“So, You Want to Work in Publishing?”–Meg Roth

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. You can find a full listing of previous posts in the series here.

If you’re a publishing professional interested in contributing to the blog series, feel free to contact me at HannahKJones10@yahoo.com.

Name: Meg Roth
Current Title: Creative Assistant at Scholastic, Inc.
Hometown: Bethlehem, PA
Graduated from: University of Pittsburgh 2011, BA in English Literature & Film
Where you currently work and live: I live in Pennsylvania, and I work in SoHo.

Your Path to Publishing:
I’ve been an avid reader ever since I can remember. I typically carry at least one book with me wherever I go. I was lucky enough to have teachers, family, and friends that encouraged me to pursue English Literature, Film, and Children’s Literature in college. Granted, I had no idea where this would lead. I only knew that reading, critiquing, and discussing British Literature, YA novels, science fiction, and more seemed like the best possible major for me.

But, when you’re in college and happen to be an English major, you’re often plagued with this response: “Hm, interesting. What will you do when you graduate?” So, I had to come up with a plan. I was lucky enough to study abroad in London where I was given a rare and unique opportunity to intern at Reaktion Books Publishing, Ltd. While interning, I was able to work in production, design, PR, editorial, and marketing. Within the first week, I knew this was the path I was going to take – even if many considered it a risky move.

When I returned to the states, I tried my hardest to immerse myself in this field. While Pittsburgh isn’t exactly a publishing hub, I searched for internships that would help set me apart from other candidates. I was a digital editor for Bleacher Report. I helped organize a book tour for Pittsburgh-based author Dalel Khalil. I reviewed books and films at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Experience never hurts.

Heading into my senior year, I applied for NYU, Columbia, and Denver’s Publishing Institutes and ended up at NYU for the summer. In six weeks, I worked with two teams to create an original magazine and book imprint. I met an amazing group of people and friends. I was given an overview of the industry and what it takes to work with all departments to successfully create a product and a brand. Not to mention, I met contacts at different publishing houses and media brands that were instrumental in helping me land my first job.

How did you find out about your first publishing job? 
While attending NYU, I scoured the web looking for job opportunities. There are a ton of great resources out there for people interested in pursuing a career in publishing. I, however, found out about my current position in a different way. A friend of mine at NYU knew I was interested in editorial (and that I’m a huge advocate for literacy). So, she ever so kindly set me up with an informational interview at Scholastic, Inc. with someone she knew since college (networking definitely helps in this industry).

The job was definitely something I was interested in. I felt it was a perfect fit for me since it combined so many departments in one position – social media, editorial, online production, marketing, etc. I eventually met with the Publisher, Editorial Director, and Project Manager before landing the job. I worked as a temporary employee for six months before being hired as a full-time employee.

What does your typical day look like? 
Since I work with multiple departments within Scholastic, Inc., there is no such thing as a “typical day” – which is really the beauty of the industry. While there are some tasks that are routine, I have the opportunity to create my own daily schedule. I’d say you definitely have to know how to manage your time and decide what is a priority on any given day. I’m primarily responsible for writing single page articles for two award-winning magazines, writing book and product reviews, managing social media on multiple platforms, and managing online content production for the website. It’s definitely a lot of work and a lot of different tasks, but that’s what I love about my job. Lucky for me, I have the added bonus of working with a great group of people who I genuinely enjoy working with. I would add that I think this is a norm in the industry!

 Connect with her:
Feel free to connect with me on the following social media platforms:
Twitter: @megroth
LinkedIn: Meg Roth (Please mention this post.)

“So, You Want to Work in Publishing?”–Evan Oare

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.

Connect with Evan:

www.linkedin.com/in/evanoare  
www.goodreads.com/user/show/3877967-evan-oare  
www.twitter.com/OhEvski

“So, You Want to Work in Publishing?”–Miriam McPhie

Welcome to the guest blogging series, So, You Want to Work in Publishing! The series features the personal stories of how young professionals broke into 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: Miriam McPhie
Current Title: Marketing Assistant, Georgetown University Press
Hometown: Fairfax County, VA
Graduated from: College of William & Mary, 2011
Where you currently work: Washington, D.C.

