My Years in Publishing

I remember working for the publishing company vividly.

My main charge was an older man named Tom. Tom was the sales manager for our magazine and had a long history as a top performer. He was, however, not so good with computers. “Come show me how to send an email,” was a daily occurrence.

Tom did most things the old fashioned way. Tom would prepare a quote long-hand then I would type it up. He had a fondness for highlighters. He would painstakingly color-code each of his quotes. His strong handwriting would indicate the difference between a third of a page or a quarter. The discount would improve as the client committed to more months.

This took him a long time. I realized that the quotes were repetitive. They required him to write out the same information over and over. He seemed to enjoy it, and the never-ending supply of colored highlighters that came with the gig, but I wanted to improve the efficiency.

I had designed several webpages over the previous years. I designed a simple web form with drop-down boxes. The form was in the exact format of his quotes and, to my surprise, he used it successfully. Tom would visit the website, fill it out, click submit, and an email would appear in my inbox.

Our media kits were beautiful. Clients spent a lot of money advertising. Our quotes were printed on letterhead, a bright red EE logo at the top left of the page. Each quote took five sheets of paper. One cover letter followed by four scenarios. A new client would receive their first quote in print with the folder that contained the media kit. Follow-up quotes were faxed.

I printed a LOT. In fact, I was the only person on the floor to have my very own laser printer. I thought it was silly that we were wasting so much paper printing things that were going to be faxed on a black and white machine. Yes, the initial quotes were mailed, but subsequent quotes were sent over the telephone wires.

I was able to reduce the amount of space that the quotes took up. Five pages became two.

By reducing the number of pages used our letterhead expenses were lowered. Our laser printer costs were reduced. This was 2002: each page that got faxed took time and money. Long-distance phone calls and faxes were still a big deal. The one shared fax machine saw heavy usage and no one wanted to see me coming.

I was able to reduce my own workload so much that I ended up assisting in almost every other department. I already helped editorial for my magazine and began helping others as well. I transcribed interviews with subject matter experts and our editors. I proof-read annual buyers guides. I put together media kits.

The IT department started letting me work on data. I started taking over statistical analysis of reader surveys that would come in for each magazine several times a year. I would import that answers into an Excel spreadsheet and find the trends. I sent reports to the various editorial teams.

The web team used me for a variety of tasks as did the graphics department. I got to know many of my coworkers and am still friends with several of them to this day.

I enjoyed working in Nokomis with that group of people. Sadly, after September 11, 2001, the publishing industry was impacted. I was reduced to part-time hours.

I was hired full-time by a voice dictation software used by physicians and said goodbye to my friends at Nelson.

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