Big Buddha, Po Lin Monastery, Hong Kong

If you were going to Hong Kong I remember this day trip as fun.  We visited The Big Buddah and had lunch at The Po Lin Monastery.   The Big Buddha is indeed very big and impressive but I was also drawn to the smaller statues which were making offerings and surrounded his pedestal.

My theme for today is Serenity Now so I’ve chosen this image to be my first post in a series of posts focusing on the images stored on my photo site.

4 Lesssons and Resolutions

360 Screen Clock

Back in May 2010, after a solid 5 months of job search, I decided that looking for a new job made me feel like Goldilocks (under qualified, over qualified, and waiting for just right.) Not to mention that the arduous process of researching and writing cover letters brought to mind Einstein defining insanity as doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.

7.5 months later I have landed and I find myself reflecting on what I’ve learned and how I can apply these lessons to my life in general.

1) A Zen attitude about Patience.  Okay, I’m still working on this, it really doesn’t come naturally to me.  I don’t have an easy time sitting around waiting for something to happen and while I wait I tend to make up elaborate schemes about what is going to happen – it passes the time but its hardly productive.  I hereby resolve to try to wait patiently for things to happen once I’ve done everything in my power to set something in motion.

2)  Rejection – I can handle it. In fact I’d much rather be rejected than left in the dark.   No answer is not an answer.   I resolve to never leave someone hanging for an answer or an update.

3)  Optimism Wins. Generally speaking I’m an optimist and confident in my ability to realize a dream.  The past 12 months had its ups and downs and I’d be lying if I said my giddy optimism wasn’t upon occasion replaced by “snarky cynicism” or the less amusing “pits of despair.”  I resolve to keep a light shining brightly on believing in the future (even if I’m also being snarky.)

4) Be like the people I’ve admired.  The best part of this whole journey has been the people I’ve gotten to know or know better on the trip.  I’m so grateful for the myriad things I’ve learned from the many people (too many to list and you know who you are) who have been there for me with words of encouragement, advise, leads, or a drink.  I resolve to be like the people I describe as people who rock.

Face to Face


Waay back on Dec 14th I attended another brilliant Publishing Point Meetup, with guest speaker Scott Heiferman (@heif) who founded Meetup.  Since then A LOT of AWESOME has happened in my world so this short post is long overdue.

My biggest takeaway from the talk was that when you get people together, in real life, amazing things happen.  The “alchemy” of everyone’s ideas building on one another creates a bigger and better idea.  We’re all so focused these days on “community building” and what the magic pill might be to pull it off that we tend to forget people have been building communities organically since people began.

Scott Heiferman founded Meetup shortly after 9/11, the idea inspired by realizing it wasn’t until the aftermath that he was getting to know his neighbors for the first time.   Since it’s beginning there have been 7 million Meetups with 70 million rsvps.  There are Meetups created around every conceivable idea.  I love the way he defined community as “conversation” and simply as people saying “LET’s.”  He talked about envisioning a future where Amazon would have MeetUp buttons for every book.  Discuss!

I’ve described a lot of events this past year as cool because it was like “my twitter stream came to life.”   I’ll confess at the first it felt a bit like gawking at my own personal red carpet but once you move past that there is so much to learn and be inspired by when we have face to face conversations.

John Lennon

John Lennon by Bob Gruen

John Lennon by Bob Gruen

John Lennon was the first Rock Star to rock my world.

I really prefer to remember people on their birthdays and not on the day they were assassinated. John Lennon would have been 70 this past October 9th but I was flitting about Rome (on a trip inspired by another Rock Star, who is also a  fan of John Lennon.)

I was a big Beatles fan and to this day my favorite Beatles’ songs are almost exclusively the ones associated most with John.  Today I thought I’d post some of my favorite (solo) Lennon lyrics in no particular order.

