Publishers University 2018 A Report by PWSD’s Scholarship Recipient, Jennifer K. Crittenden

After attending my first PubU (IBPA’s annual educational conference) on a scholarship from PWSD (Publishers Writers of San Diego) (thanks!), I can offer some excellent reasons to attend in the future.

You will make contacts you wouldn’t find otherwise. For example, I visited the Arc Manor Publishers table and was able to see the quality of their layout first hand. Shahid quoted me an affordable price, and they have just done an excellent job with the design of my new book. Yay! I would never have found them otherwise. Also, it was a pleasure to meet in person two people from Lightning Source with whom I have worked over the years. And, I made a new friend in Judy Parkinson, who inherited her father’s 30-year-old traditional publishing company.

The educational sessions offer many opportunities to pick up tips and ideas to try out. I came home with a whopping long To-Do list. After Stephanie Chandler scolded me for not monetizing my busy website, I went straight to it and installed Woo Commerce so I can sell books, articles, surveys, and an audiobook online. After one of the breakfast moderators told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to designate my own keywords for my Amazon marketing ads, I fixed them (indeed, the keywords Amazon had automatically assigned were surprisingly inappropriate) and sold over $150 worth of books in the next two weeks from my campaigns. Ka-ching!

Penn Wallace had given us some very good advice about how to grow and maintain a mailing list, and that was reiterated by several speakers at PubU. That prompted me to put up a little sign in my ATD Conference booth that asked attendees to “Join my Quest to Make Our Workplaces Better.” To my surprise, hundreds of people dropped their business cards in my basket!

Those are a few concrete examples of ways I became a better publisher because of attending PubU.

Interview with Publishers Writers San Diego – January 2018

Jennifer K. Crittenden

Whistling Rabbit Press

Del Mar, California



PWM: What aspect of publishing or writing are you involved or interested in?

Jennifer: I have written three books, The Discreet Guide for Executive Women; You, Not I; and The Mammoth Letters. My company, Whistling Rabbit Press, has published four. I maintain three websites devoted to various aspects of my business and writing and publishing. I also publish a bi-monthly digital magazine called The Pergola.

PWM: What first attracted you to writing?

Jennifer: I am a devoted life-long reader (they call me Hermione for a reason), and fooled around a bit with writing in my teens and twenties. After I stopped working full-time, I returned to writing with a vengeance.

PWM: Did you previously have related experience in writing?

Jennifer: I worked in corporate America so I wrote my fair share of emails, strategic plans, government and shareholder reports, and thinly disguised requests for money. Most business writing is awful, so I tried to do my part to generate clean, precise prose in a messy world.

PWM: How long have you been a member of PWSD, and what role has the organization played in your success?

Jennifer I joined in 2012 after my first book came out. The presenters are usually great (how Karla gets the people she does, I will never know), and the members are friendly and fun to get to know.

PWM: What are you working on now?

Jennifer: I am mostly promoting The Mammoth Letters, which
came out in September, but I have an outline for a novel sitting around, and my editor is pushing me to start a sequel to The Mammoth Letters. Oh, and I have some pieces of a story about a young French snowboarder whose life is in danger. And I’m working on planning an Eastern Sierra Book Festival for next year. The days whizz by like cars on a bullet train.

PWM: What guidance or lessons learned can you offer the members?

Jennifer: Learn to write really well. Take courses, go to workshops, get critical about what you produce. I would recommend a creative writing course on Coursera, the online university. Study the writing books by Roy Peter Clark, William Zinsser, Stephen King, and Anne Lamott. Read good writers and study what they do. Develop taste. Take your time. Think in terms of three to five years to produce your first book. Write. Be happy.