PubPro 2015: Event recap and session summaries (part 1)

On April 25, EAC-BC co-hosted PubPro 2015, the third annual unconference for managing editors and publication production specialists. A recap of the event and part 1 of the session summaries are below; part 2 is available here.

Event recap

By Iva Cheung

For the third year in a row, EAC-BC teamed up with Publishing@SFU to host PubPro, an unconference for managing editors, production professionals, and anyone who manages publication projects.

At this year’s day-long professional development event, participants gave presentations about:

  • editorial archiving
  • TeamworkPM, a project management system
  • building community
  • Markua, a simple but powerful authoring tool
  • creating documents for people with print disabilities

Participants also led discussions about:

  • change management
  • distribution for small publishers
  • indexing
  • STEM publishing
  • content management systems

The day was capped off with a networking tea and an invigorating session of chair yoga. Event organizer Iva Cheung and her team of volunteers look forward to bringing people together again in 2016.

We would also like to thank the event sponsors:

Iva Cheung is a Certified Professional Editor, indexer, designer, and publishing consultant.

Session summaries (part 1)

Written by Heather van der Hoop; copy edited by Karen Barry

Editorial archiving: A guided discussion led by Roma Ilnyckyj

Roma Ilnyckyj presented two resources that outlined best practices in editorial archiving: Laura Millar’s The Story Behind the Book and Julia C.G. Monks’ Re-creating the Editorial Process: A Case Study in Archival Decision-Making. Roma defined archiving as keeping a record of work related to a given project, whether for legal purposes, for historical record, or as a “representation of the editorial process” (Monks). She also mentioned that an archive could be as simple as your own writing or editing portfolio to showcase your expertise.

Roma asked how many attendees had a formal archiving process (none) or an informal one (several, some of whom simply said they kept everything). We discussed what was important to keep—actual work, contracts, meeting minutes, invoices, and payroll—and what was less so—duplicates, old reference manuals, etc. Roma offered a simple rule to help attendees create archiving guidelines: the more important something was to the process, the more important it is to keep it. Millar’s guideline: less than five percent of business/government records and fifteen percent of an individual’s papers should be kept as archives.

We also discussed the importance of applying archiving guidelines to electronic records as well as paper ones; it seems easiest to keep everything, but it’s unnecessary and can take up valuable space. For further information, attendees were urged to check university and city websites for their archiving policies as examples, to look into ISO standards, or to ask an archivist or librarian for help.

Cracking distribution as a small or micro publisher: A guided discussion led by Eve Rickert

Eve Rickert is the founder of Talk Science to Me Communications as well as part owner of Thorntree Press, a small publisher that releases two to three books a year. The company works with authors who have established strong platforms, and they hold a crowdfunding campaign to promote each book and drum up pre-sales and reviews.

Eve mentioned using CreateSpace, BookMobile, Itasca and Lulu, but said it’s a struggle to get Thorntree’s books into libraries and bookstores without a large distribution company. Distributors generally have exclusive rights, including sales through Amazon/CreateSpace, which makes a large difference in terms of profit ($8 per sale when Thorntree uses CreateSpace, but only $4 through a distributor).

The group discussed the possibility of adding a performance clause to a distributor’s exclusivity agreement, and the audience suggested LitDistCo as a small distributor for literary work. Another idea was to approach publishers for support with distribution in exchange for a portion of the revenue.

Jesse Marchand, a publisher at Whitecap Books, explained that large bookstores like Chapters and Barnes & Noble only consider books that will sell at least 1,000–2,000 copies. To get into individual stores, the group suggested holding book signings or contacting the company’s regional representative, who may be able to get the book onto the “regional” shelf.

Character and culture of communities: A presentation by Pam Drucker

Pam Drucker shared the story of Rabindranath Tagore, the first non-European to win a Nobel Prize in Literature, who established a school based on the concepts of community.

Pam explained the steps to building a community from scratch.

Start by creating a checklist outlining what type of community you want (casual or formal? mainstream or leading edge?) and what you hope to gain from it.

Next, formalize your community with cohesive forces like a council and bylaws, a code of conduct, or a charter. Outline your offerings: masterminds, facilitated meetings, social gatherings, etc. Remember to show your authenticity throughout this process—“straight paths are rarely interesting.”

Pam explained that a community leader might begin by bringing a “first” to the community—something members haven’t seen before. You’ll also want to create a three-year plan to help you focus on your mission, gather momentum, and address potential burnout of leaders. Pam stressed that momentum is all about inching forward, not about great strides. As you move on from a leadership role, credit others for successes, accept blame for any mistakes, pick great successors, and leave humbled.

Introducing Markua: A presentation by Peter Armstrong

Peter Armstrong is co-founder of Leanpub, which helps people publish books in progress. He stressed the importance of writing with no distractions, and argued that “formatting is procrastination.” Instead, writers should simply write, and then take care of formatting after the editing process.

To avoid formatting options in Word and other programs, Peter suggested Markdown, a text-to-HTML conversion tool. Leanpub created its own version (or “flavour”) of Markdown focused specifically on writing books and documents, called Markua. Peter gave a demonstration of writing in Markua to show its simplicity, and explained that Markua files can be exported to InDesign for styling and formatting. Learn more about Markua here.

Content management: A guided discussion led by Gisela Temmel

Gisela Temmel explained her company’s content management system, Empolis, which uses a database containing all content in various formats. She then opened up the discussion by asking others for suggestions of how they manage content, and many people shared their systems:

  • A custom database with Markdown files
  • Drupal
  • Adobe InCopy (to edit copy without affecting design)
  • Adobe InDesign (very carefully, so as not to disturb design!)
  • Adobe Contribute and Dreamweaver
  • Iron-Point
  • Acumen
  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive
  • Mura
  • WordPress

Heather van der Hoop is an editor and writer whose work has been featured on Business 2 Community, The Penny Hoarder, and The Write Life. Based in Kelowna, she enjoys playing along with Jeopardy and climbing rocks, mountains, and trees.

Karen Barry is launching into freelance editing and is currently enrolled in SFU’s Editing Certificate program. She has a background in biology and over 15 years’ experience writing and editing research papers, technical reports, grant proposals, and promotional and educational materials.

Photographs by Michelle van der Merwe.

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