Your Path to Publishing:

It was well into my senior year at William and Mary–where I was graduating with degrees in Psychology and Anthropology–and I still had no clear career plan in mind. When my roommate asked me to go with her to a publishing seminar at the career center, I figured I’d tag along and see if there was free food (there was). Several of the seminar speakers had attended summer publishing programs, and the more I heard them talk about their experiences, the more interested I became. I had somehow never considered the field of publishing, but here were people telling me that I could channel my love of recreational reading into a viable career! I hustled back to my room to fill out some last-minute applications, and was accepted into the New York University Summer Publishing Institute.

As one of the only non-English or Journalism majors in the program, I felt a little daunted. Many of my classmates already had impressive industry internships under their belts, whereas I had spent my summers employed as a camp counselor, and the school year working in the library’s Media Center. I knew that I didn’t have the traditional publishing background, but I was determined to make it work.

I entered the program intending to take the editorial route–however, I had not anticipated the wide variety of other job opportunities SPI would expose me to. My interest slowly began to shift towards the more media-oriented side of things. I wanted to interact with the people who would be reading the books. With that in mind, marketing started to look better and better.

This happens to be a fantastically exciting time for publishing – the increase in demand for e-books and the introduction of new digital technologies have opened the door to a whole new world of publishing possibilities. I began to realize that my computer skills – which I had worried would be of little use to me – might actually wind up working to my advantage.

After the NYU program finished, I applied to a lot of jobs. I used job board sites like Bookjobs and Mediabistro, as well as city-specific sites like Book Builders of Boston and DC Jobs. I also signed up for email updates on job openings from some of the bigger publishers. I worked a few unpaid, part-time internships, while continuing to search for a paying position. This past spring I was hired to be the Marketing Assistant at Georgetown University Press.

The main thing I got from the NYU program was a strong network of classmates. We have kept in touch and update each other on news and job openings. This has been an invaluable resource, particularly in an industry known for being quite insular. I also came to realize that having a unique background, built on a strong liberal arts foundation, has actually helped me to stand out from the crowd.


How did you find out about your first publishing job and/or internship?

I found my first post-NYU internship through a listing on Bookjobs. I worked remotely for a literary agency in New York (since I’d moved back to Virginia).  My job was to read through the “slush inbox” and write up reader’s reports on submissions’ strengths and weaknesses. Then my supervisor and I would discuss via email and phone what made a project marketable. She also let me do some second-round editing on books already under contract, which I was always excited about. I learned a lot from that internship about foreseeing book trends and how to spot a manuscript that would sell.

 What does your typical day look like?

My typical day at Georgetown University Press involves entering sales data, updating the website’s content, and managing any issues that have arisen in the database. Because it is a small publisher, there is a lot of overlap in positions. I get to interact with the Marketing, Sales, Acquisitions, Editorial, and Production departments. Different seasons bring different projects, and every day presents some new and exciting challenge. I really enjoy being part of the process of bringing books and readers together.

 #1 Thing You’d Advise People Trying to Get a Similar Position:

Keep up with industry news! Not only will your knowledge of publishing be appreciated in interview and networking situations, it may help you figure out what aspects of the field excite you the most. It’s always good to see a variety of industry information, and I like to explore sites like Shelf Awareness, Goodreads, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Publishers Weekly, and blogs—like this one! Marketing departments are looking for people who are social media savvy, and who are willing to evaluate and implement new strategies. Knowing what the rest of the industry is doing is critical.

 Connect with her:

You can connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn (just shoot me a message and mention this blog). I am more than happy to answer any questions!

The #1 Best Way to Self-Publish

kickstarter project

For a while now I’ve been pondering Kickstarter: if it’s a good idea, if every low-funds creative individual with a dream project should do it, and how exactly a writer could utilize this fundraising opportunity. When competing with really amazing, tangible creative projects on the Kickstarter website–like Amanda Palmer’s project, where prizes ranged from a digital download of her album, to concert tickets, to a personal five hour dinner/ukulele serenade  (PS: her past Kickstarter project offered tickets to An Evening with Neil (Gaiman) and Amanda. How can a little novel possibility compete with THAT?)–is offering nothing more than a free signed copy of your forthcoming book, with a (potentially super lame) limited-run bookmark, really enough of a prize to encourage people to donate to your self-publishing project?