And we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well, we all shine on

-Instant Karma

Whatever gets you through your life ‘salright, ‘salright
Do it wrong or do it right ‘salright, ‘salright
Don’t need a watch to waste your time oh no, oh no

-Whatever Gets You Through The Night

Let’s Take A Chance And Fly Away, Together
-Just Like Starting Over

I’ve had enough of watching scenes
Of schizophrenic, egocentric, paranoic primadonnas
All I want is the truth

-Gimme Some Truth

Yes is the answer and you know that for sure
Yes is surrender you got to let it go

-Mind Games

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round.
I really love to watch them roll.

-Watching The Wheels

Book Camp NYC

Bookcamp NYC was my first Unconference.  I should have taken some pictures.


Book Camp was better than Smores

The day kicked off with attendee volunteers creating/hosting the sessions. It didn’t take long for this enthusiastic group to put together a full and varied schedule with topics ranging from Career Paths in Publishing to App Development to Community Building.  It was hard to decide which sessions to attend.

The first session I attended was led by Mark Gomperetz, digital publisher at Simon & Schuster, and titled by the Buddha.  It was very zen and it involved fingers pointing at the moon.

He began with “publishers having visions of sugar plums and ebooks dancing in their heads” but wanted the focus off the “shiny bits.”   It is not the device that will #savepublishing it is the book that will #savepublishing.  The point is that the question everyone wants answered is simply “what do I read next?”

The conversation veered onto brilliant apps where the eBook is useless Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and  The Elements were cited.   We talked about the Perseus @PeterCostanzo‘s JFK:  50 Days app which also served as a brilliant marketing piece for the book -”living the dream.”

And we talked about bundling.  Bob Miller was excited about bundling backlist or a comparative titles instead of “buy the Hardcover get the eBook.”

Mark ended the session saying the book is the “moon” and the device is the “finger,”  don’t mistake the finger for the moon.

My next session was led by @brianoleary of Magellan Media Partners and was titled “Is There a Career Path left in Publishing.” Brian choose 3 people to offer their views:  someone with a little experience, someone with a few years of experience and someone with a lot of experience.  @DonnLinn was the voice of experience and he thought there are careers in publishing but not within the traditional career paths.  We talked about new skillsets required to do the same jobs.  How the role of editor, marketer, and agent is evolving.  We talked about how each department is not the silo it used to be.  My main takeaway: it is about new mindsets.

My session #3: Curation, Collection & Community with @Ron Hogan of   I chatted in the hallway too long on my way in and I couldn’t get a seat.  From the hallway outside Ron’s room I heard about robust publisher created and curated communities Mulholland Books (crime fiction) and independent communities like @annkingman and @mkindnessBooks On The Nightstand.  This morphed into  a discussion about official publisher policies on Social Media. @ami_with_an_i talked about “The Exit Row & Blogging as an employee.”  There are inherent responsibilities but it’s worth the extra legroom.

Last session #4 for me was Paid Advertising with Matt Schwartz, Random House.  We talked about banner ads (approx .08% click through) but when well targeted (Facebook) it gradually builds exposure.  I wondered aloud if banner ads are the (paid & better) equivalent to consumers seeing the same book being read on the subway over and over.

Rich Media ads have a much greater click through rate (I think he said around 12%)  and ads in the right environment don’t feel like spam.  He talked about being careful to not cover content (annoying the audience.)  He wrapped up with an interesting discussion about producing Google TV ads and mobile landing sites.

Onward to cocktail hour!   One of the best things about face to face meetings is seeing friends old and new.

Many thanks (again) to organizer @ami_with_an_i and sponsors sponsors: @cursr, @kobo, @jasonashlock, @openskyproject, @oreillymedia

4 years ago today…

"Did You Get It"

Four years ago (!) today I was in Auckland, with good friends, at the U2 Show at Mt. Smart Stadium.  It was one amazing gig (although the 2nd night did blow it away.)  This shot is one of my all time favorite I’ve taken at a show.

I still get chills thinking about hearing the opening notes to One Tree Hill.  It was the first time I had the pleasure of seeing them perform it live.

Book Sales Reps Rock

I’ve  reread a great article a few times over the past week and last week when I first saw it I retweeted links to it.   Dominique Raccah expressed succinctly why I believe Publishers will have important roles in the future.

