Finding myself up to my eye balls in projects these days, two of which happen to be books, I am constantly asking questions of people “in the know” about traditional publishing and digital publishing. Debby Englander, my editor for the book, From Cinderella to CEO, has become a dear friend and mentor.
Here’s some background on Debby and her career beanstalk tips.
I know you’ll benefit from Debby’s advice and enjoy getting to know her as well. Debby Englander is available for consultation and you can find her on LinkedIn here.
Debby, how did you get started in publishing?
Debby Englander: My career in publishing really launched at Money Magazine, where I started as a copy editor with no experience at all in editing books. I went on to manage the Fortune Book Club and then became a business book editor at Wiley & Sons.
I worked with Kerry Hannon some 25 years at Money Magazine and then approached her about doing a book while I was an editor at Wiley. We’ve now worked together on several books including a very successful title, Great Jobs for Everyone 50+ which published about a year ago.
Besides Kerry Hannon, who are some others you’ve published books for?
Debby Englander: I published two books by Jonathan Tisch, CEO of Loews Hotels. He worked with a writer and on publication, actively promoted the book, making as many appearances as his work schedule allowed. He listened to us when we told him how important it was to make speaking engagements, and would rearrange his schedule to make sure he met his commitments. Most of my authors truly want their books to be substantial and they approach the publishing process as seriously they would another professional endeavor.
I’m especially proud that many of the authors I worked with published two, three and more books with me. An editor and author develop a relationship and while the marketplace may change, having that one-on-one connection is important.
Why should we publish? It seems like only academics were the ones who needed to publish to stay relevant and up-to-date?
Debby Englander: Books can be a useful tool for business people. If you’re trying to attract more clients, a book becomes a calling card. These days, the book is just one tool to use; people may use Twitter, a website, e newsletter as a way to communicate with clients and potential clients. The book does give someone a certain credibility. Although it can be difficult to find a mainstream large New York publisher to take on a business project, there are more opportunities to publish books these days. People can publish ebooks and print books on their own. There are many reputable newer companies that will provide the services necessary to create a book. Of course, it’s then up to the author to do the lion’s share of marketing and publicity. With these options, the authors are out of pocket for the expenses. With the traditional model, authors received advances, albeit modest ones.
What advice would you give to someone who wants a career in publishing?
Debby Englander : Although I started in subsidiary rights of a large publisher, submitting books to foreign publishers, magazines and other media to sell rights, I later worked in the book department of a woman’s magazine. But my career changed direction when I ended up as a freelancer at Money Magazine. I didn’t have a business background but worked as a fact-checker and later as a reporter at Money, writing on consumer topics, travel and of course, personal finance. I am telling you this, because careers are circuitous, not usually straight up the career ladder, especially in publishing.
Did you have a mentor or have you mentored others?
Debby Englander: I have to admit that I’ve never had an official mentor; however, I certainly wish I had someone who could have helped during some of my job transitions. I do think that I’ve served as a mentor to several people. and have been more of a subtle mentor; I have been fortunate in hiring some first-rate recent college grads and letting them do as much as possible on their own. I make myself available to answer questions but encourage them to work independently. Also, I learned to be more even tempered about work crises. Things happen—manuscripts are late; books don’t get delivered on time; jackets can have errors, etc. There’s a quick moment of panic and anger when something happens but then I usually focused on finding a solution. That’s how I encourage my younger colleagues to approach difficult situations. Most work issues are not life or death so you can be annoyed and irritated, but then you look ahead and move on.
Here are some self-publishers you may want to check into ~ From the desk of… Cinderella to CEO:
Netminds: http://netminds.com/how-it-works and Green Leaf Books.