Passage to Publishing: My Time at Atlantic

By: Kristen Joseph

Flashback to a couple years ago: I’m sitting at my desk waiting for my teacher to start regaling the class with all her tales about the wonders of algebra. I grab the Harry Potter book that I’m currently reading (Half-Blood Prince, I think? It’s been a while…) and start to skim a page to occupy my time. So far, I’m enjoying it, and I’m just about to fully immerse myself in the story when I find something within the pages that will stick with me for the rest of my life ­– a mistake.

a1Normally, when I find a small grammatical error in a book I’m able to get over it quickly, after cringing a bit. But that time, I just couldn’t. Percy,— one of many Weasley brothers — was the main topic of discussion in the small section I had been reading. His name was mentioned at least five times on a single page. Percy, Percy, Percy, Perry, Percy… Wait, what? Perry? That’s not right, that is completely 100% wrong, how did no one catch the misspelling of this character’s name even though it’s mentioned four other times on the page?!?

Yeah, that was my reaction. And that small inaccuracy, — an r instead of a c — marked the beginning of my journey into the publishing industry.

Working with books was —and still is — my dream, but I was also considering a law career, a more feasible and reliable career choice. I assumed it would take me at least ten years to actually work in the publishing field, if the fates would allow me to pursue my dream job. So when I was looking for summer internships a couple months ago, with the plan to send resumes to half the law offices in town, the last thing that I expected to find was a publishing company, in my hometown, that actually accepted interns!

I was incredibly excited and nervous about this job prospect with Atlantic (because there’s always the chance that you won’t be hired for a position that you’ve applied for, and you’ll have to begin your job search all over again). Luckily, the application process was incredibly pleasant and easy-going, and I got the job!

a4I’ve been here for a mere ten weeks, and I’ve enjoyed every second of it, even the less exciting tasks. I always have a range of assignments to accomplish, so if I start getting tired of doing one thing I can switch to another. Editing, proofreading, placing photos in books, creating indexes (which falls under the category of “less exciting tasks”), researching future book topics – I now have experience with each of these topics, and so many more.

The most unexpected part about this internship has been learning so much about marketing, a side of the publishing world I hadn’t really considered. I had anticipated a lot of reading and fact-checking, maybe some editing,; I never thought that I would learn how to create and manage Amazon ads, and now I’ve made a bunch of them! Watching the sales increase for products I’ve made ads for is honestly one of the most rewarding feelings. I know that all of the editorial work that I do for the company helps them out, but it’s really great to see tangible results from my contributions to the company.

a3.jpgNonfiction books typically aren’t my genre-of-choice when I’m reading, but I’ve sincerely enjoyed working at a small nonfiction book publisher. I learn so many new things everyday – from the books I’m prepping, the various projects I’m working on, and from all of the great people that I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Thank you all so much for helping me to take this wonderful first step into the world of publishing. I can’t wait to keep on traveling through it!

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No More Chicken Sandwiches, and Other Perks of Working for Atlantic

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This sandwich looks amazing right? Well it wasn’t after 2.5 years…

I’m not going to lie. When I got the email asking if I was still interested in working for
Atlantic Publishing, my first thought was that I could finally quit my job at Chick-Fil-A. That was two and a half years of lunch rushes, broken ice cream machines, and fried chicken that would be replaced with an office job doing what I love: inspiring people with the power of books.

When I started five months ago, I didn’t quite know what to expect. While I had repeatedly told myself that a career in the publishing industry was the correct path for me, part of me was worried that I would get there and hate it. Another part of me was apprehensive about the focus on YA and nonfiction because I had never thought about either of those genres as an option. Well between you and me, I was completely wrong. I love publishing. I love nonfiction. I love the YA world.  As a kid I spent more time than I would care to admit in our school library, but let’s just say that the librarians knew my name, reading level, and the books I had already read. They even would keep new arrivals behind the desk for me to go through. I love having the chance to help create new and engaging content that will hopefully impact students like I was impacted.

As one of two marketing interns with no real marketing director above us other than the president of the company, I had an unexpected amount of freedom and a variety of tasks. Some days I would spend hours on Amazon creating ads and updating product descriptions. Other days I would do revisions for an updated edition of our massive Restaurant Managers Handbook. No matter what the rest of my day consisted of, the best part of any day was managing this blog and social media. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that people are reading the words I’ve written and being influenced by them.

keywordsThe publishing industry isn’t always glamorous or exciting. Those hours on Amazon? I can’t say that they’re my favorite part of my job responsibilities, but at the same time I love being able to physically see the impact that my work has on the company when we make a sale.  In the relatively short time that I have been here, many of the ads that I have worked on directly created over five hundred to a thousand dollars in sales.

