Bookstores are my weakness, and quite unfortunately, I was recently subjected to several tempting multi-level, well-stocked London bookstores. Reader, it was terrible. As I threw more and more books into my arms (and eventually into shopping baskets), I tried to think of some constraints to narrow down which books I would allow myself to buy. I decided upon a few rules to guide my British book buying:
- I could buy books that weren’t available in the United States yet.
- I could buy books that had sucky U.S. editions but fabulous U.K. editions.
- I could buy books that were significantly cheaper in the United Kingdom than the American Amazon prices.
- I was required to buy the complete volumes of Roald Dahl’s short stories, because gah.
I just finished copy editing my first full book manuscript. After I had read through the entire thing, I was searching for “their” to check agreement, and I came across a sentence that was missing a word.
I stared at my computer in horror and blathered incoherent noises for a minute.
Later, as I was doing a final scroll-through of the Word document, I spotted an “every” that should have been “ever.” Oh no! I fixed it, obviously, but the negative thoughts rushed into my head: The manuscript is probably riddled with errors—egregious, noticeable errors—and I will be found out and never trusted with a book manuscript again. I’ll be stuck editing blogs until I go blind.
But then I remembered a very important lesson that I’ve had to teach my perfectionist self: Editors can’t be perfectionists. Continue reading
Almost everyone says the same thing about books you don’t finish: Just move on. Read something better, read something that’s more engaging. But for some reason, I stubbornly want to finish books that I’ve started.
If I start a book, I want to finish it so I can either write a review of what I didn’t like or be pleasantly surprised when the book improves as I read. And if I’ve gone to the trouble of buying a book and spent time reading it, it seems like a waste of time and money to abandon it.
Despite good intentions, I abandoned several books in 2017. Here are 10 books I didn’t finish last year: Continue reading
‘Twas the summer of 2016, and I was desperate for an internship somehow related to publishing. After my searches for internships showed that there were no relevant ones in St. Louis, where I would live for the summer, I had to figure out how to get the professional experience I desired. I had a list of publishers and literary magazines in St. Louis, so I started cold emailing. Not all of my cold emails were successful; most recipients never acknowledged my emails, in fact. But two were successful.
I emailed Amphorae Publishing and Open Books Press/Brick Mantel Books, introduced myself, and asked whether they needed an editorial intern for the summer. Both publishers responded that yes, they could use an intern.
Now, I’m not suggesting that I know some special secret about cold emails. I don’t—I just got lucky. But if my emails succeeded, maybe they’ll work as helpful templates for writing your own cold emails. Continue reading
I’m not going to lie to you: Interviews are scary.
Even worse, interviews don’t get easier. In fact, based on my experiences, they only get harder as the stakes get higher. Interviewing for my first job at a movie theater in high school was nerve-wracking to be sure, but there wasn’t quite as much at stake as there was when I interviewed via Skype for my first editorial internship and managed to get diagnosed with pneumonia hours prior to the call. And once you get into interviews for actual jobs—not just internships—you better be ready to sweat it out and try to not get sick in the hours before it.
I’ve interviewed various ways for internships and jobs in the past few years, from Skype conversations to phone calls to emails to driving four hours round-trip for an in-office interview. Read my interview tips in my column with The Sower: “Your Career Column: How to Rock an Interview.”
I edit one or two dozen articles each week and skim through dozens more on various websites. Over the course of a normal day, I come across overused words and phrases. Most of the time, I can hold my breath and deal with a “disruptive” here or 20 repetitions of “that” there. But there’s one word that I can’t handle anymore: The word “sexy” needs to be deleted from your content. Continue reading
Oh, how I wish there was an easy, cookie-cutter answer to the question, “What do I put on my resume?” I can tell you for certain to include your name, contact info, education and relevant work experience, but beyond that, you’re going to have to do some Googling.
That’s because what to include on your resume varies by what type of job you’re applying for and what industry it’s in. It’s like how you use different writing style guides for papers in different academic departments: English papers use MLA, history papers require Chicago and psychology papers work with APA. Similarly, various career fields will want you to highlight or emphasize particular aspects of your professional development.
And just like each professor has different requirements on a class syllabus about attendance, participation, late assignments, etc., each employer has slightly different requirements and job descriptions. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t work when it comes to crafting your resume—figure out what each employer is looking for and tailor your resume to those expectations.
Read my tips for creating a customized resume in my latest Your Career Column for The Sower, “What Do I Put on My Resume?”
Clothes, clean and dirty, often line the top of my dresser as I anticipate wearing something the next day or just haven’t put laundry away. Our fridge is a Jenga puzzle: a bag of sausages perches on top of a cinnamon roll pan; a pot with last night’s chicken tikka masala is squeezed in; various cheeses shoved into a shelf on the door. And please don’t ask about my desk.
But my bookshelves? They’re not just neat or organized; they’re ordered. This specific ordering, the rules of which can change from year to year, keeps the chaos of hundreds of books manageable. I sequence my books alphabetically by the author’s last name and sort books by the same author alphabetically by title. If the books are part of a series, I arrange the series by number. While it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing order visually, it’s efficient. I know where any book is within seconds. Continue reading
First of all, what is a personal professional website? It’s basically a website about your professional goals and accomplishments. This could include a portfolio of your work, whether that’s descriptions of your teaching philosophies and classroom experiences, links to articles or poetry you’ve written, descriptions of career-related projects you’ve developed and completed, or collections of your artwork or photography. Your personal professional site could also double as a blog if you want to write regularly about a certain topic.
If you’re worried that you don’t have enough to show off, your personal professional website can just be a more detailed version of your resume or LinkedIn profile. For example, when I created my first professional website, I made pages for each section you’d put on a resume: skills, education, work experiences and more. On each page, I went into detail about projects I’d worked on, what I learned from my classes, etc. I also included links to samples of my work, such as blog posts I’d written and social media accounts I had started. My goal was to show future employers what I was passionate about and show them how my education and experiences made me a great candidate to work with. Continue reading