Monthly Archives: August 2012

Do Editors Gravitate Toward Certain Hairstyles?

Warning: This will be a more frivolous-than-newsworthy post, but I thought I would lighten the mood since it’s still summer and the fall colors haven’t quite crept in yet.  I managed to squeeze in a much-needed haircut today–my hair was getting a bit long and unruly and I wanted to shorten it.  I also noticed, while lunching with editors, and within the publishing world in general, that a lot of female editors have short to medium-length hair.  Is this because editors are overworked and need a quick and simple hair and makeup routine so they can spend more time where it really matters, on reading manuscripts and editing the next best-seller?  I’ve seen variations on the famous Anna Wintour power-bob that women in publishing seem so fond of, on several high-power executives.  Do high-powered women or executives have to have short hair to be taken seriously?

Channeling Anna Wintour, anyone?

I’ve also noticed that a lot of moms tend to have shorter hairstyles.  When you have a baby that hardly sleeps, beauty routines can sometimes go by the wayside.  Also the more practical moms realize that a shorter ‘do equals less time blow-drying or just drying in general.  I’ve yet to see many new moms go bald (except maybe in a show of solidarity for breast cancer survivors).  I think it could become a new thing though for those fashion-forward or courageous women.  When babies come into the world, many are bald or have very little hair, so let’s show our support of their situation by adopting a similar hairline!

All kidding aside, a hairstyle is a projection of an image and personality.  I tried a pixie cut once, shortly after college and realized with my large head, that it was not flattering.  That was the end of that experiment.  Do you think writers gravitate toward a certain hairstyle or look?  I find that writers, as creative individuals, can be very expressive with their hair, sometimes dying or coloring it extreme or non-natural colors, experimenting with length (or tending toward the other extreme of neglect, i.e. the mousy tousled I could care less about my hair look that is actually difficult to achieve). In crafting an image and memorable identity, I’ve also seen very stylized hair, a la Betty Page or a throw-back to retro ’50′s styles, replete with bangs and soft curls.  NB: This post may not apply to men as much (and I’m making gross generalizations here), especially those that suffer from hair loss or baldness.

A simple bob or hairstyle can be a powerful expression of who you are.  Just like the clothes you wear, the car you drive (or don’t drive, if you bike), expressing our appearance through clothes, fashion, etc. are all projections of our personality and how we see ourselves.  How do you express yourself outwardly and do you think that there is any correlation with what you do and what you wear (other than the obvious answer of uniforms for certain professions?).  How do you feel about Anna Wintour’s power-bob?  Did Anna Wintour make the bob seem more powerful because of the confidence she exudes, or does the bob make her seem more professional?  What would Anna Wintour look like with knee-length hair, would the editorial world have taken her as seriously if she had such a hairstyle?

Yes, this is what I thought about while I sat in the chair today while getting my hair cut.  I opted for a safe medium-length look, with subtle layers, slightly below my shoulders.  I’m not channeling Anna Wintour in terms of hair but I have to envy her impeccable taste and editing prowess.  Until then, I will have to settle with wearing my black hipster glasses when I’m feeling particularly literary.


Filed under Editors, Musings

Book Love: Lunching with Editors is Kind of Like Dating

I’ve been lunching with several amazing editors this summer, primarily from imprints within the ‘Big Six’ to better learn their lists and books they want to acquire.  I realized the other day that lunching with editors is kind of like dating.  You get excited and a bit nervous the night before (will he or she like me?), do your due diligence by reading as much information about them online (I better do my research so I can ask good questions), try to wear a nice outfit and do your best to show up early or at least on time.  True, the end goal is not to fall in love but rather to form a hopefully long-term relationship and continual discourse regarding writers and books.  If you’re lucky you’ll also get a free lunch (paid for by the editor) and a free book or two, the dating equivalent of chocolate or flowers!


