Book Publishing Personnel: Driving the Heart

26 Aug

As always, blogging has been lighter than I would like. But, I can’t say that I’ve had much to say about publishing lately that has much to add to any ongoing industry conversations or concerns. I suppose I could chime in with things like, “The Kindle! What’s up with it?” Or maybe, “Printers! What’s up with them?” Or the ever popular, “Simon & Schuster? What’s up with that out-of-print provision in your contracts?”

To say the least, it’s been a weird and unexpected August this year. As Karen Mitchell Smith said to me on the phone last week, it’s never a good sign when you suddenly start getting auto-reply emails that say so-and-so “is out of the office until further notice.” Well, okay, sure: It’s one thing to get an email like that . . . it’s another thing entirely to be the one who’s suddenly having those emails sent out.

Several Thursday mornings ago I was doing some last odds and ends of editorial work on our biomedical equipment technicians career guide at my desk when I’m like, Dang, I feel kind of sick to my stomach. So I go outside to get some fresh air and I’m like, Dang, my left arm feels kind of numb. And my chest feels like I’ve got a bad case of indigestion. And then I just start pouring sweat. So I go to the bathroom and I mean my face is gray. And I think, I don’t really feel like standing up. But I don’t really feel like sitting down. I feel like being seriously prostrate. I mean, prostrate on the floor of a public bathroom! Let me tell you, at that point you’re like, I hope this is just the worst case of indigestion ever!

As it turns out, all this was not case of indigestion. But, thanks to our ever-invaluable (and ever mis-titled) departmental secretary Melanie Peterson, barely an hour later—and after having a completely blocked artery blown open with a round of angioplasty—I was the proud recipient of two shiny new stents (with a third to follow next week). And all this for a guy who had been to the hospital once in his life—other than visiting other people now and then—for a tetanus shot when I was 14.

As for what happened next, well, thankfully—thankfully for me at least—this is a blog about publishing as opposed to maudlin/narcissistic navel gazing. Put another way, that is, what was said between my blushing bride Melody and myself at all points along the way—both pre- and post-angioplasty—was just between (and for) us.

What I can and want to say is how grateful I am to everyone in the office—Melanie, Grace, and Lindsey—for carrying on with the business of book publishing while I was out. August is always the busiest month of the year for us as the the majority of our book sales are fall adoption orders. Books get sent to print, are double-checked one last time, and thousands of them are invoiced, boxed up, and shipped out. The ways in which different things can fall through the cracks in a variety of unexpected areas just exponentially multiplies this time of year. But, thanks to Grace and Melanie—with Lindsey as the newbie pitching in—they made the executive decisions to get everything pushed through the way it needed to be done. One of my primary goals in getting the publishing operation up and running has been to create a system that works independent of who is or isn’t there on any given day because otherwise things will inevitably grind to a halt at the worst possible moment. But, thanks to everyone who was left while I was out, they made the publishing operation work the way it is supposed to (and has to) work.

(Of course, many thanks are due to everyone who offered their kind thoughts and wishes in person, by phone, by mail: my dad and mom, Tiffany Flowers and Don Rehwaldt, my father-in-law Butch, Sarah-Jane Sanders, Rudy Cantu, Carmen Keiningham, Tammy Turner, Tom Woll, Tom Dutton, Roger Bowles, Jim and Ramona McKeown, Mike Huneke, Melanie’s parents, everyone at the TSTC Waco bookstore and ADP program, plus everyone else I’ve forgotten.)

So, in addition to being back to work—more or less, at least, since I’ll be out again next week for stent #3—and certainly getting closer to being back to being my old self, I figure I can start worrying about Kindles and printers and contracts and the like. But, until at least acknowledging all that’s gone on the past few weeks—and offering thanks to a variety people—it certainly seemed just a bit disingenuous to skip over all this as though it had never happened at all.

(And, finally, apologies to Jason Brown for co-opting the title of this post from a collection of his short stories.)



2 Responses to “Book Publishing Personnel: Driving the Heart”

  1. Steve Tiano August 26, 2008 at 10:26 pm #

    Wow! I had no idea, Mark. Glad to hear your sitch is being handled. Feel better and all that.

    Must say, it doesn’t take health issues to make one feel like they’re not blogging enough. But that’s fairly secondary now.

    Take care of yourself.

  2. Mark Long August 27, 2008 at 8:42 am #

    Well, it’s a crazy thing. I’ve been working out six mornings a week. My wife is a vegetarian so my diet is generally pretty good. Finally dealt with my sleep apnia about six months ago. Don’t smoke. Don’t have diabetes. Don’t have high blood pressure. But that’s genetics for you: both my parents have high cholesterol and so there you have it!

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