The fourth annual PubPro unconference for managing editors and publication production professionals welcomed participants from across Canada and the U.S., as it was, for the first time, offered as a workshop immediately before the Editors Canada national conference. Although not as many attendees came prepared with talks, all participants came prepared to talk, many of them stepping up to lead discussions on different aspects of publication project management. PubPro volunteers Connie Behl, Ellen Michelle Koehler, and Yvonne Robertson took notes and have summarized the sessions. Continue reading
by Megan Brand; discussion led by Roma Ilnyckyj
Attendees from various private and public organizations compared their companies’ archival strategies, or lack thereof, regarding what to keep, recycle, or shred. Publishing houses, the BC government, CGA Canada, UBC and SFU were said to have vastly divergent document-retention policies, which run the gamut from keeping all emails and hard-copy editorial files to ruthlessly discarding them. Liability issues, possible historical value, and simply the need to reminisce were cited as the main reasons for choosing to keep documentation. Recent archives were also said to be a strong training resource. However, the sheer volume of material can prove crippling for users attempting to settle disputes over stylistic decisions. And although the digitization of hard copies is one solution (scanning them as PDFs), attendees questioned the point at which digital files are rendered useless as the programs required to open them become obsolete. Ultimately, companies need an archival plan, no matter how ad hoc.
Lean Publishing: Lessons Learned at Leanpub
by Lana Okerlund; presented by Peter Armstrong
After a fast and furious presentation of over a hundred slides in 20 minutes (honest!), Leanpub co-founder Peter Armstrong wowed PubPro attendees by creating a pretty darn good-looking e-book with just a few keystrokes. Had this not just been a demo, the book would have been immediately available for readers to buy and comment on. (Fun side tip: Check out hipster Ipsum the next time you need filler text.)
“A book is a startup: a risky, highly creative endeavour undertaken by a small team with a low chance of success,” Armstrong said as he explained the epiphany for Leanpub. Following serial entrepreneur Steve Blank’s suggestion to “get out of the building” and talk to customers, Leanpub allows authors to connect quickly (“frictionlessly” in Leanpub lingo) with readers and use their feedback to improve (“pivot”) their work until they have it right (“achieve a product/market fit”).
Making a fascinating and convincing comparison of Leanpub’s model with Victorian-era serial publishing by Charles Dickens (another serial entrepreneur) and Mary Elizabeth Braddon (the 1860s version of fan fiction writer E.L. James)—not to mention Dostoyevsky—Armstrong explained how authors today need to “get work out there and generate buzz,” and how anything standing in the way of putting words in front of readers, including editors, was just procrastination. “Everyone is optional,” he said. “There should be no gatekeepers. We all need to earn our place. At Leanpub, authors and readers are equally our customers, and we need to balance their interests.”