My Last Day is Approaching!

…and it feels like Doomsday. I am really going to miss Berrett-Koehler. Hopefully I can get some more profiles written out so you can all meet the endearing and quirky characters that populate this house of publishing (and much literary nonsense).

This feels so final, especially since I just sent out several emails for my last meetings with staff, including the one below to Jeevan (click image to magnify)…my last days are in print! It’s for real now! *runs off and sobs in a corner*

Somewhat sad, but I love how official I sound in writing. And check out that email signature I've been sporting these last few months.

*dries tears with a Kleenex and gets over herself*

In other news, I’ve found two promising manuscripts after a pile of rejections. The one I found today compelled me to keep reading despite my tired, Friday-spacey mind. The author did her job in research, editing, and presenting a clearly organized narrative. In Jeevan’s words, I “appreciate the diligence and effort” she put into it. He’s great as a sounding board when I’m trying to phrase a response and synthesize my opinions, positive or negative. I’ve forwarded the proposal on to Neal to get his opinion, but I’ve already warned him I’ll fight for it. My days may be numbered, but I’m still a member of the BK Editorial Department!


The Office ~ Where All the Adventures Begin

I work in an eclectic setting.

Each of the interns is encouraged to bring mementos and knickknacks to personalize the desk. And when they leave, they leave at least one thing behind. As you can imagine, there is quite a menagerie now.

Today, some of the desk figurines decided to put on a short play entitled “Beware!”

Beware! An impromptu performance by the BK desk figurines

…while others looked on from on top of the filing cabinets.

The audience looks on.

The intern desk isn’t the only colorful part of the office. Jeevan’s walls are covered with his collection of masks and art from South East Asia, South America, Africa, and other places. He says it feels more like him than putting up some painting.


It’s Been a Good Friday

Sometimes time truly does go by much too fast, like last night, when I was trying to finish my editorial review on Peter Cohan’s manuscript. I looked a little something like this:

After I fell asleep reading, I decided to crash at 2:30. The previous night it had been 3:30 and 2:00 the night before. Ugh, late nights. I’m too old for this!

I woke up via alarm bright and early, slammed out the rest of the review, and took a deep breath. YEAH!

The rest of the day has steadily improved. My partner Jess and I brought our little dog Rocko into the BK office today, since it’s a Friday and practically no one is here because they all take it as their WAH day (Work At Home) or leave early. Jeevan wanted to meet him for a while, but our schedules just never matched up. Jeevan and Rocko hit it off at first sight.

EditorialHell: Was going to get work done in the office, but then @byrdiegrey brought her pup along and it went downhill from there...

Aren’t they adorable? Rocko didn’t bark or growl, just perked his ears up and stared (in Rocko speak that means he feels very comfortable with your energy–points for Jeevan!). I think all thought of really working flew right out of Jeevan’s head. I got a kick out of watching my boss feed Rocko biscuits and taking pictures in Photobooth.

@EditorialHell: Photobombed by @byrdiegrey's pup...again...

Surprisingly, I did get some work done. Reviewed some proposals, broke some authors hearts. I may have found one promising one, though the way the last one turned out, I’m not going to get my hopes up too high yet.

Now I’m heading off to enjoy the beautiful afternoon in Duboce Park.


A little known fact…

Editorial interns here actually are 60% (Jeevan’s statistic!) of the process for selection our successors. In other words, I was in charge of reading internship applications, contacting the applicants, arranging and conducting interviews (via Skype and phone), and finalizing the choice. I have received, and continue to receive, emails from intern hopefuls. Some sound quite qualified, and with others, it is obvious they didn’t spend much time researching BK or thinking about how they could be an asset to our company. Many just talk about their qualifications, and how much the internship will benefit them.