What A Publisher Does

Publishing is undoubtedly going through a major transition with clear concerns from disintermediation to rights associated with both simple and enhanced eBooks.    And pricing.  And production.  And, And, And.

The processes are changing but the heart of what a publisher does remains the same.  If I were an author (and let’s face it, that’s a stretch to imagine, I’m not even a good blogger) I would want my book to be “birthed” by a Publisher.  I would want all of the groups highlighted above to be involved in getting my book out into the marketplace.

I would describe myself as a generalist with knowledge in many of those blue groups listed above but my professional experience was behind the scenes in sales – think of an internal customer service group to distribute sales & marketing materials and create tools to allow sales reps do what they do best – sell books.  In all of the positive talk of self publishers who can DISTRIBUTE your book into all imaginable channels to my knowledge there is no one at those companies who SELL your book into those channels.

Sales reps and booksellers make up the traditional Word of Mouth marketing and publicity channels.   And a lot of these smart people I know are now also very active in the social networking sites that are becoming the new Word of Mouth channels.   I’m fairly certain that I would never have picked up a lot of the books that constitute some of my favorites if not for the enthusiasm of the sales reps.  And because I was in the business and because I’ve not steered them wrong before my friends asked me for recommendations on what to read.   My answers often began with the sales reps were crazy about X, so I read it and loved it and I think you will too.

I guest blogged

Yes, I know we are quite neglected over here on this blog but it is nice to be invited so this week I wrote a post for EverPub on Social Media.  You can read it here.

Words of Wisdom from Tim O’Reilly

Three weeks ago I went to hear Tim O ‘Reilly, the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, speak at The Publishing Point meetup.  I’m still thinking about the some of the things he said (and I tweeted them at the time.)

“People who are lit up by the future pursue it, those that are not, are trying to preserve the past.”

In my daily routine I read different opinions about the state of publishing, the new shiny and practical information on how to work with new tools.   It’s easy to lose sight of why we were attracted to publishing in the first place.  For me, its the storytelling.  So whether we tell the story on paper or pixels I’m just as excited about the stories we’re telling.  And I believe as Bono might put it, “The Future Needs A Big Kiss.”

“The hard part is no longer curation, the hard part is identifying all the new channels and scaling.”
Curation is still a very important function of publishers but  disintermediation is a greater challenge.   How do we sort out being present in the right places as the traditional channels of book selling are becoming smaller markets?   How do we make sure readers find books?  I know my first step in researching anything is Google followed by asking my “friends” or “followers.”  Are you paying attention to your metadata?

“It’s okay to fail, but you should try not to spend a lot of money failing.”
New tools and new formats are costly, are you making sure what you’re doing is what your readers want?  Fancy enhancements do not fall under “if we build it, they will come.”  Experiment, use analytics, and engage with your readers.

“Make books Beautiful again”
If I’m going to buy a book in print I want it to be a beautifully put together package.  I want it be a work of art and I want to appreciate the designer.  I compare this to buying music, I haven’t bought a simple physical cd in a long time, I legally download music unless I buy the pretty fancy deluxe edition.

Born to Run turns 35

Bruce Springsteen

A publishing acquaintance, Fran Toolan, tweeted this morning that today was the 35 anniversary of the single release for Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run (or as he put it the official state song of NJ.)

I don’t remember the first time I heard Born to Run but it’s probably a safe bet it was on the radio. It would have been a.m. radio, and the stations would have been operated by big long buttons that I recall having a satisfying click when you pushed them in to tune. And to give away more about my age it was also likely that I was in the front seat of that car and seat belt was defined by the driver’s right arm reaching over to hold you back as she stopped short.

I’ve been lucky seeing Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band quite a few times over the years and man that song still rocks the house. As the house lights are turned up for Born To Run, the crowd never fails to “strap their engines on” rocking “til they drop.” One of the amazing things about going to see Bruce is seeing three generations rock out. Last November at the Garden, the night he played The River, one of the things I remember very fondly is an older man, mid sixties – early seventies, jumping and dancing harder the rest of us “young folks” to Born to Run.

That gentleman, still rocking out in the crowd, that’s exactly what I want to be when I grow up.