This semester has been an incredible learning experience. I couldn’t be more grateful to Rebekah, Doug, and Lisa for providing me with the opportunity to learn and grow or to my fellow interns who made the workday so fun.

I can’t wait to continue working here full time next year! Keep reading and keep writing!

 

The Art of Editing, Mysterious Cats, and Phone Scams: My Time at Atlantic Publishing

By Yvonne Bertovich

During my first day in the office at Atlantic Publishing last July, the phone rang and one of my fellow interns picked it up. I thought to myself, “Obviously that must be pretty important. Probably some designer or author following up.. I’m glad I’m not the one answering.” I’m one of those people who gets all twisty inside when I don’t know the answer to something, but I’m definitely quick to admit my shortcomings. Listening in to that phone conversation provided me with my first lesson about Atlantic. “Ma’am, I’m sorry, we’re actually Atlantic Publishing.. You’re referring to Atlantic Publishers. We’ve found out that’s actually a scam company claiming to be based in Colorado.” OK, noted. I work for Atlantic Publishing — names are a big deal, people.

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Another gem from Shutterstock, but honestly not an exaggerated visual representation of these calls.

Unfortunately for us, it was a rare day in the office if we didn’t receive at least two or three accusatory phone calls (usually from older folks) asking where in the heck their magazines were. “Atlantic Publishers” (whoever they are) sends out fraudulent mailers warning magazine subscribers to hurry up and send them money because their subscriptions are running out. Due to the influx of phone calls we received, clearly a lot of people fell for it and thought it was us.

Atlantic Publishing specializes in adult and young adult nonfiction books on a wide variety of topics from taking care of worms to becoming a fashion designer. It’s truly a fascinating range. As an editorial intern, you might assume that every day of work would be about the same — but it hasn’t been. Working at a book publishing company, I assumed I’d constantly be surrounded by books, both old and new, both crisp and shiny or even sour and water damaged. Sure, we have a few books in our office, and our distributing warehouse is right on-site too, but most of my job entails a lot of computer work. Microsoft Word has quickly become my domain, even though I tried to make Pages a thing for a large portion of my life (sorry, Apple).

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I have edited and proofed and added my own bits here and there to manuscripts  for works about the Peace Corps, a massive handbook for restaurant managers, a book about John Quincy Adams, a book about the Russian Revolution, a guide for waiters and waitresses, how to care for cats, how to become a U.S citizen, how to survive long distance relationships, a guide for filmmakers, a guide to studying, a guide for new professors and new teachers, a book about living a healthy lifestyle, etc. I’m forgetting many, I’m sure. I was even able to undertake a re-write project for a young adult’s book on pet-sitting (coming soon) and write regular blog posts.

One of my favorite moments was helping interview the second-oldest Pearl Harbor survivor, Lt. Jim Downing, for a book in our historical anniversary series. Downing, who had recently celebrated birthday number 1-0-3, provided a wealth of information in a warm, yet lulling voice. You could feel how much the ordeal stuck with him. Downing, also interviewed in publications such as Time Magazine, shared a story of how he helped send handwritten letters home to troops’ families — being especially useful in narrating the words of those who were recovering in the infirmary. He even took on the painful task of gathering dog tags of the deceased and further detailing deaths to family members overseas. He knew all of his 1,500 shipmates on the USS Virginia personally, because of his position as postmaster on the ship. He’s not sure how many handwritten letters he sent, but he estimated well into the hundreds.

Like Downing, I believe there’s something very special and personal in handwritten letters. Another small project I loved at Atlantic was when I wrote thank you notes to contributors to the young adult title “So You Want to Be a Fashion Designer.” The main contributor was the winner of Project Runway Junior, and I recognized the names of several other contributors from the regular version of the show.

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Considering that I have been involved with Atlantic for roughly 10 months, the office landscape has changed in small ways (for example, there was an office cat at one point that mysteriously came and went who I lovingly named LeBron), but my acquisition of knowledge has remained pretty steady, as well as my love of sorting through hundreds of corny stock photos to find ones worthy of use for our books (personally, I think the cornier the better, but it’s all about the readers).

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One of my favorites that Shutterstock had to offer when I searched for “college students.”

Once you assume the role of an editor of other people’s work — real work that will be produced sold in the real world — it’s hard to turn this switch off when proofreading your own writing. I am incredibly thankful to have gained an even greater appreciation for the written word and yes, even good grammar.