Having identified such issues with Kickstarter, Pubslush has now appeared on the scene, and it’s like Kickstarter for authors. A self-proclaimed publishing revolution, using democratic language like “books by the people and for the people,” this “publishing lovechild of American Idol and TOMS shoes,” gives readers the opportunity to discover the next bestseller (specifically, “discover the next Harry Potter”), change the life of an aspiring author, and change the lives of aspiring readers.

Writers, for their part, upload 10 pages and a summary of their book. Readers can then read these samples and preorder the books they want to see published. In the typical TOMS shoe tradition, for every book sold, a book will be donated to a child in need. In turn similar to the Kickstarter guidelines–where a project won’t be funded at all unless it gets the full funding–unless a book gets 1,000 supporters in 120 days (4 months), Pubslush won’t publish it (and the money is returned).

This is just my humble opinion, but I think Pubslush might be the up-and-coming, new way that authors interested in self-publishing, or at least alternatives to traditional publishing, publish their books. And the best part is that, unlike self-publishing, authors don’t have to pay a dime for the publication, but you’re still getting the high-percentage royalties (Pubslush offers 35% royalty on net profits for all sales) that self-published authors enjoy. Also, you get to establish 1,000 readers before publication.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, the average book published in the US sells only 500 copies, and the average book self published in the US sells only 50 copies!

1,000 guaranteed sold copies is quite a sales improvement!

Personally, as a reader I’d feel more comfortable paying for a book on Pubslush than I would buying a completely self-published and self-promoted book. The process of choosing a book on Pubslush is familiar. It reminds me of how I pick up a book at the bookstore, read the jacket copy, and then maybe the first few pages before buying the book. It’s similar to how I taste-test the first few pages of a book on my Kindle, for free, before deciding to purchase. It seems trustworthy.

Also, I think it’s better for the author. Instead of throwing their book into an abyss, they’re building a platform for their book and establishing a readership. Authors can promote themselves for four months, pushing hard spread the buzz and acquire 1,000 interested readers. If they succeed, the book is published. But even if they don’t quite make it, they’ll get an idea of whether it’s worth self-publishing it themselves. It’s like a test-run. If 700 people were interested in reading the book, then maybe it’s worth taking the self-publishing route and reaching out to those 700 potential readers in the future, when the book is available. I would think that it makes the hard work of self-publishing more rewarding, if you already have an audience, anxiously waiting to enjoy the book.

For traditionally published authors that are frustrated with the low royalties–authors who can’t afford to write for traditional publishers anymore–but have an excellent, loyal reader following, this might be the answer they’ve been waiting for.

What do you think? Exciting revolution or future flunk? Are you interested in reading any of the books currently on Pubslush?

#PubTips

Transaction Publishers, circa 1969.

In lieu of an official So, You Want to Work in Publishing post this week, here’s some advice about how to score a summer internship and how to get a publishing internship in 3 easy steps.

Already in an internship/assistant/entry-level position? Worried about doing the wrong thing? Remember, white wine with fish and red wine with meat (and these other important tips).

And for those of you who think publishing is an industry full of fresh-face English majors, it’s actually pretty diverse. Check out “The Many Faces of Publishing.”

So, You’re Going to the NYU Summer Publishing Institute, 2012

We’ll be taking a brief break from the normally scheduled blog series “So, You Want to Work in Publishing” this week. If you’ve missed any of the advice of Season 1, you can find it all right here. If you’re a publishing professional interested in guest blogging for Season 2, just let me know!

In the meantime, Thursday posts will continue to be dedicated to the publishing industry. NYU just posted an awesome article which quotes many NYU 2011 graduates, with contributions from some of our very own guest bloggers (me included!). So if you’re gearing up to attend the 2012 institute or are thinking about applying in the future, definitely read this article chock full of advice of what to do, what not to do, and what to expect in the six-weeks you’re there.

