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March 28, 2012

At the First Second Offices: A Day in the Life

(A set of Cost-of-Living offices, from the University of Washington's Digital Archives)

A Day in the Life of :01 Marketing

So I thought as an exercise, I’d write down all the things I do in a day and share them with the internet.  I occasionally do talks at colleges about what in the world is involved in my drama-filled publishing life –- I did one last week at Pratt –- and people are generally curious and confused about what’s involved with marketing.  It’s not –- as I thought when I initially got this job -– about coercing people into liking things that they otherwise would not; there’s more of an awareness-raising M.O. 

Anyways: so this was the Tuesday that was yesterday.  I’m doing this report in the middle of the week that I’ve allocated to focus on the internet –- and we just started a Twitter account last week -– so this day of things is much more heavily focused online than my days usually are.  But nonetheless still represents a fair sampling!


(My actual desk, but last week.  I have since eaten that particular apple.)

9:05: Got to work, late.  WHY is it so much harder to get out of bed when it’s freezing cold out?  Especially when it’s freezing cold out after it was eighty last week?  Not fair!

9:06:  Tea, and apple (granny smith, because those are the best).

9:07: Tweet

9:08: E-mail.  Much of my job is responsive – answering author questions, answering retailer questions, answering questions from our sales team or editorial team, answering librarian questions, answering press questions – and then working with all those people to get them the material they need so that they can do their respective jobs.  So I get to work and find an inbox full of e-mail from all those people which all needs to be dealt with.  Sometimes there are even fan e-mails!  But none today -– sad.

9:23: Write the introduction to this blog post.  I try to have at least three posts per week on the First Second blog (more of that awareness-raising stuff), and I spent part of yesterday trying to figure out what in the world I could write about this week.  Yay inspiration!

9:25: My e-mail tells me (courtesy of Shelf Awareness) that there’s a library that used to be a roller rink!  How cool is that?

9:26: NetGalley check-in.  First Second works with a company called NetGalley that posts advance pdfs of books online for reviewers to request.  Then we look at the requests and approve them (if it’s a bookseller or librarian or media person or someone who seems to have a good reason) or decline them (if it’s someone who’s like, ‘I’m a person, I’d like to read this book possibly I think’).  Someone from Diamond requested one of our titles this morning!  Someone from Diamond I’ve never heard of!  That’s a good morning.

9:28: What’s going on with our GoodReads account?  We keep an account to talk to people about what we’re reading, about our books, and to do give-aways through – we’ve currently got one up for The Moon Moth.  Someone new wants to be our friend!  Yes, please.  Also: people seem to be liking Baby’s in Black –- we just did a giveaway and the people we gave the book to are reading it!  And I see that some of them have complicated feelings about the book related to their feelings about The Beatles. . . .

9:40: More e-mail.  Release dates, release countries, authors being e-mailed by Piers Anthony, donation questions, review links, etc.

9:56: ALA flights!  I’m going to this year’s American Library Association conference (which I'm absolutely thrilled about), and it’s time to get on the phone with our parent company’s travel agent and book my flight.

10:03: It’s internet week here at First Second, one of my least favorite kinds of weeks.  We’re on the cusp of spring (our spring season starts in May), which means our website needs to be updated with all sorts of new spring books and information.  And while we’re at it, I need to put in the list of all the awards our books won last year.  And deal with our new twitter account – probably we should follow some people, right?  Oh, happy updating!  I actually did most of this yesterday (except the twitter stuff) but now I need to check our website to make sure it all transferred over from the staging site to the live site correctly. 

10:07: Drat, I forgot to link a cover and one of my sets of spacing came out wrong.  Time for yet more coding!

10:20: Okay, coding was relatively easy.  Back to e-mail again. 

10:21: But first!  Faith Erin Hicks did a comic about The Hunger Games for tor.com that I want to check out.

10:24: Okay, I really should get on this twitter thing.  Probably we should follow some people?  Like our authors and bookstores we do events with and magazines we read and people we know in person?

11:00: Tor.com meeting.  Tor.com is a Macmillan-owned company, so they’re just upstairs – I go to one of their meetings every week, because they publish excerpts of our books and do reviews of our books and I run the short story program they do with First Second’s parent company, MacKids.  Also, who doesn’t want to sit around and talk about science fiction/fantasy geekery for an hour every Tuesday morning?

