Monday, May 16, 2011

New Level of Weird

I'm a fan of my own work on Facebook. Not in a Sarah Palin kind of way. I didn't set up a separate account to 'like' myself. I want to make that clear. But I worked so hard on a particular campaign that when the campaign reached Facebook level, I really had no choice but to become a fan, right? Ok so when my company set up the Facebook page, they needed to secure the site and I was apart of that meeting. As so why I'm still a fan... pure egotistical narcissism.

Therefore, Dark Days of Supernatural books so up on my Facebook feed! This is weird on a level I believe we've touched on. Combining work and personal life is an issue I'm quickly fusing into one common denominator. For some reason I've allowed this Facebook page to show up and it doesn't bother me. I've become accustomed to seeing that logo and related badges sandwiched between friends updates and my mother's activities. But I think we hit a new level of weird when this evening I hit a two-fer.

A video I'd been working on for a book was embedded within the page I help created. Two levels of work combined into one. A double take of "Hey I know that, Hell I made that!.. Rather those."

The video is here, try not to freak out.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Civics Class

I've been serving on a jury duty for the past week or so. I've still got two more days. When I tell people I'm serving on a jury most people give me a look that's a mix of pity and annoyance. That only amuses me. I love serving on a jury! Ok, so the subject matter is extremely sad. The actual trial is difficult to listen to, difficult to have to make a decision on, and just over all unpleasant. But I can't talk about the trial or its components. What I can mention is how due to the structure of the court system, I haven't been at work in three days. And I got two more days to go!

Heres where the awesome comes in. How can anyone be upset about not being at work? I'm not saying this is a vacation, clearly it's not. But it has served as a few days of active reflection. For example, every year publishers attend a big book expo at the end of May. It's in the Javits Center. Therefore the excuse to push projects to the absolute last minute is apparently mandatory. When I mentioned my civic duty to my boss, thus missing crucial days of book expo planning, he freaked out a little. Understandable. We're in the "Yes Ma'am/Sir" business and no one is going to acknowledge or care a department is one man short. I agreed to come in on Friday, since the judge told us we would have a half day. Maybe that afternoon I could push a few projects forward—help the department as much as possible.

I don't know what happened on those first two days I was out of the office. But when I came back Friday at noon, I was welcomed like a conquering hero! It was infectious. Seeing the small pile of folders that had accumulated on my desk was oddly refreshing. Instead of being annoyed or overwhelmed I was reassured. Yes my department needed my help. Yes I was appreciated. And Yes I can finish all of these projects by the end of the day.

People were surprised I came back into the office on a half day. Isn't it just so annoying serving on a jury? Doesn't it just mess with all of your daily activities? God I hope I never get picked. Well, if you don't take the time to adjust and appreciate what you do have as your daily routine, I suppose so. And when you have a half day off of said complication, why not come into the City and take care of business? It feels good to do the right thing and in turn it feels good to know people need you. It also feels really good to sleep in past rush hour and sit in a room with strangers and read a good book, not getting hassled for a few days.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Social media goes on forever and the training never ends

My job moves a little slower then most marketing design jobs. Working in books we market and advertise a lot of stuff via paper. We print a lot of words on paper, we advertise on paper. Recognize! I'm getting into that whole digital space, but I will be the very first to admit I'm behind. Yes I've been in that digital space for some years, and yes I know front-end Flash. But banner ads and facebook profiles are really the extent of it. Truth be told, I'm more comfortable in the printed world. I would love to move completely to digital and online—I don't need convincing as to why but a reassurance that it's worth it is appreciated.

Todays extensive training on online advertising brought up a lot of interesting points on traffic I'd never considered. Our VP pointed out that a lot of authors/agents/editors like seeing actual printed pieces. For example, a full page New York Times ad is deemed an accomplishment. "I'm a big name author, here's my big budget ad in a big national reputable newspaper." But she pointed out something very important, what did we, the publisher and by way of that the author gain from such an ad? Who saw it and what did they do after they saw it? Did they move on to the style section or run to Barnes and Noble?

I've never thought about that. Maybe it's because I've been trained not ask. Or maybe it's really because I don't necessarily care. Either way it did spark an interest. I know that people see the stuff I do, we've basically got that revelation covered. But what I show them, what they see, does it have an effect? Are they following through or simply going "Oh that's cute/sucks/is irrelevant/life changing."?

