The Importance of Details
I’ll admit it. I’m a reader—newspapers, magazines, books and whatever. You name it and I’ll be reading it. Maybe it’s the way I’m wired as I process a great deal of information, some details begin to come together and stick out. It’s a practice on a regular basis, I recommend to others. It never fails to amaze me when I meet novelists at a conference who write romance or suspense—but when I ask some questions I learn they don’t read these genres. I can tell you, it’s not the type of impression that you want to present on your editor.
Trade magazines like Publisher’s Weekly is another area where I regularly read. Now I may not get every single detail in every article but I do pick up on a large portion of this publication and try to carefully evaluate what I’m reading. You never know how these different details will come together into something significant into your daily work. It happens in my writing and editing life all the time. Now I understand the costly nature of a Publisher’s Weekly subscription. At $225 a year, it’s out of the reach of many people. As I’ve explained in the past, for many years, I went to the public library each week (or every other week) and read PW. Almost every public library takes this publication. In general, you will not find it in the library magazine section for the public. Librarians understand the value of this publication for their work and circulate this publication to their own staff. Make friends with your reference librarian and politely ask if you can read it. I suspect you will find great cooperation. Some times, I’ve had to physically stand right in front of them and read it—but they allow it. It show you how much librarians prize the information in this publication and guard their copies. For probably the last fifteen years, I’ve been a subscriber. If you’ve never seen it, most issues are about the size of a weekly news magazine like Time or Newsweek except the contents are focused on publishing.
As an example of the details you can learn from Publisher’s Weekly, let me return to a couple of recent entries. First, I wrote about the reason behind the rumor on the sale of Multnomah. In the July 17th issue, this rumor continues when you read this PW article. Notice the lack of denial as reported in this article. We still don’t know who purchased Multnomah but this news will be revealed in the days ahead. Also in my post about some trade show observations, I noted the lack of green badges or retailers. These details were verified in the numbers from this article.
I point out this article because it contains some interesting details about the publishing community. I do have one small but significant beef about one detail in the article. For weeks, I’ve been using the words “Howard Books” in my posts. While there is no official company press release about this name change, Howard Books appears on our business cards, the new catalogs and most importantly on each new book. Yet this article still uses the old name. I guess some habits are hard to change.