Yes, I know I’m not a little girl with curly hair, but this is how I feel when discussing books

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Getting to know an editor in person is so much more personal than conversing over e-mail or passively stalking them on Twitter.  I’m glad that I have the opportunity to do so and that the editors that I have met with have been encouraging and open in exchanging information about the publishing process (because every imprint is different).  Most of the editors I have been lunching with are on the younger side but I can tell that they all have that fire in their belly.  One editor, at Henry Holt, I was particularly impressed by–she recently acquired two books and her reputation precedes her.  So yes, I would love to sell a book to her and work with her but also realize how competitive it is.  Indeed, I would feel honored to work with any of these talented editors.  Again, the silly dating analogy, but the more in demand an editor is, the harder it might be to get a date with him or her.

Perhaps we’re a little more picky when it comes to our personal dating lives.  I’m married now so those days are long behind me but I remember those heady days of dating and dates gone wrong (or right!) and can’t help but see the similarities.  The chemistry is so important and you learn about the editors not only in terms of their jobs but also as people with their own interesting backgrounds.   Sometimes nerves can get the better of you, both professionally and personally, and you know that there won’t be a ‘second date,’ but most of the time both parties leave enthused and better for the experience.

Have you had the opportunity to meet with editors or other literary-minded people, including fellow writers?  What has that process been like for you?

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Start Something, Start Anything

One of the more inspirational books I’ve read this summer is Blake Mycoskie’s book, Start Something That Matters. The book essentially tells Blake’s story of traveling to Argentina, where he saw many shoe-less children. In a moment of compassion and true insight, Blake decided to start his own shoe company.  It was based on the philosophy that for every shoe that someone bought from his company, Toms, he would donate a shoe to another person or child in need.  Tom’s motto is “one for one.”  Although Blake was filled with uncertainty about making this shoe-string shoe company work, he produced some prototypes, held an informal consumer panel made up of female friend shoe aficionados, and hired some dedicated interns to pretend there were multiple departments of the company while passing the phone around.  Within a year, he had an account at Nordstrom’s and simple word of mouth rocketed Toms into a success story.  I have to say, I felt pretty good buying a pair for myself recently, knowing that behind the shoe was a philanthropic cause.  So many other companies have taken a cue from Toms.  For instance, Jef Holm, of Bachelorette fame, is part of a company called People Water that donates the same amount of clean water for every water product bought–their motto: drop for drop.

While not every new company always has such lofty goals, I think the story behind these inspirations is that you should start something, anything, as long as it matters to you.  As writers, that sometimes means overcoming your fear of writing and just doing it.  Or ‘finishing your manuscript.’  Or having others read your work despite fears of rejection or criticism.  No matter how afraid you are, just take the first step, which is sometimes the hardest.  And don’t give up.  It is hard but as I have heard on many occasions from editors, agents and writers alike, that those writers that ultimately succeed are those who persevere and believe in themselves.

Due to rapid changes in technology, the playing field is a bit more event and new authors may be able to take advantage of channels that were previously closed to them, such as self-publishing.  As my friend Jamey Stegmaier’s stated in his excellent blog post: “The only gatekeeper left is YOU. That may seem like a good thing–it is–but it’s also a lot of pressure. Now there is literally nothing holding you back from living your dream except yourself.”  I completely agree.  Jamey’s blog post was in part inspired by Nathan Bransford’s post on there being no more gatekeepers but rather ‘influencers’ in the world.

In college, I once started a club with a friend to raise cultural awareness of Asian Pacific American issues but also larger racial issues within the campus and St. Louis community.  We had an amazing turn-out at an event discussing affirmative action, but after that, our events completely bombed.  There was free pizza!  Why didn’t anyone come? Although the club didn’t take off I don’t count is as a failure but rather a learning experience, one of the lessons being ‘know your audience.’

When I started my literary agency this past spring, I’m not going to lie, I was nervous.  The older you get the more you might feel more risk-averse.  But I also realized that if I didn’t try, I was going to regret it.   A wise person once told me that his goal in life was to live with as little regrets as possible.  Most people regret things they didn’t do rather than things they did.  So even though I was nervous and I acknowledged this self-doubt, ultimately my excitement spurred me on.  I haven’t looked back and I haven’t regretted a bit.  Plus, I enjoy a challenge and this is certainly a challenging market full of opportunities!

Life is truly too short to sit around and wonder ‘what if.’ So start something, anything, as long as it matters to you and it’s something you truly want from deep down inside.

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