Being an editorial intern all these months hasn’t made me into a perfect writer, no. That’s the beauty of writing. It’s ever-fluid and ever-changing. One word swap can change the meaning of a whole block of text. It’s one of those areas where there is always room for improvement. I’ll read something I wrote three months ago, three weeks ago, or even three days ago and scoff at myself, “Wow, what was I thinking.” Some people call it self-deprecation but I call it fun. Your toughest opponent in life is yourself (or some other weird slogan with an 80s aerobic gym flavor). Or, in some cool cases too, I’ll reread something I’ve written and re-inspire myself for a current project or enjoy revisiting something I’m proud of.

Working at Atlantic has caused me to be even more critical, analytical, and curious. It has reaffirmed that I’m at least somewhat on the right path to having a successful career due to the support I’ve received from my editors Rebekah and Lisa, and my boss, Doug. I’m honestly just thankful it got me out of the newsroom, at least for a while. I may be a journalism major, but I’m no newsie.

The Publishing Industry: More Than Just NYT Bestsellers

By Danielle Lieneman

Before the long process of beginning a career in the publishing industry, it is imperative that you understand your options. Last week we broke down the different titles you could have at various publishing houses, this week our focus is on the different types of publishing houses there are (and believe me, there’s a lot more than you initially think).

Trade Publishers

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Trade publishers are those that create the books that are typically found in bookstores for the average consumer to purchase and read. It’s estimated that trade publications account for over half of all publishing in the United States. The majority of trade publications lie with the 5 biggest global companies, commonly referred to as “The Big 5:” HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Hachette, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster.

These companies have multiple smaller “imprints” that have specific specializations and focuses, like YA fiction, historical fiction, and even cookbooks. If you’re interested in working with a specific focus, these smaller imprints could be the perfect choice. Lists of the company’s imprints can be found on their websites. Additionally, these imprints make great stepping-stones for positions within the general company after you have already proved yourself.

Don’t be intimidated by the Big 5 and their imprints or think that your options are limited because of them. Even if your dream job is to work in a company that specializes in literary fiction, there are smaller, independent publishing houses that do exactly that. Working at a smaller company provides the opportunity to gain experience working with a project from start to finish and getting exposure to parts of the industry you might not otherwise see. This experience is imperative if you wish to move to a bigger company one day.

Scholarly and University Presses

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Theoretical and research intensive texts are the main focus for scholarly and university presses. All books that get published are of a high, scholarly caliber and aim to bring good publicity to the university. Books can range from fiction to nonfiction, with many having a regional focus. Because these companies typically operate as a component of the university, they are usually fairly small. That also makes these companies great options for students looking to gain experience in the industry and for university faculty to get their name in print.

Textbooks and Technical Publishers

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Similar to scholarly and university presses, textbook and technical publishers focus on educational and academic information. The biggest difference is that textbook and technical publisher’s will more often than not publish the big textbooks that feel as heavy as an unborn child. An attention to detail is crucial no matter what sector of publishing you choose to go in, but it’s especially important here. For some of the more advanced material, like college level Chemistry or Calculus, background knowledge in the subject is required in order to catch content mistakes. Despite my aversion to all things math and science, there are plenty of other opportunities in the technical and textbook publishing fields that should be explored.

No matter which field of publishing you decide to go into, all provide a rich and rewarding experience. It’s amazing to know that you’re impacting someone’s life, whether by fostering a love of reading, providing SAT prep help, or teaching someone about a country they’ve never been to. Internships are available for most every company, so if you think that the publishing industry is the one for you, get out and start researching!

In case you couldn’t already tell, I have a true love for this industry and the written word in general, so please reach out to me if you have any questions! To learn more about the publishing industry as a whole, I highly recommend our book Publishing 101. While initially intended for authors looking to publish their book, there is a lot of great information within the book that can help anyone interested in the field.

Five Things I Learned from My Internship at Atlantic Publishing

By Taylor Gaines

It’s hot outside. You probably feel like you need to shower two to seven times a day to deal with the humidity (that’s not just Florida, right?). The days are actually longer during summer than any other time of the year. But for some reason, whether you are in school, working at a job, or just hanging out at home, summer always seems to be gone before you know it.

This summer was certainly no different for me, one that I spent here at Atlantic Publishing blogging and writing and editing and phone calling and twittering and sitting and standing and driving and much, much more. I did and learned more than I could have ever hoped for during my internship here at Atlantic. But for my last blog post as an intern, I want to take the time to talk about some of the things I’ve learned from my time here.

So, without further ado, here are five things I learned from being an intern at Atlantic Publishing.

1) Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect, but It Sure helps

The old adage about bringing your lunch pail to work every day is certainly tired and more than a little cliché. You’re probably pretty close to journeying far away from this part of the internet just because I brought it up. But listen. There really is something to it!

