Thursday, February 09, 2006

Need Not Apply's Laura Morsch lists librarian as one of the Five Unpopular Jobs You Should Have. Apparently massive coming retirements, low pay and waning interest from workforce youngsters are the reasons libraries of the future will be severely understaffed.

I could handle being a librarian, as long as I could work with sane people, and I didn't have to deal with the obnoxious patrons, their shrieking offspring, folks who use libraries as hotels, or clean up the myriad nasty stuff left in the books and the rest rooms. Which probably means I couldn't be a librarian.

Still, the article got me to thinking about the jobs I would or wouldn't do in Publishing. I already know I couldn't be an editor from friends of mine who are; that's absolutely the worst job of all. I haven't the saleswoman mentality, so agent, publicist, and marketing rep are out. I've been a comptroller for a big company, so I'd do okay in accounting, until they discovered that I was paying all the writers, and then I'd be fired.

Novelist seems to be the only publishing job that I'm suited for (since they won't let me run Purchasing & Acquisitions anywhere), and I'm happy to write pretty much anything as long as I'm paid for it. Convenient when writer-for-hire job offers come around, too. Although there are some projects I might pass on, such as:

1. Ghost-writing Hey, I Was Only Joshing Wi' Ya, the official and honest James Frey autobiography -- I'd have to meet him, and smile at him, and be nice to him, and not bitch-slap him. And then Oprah would pick it for her book club.

2. Writing SFWA and NASA: Partners in the Future -- It's really hard to write when you're laughing uncontrollably, have you ever noticed that?

3. Editing Love Sonnets by John Rickards -- No. Wait, let me think. Oh, God. No.

3a. That goes for you, too, MacBride.

4. Compiling address lists for Vanity Publishers, the Writer's Best Friend -- without committing arson?

5. Writing The Idiot's Guide to Wonderful, Fun, Career-Boosting Romance Writer Conferences -- you don't really want me to lie that much to you.

6. Conducting membership survey for HWA: Bunnies and Hearts and Kisses for Everyone! -- only if Douglas Clegg co-writes it with me, and he has to drive and carry the weapons.

7. Collecting and editing personal essays for Cherishing the Book of Your Heart -- having heard these sob stories so often, I could actually write this, but there are credibility problems (for example, I shouldn't have already threatened to write Piss on the Book of Your Heart.)

So what are the publishing or writing jobs you wouldn't touch with a twenty-foot cattle prod?


  1. Anything to do with journalism - been there done that, was appalled by the lack of ethics and outright lies, and burned the t-shirt. I blame a particular publishing mogul for the descent into scurrilous, tabloidism that has stripped the integrity from the industry.

    Hmm... I guess that means I'm not a 'team player' or 'a people person'. Guess I'll have to stick with writing fiction. "So sad, to bad, move on..."

  2. Copy editor. You have to make corrections without changing the writing style to your own voice. This is hard to do. Most copy editors can't do it. I wouldn't want to try. I like my voice.

  3. Anything involving dealing with lots of people or sucking up to mean ones.

    I can be nice to almost anyone, but I don't lie, er, tell falsehoods, very well, so if I am in a position where I'm expected to tell a person they're fair, or good at something, and they're not, the job won't last long.

  4. My love sonnets would be a thing of beauty. Never would anyone have described animal genitalia and coprophilia in such flowery, glowing language.

    You could foist it on people while working at the library. Combine both!

    Personally, I wouldn't want to get a job as the guy responsible for mucking out the cages where James Patterson's army of typing monkeys work. The stench. The desperation in the eyes of those poor animals. The risk of catching sight of some of the words they've been forced to produce...

  5. after reading Wendy the superlibrarian's blog for a couple of years I'd have to vote for librarian too. My dog, the people she meets!

    I'd also hate to be the wholesale salesperson. You get to watch the buyers arrange the books on the floor and picking titles based on how they look in racks. Urgh

  6. On the other hand I'd love the job of picking color names for snooty catalog clothes and/or housepaint. Now that's creative writing.

  7. I would not want to be a slush pile reader. There would be so many awful manuscripts to slog through and even if I did find a potentially good one I doubt they'd suddenly make me editor in chief.

    On the other hand I think I'd like to be an Aquisitions Editor for a week or so, but that's just the power-hungry witchy part of me rearing its head.

  8. Anonymous8:10 AM

    I could never be a first reader - not without having full permission to send back honest replies. I had enough trouble with a couple of my critique groups where I wanted to throttle the writer with their own manuscript; to have to slog through that kind of writing 90% of the day...nope.

    Also, anyone involved in working on memoirs (non-fiction or otherwise ^-*). Why in the world would I want to read people whining about their lives for a job? Really, how many sob stories can a person read before they feel the need to purchase a flame thrower?

  9. Anonymous8:17 AM

    Writing... LOL. 'm just doing it because I must. But looking at it objectively -- it is the most difficult and the most low-paid (as per hour) job in the whole industry. Maybe the illegal Mexican immigrant janitor will disagree... but he'll be the only one.
    I'd love to be an editor. Oh, the power... the lovely sadistic taste of rejections... the heady feeling of telling a writer to discard his seventy year old female protagonist and insert a thirty year old male...
    especially nice for someone who has tasted the life on the other side of the fence. I think I'd make one scary editor, though. My whip would know no rest, and my writers would be scared to say my name out loud in the dark, fearing I might be summoned :)

  10. Hehe... I couldn't resist. ;) Imagine all those papercuts and shifting through manuscripts and envelopes, especially for a BIG publishing house.

    I think I 'could' handle being an agent. I'd like to try it. I figure if writing gets slow after publishing a few novels and getting to know editors more I'd be in a good position to switch careers. It'll feed my lifestyle while trying to write.

    I would be terrible at aquisitions. (Forgot spelling, sorry.) I'd be too worried that the next one might be a bestseller. I'd never be able to pick one.

  11. Alas, the job market for librarians isn't quite so rosy as AOL says it is. (Says the soon-to-be-graduate).

    Um...teaching writing is the job I wouldn't touch. There's way too much that gives me the feeling of "It isn't obviously bad, but it isn't very GOOD, either"--not a great mentality for a teacher to have, except at one of the boot-camp conferences that's supposed to be brutal.

  12. CareerBuilder, I mean. (It was also posted on AOL).

  13. Anonymous1:51 PM

    Not all librarians work in public libraries. Corporate types can be rude, but they rarely leave nasty things in books and cleaning the restroom isn't part of the requirements. Of course in 6 years as a corporate librarian I've never actually checked out a book... we have better things to do :)


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