Switching Careers: Leaving Law for the World of Words

Publishing Advice


Name: Erynn Im-Sato
Current Title: Sales Rep, Proprietary and Display Marketer Sales
Hometown:  Torrance, California
Graduated From: UC Santa Barbara, 2005
Currently work and live: HarperCollins Publishers, New York

My path to publishing:

I was an English major in college and I thought I wanted to be a journalist or editor. My first job out of college was at a local surf magazine in Santa Barbara but then decided I wanted to pursue a more lucrative career in law instead. I moved to San Francisco and worked at a law firm for a year before having an honest conversation with myself and admitting I wanted to go back to the world of words. In my state of quarter-life crisis I rationalized a move to Paris to study French language and English literature in preparation for the GRE, but came back to the US knowing I wanted to work with books. So I moved to New York, enrolled in the Columbia Publishing Program, networked with publishing professionals, got a job at HarperCollins, and have been here for almost five years now.

How I found out about my first publishing job (or internship):

I met a HarperCollins HR rep at the Columbia Publishing Program career fair. I requested an informational interview which turned into an offer for Harper’s rotational program, where I’d be given the chance to try out all the different departments. After three weeks with the Harper Perennial marketing team, I got an offer for a full-time position with the special markets sales team.

What my typical day looks like:

I now work on the proprietary sales team in the special markets department. We create custom-edition books for customers such as Costco, Barnes and Noble, and more. I create and pitch new titles and package ideas. I manage projects from conception through design, production, editorial, and author approval. And I also blog at www.booksoutsidethebox.com, talking about life, books, and cool places where books are sold.

What I love most about my job:

Getting to talk about books everyday with people who love books just as much as I do.

Advice on Breaking Into Publishing

  • Network. You can network via social media by following companies on Twitter and their blogs. And you can also network in person by going to to MeetUp events like NYC Literature Nerds, The Publishing Point, eBooks, eReaders and Digital Content Publishing. Try to meet as many people in the industry as possible.
  • Read outside your comfort level. If you’re a fiction heavy reader like me, get some non-fiction books under your belt. Check out young adult, mass market, etc. Browse bookstores, keep an eye out for trends and interesting book packages.
  • Be up to date with industry news. There are tons of resources like the free daily newsletter Shelf Awareness.

Connect with me!

Twitter: @ErynnImSato

Blog: www.booksoutsidethebox.com

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/user/show/1468815-erynn

“So, You Want to Work in Publishing?”–Nick Martorelli

how to get a job publishing

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: Nick Martorelli
Current Title: Production Associate at HarperCollins Publishers
Hometown: Norristown, PA, the suburbs of Philadelphia
Graduated from: Villanova University 2003, BA in English and Theatre
Where you currently work and live: I live in Washington Heights, and I work in midtown.

Your Path to Publishing:

Although I graduated with an English degree, I had always wanted to be a professional actor. And when I graduated from college in 2003, I became a full-time apprentice at a local theatre where I worked in all areas of the organization–performance and production. I found quickly that I had talent in both areas, which led to a ten-year career that included two national tours, an independent film, and union background work in two feature films that were made in Philadelphia. But in the last few years, I had not enjoyed the work I had been doing as an actor, and with my thirtieth birthday approaching I wanted to make a change, and find another industry that I would enjoy as much as I had enjoyed acting when I started my career.

Fortunately, I had spent the previous two years running Radio Hound Productions, a small production company responsible for short films, live shows, and an ongoing podcast series. I had started to enjoy the production and editorial work more than I enjoyed performing, so I started to think that my career was in a support role in a creative field. I’ve always loved reading, writing, and books in general, so I started thinking about a career in book publishing. Working with actors would be just like working with writers, and I knew that the skills I had learned in planning events as well as managing people would transfer over to any industry. (That’s the great part about being an English major–we don’t just read books and analyze images, we learn how to evaluate and communicate with others.)

As a career-changer, though, I had no professional experience in publishing. A simple online search led me to the summer programs at NYU and Columbia, and I applied for and was accepted into the 2011 NYU SPI session. It had been a long time since I had been in school, but I enjoyed the feel and rhythm of the program, even if I felt we weren’t learning any actual “information.” We learned about the current state of the industry and publishing trends in general, but it was both the networking opportunities as well as the career fair that would be the most valuable part of the program for me in my career. While my current position came directly from the SPI Career Fair, I like to think that it was my unique path through acting and producing that got me into publishing.

How did you find out about your first publishing job and/or internship? 
While there are a lot of great online resources for job hunting, and I made use of many of them during my job search, I found out about my current position in a different way. In preparation for the career fair at the end of the NYU SPI program, I applied for specific jobs at companies and then sought out the specific HR reps to discuss those opportunities. I approached the rep from HarperCollins and asked him about the job I had applied for. Instead, he was fascinated by my history as an actor and producer, and he told me about another position he was looking to fill, asking if I would be interested in working as a freelancer in e-book production.

Like many people in my SPI class, I wanted to go into editorial, and I had never considered a job in production. But since the HR rep was specifically interested in connecting me with the production position, I said that I was interested in finding out more. The next day, he contacted me to set up an interview, and my unique background helped me land the job. I worked as a contractor for eight months before being hired as a full-time employee.

What does your typical day look like? 

A job in production means working on a lot of different projects at any one time, so typical days are few and far between. But I’m generally responsible for three stages of e-book production: 1) collecting files so new e-books can be created, 2) reworking those e-books in process so they can be approved by managing editors, 3) getting the approved e-books to our retailers (Amazon, Apple, etc.) In the midst of all this, I handle corrections that need to be made to e-books already on sale, and I also track all of the e-books from our division in Canada. On any given day, I’m also handling up to a dozen special projects and tracking all of the e-books currently in production. So what I’m saying is that every day can be different, but all of them are pretty busy.

Connect with him:

Connect on LinkedIn, but please mention you saw this post.

Visit the website of my production company at www.radiohoundproductions.org (or look us up on iTunes!)

I also kept a blog about my acting days at scriptinhand.blogspot.com.

I’m also around via email at NickMartorelli@gmail.com, and I promise I’ll answer.