As a writer, there is something I find incredibly soothing, nourishing, and beneficial to coming in every day and working on my skills. Whether I was writing blog posts, editing upcoming books, or making phone calls to sales reps, I felt like I was improving my skills in one way or another on a daily basis.

In my first blog post, I wrote about the importance of reading and writing a lot if you want to become a good writer. I have to say — and I’m far from perfect — I feel more strongly about that than ever. Writing is not about being struck by creative inspiration and writing the Next Great American Novel. Writing is about sitting down at your desk every day and spitting out words. You can’t get better if you don’t put anything down on the paper (or the screen).

2) Hard Work is Contagious

Maybe you’ve been vaccinated and can’t be infected by it, but in my experience here at Atlantic Publishing, I’ve found that hard work is incredibly contagious. Whether it was our editor, Rebekah, working in the cubicle across the way or the warehouse guys working their butts off next door, I always felt like I had to work harder just to keep up with everyone else here at IMG_2008Atlantic. Looking around and seeing that everyone else wants to do a great job definitely makes you work a little harder so that you feel you deserve to be working alongside them.

It’s like when you watch the Super Bowl-winning team rant and rave about how great their locker room environment was and how they really pushed each other to success. Listen, I’m not 100 percent sure if we could put together a Super Bowl-winning team here at Atlantic. But I like our chances.

3) We Are Not Atlantic Publishers

I’m sure that when I was telling family and friends about my internship this summer, I may have accidentally called the company Atlantic Publishers once or twice at the beginning. Heck, I’m Criminalssure we’ve all done it. Publishing, publishers; they’re pretty similar words, I don’t blame you. But let me tell you something.

WE ARE NOT ATLANTIC PUBLISHERS. We are Atlantic Publishing. Atlantic Publishers is a scam magazine subscription company based out of Colorado who tries to steal money out of the pockets of the elderly. They send fake bills to people and ask them to send money in. Do not send them money. Do not pay $200 a year to subscribe to People Magazine. If you do either of those things, don’t expect the magazine to actually come in the mail. If you get a bill from Atlantic Publishers, throw it out. It’s not real. And it’s not us. It’s a completely different — and far less legitimate — company. We don’t like them either.

Trust me, we get a lot of calls about it.

4) Commuting Isn’T Really that Bad (But it Kind of is)

I don’t think I ever really understood why my dad was always complaining about his hour-plus commute to work. I wasn’t necessarily running around going Get over it already, Dad, but I definitely didn’t get why it wasn’t something you didn’t just get used to. But you know what, I get it. I drove 45-50 minutes three days a week to work at Atlantic, and I got annoyed by it sometimes. It can be long, and draining, and really mess with your sleep schedule when you have to factor a couple hours of driving into your schedule every day.

But it’s also kind of comforting and soothing to hop in the car and go into the office like a grown-up. I took a route without much traffic, and I have a pretty healthy podcast diet. So I usually had something to look forward to. I’ve always been one to be catching up on podcasts a week or two after they come out because there are just too gosh-darn many that I really like listening to and not enough time to listen to them. But you want to know something about commuting? I am always caught up on podcasts. Not only that, I find myself looking forward to new episodes coming out rather than dreading having to catch up on all of them. It’s an entirely new cultural experience for me.

(Okay, maybe I care about the podcast thing a little more than I should…but still! It’s pretty great!)

5) Publishers Do a Lot of Stuff

I never would have considered how many different things go down at a book publishing company.

There’s writing and editing; those things I expected. There’s emailing, answering phones, and having meetings; those things I should have expected. Then there’s inputting book data into something called ONIX, calling sales reps for libraries and schools around the country, and finding reputable professionals to write forewords and case studies for our books. Those things actually make books and book-selling happen, and I never even considered them.

There are a million more things, too. We check books for plagiarism, we look up BISAC codes, and we make glossaries and indexes for our books. We even have a distribution center right next door to our editorial office. Really, it all happens here. I may have thought I would come to Atlantic, do some writing, do some editing, and be on my way. Instead, I did that and much, much more, getting a ground-level look at the publishing world and seeing the ways it is changing and evolving every day.

I’m not sure I’ve earned the right to pull of some kind of poetic ending to this post or to make some kind of memorable goodbye (and hey, it’s not like I’m dying, my internship is just ending), so I’ll just say this. Thank you for reading. I hope you learned something at some point, or at least enjoyed something. Keep reading, and keep writing. We’ll see you real soon.

