learning experiences here.

Stay tuned.

Friday, June 02, 2006

M & S Being Subsumed?

Do McLelland and Stewart's close marketing and publicity ties with Random House weave ill tidings for independant Canadian publishing? Doug Pepper, president of M&S, (quoted here) says no:

“We decide on the books we want to publish, how much we want to pay for those books, how much we price those books at, how many to print, how many to reprint, how long to keep it in print. All of those decisions are made at McClelland & Stewart,” Pepper said.

M&S, which laid off three of its own senior publicists and marketing managers, pays Random House a fee for marketing and publicity services. Apparently, M&S retains editorial control, and merely benefits from the "back room efficiencies" that a large multinational corporation can provide to a cash-strapped Canadian publisher.

I dunno...some of these "efficiencies" don't sound too efficient to me:

The logistics can be a little unorthodox, though. As author and Globe and Mail columnist Roy MacGregor noted, his M&S-published Screech Owl children's series is “printed up in Canada for the Canadian market, shipped to the U.S. for storage and shipped back to Canada again when sold.”

Even though the series hasn't made a dent in the U.S. market, he jokes that he nevertheless has to order copies from a U.S. warehouse.