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

Which [Hypothetical] Job is Right for You?: Book-Job Boot Camp, Week 2

Which job listing is right for do-re-me?

Book-Job Boot Camp ♦ Week 2, Tuesday
We won’t say that we’re presuming ignorance—but because Julie Andrews informs us the very beginning is a very good place to start, and because we follow her lead whenever possible, Let’s Start at the Very Beginning.
If you’re applying to internships only, your listings of choice will be pretty clear: primarily from Bookjobs’ internship page, or from a publisher’s own website. If there’s a small publishing house whose work you’re a huge fan of, but you can’t find out whether they offer internships, write a nice email about why you’re stoked about what they do and courteously ask if there’s any way to apply for an internship, since you’d like to be more involved. It might lead to nothing, it might lead to a great connection, it might lead to an internship. But if you’re enthusiastic and polite, there’s nothing to loose but some time and the electricity required to send the email.

If you’re at the job stage, you probably know that the key to entry is an assistant job. But there are so many kinds of assistant jobs. And as nice as Random House’s explanatory break-down is, you’ll see plenty of listings that aren’t Editorial, Production, Marketing, Publicity, Sales, amen. Postings from small presses might have hybrids of the two; my first full-time was Production and Editorial Assistant. There are, rather grandly, Publishing Assistants, who, one assumes, do everything (depending on the house). There are Agent’s Assistants and Scouting Assistants (what the heck is a book scout? Well, don’t worry, Trendsetter is working on an article for you). And what, on God’s Green Earth, does a publisher mean in saying they want a Speaker’s Agency Assistant?

What this points to is that you’ll need to try other paths, in addition to the one you really really want at the outset, especially if you’re already wed to the idea of editorial. (Editorial—as you may know—is the sexy department that’s launched a thousand resumes and broken a thousand hearts). And in keeping with the Scouts’ and Agents’ Assistants listed above, remember that book business exists far outside of the traditional publishing house—and is expanding further outside everyday.

This all just goes to say why it pays not only to read the job listing very carefully, but to do a few thought-experiments picturing yourself in the roles mentioned. Invoke the power of Google and see what other publishers asked of a “Marketing & Sales Assistant.”  Match the requirements on the listing to the way you describe yourself on your resume. What makes a resume stand out is not that it leaves a hiring manager gobsmacked by how you fit the Platonic Ideal of “accomplished”–it’s the feeling of looking over an application and thinking, “He’s a perfect fit!” You should be applying to everything you possibly can, but should concentrate not on the most impressive listing, but to the one with which you most connect. Look for where the stars align–and work to make them align even better.

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