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Writing Hacks: 5 Tips to Help You Start Your First Nonfiction Book

By: Rebekah Sack, Editor

Starting a book can be a pretty daunting task — especially if your goal is to write a fiction book that carefully reflects the life you’ve lived in some profound, poetic, literary way. However, if you really need to get your name in print, starting with a nonfiction book can be the perfect way to jumpstart your career.

Nonfiction is much easier to write and edit than fiction. There is less “creative justice” that must be served — though being creative certainly shouldn’t be dismissed — but that means that the editor won’t get caught up in ambiguous territory. Most nonfiction prose is pretty straightforward: that sentence isn’t parallel? Fix it. This chapter seems out of order? Move it around. This date is wrong? Change it.

The writing process also closely imitates that of a research paper. You do the research on the topic at hand, take close notes while doing so, and then you begin.

But, for many people, that’s where the “ummm, what?” faces start to form. How exactly do you begin? Here are 5 easy tips to get your first nonfiction book in print.

1. Figure out who you’re writing for

So, you want to write a book. You’re a natural-born writer, but the writing world seems like a catch-22, right? If you don’t have something published with your name on it, the big publishers won’t take you seriously.

That’s where considering a work-for-hire job can be useful. These kinds of jobs mean that you take the topic that the publisher assigns you, and you churn out the book for a set amount of pay. You don’t earn royalties on the book, but you do earn the invaluable experience of working for a professional publisher as well as an editor. Many fiction writers spend years working on their drafts, and they never see their work come to fruition (meaning they never earn a dime).

To find work-for-hire writing jobs or freelance writing gigs in general, check out Upwork and LinkedIn. I get messages on LinkedIn often about freelance opportunities, and you’d be surprised how successful this kind of networking can be. There are others, but as an editor for a publishing company that frequently hires work-for-hire freelancers, these are the ones I would recommend.

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2. Research similar books on Amazon

Whether you land the work-for-hire job or you plan to start your book on your own, it’s important to be clear about what’s already on the market. For example, let’s say you want to write a book for young adults about bullying. The logical first step would be to type “bullying book for teens” or something of that nature into the Amazon search engine and to look closely at the first page of results. Take note of the titles (unless your publisher has already finalized the title in a work-for-hire circumstance) and use the “Look Inside” feature to browse the table of contents. What appeals to you? What kinds of topics are being covered? What appears to be missing? You may find areas that you wouldn’t have thought to include in your book, but your key is finding the missing stuff — what are people in need of that isn’t being given to them?

That’s the sweet spot, and that’s exactly what you need to capitalize on to make a name for yourself in the industry.

It can also be useful to test out questions on social media or to your target audience. You might come up with a list of questions like these:

  1. How prevalent is bullying in your life?
  2. What do you want to know about bullying?
  3. Do you have any personal stories regarding bullying?
  4. What do you think other people should know about bullying?

3. Draft up an outline

Once you’re comfortably familiar with what is already on the market, it’s time to draft up your outline. Again, some publishers might actually already have an outline for you to work from, but many won’t — they’ll expect you to come up with one yourself that the editor will approve.

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I have seen many outline submissions myself, and I have a few do’s and don’ts:

DO

  • Format your document carefully.
  • Include brief statements explaining what your headings mean.
  • Be thorough — a half-page or even a one-page outline is lazy.
  • Try to group things in threes — If Chapter 1 has 2 subheadings, do your best to come up with a third. In general, when things are grouped in threes, it feels more right.
  • Make note of sources you have that might help with a certain section — this will help you in the long run.
  • Do NOT send in an unpolished outline for an editor to review. You will drive me her crazy.

DON’T

  • Be sloppy.
  • Include too many details — while a 6-page outline with paragraphs under each chapter heading might seem like a good idea, at the end of the day, the editor expects an outline review to take a short amount of time. If she has to sift through a 6-page paper, you’re making her life a bit more difficult than it needs to be. Keep your detailed notes in a separate document and only include short descriptors.
  • Have underwhelming titles. Your goal is to impress and to have an outline that is as close to the finished product as possible. You will have leeway as you write, but do your best to brainstorm the best titles and headings.
  • Leave out key information. This is why researching what is already out there is so important. Take careful notes of what everyone else is doing so that you know you aren’t missing something. If you’re writing a book about managing a restaurant and you forget to mention scheduling issues, you’ve missed the mark.

4. Stick to a schedule

I’ve seen it happen, and it’s not pretty. The deadline is at the end of the month, and you’re only one-third of the way there. While setting a writing schedule can be intimidating, do your best to plan a certain amount of time to work every single day. I would advise against a specific word count (I’m going to write 1,500 words every day), messy deskand I would steer you more towards a time-related goal (I’m going to sit down for 1.5 hours every day). The reason for this is that not all of the work you’re going to be doing is writing.

