May 18

In this episode, we answer listener emails about how to get a job in publishing; we tell you about some books that have nontraditional reading structures. In segment 3, Ann talks about Woodsburner by John Pipkin, and Michael tells us about Operation Mincemeat by Ben MacIntyre.

How do you get a job in publishing?

We start off with two listener emails asking about careers in publishing. Carrie wants to know how one becomes a buyer at a large bookstore chain like Barnes & Noble. And Weatherly asks how one becomes an editor.  Michael and I attempt to provide some information, mostly through sharing our own career paths. There really is no single “right” way, but the most common ways to get into publishing seem to be working in a bookstore, or starting out in an entry level position in a publishing company.  There are also some degree and certificate programs that can give job seekers a leg up, including:

Don’t go page by page (6:33)

Joanne in Canada suggested that we talk about books with unusual structures. Michael and I both immediately thought of books that would fit.

253 Field Guide to the North American Family

Michael tells you about 253 by Geoff Ryman, which was originally published online in 1998.  Set on a London subway train, the novel give you a peek into the thoughts of every passenger on that particular train. Described as a hypertext novel, it is one of those books where you can jump in anywhere and read the pages in any order. Sadly, it appears that 253 may be out of print in the United States, but you should be able to find it online or at your favorite used bookstore. We found a few copies at Powells.com and a few copies at Amazon.com. (Buying through either link will give Books on the Nightstand a small affiliate fee).

Ann talks about A Field Guide to the North American Family by Garth Risk Hallberg. This non-linear illustrated novella is structured like a field guide, with entries arranged alphabetically. By following the cross-references at the bottom of each entry, you begin to understand that this is the story of two families and the emotional pain that comes with being part of a family.

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (15:20)

Woodsburner Operation Mincemeat

In Segment 3, Ann talks about Woodsburner by John Pipkin, a novel that starts with Henry David Thoreau setting a fire that consumes 300 acres in Concord, Massachusetts. Michael tells us about the nonfiction book Operation Mincemeat by Ben MacIntyre, about a little-known part of World War II where two British intelligence officers came up with a plan to subvert the Nazis.

Don’t forget to vote in the poll that will determine which books Michael and I will read this summer! Voting closes May 31st, 2010.

  • I’d have Woodsburner on my shelf for a year. Thanks for reminding me and sharing your recommendation. And, I just learned about Operation Mincemeat this weekend — so thank again for sharing your views. will put Woodsburner close to the top of TBR stack and will buy Operation Mincement.

  • I’d have Woodsburner on my shelf for a year. Thanks for reminding me and sharing your recommendation. And, I just learned about Operation Mincemeat this weekend — so thank again for sharing your views. will put Woodsburner close to the top of TBR stack and will buy Operation Mincement.

  • I don’t know if this counts as a book with an unusual structure, but the concept is pretty audacious: A Void by George Perec. The conceit: write a novel the does not use the vowel “e.” Tough, right? What is even crazier is that it was written in French (sans “e”s) then translated into English (without a single “the”). I almost am more in awe of the translator then of Perec (who’s name, ironically, contains four of the vowel).

  • I don’t know if this counts as a book with an unusual structure, but the concept is pretty audacious: A Void by George Perec. The conceit: write a novel the does not use the vowel “e.” Tough, right? What is even crazier is that it was written in French (sans “e”s) then translated into English (without a single “the”). I almost am more in awe of the translator then of Perec (who’s name, ironically, contains four of the vowel).

  • You can get 253 for 1p at Amazon.co.uk – I’ll be watching for it because it sounds very much like my cuppa.

  • You can get 253 for 1p at Amazon.co.uk – I’ll be watching for it because it sounds very much like my cuppa.

  • Katie

    Hi guys, great show as usual. I have a couple more suggestions for people who want to work in publishing, at least on the editorial side:

    1 – Intern. There is a lot of unglamorous work in publishing and it’s best to know that going in. Plus you’ll learn the lingo.

