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Things Every Future Publishing Professional Should Know

To some this list is going to sound pretty tongue in cheek. Sadly though, much of it comes from experience. If you’re looking to work in publishing you will most likely start out at the bottom, as an editorial assistant. Your job will be to learn the business from the ground up and in doing so you will need to be doing the duties of an assistant. That means filing, taking notes, mailing packages and talking on the phone. It means a lot of other things too of course.

So in no uncertain order, here are just some of the things you should learn before you send your resume out for a publishing job. If you don’t know how to do them we’ve provided handy little links.

1. Address an envelope. While 90% of business is done via email there are still plenty of reasons we need to snail mail things and knowing where the stamp goes, what a zip code is and what a state’s abbreviation is helps.

2. How to write a business letter. This is something you should learn before even applying for jobs. Your cover letter should be in a formal business letter format. That being said, it seems a lot of people still don’t know how a (snail mail) business letter should be formatted.

3. What a fax machine is. We might live in 2016, but there are a lot of times a fax is still put to use (or used as a copy machine). While we don’t expect most people to know exactly how to use it, we do expect that they know what it is.

4. How to file. Not a difficult job if you know your alphabet, but it is surprising how many people have trouble figuring this one out.

I’m sure I could come up with more, but these are the top four that come to mind.

Good luck in your new job!

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6 comments

  1. When I read the post title, I was expecting a list of publishing related expectations.
    Things like working with bloggers and review companies or understanding that there are different types of editing, what they are and when they are needed.
    You know publishing things, not basics for any office, or even adult life. I’m kind of shocked you feel the need to post this, good luck with whatever led you to this post.

  2. Oh, goodness, this post makes me feel old. I remember when fax machines were a new thing.

    Is it okay to say I still love to write “snail mail” letters? I’ve never known anyone who wasn’t delighted to get a real, honest-to-gosh letter (not a bill) in the mail. I can’t think of any other way to brighten someone’s day for so little effort and expense.

  3. Wow. Didn’t think those sorts of things would need spelling out, but I guess I’m from the “before mobile device” generation.

  4. The odd bit of advice I find myself giving to aspiring authors is to learn grammar: what a paragraph is, how to spell, what the different forms of their, there, and they’re, are, or to, two, and too–what they mean and how to use them. I actually received one email written mostly in text speech and I honestly couldn’t understand what the person was asking. And these are people who want to write books! The comment I get when I suggest they might want to refresh their knowledge of accepted grammar is that the books that sell the most are the ones that break the rules. Well, you can’t break those rules if you don’t know what they are. Otherwise you merely sound uneducated.

    Thank you, Jessica, for my opportunity to rant.

  5. I would say grammar and spelling are the two biggest things I tell folks. I also think organization skills, and certainly how to write a letter. I never even thought about how to address an envelop – thought everyone knew that, I guess.

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