With nonfiction work, there’s a lot of research and documentation that needs to be done. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself sitting down and spending 30-45 minutes just reading the latest research. That doesn’t directly translate into a word count goal, but it does count toward the progress of your project.

The important thing is that you’re sitting down every day, and you’re progressively working toward the finish line. If you don’t keep up with it, you might find yourself being kicked off of the project, or worse, never finishing the book you set out to complete.

5. When you’re done editing, edit some more

This is particularly important if you’re not doing a work-for-hire job, but no matter how you slice it and dice it, it’s still key to producing quality writing. When you submit a manuscript to anyone, whether it be an agent, a publisher, or your editor, it should be, for all intents and purposes, an edited draft. There should not be any grammar or punctuation mistakes, the sentences should be coherent and well-formed, and there should be little to no thoughtless mistakes, such as the word “or” being “of” on accident.

An editor expects to fix things, but not careless mistakes. She expects to fine-tune — move this sentence here, add a paragraph here, create a hook there — not to be doing spell-check for you on what was supposed to be your final draft. Take pride in your work. Sure, you might be working for a miniscule paycheck, but your reputation is on the line. This is your stepping stone, and you’re making a name for yourself. Only submit work that you’re proud of, and you’re on your way to becoming a successful author.

Happy writing!

Break The Ice: Five Team-building activities to use this Fall

By: Grace Hudgins

Getting acquainted in a new place is probably one of the hardest things to do as a young adult. I’ve heard it doesn’t get much easier when you’re an adult either – not to be a Debby-downer or anything. But as students, we’re constantly meeting new people, becoming a part of a new team or leading a set of students on our own.

I’m currently rewriting a book that has 365 team-building activities – emphasis on the 365 – so icebreakers and team bonding exercises are the only topics that I can think about this week. It’s kind of beneficial for me though because of the leadership positions I have in college. I’m always trying to think of new activities to bring my group members closer together, and this book has given me a couple of great ideas.

So this week, I’ve decided to pass along my now expert-knowledge on teamwork and introductions to you all just in case you have a leadership position back at school like me.

Below, I’ve listed 5 icebreakers that don’t suck are sure to make your first few classes/team meetings/orientations a breeze.

1. Two Truths and a Lie

This is a classic icebreaker that’s used at pretty much every orientation, team meeting, or first day of school/classes. It’s a great way to get to know people. No matter if they are just your classmates, teammates or club members, it’s a great start to conversation.

How it works: Everyone will write two true facts about themselves and one lie. Taking turns, everyone will read what he or she wrote and have the others guess at which fact is the lie. It’s fun to include personal facts that are surprising to people, and hear about what people actually have and have not done.

78_32944772. The Name Game

I’m sure there are more versions of this game, but the one I’ve listed is a lot of fun. I’ve played it at many leadership retreats and dance camps, and it’s always successful.

How it works: Each person writes his or her own name on a tag. The leader then collects all the names and the team sits in a circle. The leader then sticks the tags on the backs of the people at random. When the leader says, “go,” everyone gets up and tries to find his or her tag. Each person also tries to prevent others from seeing the tag that is on their back. When team members find their tags, they grab them and put them on their chests. The game ends when everyone has found his or her tag.

3. Find the Common Thread

Different details can be added to this exercise to make it fit the occasion you’re using it for. It’s fun to play because you get to see how much you have in common with those around you.

How it works: Divide your team/class/group members into two, and give them a chart with how many ever slots your heart desires. From there, your team will have to walk around and talk with others to find out if they have anything in common. Ten is usually a good number because it’s not too long or too short. Whoever has the most first wins.

4. Gifts and Hooks

As I was researching different team-building exercises for the book I’m revising, I came across this one written by a managing director for leadership strategies. It’s simple, will get your team talking, and maybe even form a bond of trust between group members. It can be used for students also to help with group projects and assignments.

How it works: Have each person write down their “gifts” or skills they think they can contribute to the team, along with a “hook,” which is a flaw, that they think they could improve. Once that’s finished, have them walk around and discuss it with a partner or have them post their answers on a wall. From there, the leader (if that’s you) can decide who will work best with whom or figure out how to tackle the year ahead. For more details, read the instructions here.

5. Color Personality Tests

These are a lot of fun, and they make people think about their everyday actions. You can find these online anywhere, but it’s basically a survey that will tell your team members what kind of personalities they have. Once everyone has figured out what color and personality type they have, it will be easier to group certain students together based on their results.

How it works: Check this one out as an example.


Here are three that suck are not very good.

1.What Animal Are You?