    2 – Read for agents at boutique agencies. Often literary agents who run their own small agencies need readers. This is a great way to start flexing your editorial muscles part-time, hone your reading skills, and get an in to the business.

    3 – Write your own book reviews. There are all kinds of blogs and websites that take freelance book reviews. Reviewing recent releases will help you keep abreast of publishing trends, bestseller lists, etc. and it will make you think even more closely about what makes a great book than you do now.

    • Katie, thank you, those are great ideas! #3 is especially interesting, since it seems like something that anyone can try out for size.

  • Katie

    Hi guys, great show as usual. I have a couple more suggestions for people who want to work in publishing, at least on the editorial side:

    1 – Intern. There is a lot of unglamorous work in publishing and it’s best to know that going in. Plus you’ll learn the lingo.

    2 – Read for agents at boutique agencies. Often literary agents who run their own small agencies need readers. This is a great way to start flexing your editorial muscles part-time, hone your reading skills, and get an in to the business.

    3 – Write your own book reviews. There are all kinds of blogs and websites that take freelance book reviews. Reviewing recent releases will help you keep abreast of publishing trends, bestseller lists, etc. and it will make you think even more closely about what makes a great book than you do now.

    • Katie, thank you, those are great ideas! #3 is especially interesting, since it seems like something that anyone can try out for size.

  • LeKeshua

    I am so glad you chose this topic. I have always wondered and it still seems to me that you have to be pretty lucky. Unfortunately I live in Tennessee and the publishing is very limited and I’ve been looking at the job posting for them and I have not seen an opening in a couple of years. I too like many others are interested in editing but now that I have learned that you too read books or parts of books prior to selling them is amazing to. I am interested more along the lines of books from authors from different countries. I am wondering what the process is for having a manuscript translated? Is this done in-house? Freelance agent? How are the books selected to be translated in English and how often? Thanks again. I love this podcast and I am also a friend of both of you on GoodReads.

    • Hi LeKeshua – we hope to do a show about translations and specifically the process sometime in the future. I don’t know a lot about it myself, and look forward to learning more. We’ll line up an expert as a guest and you and I can find out together. Thanks!

      Geography can certainly be limited in this field, but more and more publishers are moving out of the traditional New York City hub — especially smaller, independent publishers. Also, more and more people are able to work remotely from whatever city they are living in. Don’t give up because you don’t live in New York City.

  • LeKeshua

    I am so glad you chose this topic. I have always wondered and it still seems to me that you have to be pretty lucky. Unfortunately I live in Tennessee and the publishing is very limited and I’ve been looking at the job posting for them and I have not seen an opening in a couple of years. I too like many others are interested in editing but now that I have learned that you too read books or parts of books prior to selling them is amazing to. I am interested more along the lines of books from authors from different countries. I am wondering what the process is for having a manuscript translated? Is this done in-house? Freelance agent? How are the books selected to be translated in English and how often? Thanks again. I love this podcast and I am also a friend of both of you on GoodReads.

    • Hi LeKeshua – we hope to do a show about translations and specifically the process sometime in the future. I don’t know a lot about it myself, and look forward to learning more. We’ll line up an expert as a guest and you and I can find out together. Thanks!

      Geography can certainly be limited in this field, but more and more publishers are moving out of the traditional New York City hub — especially smaller, independent publishers. Also, more and more people are able to work remotely from whatever city they are living in. Don’t give up because you don’t live in New York City.

  • Dotan Dvir

    “The Dictionary of the Khazars” by Milorad Pavić is a very unusual book that can be read in many ways.

    Arranged as a dictionary with subsections for Muslim, Jewish and Christian entries it is also a collage of stories echoing through time and influencing one another.

  • Dotan Dvir

    “The Dictionary of the Khazars” by Milorad Pavić is a very unusual book that can be read in many ways.

    Arranged as a dictionary with subsections for Muslim, Jewish and Christian entries it is also a collage of stories echoing through time and influencing one another.

  • Joanne

    I just found 253’s original website: http://www.ryman-novel.com/

  • Joanne

    I just found 253’s original website: http://www.ryman-novel.com/

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