The Ten Databases of BiblioBuffet

You  may be singing the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” but I tend to favor the “Ten Databases of BiblioBuffet.” And not just at this time of the year.

Running BiblioBuffet actually requires the consistent use of the ten separate Excel databases. Without them, it would be impossible to stay on track because there are so many factors that make up the site. I use every one of these regularly:

  • Book Festivals
  • Columns
  • Contacts
  • Contest Winners
  • Editor’s Letter Recommendations
  • Literaria du Jour
  • Publicists
  • Publishers
  • Quote du Jour
  • Requested & Reviewed Books

I’m actually amused at how many I use because when I first got the MS Office program I could not imagine what I would use a spreadsheet for. Accountants use spreadsheets, for god’s sake. I  even asked my computer guy about deleting it, but he advised against it, telling me that even if I never used the program there was more than enough room for it. So I let it be. Until I began BiblioBuffet and realized I needed to stay on top of certain pieces of information.

The first database I set up is still the primary one I use though it has become more sophisticated as BiblioBuffet has grown. “Columns” is what enables me to track the year, the week (running from 1-52 each year), the publication date, column name and frequency, columnist name, payment, and the title of current piece. This is the database I could not live without. And because of that I frequently back it up.

Following closely on the “must have” list are the Literaria du Jour and Quote du Jour databases. These two are places where I stash the bite-sized information I use on our Literary Amusements page. As you may know, this page is updated six days a week. Several months ago, a friend made me laugh by mentioning that she was amazed I would spend so much time online each day looking for tidbits and quotes to use. Uh huh. I simply go to the Word sheet on which are copied approximately two weeks’ worth of tidbits from each database, and copy and paste one piece of Literaria and one quote into the site each night. As of today, the quotations database contains 1,527 quotes to date or four years, two months, and seven days’ worth about books, reading, or related issues like libraries and censorship. Not one of them is a duplicate of another. The literaria database is smaller, possessing not quite two years’ worth of tidbits, and I am constantly on the look out for more material to add to it, actually to both. (In next week’s post I will detail the whys and hows and wherefores of the research that goes into the pieces for Literary Amusements.)

The Book Festivals database came about when I decided to begin listing the upcoming book festivals in my weekly editor’s letter. There are book festival pages on our Table of Contents (or home) page, but these are not always up to date. One of the most frustrating things is their changes that don’t always get recorded in time because of my lack of time. (However, I do go in periodically and make the changes.) The database allows me to update more regularly since it contains the date, state, festival name, link, and city, precise information I need for the letter. As one year’s festival ends, I search out information on the date for the next year. If it is not up yet, I mark the date in red to remind myself to look later for it.

You’d think Contacts and Publicists could be merged into one database, don’t you? Well, I guess they could. Technically. But practically, I prefer to have the publicists separated out since they are most often the people with whom I interact. There’s also the fact that career movement in that area seems . . . busy at times. So having not just their names, titles, e-mail addresses, phone and fax numbers, agency or publisher names, addresses, and important notations, but also the last date of contact is essential. And having them separated out from all my other professional contacts is the only way to keep up with this.

Closely aligned with the publicists’ database is the the newest database, Requested & Reviewed Books. That one incorporates columns for Requested Date, Received Date, and Reviewed Date (each with a checkmark column behind it), Book Title, Company, Publicist, and E-mail. Yes, I actually keep these filled in. It’s essential if a publicist wants to know if we have received a book, and I like knowing I can answer for any book that we received.

Contest Winners is where I keep track of who wins the books we give away. With every new column of “Writer-in-Residence,” Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s bi-weekly column, readers can win one or more of her YA books. And just last week I gave away a lovely hardcover of the book Lindsay Champion reviewed in her column, Memoirama. We even have an upcoming interview with the Penguin Classics staff about their unique imprint, and have several books we will be giving away then. Those winners will be included in this database.

Finally, in my editor’s letter I offer several recommendations. These include Upcoming Book Festivals, The Pub House (“introductions” to smaller publishers and interesting imprints of larger houses and their specialties), Of Interest (anything that catches my eye), and This Week (where I try to talk about and link to literary goings-on). In addition to the Book Festivals database noted above, I have two other databases that keep me on the straight path: Editor’s Letter Recommendations and Publishers. The former is where I keep a running list of publication dates and what recommendation I made for The Pub House, Of Interest, and This Week so I don’t repeat myself. Publishers is a constantly updated database of large publishers with their imprints, university publishers, and medium- and small-sized commercial publishers, a list of what kinds of books they publish, and a link. Here is where I note the date I wrote about them for The Pub House.

Some people are amazed I can keep all the information straight. The truth and the secret is these databases. I could not do it without them. They do take time, more than I’d like, to keep up, but they are my maps, my set of directions, my guides. And believe me, if I didn’t have them BiblioBuffet would end up with all its roads, highways, detours, dead ends, and signs piled up in one huge hole. It wouldn’t be a pretty sight. Nor would it be a pretty site.

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