Yeah. I saw this one as an employee team-building activity. I don’t really think I need to explain it either. Piece of advice: Don’t make students who are in high school or college play animal charades as an icebreaker, much less full-grown adults at work. Just take my advice and don’t do it.

2. Make the Largest Bubble67_3979458

Yes, you read that right. This is an exercise where team members have to make bubbles out of soap. Not sure why anyone would think this activity builds character, but I wouldn’t suggest it to people 10 and up (or period, but that’s just me).

3. Share the Crayon

This is another one I researched that didn’t really make sense to give to people older than 10, but to each his own, you know?

How it works: Each team member gets a different color crayon. Give the team a subject to draw and color. They must create the object together. Everyone must use his or her own crayon and only one person can draw at a time. The goal is for everyone to use his or her crayon at least once in the picture. You can choose different objects to draw.

At the end of the day, you know your team the best. So, if the last three activities I listed would work well for your team, then by all means give them a go. Just try to keep in mind the age group of your team’s members and what your team needs to become stronger.

The Internet is a great research tool, as well. So if you can’t wait for my new book to come out in a few months or so, I know Google would suffice until then (wink). Happy preparing to all you fellow leaders/presidents/board members!

Good luck, and have fun team building!

 

What do you want to read about the most? (BONUS Giveaway Entry)

We started this blog to offer our readers the stuff they want to know most from experts in the nonfiction book publishing industry.

So, tell us what you want to read about most, and we’ll get to work.

 

If you have a specific suggestion for a post you’d like to read, please send in a comment using the comment form below. As a thank you, you will automatically be added to our next book giveaway! (Can I get an amen?!) praying hands

Writing Help: How to Get Your Work Noticed

By: Lauren Capps

As an aspiring writer, I know how it feels to write my own dreams and thoughts down on paper, turn it into a story, and hopefully one day become a published author. That dream hasn’t been accomplished yet — and one day it will — but for now, I can only hope to help other aspiring writers like me by explaining my experiences in the publishing world. Hopefully, these tips can help you on your journey to becoming a published author.

If You Think You’re Done — You’re Not

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When you finally type “The End,” it’s really not the end. The first step before you wrap up your book and submit it to a publisher is to edit. Then rewrite. Reread your work more than just a few times. Find grammar mistakes, structural problems, and word disagreements. By the time you are about exhausted from rereading and rewriting to where you feel like you know every line by heart, reread and rewrite again. If you are stuck, have a friend or family member go over a part that you are not sure about. It’s always a good thing to ask for help.

Today, most publishers require your book to be in tip top shape; the editors don’t have time to do your work for you. The more polished your book is, the more likely they will accept your work.

Look for Writing and Publishing Contests

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If you are a first time author, most publishing companies and literary agents will bypass your manuscript just like a potential employer would as if you were applying for a job. The  point is, you need experience. There are many contests out there that will reward winners with a prize of money and/or publication.

A popular young adult fiction competition is the Writer’s Digest contest, or the NaNoWriMo. Not a YA writer? Don’t worry, there are multiple contests out there for all genres!

Remember: there are a lot of contestants besides you, so make sure you meet the guidelines (and, of course, have a great story to tell).

Find a Literary Agent to Represent You

This is one of the hard parts of submitting your work for publication, as I know from my experiences of multiple denials. A literary agent can help with acquiring contracts with editors and publishers, selling the rights to your work, help with legal actions, and other tasks. In return, they get a commission from the sales of your book. A crucial step is to find a literary agent that represents the genre you are writing in. After you find a few agents that you think are worthy, muster up a query letter that will entice them into wanting more.

A query letter is a short page explaining why you are contacting the agent, a short synopsis of your book, including the plot, and a brief bio of yourself and your skills. Some agents will require a couple pages of your manuscript, so prepare to add a few pages if they ask for it. Remember: always be polite and courteous, and don’t get discouraged if you are receiving denials.

Quick Tip: Check out our own guide, How to Write a Query Letter: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simplyfor more tips and tricks on how to write the perfect query letter!

The Next Steps: Literary Agent — Yes or No?

257_4577173The next steps can be different depending on your acceptance from a literary agent. Now, this is where my personal experience ends — I haven’t been accepted, so I don’t know what goes on from there if one accepts you. I can imagine that they will start looking for publishers and editors for your work, among other things.

529_3282411If you keep getting denials, don’t fret. Think of how your favorite authors got accepted; look them up, and see if they have said anything about their publishing experiences. Stay encouraged that you will one day finally get published, and keep trekking on by submitting more inquiries to agents.

One Last Tip: Keep Writing!