“So, You Want to Work in Publishing?”–Molly Martin

 

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: Molly Martin
Current Title: Editorial Assistant at TIME/Editorial Assistant at Time Home Entertainment Inc.
Hometown: Wichita, Kansas
Graduated from: University of Kansas, 2011
Where you currently work and live: New York City

Path to Publishing:

I became interested in magazine journalism in high school as an editor for the school’s newsmagazine. When deciding on a major at the University of Kansas, I knew journalism was the right choice based on the Journalism school’s excellent reputation and my passion for writing and the news. I knew I was on the right path and that this education was valuable, thanks to some inspiring professors.

During the summer of 2010 I was an intern at NakedCity, a monthly culture and lifestyle magazine in Wichita, Kansas. I grew up in Wichita, but NakedCity’s fresh and unapologetic editorial style revealed the city’s art and music scene in a way I had never seen. In addition to uploading and organizing online content, I also learned about the inner workings of the small yet vocal publication.

After my summer at NakedCity, I became a staff writer for my university’s weekly lifestyle magazine, Jayplay. I also took all the magazine courses available, which included courses in writing, publishing and design. In the publishing course I devised an idea for a new magazine and created the business plan for it. Later, I designed its first issue.

I also sought professional experience, and over winter break of my senior year I did a features’ internship at Redbook. I polished my research skills and learned to communicate well with editors. Although I was only at Redbook for a month, I gained hands-on experience and networking opportunities. I promised myself I would give a publishing career a shot.

I was editor of Jayplay in my final college semester, supervising a staff of 14 writers, an associate editor and a designer. I grew as a leader and honed my editing skills. During this last semester I applied to the New York University Summer Publishing Institute (SPI). When at Redbook, several colleagues recommended the program, and I knew it would be a great start to a publishing career in New York City. I gladly accepted when I received the invitation to attend.

I went into SPI with a lot of confidence and a lot of drive. I knew I wanted a career in magazine publishing, and I was interested in editing, but I wanted to learn about other publishing opportunities. For six weeks I soaked in as much information as possible. I sat in the front row. I took notes. I asked questions. I made an effort to learn as much as possible and to connect with professionals who had careers that I aspired to or who worked at publications that I liked. I followed up with people I met and often asked for informal interviews for further advice.

One such informal interview—a summer evening’s chat in Bryant Park—led me to TIME.

How did you find out about your first publishing job and/or internship?

During the SPI magazine publishing alumni panel last year I was sitting front and center, hanging on every word. I had been looking forward to this day, for the chance to hear from the young people who, not too long ago, were just as eager to break into publishing as we were.

I quickly identified with one of the alumni from 2010. She was an editorial assistant, the position I wanted, at Architectural Digest. So far, I had not met any editorial assistants at SPI. Before that she was an editorial intern at TIME, which was her first job after SPI. I admired her drive and was impressed with what she had accomplished in less than a year. Right when the panel ended, I walked up to her, chatted a bit, and asked her for an informal interview. We met at Bryant Park not too long after that and I asked her for advice.

After a few weeks of job searching, I remembered how much she valued the experience of working at TIME, and I became interested in pursuing my first publishing job there as well. With her recommendation and SPI on my resume as a talking point, I got my first publishing job at TIME.

What does your typical day look like?

I don’t have a typical day at the magazine. Tasks change day to day, but my responsibilities include fact checking stories for the print magazine, transcribing interviews, and organizing and tracking all incoming books for potential review. Meaning, a typical day can include a lot of researching, communicating with editors and writers, keen listening and typing.

When working at Time Books my tasks also vary, according to what the editorial director may need me to do and depending on which book or project we’re working on at that time. For example, for the book project that we’re working on now, a typical day may include reporting, finding sources and contact information for the book writer, a project conference call with the editor, writer, photo editor and art director, giving updates to everyone involved, researching and fact checking.

#1 Thing You’d Advise People Trying to Get a Similar Position:

A foot in the door can lead to so much more!

Connect with her: via LinkedIn or Twitter: @MollyDMartin