Dreams of Working in Publishing
- By: Jessica Faust | Date: Feb 27 2012
Hello, I read your blog (Jessica’s) about getting a job in publishing. I want so badly to work with new authors everyday, to be involved in the process of publishing and be with great works from the beginning.
It seems clear the main place to be is New York City. I live in West Texas. I am an English major (minor: Communications) and I will be certified to teach high school upon graduation. I do not have the resources to just up and move to the city. I was thinking of completing my Bachelor’s degree and using teaching as a way to live comfortably and realistically be able to relocate to the city. That way, I could search for entry-level positions without fear of being destitute or having to move back home.
Is this a good plan?
I know it sounds like I’m not fully committed to my dreams of working in the publishing industry, but I think success stories I hear involve people who have money and resources. I have neither. And I’ve tried moving to big cities and waiting tables- let’s just say that’s not an option for me.
It warms my heart to hear someone say that their dreams are to “work with new authors” because that’s really what publishing is all about. So many people go into this business because they want to be writers. I’m not sure I ever wanted to be a writer, but I wanted to be a part of the process, which is why my job is perfect for me. I get to work to my strengths and hopefully encourage authors to work to theirs.
You are correct that the right place to be is New York, and I think you have a good and smart plan. It’s not easy to simply pack up and relocate to a new place. I know. I did it. When I first decided to move to New York to “make it there” I had nothing but a degree in hand. Okay, I lie. I also had five years of waitressing experience on my resume and, let’s face it, you can almost always get a job waiting tables. I knew that I could find a waitressing job while I searched for my calling. That was my plan.
I think packing up to move to a new city and working at something while you achieve your true dreams is commitment. A huge commitment. Once you get to the City there are a lot of opportunities available to those who are searching for jobs in publishing. Both NYU and Columbia have publishing programs. I’ll let others comment on the usefulness of those. I don’t think they are at all necessary (I know more people who did not do those than did), but I understand they can be good for networking.
Publishers Marketplace has a Job Board that is a definite must for anyone looking for a job in publishing. I know there are other publishing job boards, but I can’t say I know what they are off the top of my head. Watch the comments, I’m sure someone will post a list of other places.
There are internships every summer that might work perfectly for you if your “other job” is teaching. Most are unpaid or barely paid, but they will get your foot in the door. And lastly, send resumes blindly. You never know when an opening will come up, so every few months or so send a round of resumes to every publisher you’re interested in working for. If you love mysteries, scour the mystery bookshelf and submit your resume to all of those publishers; if you love romance, do the same with the romance shelf.
And good luck. I think your plan is solid and it sounds like you have the drive to achieve your dreams.
Dreams are like campfire smoke, they follow the ones sitting closest.
I should warn you, your first year teaching is going to be tough, and may leave you little energy for pursuing publishing jobs.
One thought is to get that first year under your belt while still in Texas. Live frugally (roommates?) and save everything you can for your move to NYC.
Then do consider the publishing graduate programs. I haven't been through them– I'm an author and former teacher– but they would give you connections in the publishing world. Of course, they would also cost you a bundle.
If you don't like either of these suggestions, think about applying for internships right now. Some agents and publishers seem to have remote internships which are done online– not nearly as good as the real thing but at least you'd get something for the resume and perhaps some connections.
According to Harold Underdown's book on children's book publishing, you are correct in thinking that most people in the publishing industry come from well-to-do families. According to an old professor of mine, most teachers do not.
I know nothing about publishing, and next to nothing about NYC, but I wanted to offer my encouragement. You will undoubtedly run into people who will try to squash your dreams, and who will give you all kinds of reasonable sounding arguments why you should just give up. Don't listen to them. The difference between those who succeed in their goals and those who don't is perseverance. Things are not likely to play out exactly as you envision them. Don't let that discourage you. Adjust your plans and keep moving forward. You can't be defeated if you never surrender to the naysayers.
This person should take advantage of the Interwebs and get publishing experience this way first, before any huge moves to New York. This couldn't be done ten years ago. It can be done now. There are more than a few quality digital first publishers out there who are always looking for editors and other staff. Start by gaining experience and taking advantage of the resources you have.
And…one more thing…get this image of publishing as you see it in movies and on TV completely out of your head. It's a far cry from reality…which is a good thing.
Good luck in your journey. I dream of moving to NYC, although not to work in the publishing industry. I just want to live in a real city.
Your desire to work in publishing and new authors is admirable. Without folks who want to do that, we'd have no books. That being said, I am a little concerned about your commitment to teaching. During my 40 year career in high schools,I saw a good many folks come into the profession as a fall back position, and it was never a good thing for the teacher or the students. If teaching high school is not a primary passion, I'd suggest going to NYC and waiting tables. Both you and your potential students will be better off. I hope I don't sound mean. I'm just trying to tell you how it is.
I enjoyed reading about the dream of the young woman from Texas and Jessica's advice. I follow many blog of literary agents, so just wnat to add that Pace University in lower Manhattan also has a Publishing program, which migght be cheaper than Columbia or NYU, and there is also a Publishing program in Brooklyn. Also some literary agents hire Interns who can be long distance from the office. So while you are a teacher in Texas, you can be an Intern for a literary agency reading queries and mansucript and get experience in your dream work. Best wishes in everything.
I love hearing stories about aspiring to your dreams and success stories too. Thanks for sharing this 🙂
You sound delightful and like you'd do a wonderful job as an editor. I, like some of the others, worry about using teaching as a way to pay the bills. I've taught English for 11 years, and for my first three years I kept the same hours as my first-year investment banker/attorney friends at big firms then I eased into a 60 hour work week later on in my career. I don't know what you'll be teaching, but if you teach English it's brutal. Especially if you have the need for excellence required to work in publishing. Maybe if you can find a part-time job it could be possible.
I will say, though, that working as an AP Lit teacher has given me a better insight into how language works than I can imagine getting anywhere else so if you do have an opportunity to choose a course to teach, I'd definitely go for AP Lit. It's a tough one, but you spend all of your time in the classics pinpointing how the greats have constructed their works, and then figuring out how to articulate that clearly to students.