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Lately, during my past two years in college, I admit that I didn’t write as much as I should have. Due to that part I feel a bit discouraged, but thinking of the future, and my life ahead of me, I know that I can achieve my dream one day. One day you will too, so don’t give up. Keep writing every day, because who knows?  One of your books might just be the next best seller!

 

Got the Summer Blues? Here Are a Few Ideas To Cure Them

By: Grace Hudgins

July is the month of the summer blues.

It’s the middle of your summer break, which means these blues are contagious. There are two bugs that cause the summer blues. 1) Ultimate gut-wrenching disgust caused by the thought of school starting up soon OR 2) Infinite boredom — you can only watch so much Netflix — so, in your opinion, school couldn’t start fast enough.

Whichever type you’ve diagnosed yourself with, there are plenty of cures that you could choose from to get yourself back on track. Check them out below.

1. Be (physically) active

Catching up on your favorite show is always the ultimate go-to summer activity. However, it gets boring real quick. I know after I spend a day binge-watching “Grey’s Anatomy,” I feel sluggish and unmotivated. I usually make myself go on a run or spend an hour at the gym after 24 hours of trauma drama.

physically activeBeing physically active over summer takes up a lot of time and can either make time go faster (if you have diagnosis No. 2) or fill up your day with new activities (for those with
diagnosis No. 1). Try an exercise class! There’s usually a variety of yoga, cycling, strength conditioning, and/or cardio classes at local gyms. They’re sometimes more fun than working out alone, too.

The ultimate benefit, though, is being healthy. I mean, what’s better than getting in shape over summer? Try balancing your Netflix-watching hours with your active hours to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

2. Pick up a new hobby

Everyone has a hobby they never got the chance to pursue or an interest they recently discovered. Take the extra time you have this summer to give those interests a try. It could be a dance class, baseball team, sculpting — you name it. Think about the next time you’ll have the chance to pursue this newfound hobby during the school year. Most likely, you won’t have time.

Summer is all about trying new things (in my book), so give whatever you’ve thought about a try! It’ll take your mind off boredom and give you something else to do other than ‘X’ out days on your calendar.

3. Try new foods…or cooking

If you don’t know how to cook, now is the perfect time to learn. Start with something simple, like eggs. You’re probably thinking, “What? I know how to make eggs.” Well I didn’t before I went to college, so eggs were as simple as it got for me.

If you know how to make eggs, or full meals for that matter, then challenge yourself and attempt new recipes. Google is awesome (if you weren’t already aware), and food blogs and recipes are endless on the internet.

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Try new foods, too. If you’ve wanted to eat healthier, try new veggies and look up recipes that include healthy ingredients for cooking them. Vice versa for desserts! My sister loves to bake, so over summer, she’s always trying new cake/pie/cookie recipes. That way, when the holidays come around, she’s well prepared and can whip up any tasty treat the day before Christmas dinner.

4. Try a new book genre

(I’m an intern for a publishing company, so of course I’m going to suggest reading.) I’ve mentioned this before, but try reading a genre you never have before with your extra time in July. There are multiple avenues for fiction if that’s your thing. Romance, Sci-Fi, and Adventure — the possibilities are endless. Nonfiction may be boring in school, but you can always pick up an autobiography from one of your idols or a how-to guide book about a topic you’ve been curious about.

Don’t be afraid to spend lots of time in a bookstore. It’s a great time-killer and blues-ender. You can learn a lot about the types of books you prefer, and you can find new ones to read, too.

5. Spend time with people you don’t see often during the school year

Despite your friends, try spending time with people you don’t necessarily hang out with much while school is in session — family, for example.

Take a day to spend time with your grandparents, uncles, aunts, siblings, mom and dad, etc. When I’m in town or on a break, I always make time for my family members. I know living with your brothers and sisters is kind of like hanging out, but taking time to actually go out with them can mean a lot, especially if they’re younger than you.

Go on a picnic, movie date, or beach/water trip. The opportunities are endless! You’ll get to connect with your family members more, which is always an added bonus. I know it sounds lame, but trust me, when you’re in college, you’ll miss your mom. It’s just natural. So spend time with her (or any family member you’re close with) while you still live near.

So yes, the summer blues are a real thing. I’ve been getting over my diagnosis (No. 2) for the past few weeks. I decided to cure myself and do things I’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t because of my schoolwork. I’ve tried all of the five cures I just talked about above. And they truly kicked the blues right out of my system, like Vitamin C. And look at that! I only have a month left until I head back to campus for my senior year in college.

So, stop moping and babying your “sickness.” Do something about it. Try new things, because it’s so worth it in the long run. Trust me, Netflix will always be there when you get home.

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