“So, You Want to Work in Publishing”–Kayla Wolfe

Welcome to the guest blogging series, So, You Want to Work in Publishing! Every Thursday you can look forward to the personal stories of how someone else broke into publishing. (For previous posts in the series, check out this page.) 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: Kayla Wolfe
Current Title: Editorial Assistant, Acquisitions
Hometown: Union City, PA
Graduated from: Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, 2011
Where you currently work and live: IGI Global, Hershey PA; Harrisburg, PA

Your Path to Publishing:

I’ve always had a passion for books, which led me to pursue a degree in English. I never really had a solid career plan and always told people that I would “figure it out” closer to graduation. An expert procrastinator, I was still spewing this line during the fall midterms of my senior year. I decided it was finally time to do some critical (and overdue) research on some possible career paths, including a few in the publishing industry. Unfortunately my university did not offer specialized classes or internships for publishing hopefuls, so I scouted the internet for forums and articles about the ups and downs of a career in publishing and continued to be involved with diverse activities that would make my resume stand out amongst a sea of other Liberal Arts grads who would also soon be hitting the job market.

Upon graduation, I delayed the job hunting process to serve a third and final summer term in AmeriCorps. It wasn’t until I began applying to jobs in July that I realized how difficult landing a job in a tough-to-penetrate industry in a rocky economy truly was. My job hunt soon became a grueling and disheartening experience as I stalked your “run-of-the-mill” internet job sites as well as the employment pages of some of the better known publishers, receiving little more than automated rejection emails every couple of weeks. It wasn’t until I had submitted nearly 200 resumes in a 2-month span that I was called for an interview with the company I am now working for.

I guess you could say I was extremely lucky to have been able to land this position without an internship, a savvy connection in the industry, or specialized education outside of my BA in English. Despite my lack of direct experience and education, I believe being well-rounded and active in various activities, including those which were not quite as relevant to my chosen career path, allowed me to stand out from the sea of applicants also pursuing a career in this often competitive field. I really think the key to landing a job in any industry is being able to highlight and market your skills appropriately for the position you are trying to snag.

How did you find out about your first publishing job and/or internship?
I found out about this position via one of the many career sites I was scanning on a daily basis during the application process. While I cannot remember the exact website, the following were helpful in allowing me to find out about publishing positions all over the country:
Book Jobs: Just as you’d expect—this is a site dedicated to book jobs.
LinkedIn: They have a fantastic group for publishing professionals where industry
insiders and “wannabes” can discuss hot publishing topics as well as share their own advice for landing a career in this industry. Companies also will occasionally post job opportunities in a specialized section of the group’s forum.

Media Bistro: This is a great site for a lot of mixed media job opportunities including careers in television and all types of publishing. They also blog about tons of relevant media topics, allowing for some interesting reads in between job applications.

Publisher’s Marketplace:This is a neat forum I randomly stumbled across which lists various publishing professionals/bookstores and offers a daily e-mail newsletter on interesting publishing topics. They have a handy job board which is updated with a handful of job opportunities daily.

Publishing Company Websites – SO many jobs go unadvertised, so it’s always a good idea to go directly to the website of the company you’re interested in working for. Many of them will have a page dedicated to recent job postings and it’s worth checking back often.

What does your typical day look like?
As an Editorial Assistant in the Acquisitions department of an academic publisher, every day is different. Much of what I do includes commissioning new proposals for books and journals as well as accessing any submitted proposals to determine what will and will not get accepted for publication. Often, I’m communicating via email or phone with potential authors and editors, helping to clarify and steer their ideas for a publication in order to fit my company’s publishing initiatives. This sometimes includes topic suggestions, focusing themes, tweaking titles to be more marketable, and researching trending academic topics in order to evaluate the market potential of incoming titles.

Connect with her:
I just started really using my Twitter account (so it’s still a little weak), but feel free to follow me @Kaylability.

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