lost-in-constellations asked: what did you do in order to get into publishing? like schooling and such?
I think it’s equal parts schooling, tenacity, and foolishness.
Schooling: I was an English major and I tutored writing at my university’s writing center. I got really involved with the writing center in between book club, I mean, English class. Tutoring writing got me comfortable with grammar, editing, how to talk about writing, and how to to talk to writers. I even presented at several writing center conferences, from the regional to the international level, about writing center work.
Tenacity: Publishing is hard to get into. Internships are the way to go. I saved up money working at a bar after graduating college, working on publishing school applications and internship apps for publishing houses in my freetime. I got super lucky and had a loose connection to a Norton editor through a professor and got called for a phone interview. A month later I moved to New York. I interned for three months and LOVED it. But then all of my money had run out, and my internship was over, and my roommate had someone else lined up to move into my room in September. So, I was without a job, internship, or apartment. I spent two months going back and forth between the closet of two dear friends Steve and Katie, who’d just gotten married but for some reason still let me sleep in their apartment, and the apartment of my friends Andrew and Ian who live in Jersey City. I got a parttime job at Barnes and Noble and an unpaid internship at a literary agency. That internship turned into a job, which I was only able to stay at for about a year, leaving me a few months of being unemployed, and back on the hunt.
There are a lot of jobs open in publishing, but there are a lot of qualified people who are applying for them. You’ve got to exploit who you know. If not for my publishing friends, especially my old Norton boss, I don’t think I would have landed my new gig at a different literary agency. You’ve got to be tough. I have applied for over 250 jobs and internships in publishing in the last two years, and gotten three total.
Foolishness: I’m in a field where we all love to work hard for not a lot of money because we love something: books. It’s a labor of love, indeed. Hollywood makes it seem like editors and publishing have big bright offices, huge expense accounts, and fancy wardrobes. I don’t know where those people work. It’s a changing industry, and it’s growing and adapting, but everyone in it is here because we’re fighting for the written word. We’re hoping that people who love video games and the internet will still stop and pick up a book, pay for it, read it, and tell their friends all about it.
These are just my feelings and opinions of course, but all in all, I have to say it’s totally worth it. I get free books, get to talk to awesome authors and editors on the phone, and I help books hit the bookshelf every day.