General Business Lessons
1. If you start a company and have no staff to answer the phone, act like there are more people by pretending to be three different people. (This only works until you confuse yourself on a two-line phone.)
2. A building that looks like a Turkish prison is not welcoming to new authors.
3. Being too busy to put up a sign with your business name can be a good thing if you get a pretty mural painted instead.
4. A business located on a second floor with no elevator means you only work with healthy authors and clients (mostly).
5. Backing up a fifty-three-foot semi into an alley to unload pallets into the warehouse is an art for most truck drivers. Canadian drivers do it best.
6. Canadian drivers will help unload the truck. U.S. drivers will not. (Thought: Just nice folks or if they hurt their back they have guaranteed health insurance…)
7. Know a great local forklift driver.
8. Once you have a staff, make sure everyone can cover for everyone else. This does not include the forklift driver.
9. Make sure your warehouses don’t leak.
10. Start a business about which you know nothing so you can take a lifetime to figure it out. You will never be bored.
11. Never say you can’t do something. Find someone to teach you how to do it.
12. Learn the new/newest technology, even if it makes your eyes cross when your IT guy tries to make you understand and he’s explained it ten times.
Specifically, Book Publishing Lessons
13. If former Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Joe Nuxhall (RIP) wanted to go out back to smoke when he wasn’t supposed to, we should have let him. He can yell loudly.
14. If former Ohio State University quarterback Art Schlichter wants to sell you OSU tickets, don’t buy them.
15. If former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson wants to call you ‘Mom’, let him, or he won’t call you anything.
16. Baseball legendary catcher Johnny Bench has hands twice the size of our Sarah’s hands, but he’s not twice the height. (Still a befuddlement.)
17. China will not print a book with the image of the Dalai Lama in it.
18. Chinese printers will get into big trouble if they print a book with the Dalai Lama in it.
19. Opening a fresh box of color books from the printer to inhale the delicious aroma of new ink is not unique to just this publisher and it probably kills brain cells.
20. Even a real falcon doesn’t bring folks to a book signing.
21. A great employee is one with whom you entrust your pets when you’re on vacation.
22. Working with billionaires on books is just like working with non-billionaires on books.
23. If one of your books makes it to the bestseller list of the Washington Post Book World, frame that newspaper page.
24. People who write and love books are a sweet, intelligent, kind, thoughtful group of folks. (Okay, 99 percent.)
25. Books are not going away.
26. It takes less time to make a list about a thirty-year anniversary than it does to create a book about it.
And, Even More Specific Editorial Lessons
27. Fifty percent of everyone misspells pop culture references.
28. When a writer says his manuscript is error-free because his/her English major cousin proofread it, proofread it again.
29. Some writers believe that the comma is a decorative element to be sprinkled casually around the page.
30. Only use three exclamation points in your lifetime. When you die, two of them should be left unused, unless you’re author Phil Nuxhall and then use as many as you like because no one should dampen that kind of enthusiasm.
31. Make sure that the place where you lunch most often has a bar copy of the Chicago Manual of Style to be used to settle lunchtime grammatical disputes.
32. Accept misplaced modifiers as a chronic toxin affecting, well, almost everyone.
33. When asked how Orange Frazer has lasted thirty years in such a short-lived profession, say that the tranquility of the hinterland can focus the mind wonderfully.
34. What kind of book do you have when nobody dies in the making of it?
35. When asked to write thirty things you’ve learned from thirty years of book publishing, write thirty-five and call it ‘Optimism.’