This is almost as stressful as turning down authors, because I was in these applicants’ anxious, desperate shoes just a few months ago. I know what it’s like to feel shy about “selling myself” and my skills. I was raised not to brag about my accomplishments and even downplay them, but that is detrimental when you are trying to get a job (or internship). I also had never written a cover letter before Winter Break; my letter to BK was my second. So I still consider myself new to all this. However, after reading so many cover letter/resume combos and discussing them with Jeevan, I think I’ve learned a few things.

Spend some time researched the company you are applying for, and make sure to align your skills with what they are looking for. Make the connections in your cover letter! Also, there are ways to say you will be an asset without sounding pompous and full of yourself. We’re looking for confidence.

Also, if I have to read another cover letter saying a version of “I’ve been in love with words and reading since practically before I was born” or “ever since I could read I’ve carried a book under my arm” (not exaggerating), I’m going to scream. Passion for literature, editing, words, writing, etc is very important to this job, but it does not go hand-in-hand with actual editing and writing skills. And there are so many creative, compelling ways to express passion without using the worn out trope of “ever since I was little.”

*end rant*

So, after this exciting process, I am pleased to announce the summer BK intern will be Jessica Osorio! She currently attends Pomona College, and in the past she was a tutor at 826 Valencia, the pirate shop/backroom writing workshop established by Dave Eggers (known for his first book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Simon & Schuster 2000). She is sharp, funny, and has a passion for writing and publishing backed up by experience. From my interactions with her, over Skype and during a brief lunch where she came into the office, I know I’ll be leaving my duties in good, and maybe even better, hands. I may only be here for a little over three months, but I already feel like this is my place, and I’ll admit I was a little hesitant about someone else coming in and “taking my place.” I don’t feel that hesitancy at all anymore with Jessica on board.



A thought or two (also known as an update)

A personal assessment of this blogging situation has made me realize it is time to change my system. Posting each week’s events in a nice summary is giving me the excuse to put off posting…not a good thing for a third-year college student (read: experienced, professional procrastinator). So now, I will publicly declare my intentions to post on all the things that excite and interest me, and not to post what is most likely a boring re-cap of everything I do. As I now have a larger audience, if there is anything in particular, you, dear readers, would like to hear from me, I’m more than willing to oblige. Just let me know! (That is a hint for lots and lots of comments, if you didn’t catch the subtext of the exclamation point).

It’s amazing to me how everyone at BK meets and balances multiple deadlines. For the editors, there are constant deadlines for input on potential projects, reviews, manuscripts in the process of becoming published, as well as constant communication with all the authors they are in charge of. My inbox fills up quickly with inter-department communications, and those are only the emails I see and the conversations I hear. I’m surprised that most authors seem to make their deadlines…before I came here I was under the impression that one of an editor’s biggest stresses was all the authors that never met deadlines. From what I’ve heard from Jeevan and Neil, that can be problem, but it’s not a huge one–at least not at Berrett-Koehler. Maybe we attract a different breed of author. Or maybe my bubble of optimism continues to blind me.

Speaking of optimism, last week I found myself speaking much more sarcastically about all the unsolicited manuscripts. Having to read so many so-so manuscripts that I have to reject by phone is making me jaded–either that, or Jeevan is rubbing off on me and I need to blow more bubbles of optimism around the room. One the many things I brought to personalize my desk in the office is a bottle of bubbles, and any time Jeevan starts to sound too pessimistic or jaded, I started blowing them around the office. It works so well! Jeevan stops complaining and I get a good laugh and shake off the jaded feelings.

But back to deadlines. At the moment I am balancing this internship, a full course load of upper-division classes, my college literary journal, and some sort of social life (does lounging around the house in PJs with the kitties and roomies count?). With all of these responsibilities, it’s been imperative to evaluate and reevaluate how I spend my time and how I go about accomplishing things, so that I can become more efficient. I am learning my limits and when to say I have enough on my plate, but also how much I can actually accomplish in small amounts of time when pushed. Deadlines are still little scary monsters to me. But I’m quite proud of everything I’ve done with BK so far, and excited to see how much further I grow. I know my confidence has already sky-rocketed since beginning this internship.