By: Samantha Abernathy
If you are like me, an English major greatly approaching graduation and itching to enter the publishing industry, then you understand that, like most goals, this is not as easy as it sounds. Of course for many of the entry level jobs, one of the requirements is that you “must have a passion for literature.” That makes sense of course. If you love literature and hated math, you would not want to work at the local bank.
What they do not tell you in the job description is how you can stand apart from the other applicants. The requirements section does not have a “how you can shine brighter” subsection. They also don’t give you a step by step of what you need to be doing while you are in school to help you prepare for the industry. No, all you get is a list of what you should have done with the slap-in-the-face statement at the end of some entry level descriptions stating that you need at least 2 years’ experience to get the “beginning” job. However, there is no need to get anxious or worried. You can definitely find a way to do what you love and if entering the Publishing industry is what you want to do then here are some helpful tips and things to do to make you feel more prepared after you graduate:
Internships are VERY important in this industry. A Masters’ degree is not necessary for this particular field, but experience is everything. With this in mind, unless you live in a city like New York where you may can find work as an assistant or something at a publishing company while you are in school, internships are the way to go. This way you can get the experience that you need. Two summers or academic semesters might can take place of those two years. The point is to get SOME type of experience in the industry. Whether this is with an actual publishing company, with an author agency, or with a literary start up, it is still experience and it grows your working knowledge of the industry.
Knowledge of the industry is key. When you go into your first entry level position interview, you want to know what you are talking about. Your employer will want you to know what you are talking about too. It is good to have a working knowledge of what’s going on in this industry because something is always happening. It is good to know at least the most well-known publishing companies, the most recent event or situation that is calling everyone’s attention in the industry, and the key players of the company for which you are applying for a job at.
Awareness of the exact field of publishing that you want to enter is a good thing to have as well. If you want to go into book publishing, decide and know about the genre of book or the department (such as publicity) that you want to work in. For example, I want to enter the book publishing industry and I know that I want to work in or with a children’s imprint or department as a young adult book editor. It may seem like you are putting yourself in to a tiny department, but sometimes that is not a bad thing. If you like a specific genre or department, you will probably be happier working with or in it.
Networking can be very helpful in this industry. The more people you know, the more contacts you have, and the more contacts you have, the more doors that begin to open. All those people that you might have met during your internship could prove to be very valuable resources later on in your career. It is definitely beneficial to network with any and all of the professionals that you may come across.
Marketing yourself goes with networking. The publishing industry may seem big but getting your name out their successfully takes only one good introduction. This is a reason why practicing your professional “game,” or attitude, is very important. I’ve learned that business cards can be very beneficial as well as a business card holder of some kind for all of the business cards and contacts you will receive. A professional email address would also be very beneficial because the mode of conversation can sometimes be primarily email. Also, don’t forget to update your LinkedIn and other highly visible social media.
These are just some helpful tips that can aid in the search for your entry way into the publishing industry. It definitely never hurts to be over prepared in this industry. It is always changing and the best thing for recent graduate students is to simply try and keep up.