Publishing Trendsetter is a production of Market Partners International and Publishing Trends.

Book Jobs Not by the Book: Rachel Waxman, Author Publicity

Rachel Waxman

Rachel Waxman

Although she now has a fulltime job, Rachel Waxman’s story of starting her career outside of NYC and of using freelance work to find her ideal niche in book business is the sort of story we always like to hear. Rachel is a Kansas City native and a graduate of Northwestern University, where she did not study English or creative writing. She currently works for Lucinda Literary, a New York-based author marketing and publicity agency. She is also a writer, and her first book, The Crickhowell School for the Muses, will be published in May.


What was your first professional experience (this could be an internship or a job) in book business and what were the most important things you gained from it?

Let me back up a little. About six months after I graduated from college, I had what one might call a career epiphany. It was the first time I ever thought about combining my two passions: writing/books and business. For some reason I’d never before considered working in publishing, but it was of course the obvious path to pursue.

My first job was with a small publishing startup. I was living at home in Kansas City, and the job was remote. Because the company was new and the pay structure was low-risk for them, they didn’t require experience in the publishing industry. So it was relatively easy to get my foot in the door. I learned so much from this job. Not only about marketing, PR, and project management from a publishing perspective, but about working with authors and even managing teams. It was an independent, self-starter kind of job, which I loved.

What is your job now, and how do you explain it to people?

The technical title of my current job is “Literary Assistant and Online Marketing Coordinator.” I work for a book publicist/literary agent in New York and I do, well…a little bit of everything! The majority of my job involves pitching and communicating with media outlets; I also research media and event opportunities, update websites, tweet, read queries, write social media guides for authors, design our newsletter…the list goes on. I even once designed the back cover for a book.

How did your past internships/jobs lead to this current job and prepare you for it?

My first job was hugely important in getting me to where I am. Because it was so independent, I got experience doing basically all the things I do now—pitching, organizing events, communicating with authors, and managing social media. I also had some freelance clients along the way, where I did more of the same.

But hard skills like writing pitches aside, I think the most important experience I got from my first job was learning how to manage authors—or now, clients, as we call them. When I first started out, it was really exciting for me to have these Skype meetings with authors, where they entrusted me to manage their media outreach—but sometimes I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. What did I know about selling books? But as time goes by, you learn how to trust yourself, and you realize that you do have valuable expertise to share.

If you could go back in time to when you were first starting in book business and give yourself some advice or perspective, what would it be?

Well, first of all, I wouldn’t change anything about the way I approached publishing. I think I would just tell myself to keep at it and don’t give up the dream. A lot of people get discouraged because they feel like they have to move to New York, or because publishing pays so little and it’s so competitive. These may all be true (well, not the first one, in my opinion), but there are so many different ways to go at it! You don’t have to be an overworked/underpaid Editorial Assistant at a big six (err…five). You can work at one of these publishing startups that are popping up, at a site like Goodreads, or at a boutique marketing/publicity firm. There are many options and I would strongly consider everyone to think outside the Editorial Assistant desk. And most important: don’t give up!

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