Welcome to the guest blogging series, So, You Want to Work in Publishing! The guest bloggers and I hope that you find our stories encouraging, informative, and helpful in your own path to a publishing career.
If you’re a publishing professional interested in contributing to the blog series, feel free to contact me at HannahKJones10@yahoo.com.
Name: Evan Oare
Current Title: Gift Sales Assistant
Hometown: Valencia, PA (outside Pittsburgh)
Graduated from: University of Pittsburgh, 2009
Where you currently work and live: Penguin Group USA, New York NY
Your Path to Publishing:
Perhaps not surprisingly, I’ve always been a voracious reader and have always aspired to write (not considering what I was doing writing—I’ll wait until I get paid to do it!). I first seriously considered Publishing in high school when I realized no other career path was quite occurring to me. Only when I got to college did I start thinking of other “more realistic” options, considering PR and Advertising. However, it took a unsatisfying Advertising internship and a great Publishing internship (which became a part-time job) to really confirm my choice. It truly takes experience to find out what you want; many people who go into Publishing will find it unappetizing in the end, and others will happily find their way to it.
(That internship/job, by the way, was with Autumn House Press (AHP)—a small nonprofit literary press. Check them out at www.autumnhouse.org.)
Another factor was a professor under whom I took the only official Publishing/Editing class at my school. He became somewhat of a mentor to me, and really helped guide me toward this world a little more. And, hey, in what other situation was I going to be forced to learn the Chicago Manual rules? (Very happy I know now—thanks!)
After working part-time with AHP and as a Production Assistant at a company that produces high-level science publications (way over my head, but great in its way), I made my way to the NYU Summer Publishing Institute (SPI), which my aforementioned mentor had brought to my attention. Long story short, this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made as it helped me make my break into the industry, and diversified me that much more. Meet as many HR people as you possibly can. Be confident, and don’t stress too much or it will backfire!
How did you find out about your first publishing job and/or internship?
As to my current job, I met a few HR representatives at the SPI Career Fair who set me up with some interviews. The best strategy is to choose your focus and go for it—otherwise you will come off as someone who will take anything they can get, which is not very attractive. At the same time, consider positions in fields you might not have otherwise—Production, Managing Editorial, Operations, Sales, etc. There is more to this than Editorial. I never considered Sales until SPI and meeting with salespeople really made me more comfortable. I didn’t have to be some crazy math-obsessed person, after all.
What does your typical day look like?
A brief description of Gift Sales—we sell books to stores that don’t primarily sell books. This includes gift stores of all kinds: toy stores, hospital shops, museums, clothing retailers, garden stores…the list is as endless as the list of American retailers is. Some specific stores are Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Williams-Sonoma/Pottery Barn Kids, Bed Bath & Beyond, Spencer Gifts, Hot Topic, and many more.
Every day is completely different. The nature of our department is always in flux. I provide assistance for 80 sales representatives across the country, not to mention the head of Gift Sales. I put together presentations, provide additional support to the reps for key accounts (aka the big moneymakers), run sales numbers, and constantly keep my eye out for upcoming titles that fit specific accounts. There’s quite a bit of stuff I can’t explain without paragraphs and paragraphs about the Gift Market (which I’m happy to do, but I’m already writing a book, at this point).
Just one note about Gift Sales—our role is increasingly important as traditional bookstore sales fall (especially with the fall of Borders). We are increasingly looked at to increase company revenue, which creates more responsibility but therefore much more opportunity to develop one’s skills.