The good thing about online advertising is all of it is tracked. We know how many times someone clicks on something and where they go after. We know if they buy something, if they simply look at it, and creepily enough, how long they look at it.

I once looked at a pair of boots on I didn't buy them because I didn't have enough money for them. Every time I was online, an ad featuring those shoes followed me. They haunted me, ok more like taunted me. Buy me Sarah, I'm so awesome. I'm a little black suede bootie that would look super hot with dresses. It took a few weeks but I bought them. What's the parameter on this? How far can tracking clicks and ads go? I understand the appeal. In theory I can show two ads at the same time, and see if one ad gets more relevant feedback then the other. And I'm exhausted at the very idea.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Big time in-store marketing—wah-wah

I've often done promotional pieces for in-store displays. Oh, wait, that is the majority of my job. Back track... it used to be the entirity of my job. Now that we (i.e. publishing) seem to be working less and less with paper, creating printed material is becoming scarce. It's rare to print an ad for a magazine... it's rare that people pick up magazines. Ok that's a bit dramatic, but still the printed advertisement or marketing tool is slowly melting away. Downloadable activities, internet mumbo-jumbos, apps and the dreaded e-book interactive back ads have pretty much taken place of everything I learned in design school.

Every once in a while a store or event takes place that will really use all the print knowledge I mustered in school, exciting! Usually reserved for conventions and expos, the big ass printed poster is a headache of scant scratch-disc memory, complicated rivet placement, and how exactly do we showcase this without it screaming at you? Figuring out this puzzle can be a lot of fun. Because usually (and if you do it right) the visual of a big ass poster can be awesome. Behold the awesome problem of Pinkalicious.

The author of Pinkalicious is having a cupcake decorating party Dylan's Candy Bar tomorrow. If you've never entered Dylan's Candy Bar I highly recommend. The store itself just oozes sugar shock. Bright colors and shiny floors of printed candy gleam around every treat you could possibly imagine—except Snaps, I combed that place for my father's favorite candy coated licorice to no avail.

I couldn't think of how set off a gigantic pinkerrific poster against the extreme colorful and intense store decor. We did our best, of course. Pinkalicious floats awesomely from her books, wand waving proudly at all her Pinkerbelles. It'd been a while since the pieces were printed and I was wondering if my efforts in the Pinkalicious poster would stand out against Dylan's already candy-crazy decor.

When I ran up to the shop on 3rd ave, at first I couldn't even find her! I mistakenly thought she'd be in the frames within the window. Instead she was sort of propped up against the glass of the building. One poster had "Three Floors of Candy" etched across her face, for shame! I seriously hope the managers at Dylan's change this for the event, it's so slap-dash. I did snap a picture of the one unobstructed Pinkalicious I saw.

 Eh. I'm more drawn to the marshmallow shooters myself.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Going to Minneapolis with flowers in my hair

I finally decided on a vacation. I wanted something away. Away from New York, the complete and utter opposite of this stinky, dirty, freezing city. Somewhere hot, humid, full of hippies maybe, and water. So much water. But a round trip ticket to Minneapolis was $259-Lake Minnetonka here I come.

I talked to one of my best girl friends who lives there. We met in London, we were roommates actually. Randomly assigned a tiny dorm room off High Street Ken over ten years ago and we still talk to each other every day. While we don't see each other as often as we should, we manage a reunion every other year or so. I missed her last summer, I'm hoping to make up for it this summer.

Maybe she'll spark that creative streak I'm looking for. The last time I was at her house we painted our nails on a blanket spread out in her back yard. We watched her two standard poodles play and lay in the sun. As a joke I bought a romance novel in a gas station outside of Duluth. We read it to each other on that blanket, cracking up at the yearnings and throbbing members. I think it's a creative blanket. I know she's a fun person, she was when I suffered through my last bout of creativity.... maybe she can help again.

Nonetheless I gotta go get me a new sketch book. The old ones are filled with past memories, I have new goal now. Just got to find it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Just Kids

Today I went to the library to pick up my copy of A Visit from the Goon Squad. I was so excited when NYPL sent me the email saying it was ready! I honestly thought it would be the glimmer of awesome in my day of pure suck. In keeping with Springtime in New York, the weather today is rain, cold, mist, and grumpy. But I braved it with the knowledge that the book I'd waited for months would be in my hands.

