Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The New Gig

Nobody's asked yet, but I'm sure everyone will ask at World Fantasy, so in the interests of not saying the same thing fifty times then, here's the scoop on What I Do Now.

I work for a big publisher called John Wiley & Sons, Inc. It's a public company, which I was surprised to find out -- they're pretty quiet, and publicly traded publishers tend to be in the news (buying or being bought, having trouble with stockholders, all that jazz).

Wiley's business, like Gaul, is divided into three big parts. The one I'm in is "P/T," for Professional/Trade. It's then divided into a lot of smaller product lines, all with letter designations that I'll be figuring out for the next three years. I'm the Marketing Manager for what Wiley calls the "R-Line." The letters don't seem to stand for anything in particular; R is "Accounting."

It's actually not as boring as that sounds; yes, the line does include the usual study guides for people who want to become CPAs (which involves a grueling four-part test), and big fat annuals of very specific information (hello, GAAP and IFRS!), but there's some more interesting stuff as well. For example, coming up in a month or so is Cynthia Cooper's Extraordinary Circumstances, the personal story of the WorldCom whistleblower and co-Time magazine Person of the Year in 2002. A big piece of the business is books for high financial executives -- CFOs, controllers, auditors, and similar folks. I'm still figuring out the jargon, but some of this stuff is fascinating -- and I'll have a much better idea how American business actually runs one year from now than I do today.

I'm not an editor there, though I do work with a group of editors; my job is to see that people actually buy these books, which is something I've always been concerned with.

I work with a group of pleasant people who don't seem to expect that I'll have any idea what I'm doing for about six months, which is both encouraging and disquieting.

I have something like an office -- four walls that go up to about seven feet, plus a door, but no roof. It also got my name put on it just this Monday, so I now belong there.

I work in Hoboken, which means several good things:
  • I'll no longer have to pay income taxes in two states
  • I can -- and do -- take the train to work, which is wonderful
  • my office is less than a five minute walk from the train station
There's also a nice park right out behind the building, from which one can see a great view of the New York skyline. (The unfortunate thing about working in New York is that it's hard to see it well from inside.) I have hopes that eventually, when it stops being so hot, I'll actually go down to that park for lunch at least some of the time.

All in all, it's much better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. It's pretty nice, actually.

...except for the fact that my assistant, who actually knows how things work there, just gave her notice today. (She wants to go back to California.) So it looks like I'm going to hire two assistants, at vastly different jobs, within one year. 2007 has certainly been an interesting year for me, I have to say that.


RobB said...

The splendors of PTR publishing! That double tax thing was a whammy, wasn't it?

Wiley actually took over the production and marketing operations of one of my old employers.

Anonymous said...

Best of luck with your new gig. I am a CPA myself, so I hope you will mention some books you are marketing for that group in your blog. I think you could actually make them sound interesting.


Anonymous said...

It's great that you have a job again. But I must say, it seems very strange to me that you will be responsible for promoting goods in an area that you yourself have any expertise in. You're not an accountant, which means you have to figure out, from the outside, what accountants want and how to appeal to them. This sounds suspiciously like that obnoxious idea that a good manager does not need domain expertise.

Anonymous said...

Aaargh! Make that "that you yourself don't have any expertise in."

Andrew Wheeler said...

Johan: Well, if I was an editor of accounting books, it wouldn't make much sense. But I'm not.

What I'm doing is selling them, and the important skills there are being able to see and articulate what's special about a particular project, to determine what the audience for that project is, and to plan ways to reach that audience. And that's something I've been doing for sixteen years -- the SFBC was only ever about half of my job at The Company I Don't Name, anyway.

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