Want to Work in Publishing? Don’t Be Afraid to Use Your Connections!

Amanda's publishing photograph

Welcome to the guest blogging series, So, You Want to Work in Publishing, where publishing professionals share their personal stories of how they broke into the industry. 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.

Today, I’m so happy to welcome Amanda, someone I met in the summer of 2011 during our time at the NYU Summer Publishing Program together. She offers some wonderful insight into the literary agent side of the industry–a career option most new graduates don’t think or know much about.

Name: Amanda Panitch
Current Title: Literary Agency Assistant at Lippincott Massie McQuilkin (www.lmqlit.com)
Hometown: Jackson, New Jersey
Graduated from: The George Washington University (BA in English), New York University (certificate in publishing)
Where you currently work: New York, NY

Your Path to Publishing: Growing up, I changed career ambitions about as often as I changed my socks. As a kid, I was determined to be a ballerina (I was undeterred by the fact that I had the grace of a drunken buffalo). In middle school I wanted to be a doctor. I went to college for international relations, which was interesting, but not, I realized, what I wanted to spend my life doing.My only interests that had remained consistent throughout the years were reading and writing, so I switched my major to English, and immediately went in search of internship experience that would grant me and my English degree the hope of eventual employability. After applying to every internship that seemed even slightly relevant on my school’s career site, I ended up getting a position working for Deborah Grosvenor, a literary agent then with Kneerim & Williams and now with her own eponymous agency. She was an amazing mentor and I loved everything about the work, from reading the slush to making editorial notes to the excitement of an auction, and so I decided I wanted to work in agenting.I burnished my resume with one more literary agency internship (at the now-defunct PMA Literary and Film Management) before attending the NYU Summer Publishing Institute. The exposure to all the different sides of the industry at SPI was valuable, but it only cemented my belief that agenting was the right path for me. After SPI, I did yet another internship at Writers House, which was an incredible experience and which ultimately led me to my job at LMQ.

How did you find out about your first publishing job and/or internship? Any job search methods you’d recommend? I found my job (and two of my internships) the old-fashioned way: through postings on job sites like Publisher’s Lunch and Bookjobs. The other internship (at Writers House) I heard about through the NYU SPI Career Fair. From what I’ve seen, though, I was the exception: a lot of publishing jobs aren’t even posted online, and even with those that are posted online, the application process is actually a black hole. I went on one interview for an editorial assistant at one of the Big Six and the interviewing editor told me that, while the position had been posted online, they hadn’t even had to go through those applications, as they’d had so many personal recommendations.So, stemming from that, my main advice is: use your connections! Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you worked with at internships, or your uncle’s cousin’s stepsister who works at Random House. Having someone to pass your resume along–or, even better, call up the hiring manager for you–can (and will) make the difference between getting the interview and getting stuck in the black hole of online applications.Informational interviews are another great way to get your foot in the door–they connect you with people throughout the industry, giving you more people who can pass your resume along (I went on several informational interviews during my job hunt process, and ended up getting three real interviews for positions from those informational interviews), and they also help you learn more about the company and the available positions. See if someone you know can recommend someone to get in touch with. Or, seek someone out yourself–see if you can find an alumnus from your school who works somewhere you’d like to be and ask if they can set aside a half hour for a chat (don’t go after the CEO, of course–try for assistants who were relatively recently in the trenches themselves).Most of all, stay strong–some people get a job on their first or second interview, but most don’t. It took me twenty interviews to get a job, and I couldn’t be happier with how things worked out.

What does your typical day look like? When I tell people what I do, they always ask me if I get to read all day. Alas, I do not–most of my reading and editorial work gets done on my own time, at night or on weekends. My days are filled with everything from vetting and negotiating contracts to author correspondence to chasing late contracts/unpaid advances to line-editing proposals to drawing up permission agreements to managing interns to the excitement that is navigating foreign tax forms. I also do the administrative work that is the duty of assistants everywhere, like answering phones and making schedules. If it’s a slow day, I might have a couple hours to read or type up editorial notes.

