Days one and two of the Columbia Publishing Course have been both exhilarating and exhausting. So far, I've heard lectures from Michael Pietsch (Little, Brown), John Fagan (Viking), and Bob Gottlieb (Knopf). The one thing I've really taken away from their lectures is that you must be enthusiastic in publishing. If you can't love editing and the industry, you need to get out and you need to get out immediately. Being an editor is a 24/7 job. It's not just about reading, it's about selling and believing in what you publish. Individually:
- I was personally dying to hear Pietsch talk because I am fascinated by Little, Brown's publishing model. Ounce for ounce, they are the most successful out there. Their secret? Discretion. Mostly. It was nice to hear, also, that SOMEONE out there besides me doesn't believe that publishing is dying. Please. Hasn't publishing died like 50 times already?
- Fagan's speech was about paperback publishing, both paperback reprinting and original paperbacks. He talked about the different lives books can lead in hardcover and paperback and the very delicate balance that always must be achieved in marketing, shipping, etc. in order to maintain profit.
- Gottleib's lecture was wonderfully funny and wise. He, too, exemplified the enthusiasm we all have to show if we want to be editors, talking about editing as a service profession.
I've met a few people who want to work with children's and YA books, and I'm sure when Megan Tingley comes to lecture we'll have a fascinating discussion on Twilight and YA.
I have classes every day at 9 a.m., 2 p.m., and 7 p.m. These people don't fool around, yo. Most of my classmates want to work in book publishing, but there are a few magazine enthusiasts as well. I haven't met anyone else who wants to be a literary agent, but I haven't met everyone in the course, either.
Tomorrow's lecturers include two authors and the president of Grove/Atlantic. As Neil Gaiman would say, "Whee! Thump."