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Boston University Certificate in Publishing Program

Back in December, I mentioned to some friends that I was thinking of enrolling in the Boston University Certificate in Book and Magazine Publishing program. The program consists of eight courses. My dilemma centered on whether I should have taken one or two courses at a time, and in the end, I decided to go for it and attempt to complete the program within the space of a calendar year.

So far, I've completed half the program, and taken the following four courses:

PUB 101. The Business of Publishing

PUB 102. Publication Design & Print Production Strategies

PUB 103. Editorial Principles & Practices

BK 104. Book Publishing Overview

This has been an extremely valuable program for me and a program I would highly recommend to others. Even though I've been working in publishing for about three years, I discovered that the courses had a lot to offer me.



To go into detail, let me start with PUB 101 and BK 104. These two courses were taught by David Pallai, the founder of Infinity Science Press. David has been in publishing for his whole career, and was the owner of Charles River Media until he sold it in 2005. In David's classes, I learned all about the different types of publishers (including trade, textbook, and science/technical/medical) and the different functional areas in publishing (such as editorial, production, and marketing). Some of the stuff David taught I already knew from being in publishing myself, but much of it I didn't know, and in David's classes I got to see the bigger picture that I used to miss. I now have a much better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the folks who work in publishing, from the acquisitions editors that bring in the books to the marketers that promote the books.

For his courses, I did two worthwhile final projects that were both fun and educational. In the first one, I developed a business plan for a science fiction magazine, and in the second one, I created a marketing plan for my own short story collection that is coming out in September. I'm not planning to use the business plan to seek out venture capital, but at least I now know how to do so. (As for the marketing plan, David's willingness to let me do it for my own book is proving to be very helpful, given all the marketing Apex and I need to do for the book...)

David Pallai is not only very knowledgeable, but he also has a true love of books and publishing, which comes through in every class he teaches. If I had only taken his two classes, it would have been money well spent.

But the other two classes were just as worthwhile. PUB 102 was taught by Al Velasquez, who has worked in book design and production for pretty much his whole career. Although Al only had seven classes to work with us, he taught us all about the look and feel of a page. Using the program InDesign, I created a layout for a magazine article and for the front and back covers of a trade paperback. Al was a very patient teacher, eager to help us and willing to give us constant feedback on our work. I know that his class didn't train me to be a designer overnight, but where I once saw a page and might flounder, I now have a much better idea of the grids and spaces that make a page appealing to the eye.

As for PUB 103, this was the course on editorial principles that at first I thought might be a little redundant for me, being an editor myself. It turned out that I need not have worried. The teacher of the course, Terri Trespicio, is a senior editor at Body+Soul magazine, and so she taught the course from the perspective of magazine editing. As a result, I learned a lot about how magazines are run as well as how to do a good job as an editor. Terri was accompanied by Kasey Clark, who taught copyediting, and both of them were enthusiastic about their teaching. Even though I'm an editor, I still learned a lot from taking this course.

This week I start my next two courses, PUB 108 on publishing law and BK 105 on book editing, and I'm looking forward to both of them. Then, in July, I'm supposed to take my last two classes, BK 106 on marketing and publicity, and BK 107, the Book Workshop. And here's where I go from praising the program to blatantly promoting it.



I received a call today to let me know that the enrollment for the July-August session of BK 107 is low, and that they might have to cancel the session and ask me to move my registration to a later offering of the class. If that happens, I'll end up having completed seven out of eight courses to earn my certificate, and I won't be able to finish up the program until next year. There's also the possibility that the next offering might conflict with other aspects of my life; I managed to carve out the time for the courses in 2008, but I'm not sure how easily I'll be able to carve out the time for even one course in 2009.

So here's my plea. If anyone out there reading this has taken the prerequisite courses and is ready to sign up for BK 107 starting in July, please consider doing so. If enough students sign up, I'll be able to stay on schedule to get the certificate that I've been working very hard to earn since January.

If you're interested in reading about the class, you can click on the link to learn more about BK 107 – Book Workshop. And if you decide to look into taking some of the courses in the program, tell them that I sent you.

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