Tags: publishing


100 words: Artie, mid 80s

Artie was a musician and jingle-writer who was peripherally involved with The Sick Fucks, a popular NY punk rock band in the late 70s. Artie was working in an odd area of the directory publisher—the "information services" area. If you lived in New York City, you could call and ask a question like "What's the best oyster bar in Midtown?" and Arnie, or one of his co-workers, would get you an answer. They had a color-coded index card system, but mostly they just knew everything. Artie flirted with all the girls, making up songs about them on the spot.
Frankie as dragon

100 words, M, mid-00s

M was a production VP at a major book publishing house who had only gotten to that position by virtue of being in the right place at the right time. He knew little about publishing anything beyond mass market, and would constantly ask questions like "Why do we need to design that?" He was a schlub in a old sweater who couldn't even be bothered to stand up straight. He also had a photo of himself outside his door of himself, stoned, sometime in the 1970s. The only time he ever spoke to me was about food. He liked food.
Frankie as dragon

100 words, Katie, mid-80s

Kate was a small, lithe woman with the aura of a ballerina, and a voice that sounded like soft wind chimes. When confronted with belligerence, which was pretty common in our office, she would just say "ohhhkaay!" and giggle. She really won me oven when she told me that when she was in college she and her friend had a pact—when going out to expensive restaurants, over-order and bring the leftovers home for the other to share. She called in sick on her first day at work at the sleazy publishing company. Who calls in sick on her first day?

100 words; Harv, mid 80s

Harv was a large, gregarious man with thinning, frizzy gray hair, wild eyebrows, and craggy skin. He was a part time art director for the sleazy publishing company, getting some money in his retirement to fund his vacations. He was a sloppy dresser who smoked stogies, a holdover from the days when designers were just as likely to look like newspaper writers as look like dandies. Harv was a great storyteller, but my favorite was about the time he met Elvis in the bathroom in Vegas. Elvis did not wash his hands. To Harv, that made the handshake more special.

Minorities in publishing? Where?

The BBC News online had an article today about diversity in publishing. You can read it here.

Obviously the article pertains specifically to the UK publishing industry, but don't think for a second the situation is any different here.

There have been many publishing houses I've worked at where I was the ONLY minority. Yes, that's right--the only one. The last publishing house I worked at, a very very large one, employed some minorities, but mostly in office support positions. There were some minorities in the art ghetto, mostly Asian. The one African-American editorial assistant left after four years without getting a promotion. In my experience, she was among the most efficient and pleasant people I dealt with at this company. I don't know why she was never promoted.

It was at this publishing company that I was denied a request to sit on the "diversity" committee. Yes, that's right, one of only 2 Hispanics not in an office support role was told that there was no room for her. Sorry! We're filled up with white folk from the Ivy League! Too bad for you! How did they hope to diversify the company when they couldn't even diversify their committee?

100 words: Wendy, Sales Rep, late 80s

Wendy was a voluptuous 5'11" redhead with a throaty voice and a loud laugh. She wore a thumb ring and Victoria's Secret lingerie under her suits. We used to joke that we should dress as Mary Ann and Ginger for halloween, but we were never invited to the same parties. We worked together at a small trade magazine firm that published the leading industry magazines in both convenience stores and petroleum marketing. We knew we were much better than that. One day she went out and got a fake rose tattoo for her left breast. She was meeting an old boyfriend for drinks and she wanted to freak him out. This was back in the day when tattooing was illegal in New York City.

100 words: Sarah, Editorial Assistant

Sarah and I worked at the same publishing company--she was an editorial asst. Sarah was a tall, pale, lithe girl with a swanlike neck and a stylish bob. And, it turned out, a deep love of The Smiths and Morrissey. I began to call her Saz in honor of Morrissey's British press nickname, Moz. We could spend hours making up shit about Morrissey and doing Morrissey impressions, but we tried to keep it to lunch time only. Sarah was also a big Blur fan. I thought she was wrong about that but it turned out she was right. Walter Koenig, Checkov of Star Trek, once told her she had lovely skin.