11:45: Tweet.

11:45: Meeting e-mail follow-up!  Why does it always exist?  You go to meetings and there is productive discussion after which you have to do stuff to make everything you want happen. 

11:51: Back to figuring out twitter

1:08: E-mail again.  I see that the American Library Association is sending out Artists Alley table confirmations for ALA Annual 2012 already.  We’re confirmed!

1:15: And back again to twitter.  Let me say, I am SO happy that twitter is not like GoodReads, where they only let you be friends with around thirty people in a day.  That first month of having a GoodReads account was nail-biting!  At least it turned out that we know a month's worth of people?  So that was positive.

1:21: Twitter temporarily broken.  I guess this is a sign that I should figure out what’s going on with the Cute Girl Network project in my e-mail -– it’s an early e-mail about a book that’s coming out in 2013!  It looks like there is neat art for me to look at.

1:35: Hey, twitter works again!

1:48: Meeting at 2:00!  I should put together an agenda.

2:00: I report directly to the Director of Publicity at First Second’s parent company, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, because the people at Macmillan thought it’d be useful for me to have someone to talk to who knows about marketing.  This seemed like a sensible thing to me as well, so I have a meeting with Allison Verost (MacKids Director of Publicity) once a week to check in about what things Macmillan needs from me (like BEA schedules) and what things I need help with (this time of the year, book festivals and any exciting spring-related adventures).


(My afternoon snack: recipe from Epicurious.)

2:32: Short meeting!  Clear it is time for afternoon snack (and tweeting about aforementioned afternoon snack). 

2:38: Hey, books!  This morning we got in copies of Boaz Yakin and Joe Infurnari’s Marathon, which comes out in June.  It looks good!  The copies I got are the advance copies –- the first ones off the printer, which the printer sends directly to our offices (instead of to our warehouse) so that I can do a mailing to the trade magazines, like Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, etc.  All those publications like to review the books in advance of publication, so we try to get the books out to them as soon as the copies hit the office. 


(Books! How exciting.)

2:42: Mailing step 1: find and acquire the envelopes (across the building in the envelope storage).  (This process was temporarily hijacked by an editor who wanted me to answer some questions about a series of e-mails about contracts I was privy to.  I think contracts and mailings probably hit equally high on the 'fun office tasks' list.)

2:55: Mailing step 2: make labels.  (Simple and easily explicable.)

3:02: Mailing step 3: make pub slips.  These are half-sheets of paper that go in books that tell reviewers what the title is, who the authors are (things that can be easily discovered from looking at the books), and more complicated information like what the trim size is, what age reader the book is intended for, and when it’ll be in stores. 

3:19: Mailing step 4: the pitch letter, also known as ‘the hard part.’  This is the part where I do my best to convince the people who are getting these letters of exactly how awesome the book is in three paragraphs. 

4:00: Break for root beer freeze-flavored custard at Shake Shack – clearly a necessary part of the day. 

4:30: Back to mailing!  Now it’s time for steps 5678910 – addressing the letters, printing the letters, and mailing the books.  We’re lucky enough to have a mail room in our building, so all I need to do is print address labels and stick them on my packages and someone comes to pick them up.  Some small publishers have to deliver all their mail to the post office -- not fun! 

5:15: I see my e-mail is full of e-mails about the current draft of our website revamp.  Time to compose more e-mail to our long-suffering webdesigner!

5:23: Time to check in with our Editor Calista Brill (always one of the most fun parts of every day!).

5:31: I should probably start putting this post into Typepad and linking everything – that’s clearly going to be a fun task!

6:01: Well, THAT only took half an hour. 

6:02: I know that our Giants Beware! authors are working on an Activity Kit for their book (which I expect to be super-cute) that I've had sitting on my desktop for a few days.  I should review that before I take off for the day. 

6:11: It was super-cute!  Time to write an e-mail to my authors to that effect. 

6:12: Okay, how's my e-mail looking? 

6:33: Perhaps today is over! 

(Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 -- at the First Second Offices)


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nice! 9:40am; 6:02 and 6:11pm are my favorites!

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