The last few weeks have been really busy. I’ve taken on a lot of volunteer work since the beginning of this year, including two concurrent anthology projects for Fiction Writers Group, app design and article layouts for Kyoto Journal, and slush reading for the semi-pro Fantasy Scroll Mag. They have all been wonderful and worthwhile experiences. The anthologies, which require a lot of organization since I’m an admin, have taken up the bulk of my time, with most of my mornings and spare moments in the evenings being devoted to beta reading or editing for one, and submission queueing and notification for the other. My work with Kyoto Journal has been extremely rewarding, giving me a behind-the-scenes look at an established quarterly magazine and hands-on experience building a Newsstand app with interactive elements. They’ve even honored me with a couple opportunities for page layouts.
In both of those situations, I took on a leadership role. In the case of Kyoto Journal, I was tasked with the digital development of the magazine, but had to learn techniques and software from scratch. For Fiction Writers, I learned InDesign and workflow efficiency. Over the last year, the focus of so much of my interest has been on the publishing side of novels. What is the slush pile? How does one edit a completed piece, and what are the differences in the types of edits that can be made? How is layout decided? Illustrators hired? What about distribution, pricing, and marketing?
All of these thoughts, and the sheer amount of time I have devoted to learning about it, led me to look into a Masters program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC. Specifically, their MPub (Masters in Publishing) program.
As many of you now know, we are moving to Vancouver next year and leaving Japan. Vancouver is NJ’s hometown, and Simon Fraser (serendipitously) is also her university. I found out about SFU’s MPub course six years ago when I made the then-innocuous Google search for publishing programs. SFU’s was ranked second in the world, with Oxford naturally holding the top spot. SFU has alumni working in nearly every major publishing house, but the most important element for me is the 16-week internship portion of the program. I can choose which publishing house I want to try to get placement in! Imagining interning at Tor, Ace, Daw, or Penguin quite literally blows my mind.
Applications for the program are due on February 1st next year, which means that I have about ten months to prepare my application and portfolio. I met with the program director last December, so am feeling pretty confident, but I’m not one to take things for granted. So, what will I be doing for the next few months? Beefing up my resumé and knocking out the prerequisite reading!
If you have an interest in publishing, I share with you the following bibliography of books and online courses I’ll be taking.
Some of these books I have read before, but I’ll be reading again, just to freshen my memory. (Bold for recommended reads!)
- The Elements of Style by Strunk & White
- Plug Your Book: Online Book Marketing for Authors by Steve Weber
- This Business of Books: A Complete Overview of the Industry from Concept to Sales by Claudia Suzanne
- Publishing for Profit: Successful Bottom-line Management for Book Publishers by Thomas Woll
- The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications
- Book Publishing I by the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing (SFU)
- The Chicago Manual of Style (Yes, I’ll be reading it!)
- Marketer’s Toolkit by Harvard School of Business (a bit outdated; prereq)
- Editing Canadian English by the Editors Association of Canada (prereq)
- Essentials of Accounting by Robert N. Anthony (prereq)
- The Yahoo! Style Guide (a recent gift, and yes! I’m reading it!)
All of the following courses are on Coursera, and offer verified certification on completion (for a fee). If you don’t need the certificate, they are free! Dates provided for anyone who might want to take the course with me. 😉
- Introduction to Financial Accounting: Part of the Business Foundations Specialization (7/10-8/13)
- More Introduction to Financial Accounting (8/14-9/29)
- Introduction to Marketing: Part of the Business Foundations Specialization (8/3-8/31)
- Marketing in a Digital World: Part of the Digital Marketing Specialization (open dates)
- Digital Analytics for Marketing Professionals: Marketing Analytics in Theory: Part of the Digital Marketing Specialization (open dates)
- Introduction to Operations Management: Part of the Business Foundations Specialization (10/5-11/2)
- Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World (gotta have one ‘fun’ course! 10/5-12/22)
There’s also a few classes on Skillshare that I have my eye on, if time permits:
- Typography That Works: Typographic Compositions and Fonts
- Type Design: Introduction to Effects in Illustrator
- Growth Hacking: Learn Online Marketing Fundamentals, Digital Strategy, and Google Analytics
- Lettering for Designers: One Drop Cap Letterform at a Time
- Humor Writing: Write Funny for the Internet
- Book Marketing: Craft a Killer Plan! Learn 21 Fun, Effective Ways to Promote Your Book or eBook
- Introduction to Book Cover Design: Making Stories Visual
- Contract Writing for Freelancers
- Intro to Design: Expressing Emotion with Color Theory
- Learn SEO to Grow Your Website
- Layouts for Lettering: Hierarchy, Composition, and Type Systems
- The Ultimate Guide to Kinetic Type in After Effects
- Read, Think, Design: Creating Stunning Book Covers
- The Modern Marketing Workshop
As I was sharing all of those links, thinking of all the hours each course and book will require, I started wondering if maybe I was getting a bit over-zealous. But, then again, this is my habit and my history. When I want to learn something, when I want something, I try to give it everything I’ve got, and then a little more.
Of course, this amount of work is going to mean that this year I have to put aside some other pursuits, like learning digital illustration, and writing more. I will still try to get some short stories out this year (I have one due on Out of Print in two weeks!), but between all of this, and prepping for a transcontinental move, my time is booked!
I won’t forget to go out and see the flowers, though. 🙂