#1 Thing You’d Advise People Trying to Get a Similar Position: Use your connections. Do an internship, or several–even if you can’t financially manage a few days a week in an office or a move to New York City, there are remote reader positions at literary agencies to help you learn to navigate the slush pile and get your foot in the door (and always check to see if there are smaller publishing companies or literary agencies around you that offer internships–my first internship was in DC, which isn’t exactly a publishing mecca). Don’t forget to stress job experience outside the industry, too–though I had three internships at literary agencies, had attended a publishing program, and had graduated summa cum laude, the single thing on my resume that aroused the most interest in interviews was my stint in guest relations at a theme park, as it showed I could handle conflict. Also, don’t forget to send thank-you notes after an interview.
Connect with her:
Twitter and LinkedIn (please mention this post).

“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’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

“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.

“So, You Want to Work in Publishing?”–Andrea Modica

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. 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: Andrea Modica
Current Title: Editorial Assistant
Hometown: Langhorne, Pennsylvania
Graduated from: Saint Joseph’s University ’11
Where I currently work and live: Currently work at John Wiley & Sons in Hoboken, New Jersey while still living at home in Pennsylvania

Your path to publishing: Look up English major in the dictionary, and chances are you’ll see my face. I was one of those college rarities where I declared my major before I graduated high school and kept that major all throughout college. I loved reading and writing—I just didn’t know how to put the two together and create my perfect career. Then a professor mentioned book publishing, and the light bulb went off. How had I not thought of that sooner? I spent eight months interning for Running Press Book Publishers in Philadelphia, and I loved every minute of it. After that, I knew publishing was the right path for me. One of the editors I worked for had gone to NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute, and encouraged me to apply. I did, and spent six weeks in the publishing hub of New York City. I’d recommend this experience to anyone who wants to work in publishing. It was easily one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done in my life, but it was also one of the most rewarding. I made invaluable connections, learned crazy-amounts of inside information, and formed friendships stronger than the ones it took me four years in college to create. Publishing is not an easy business to break into—even with an English degree and NYU certificate under my belt, many online applications seemed to vanish into thin air and interview results went untold. But I’ve known since the very beginning that I belonged in publishing, so I refused to settle for a job outside the business. I checked job postings daily, updated my resume weekly, and commiserated with my NYU friends who also struggled to find their footing after our six weeks in the big city ended.  I pulled my hair out for six months before finally landing a job.

How did you find out about your first publishing job: I had an odd path to the job I currently hold today. Originally, I heard about an opening at Wiley from a fellow NYU grad who posted a link on Facebook. She had been recently hired by the company and passed along the information for the open position. I interviewed for the job, but found out I’d come in second. No matter, said the friendly HR rep, there was another position available, and it was mine if I wanted it. I didn’t hesitate, regardless of the fact that my insane passion for books has been put on hold indefinitely while I work at Wiley-Blackwell, which only publishes scientific journals. In the end, networking with fellow NYU students who’d landed publishing jobs proved more valuable than the stack of business cards I’d collected from publishing professionals. When HR reps don’t return emails, and job applications go by unnoticed, don’t forget about your peers.

What does your typical day look like: There is no such thing as a “typical” day in publishing. One of the things I love best about this business is that every day brings something different. There are a few constants, like answering emails and returning phone calls. On any given day, I can juggle projects from my supervisor and process anywhere from one to six manuscripts. Since I don’t edit for content, there’s not much reading involved in my position, but there’s plenty of information gathering and report generating. I’ve never used Microsoft Office so much in my life! I’m in charge of uploading videos to YouTube, making changes to the website, and ensuring that everything is turned in, edited, and sent to production on time. I’m a tedious and organized person, so this position fits me perfectly. And while I still sometimes yearn to edit YA novels, I remember that my career is young, and I’m starting off at a fantastic company with co-workers I genuinely enjoy spending time with. There’s no such thing as a bad job in publishing—only jobs, and if it’s truly your passion, then in the end, it’s all the same.

Connect: You can find me on twitter @aleemodica or on my book blog, The Book Nook.