Pretty in Ink

I loved the book, Pretty in Ink by Lindsey J. Palmer!

5/5 stars

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As many of you already know, I’m a journalist. I studied magazine journalism at SJSU and any books/movies about newspapers/magazines really get me going. Nerdy, I know. 😛

This book was about Hers magazine staff members and their roles at Hers magazine. It was about the ups and downs of Hers magazine’s successes and failures.

I think this book is important to read because it documents magazine life in modern times. Chapter to chapter, Palmer switches from character to character. You get the perspective of staff members ranging from the editor in chief to the beauty editor to the intern to the mailman and many others. Not only do you get to see their career aspect of their lives, but you get to see their lives after they come home from work.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
“Nearly every woman talked about the importance of attaching yourself to a star in order to rise along with her and get genius guidance along the way.”

“She’s not a perfect editor, or boss, but she commands respect and admiration, and everyone believes in her.”

“…sometimes I even fall for his fantasy of what my freelance writing career out in the country would look  like – batting around great ideas with enthusiastic editors, interviewing brilliant experts about fascinating topics, and pouring my heart into groundbreaking features for big, important publications. In reality I know freelancing is 90 percent hustling and churning out rehashes of the same articles over and over again and 10 percent fighting against the spiral down into derangement due to lack of human interaction.”

“When I decided to become a journalist, I wanted to uncover truths about the world and to help people by disseminating valuable, important information. My goal never included offering up y heartbreak as a fodder for entertainment television, or capturing the lowest common denominator’s attention by any means necessary.”

“‘Listen, if you’re an editor in chief, here are your options: you stick around ’til you croak, you move on up to the corporate suite, or you get fired. That’s the nature of the business.'”

“She ingrained in me like a religion the idea that editing a magazine as the best job in the world; you got to use creativity and business smarts, you were charged with the lofty mission of sharing vital information and inspiration with the masses, and every single month you created something real and tangible, a valuable object that millions of people across the country would race to get their hands on and pay actual money for. My mother made it sound like the most exhilarating and prestigious work in the world, and of course I did everything I could to make it just like she had.”

“…all the stuff that differentiated us from the dozens of other women’s rags on the newsstand. I respected that Louisa wanted to educate the readers, to teach them to care about the weightier pieces, even if our newsstand numbers were often dismal.”

“A headline that catches the eye of some idiot surfing the Web at two a.m. in search of cat gifs is not the same thing that’ll work on a discerning customer at the newsstand.”

“The top left is the holy grail of the coverline. We in the business like to believe that if the four or five words we place in that prominent spot are brilliant and enticing and sparkly enough, they’ll have the power to convince hundreds of thousands or, heck, millions of newsstand idlers to single out and grab our publication, to choose us.”

“Alas, this meeting has already consisted of lies upon lies.”

“…in Comic Sans font. God help us.”

“And how humiliating that someone on our editorial staff can’t properly use an apostrophe, and that it’s being broadcast to the World Wide Web.”

“The thought of not having a job strikes terror in my heart.”

“A grammatical error of the most egregious sort: the presence of an apostrophe when none is needed. It’s a blunder I’m barely willing to excuse on a sign for an immigrant-owned business.”

“Leah has the rare ability to critique a piece while also making me feel like I’m on my way to nabbing a Pulitzer. And unlike most editors, she doesn’t edit just to put her mark on things. She adds three words to a sentence and it becomes doubly as clear or interesting or fun, or she asks just the right questions to elevate the story. In the end, the pieces still actually sound like I’ve written them. I’m always proudest of my stories that have been edited by Leah.”

“I admit I dreamed about writing feature stories for Hers, and not just that but raising the magazine’s bar by filing hard-hitting investigative reports that would land me on CNN. Still, I was realistic enough to know that my intern duties would likely not include such groundbreaking assignments. But having just finished a year’s stint as editor in chief of an Ivy League newspaper, I didn’t quite anticipate spending my summer planted at the photocopier and now fetching props…”

“I scan the faces before me; they look attentive and intrigued and a little scared. So this is what it’s like to be in charge, I think.”

“I marvel at just how much I love Hers, how much I believe in the group of people who sit working just beyond my office door, and how much I’m going to do to make this magazine the best version of itself it can be. I click open my pink pen, and I get started.”


I’m so sorry I don’t have the page numbers available for you for the above quotes. I read from my Kindle and constantly change font styles and sizes so it’s never really consistent, so page numbers change. 😛

I’d definitely recommend this book to those interested in how magazines work and those interested in the field.

Anyone else read this book and love it?


3 thoughts on “Pretty in Ink

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