All posts tagged: Publishing

You Better Work: My First Boss and Ru-Paul

On RuPaul’s book tour (Photos courtesy of the author) My first job out of college was as an assistant to a publicist at Hyperion, a “boutique” publishing house owned by a quaint corporation called The Walt Disney Company. We had ID cards with a Mickey Mouse hologram on them. Seriously. My boss, Jennifer, was a tall, brassy, 27-year-old woman who somehow seemed as old to me as one of the Golden Girls. She was fierce, whip smart, and a little bit scary. Jen liked a large iced coffee and a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with butter, which I ordered for her every morning. This was back when people ate bagels. She taught me to take a thorough phone message. To grill the “freelance book reviewers” trying to get free review copies. To massage the egos of the needier authors and only get her out of “a meeting” if it was someone specific. She taught me to pitch reporters, the most awkward and agonizing part of publicity work. While at Hyperion, Disney was bought by ABC, …

The Magic of the Bitch and Swap

Long ago in the 1990s, when I was a freelance magazine writer, I never had enough of anything — money, love, other people, and of course, clothing. I worked alone in my West Village apartment and most of my reporting was done by telephone. I rigorously scheduled social engagements at night, from dates to drinks with a friend, or a book party or reading or a real party or a fake PR party at a handbag store. If I didn’t speak to a real person face to face at least once a day, I felt myself fading from the human race. It was a time of living between no money, some money and family-begged money. I was actually fairly successful as a writer, but felt like an abject, obvious failure. I was consumed with fear that I would never meet a man whom I could marry and who would marry me. The latter was the bigger fear. It was a terribly lonely and scary stretch of years, despite the many, many parties. It was good, …

The Woman Who Taught Me to Chase After My “Big Life”

The room was quiet. Ann Shoket, Editor-in-Chief of Seventeen, had just finished giving a keynote address to a room full of hundreds of young women at a HerCampus conference in midtown Manhattan. When she asked for questions, you could feel the room hesitate. What do you say to someone who you’ve looked up to for over five years? I was an upcoming senior in college, and something in me knew this was my chance to start planting seeds for my dream job — becoming Ann’s assistant. I raised my hand, not really even knowing what I was going to say, and managed to ask, “Ann, considering what everyone is saying about the magazine industry right now, what would you say to parents like mine who worry about me chasing my dreams of becoming a magazine editor?” She started to answer and then paused. “Do you want to record this to send to your parents?” she asked. I pulled out my phone and, with a shaky hand, recorded an answer I will always remember: “Your job …

My Company Sank and Nearly Took My Morals With It

I’ve never been afraid of failure. I always think of the potential for failure as pure “dare”—and can’t resist staring it straight in the face to see if I can beat it. I always thought this was a noteworthy trait of mine, a good trait. Hell, I even gave speeches about the benefits of not being afraid of failing: learning, experience, trying out innovative ideas, pushing your boundaries, surprising yourself. The trick, I say in those speeches, is to pick good failures, failures that give you more than you lose, whether insights or learning or experiences or, heck, even just great friends or one helluva a good story. You weigh the pros of what you might achieve and accomplish against what the worst-case scenario might be and say: Can I live with the worst, if it comes to that? I had always taken risks in publishing, tried to do things people said “couldn’t be done,” made things from scratch without enough money or enough time or enough team or all three. I did these things, …

Margit’s Note: It’s a Flop!

It’s really hard running a website. No, it ain’t brain surgery, as a favorite colleague used to remind me at AOL (no comment). But even for someone who has a gazillion years experience running editorial teams for dot coms, there are days when you want to hit the big red “delete all posts NOW” button. It’s especially hard when it’s your baby. Your own creation. Your side gig. Your passion project. Your potential business. Your “Hey!! Look over here! Don’t you want to pay me to do this? You know you do.” Wink wink. Hip flick. Google Analytics tells you no one liked that “PETS” issue, you’re on your sixth Art Director (because your vision, their vision and your micro-manage-y approach has led to you making Picmonkey art at the last minute…more than once) and three people have unsubscribed from your newsletter. I speak theoretically, of course. The grind of a weekly publication is no joke. But then, the next sunshine-y day, you get a traffic bonanza for a meaningful essay, 50 people attend your …

tuenight retire more magazine

More (and More) Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Another one bites the dust. The recent announcement that More would cease publication was just the latest blow to loyal magazine fans who still enjoy flipping through their favorite glossies. The women’s lifestyle magazine, which aimed at older, affluent “women of style and substance with articles on style, health, work, spirituality and relationships,” garnered both publicity and favor by featuring celebs ages 40 and up, including cover stars Diane Lane, Rachel Weiz and Jennifer Connelly. In 2002, Jamie Lee Curtis made news by appearing on the cover in only a sports bra and underwear, minus makeup or photoshopping. The magazine aimed to go more upscale and a little younger in the past year – Katie Holmes, a mere 37, ditched her makeup for the February cover – but the move failed to nab advertisers. Publisher Meredith Corporation forced it into early retirement after nearly 19 years of publication, making it the first magazine casualty of 2016; the last issue will appear this April. And with up to 15 reported layoffs in November, some predict that …

The “Vision Thing”: How to Un-See Yourself

I’m a starter. A person who starts things, makes things. I’m a little bit addicted to the blank page, the open field, the undefined future. In my career as a magazine editor, I was a part of four start-ups and led the rebirths of two magazines. I’ve written one book and am at work on another, lining up words and ideas and moving them around the page until they eventually add up to a focused emotional experience. Seeing what isn’t yet there and building it? That’s my specialty. But I want to share a secret about how to have “vision” — a talent that is generally attributed to a person’s having unusual creativity; the ability to pull, seemingly from thin air, an idea that is so relevant and alive we can’t resist it. It seems like vision is magic — yanking the rabbit out of a hat — but for me, my vision has always come from a very simple and readily available resource: seeing people in the world around me very, very clearly. Remember …