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

Your Next Job in Publishing: Sage Advice from Across the Industry

“How to Get a Job in Publishing” has been Publishing Trends‘ most popular article for years–and for good reason. But getting that first job is just the beginning, so we set out to discover what keeps people in publishing after that first job.

Survey results ran last week, and today’s feature article on Publishing Trends is taken from hours of interviews with professionals of all ages. Trendsetter’s exclusive “Next Job” feature will run later this week, but for today, though, here are our favorite pearls of wisdom, the best of the best career advice we’ve gathered over the past month. What does it take to stay the course? Here’s how 10 publishing professionals, with a combined 215 years of experience, answered that question.

 

starKELLY FARBER • Scout, Barbara Tolley & Associates • 4 years in publishing

“Learn whether you flourish more as a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond. The business needs both kinds, but learning that about yourself–and being able to identify a potential new workplace as a small pond or a big pond–makes a big difference in how happy and successful you’ll be.”

 

starCLAIRE TAYLOR  •  National Accounts Manager, Macmillan  • 6.5 Years in publishing

“When you step into a new environment, trust what you already know:  the process; what you’re looking at; the background details; the terminology. There’s all that knowledge to fall back on, which is a real comfort. You can apply what you do know and ask questions about what you don’t.”

 

starORIANA LECKERT  •  Director of Operations, Gotham Ghostwriters  •  8 years in publishing

“You may not realize the ways a job will help your career until later. Think about ways to craft your narrative: how to tell the story of the work you’ve done and why. That way, even if it feels like you’re taking a detour at the time, you can convince people later that you did it all on purpose.”

 

starCHARLES KIM  •  Associate Publisher, Museum of Modern Art  •  19 years in publishing

“Be nice to everybody and willing to learn. Be curious about things not necessarily within your purview.”

starTODD BERMAN  •  VP of Client Development,  Random House  •  22 Years in publishing

“Wherever you are, it doesn’t matter whether it’s in sales, marketing, etc.—get to know different audiences and become a sponge for information.”

 

starBRUCE TRACY  •  Senior Editor, Workman  •  25 Years in Publishing

“At the end of the day, there are only two essential parties in this process: the writer and the reader. I think whatever part of publishing you work in—editorial or publicity or whatever—the closer you can align yourself with one of those two parties, the better able you’re going to be to thrive in the brave new world.”

 

starBRUCE NICHOLS  •  SVP, Publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  •  27 years in publishing

“If you’re at the start of your career and have the option, don’t take advantage of the digital opportunities only, but of also of new ways of experiencing book business outside the traditional publishing model—start-ups, new forms of business that are proliferating now.”

 

starREBECCA SALETAN  •  Editorial Director of Riverhead/Penguin  •  29 years in publishing

“The trick is to do a conscientious-enough job at those basic entry-level duties but at the same time to be “selfish”— focused, and ambitious enough to land projects that make you seem like a full-fledged editor before you’ve been fully recognized as one. ..You have to get creative and be sort of relentless, and at the same time not blow off your day job, which can be very time/energy-consuming.”

 

starCAROLYN REIDY  •  CEO, Simon & Schuster  •  37 Years in publishing

“I’m actually very serious when I say that the most important thing for getting your start in publishing is to find the right boss. Someone who is dedicated to communicating to you why they are doing what they’re doing—that’s how you learn what needs to be done to further the publishing enterprise.”

 

starAMY RHODES  •  Publishing Consultant, Market Partners International  •  38 years in publishing

“Develop a good sense of what your boss needs to know—and, just as important, what they don’t need to know. Knowing that you’re keeping them informed on the right things helps develop a productive relationship and allows you to be the sort of employee they don’t need to worry about in the short term, and it’s also a skill that will serve you well throughout your career.”

2 Comments

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  2. Molly says:

    Just wanted to say great job on this and the Publishing Trends article! I think we often think of publishing as being built around set job ladders (perhaps especially when we’re at the low rungs looking up) that, if at all, is only being disrupted recently due to the changing books landscape in general. It’s really enlightening to hear from people who have been following varied job paths in publishing since before ebooks were much more than a fantasy.

    • Thanks so much, Molly. It really was fascinating (and comforting) to realize that career uncertainty and flexibility weren’t born with ebooks. I also felt reassured to discover how universally thankful everyone was for those “non sequitur” moments in their careers: jobs that didn’t obviously relate to what they eventually made of themselves, but which gave them a wider understanding of publishing as a whole. Maybe that was the most inspiring thing: the great affection everyone seems to have for all parts of the process, even–perhaps especially–for the parts in which they themselves aren’t directly involved.

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