We can all see where this is heading, right? I ran to the shelf, anxiously seeking my number...3240, 3241, 3248... oh hell no we skipped me, number 3245! The extremely awful "librarian" at the desk informed me that since the book had not yet made it to the shelf it was deemed in transit. (Bullshit alert). On such grumpy day I wished someone to do their job, be nice to me and just check the incoming shelf. But when I suggested this all I received was attitude and a sassy hand-on-hip placement. I was dismissed with a flick of a hand, and out into the street I went.

A somewhat ridiculous tear filled walk back to the office and some subsequent pouting, I picked up a used copy of Just Kids from the give-a-way shelf. Since I work for the company Ms. Smith published with, copies of her National Book Award winner float around en mass. And thank God for them.

This book is amazing! I've only read 70 pages but I'm in love. There is no book review here on Patti Smith's story of meeting, loving, and BFFing Robert Mapplethrope. Their story is hers to tell, and she needs no help from me.

Reading this book has opened up certain vaults I've been struggling to keep closed. I used to be a poor transplant myself. After a terrible two years in college I ran away to London, hoping to find myself and a bit of adventure. I never had enough to eat and stole frequently from the school cafeteria and neighborhood corner store. My friends and I drank at the student unions, flirting with any Englishman who would buy us a drink. We doubled up on student train tickets and slept in stations when we missed them. We trusted each other to get by in countries and cities we had no place being. There was no purpose and no point other then returning home at the end of the summer. Those few months are of course not comparable to the story told in Just Kids, but I created more art and meaningful stuff that English summer then I ever had before.

For a while it carried over. For a while back in Texas I was still a creative person, an artist in my own limited right. But ten plus years later, I find myself in New York, a city of creativity and everything one could possibly want and I'm stuck. Where did I falter? What slipped? When did I stop and why? Is it too late to start again? Or is this just I blog this, I could tweet it: that would be the end, then I would be stuck.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Selective Tweets

The administrator for that social media company I've been caged up with for an hour every Monday said blogging was demanding. And while my laziness proves this demanding theory accurate, my main concern involves content. Case in point follows:

Today I was looking through my Twitter feed and realizing that some people tweet way too much. I understand wanting to give your followers updated information, but shouldn't it be relevant? The same administrator tweeted 15 times last night about television. I know I'm new to this, but it seems a tad much about nothing important. It got me to thinking, what is the average tweet per day and which of those tweets should be fed into Facebook, if any.

I'd seen Selective Tweets used by Facebook friends for a while. But I didn't really understand how it worked. I had tried to integrate my Facebook status updates to Twitter. But since I'm a person and not a company I can't do it. Or maybe I can but am too out of touch to realize how. I could easily feed my Twitter feed to my status update, but that doesn't help my problem of too many tweets per day—it actually enhanced that problem. So onto Selective Tweets we go. So exciting!

All I have to do is add the hash tag #fb to my tweets and it updates as my status update. One small problem, I never added my Twitter handle. How else were people going to know that my checking account was fooled with again this year? See what I'm saying about relevant content? Ok so adding the Twitter handle... where exactly is that?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Can Social Media help whatever it is supposed to help me do?

For an hour every Monday this April my job has required me to sit through various social media seminars. I couldn't possibly imagine what a company specifically designed to promote social media could offer a publishing company. Two days were dedicated to Facebook! What could we possibly cover? How could sitting in a conference room with a bunch of publishing underlings (and a few scattered managers) talking about Twitter, foursquare, You Tube and... Blogger (surprise, that was today's topic) help anyone connect with anything?

Oh how far I've traveled in the social media world. My Facebook and Twitter and are slowly fusing together. Family members and work colleagues share comments on work ideas and design projects. I frequently scan Twitter feed for #kidsbooks, #kidlit, and my personal favorite #pitchdarkbooks. People actually engage with these hash tags and Facebook pages. And since a lot of my work is associated with these tags, it's being seen. By actual people. And they are freaking talking about it! It's not all positive of course, but it's criticism I might be able to use to bring my design work in a direction I wouldn't have thought of.

I mean all the kids are on the social media right? Isn't my job to get these kids read some books? Let's bring it. The great experiment of social media and how I can get it to relate to my design in children's publishing might have just begun.