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

How to Get the Job You WANT in Publishing





In response to our “How to Get a Job” pieces, we’ve received some excellent responses—from all-too-familiar stories to thought-expandingquestions. One recent question struck me as especially important, and a vital side of the “path-finding” equation. I asked around among the experts we always have on speed-dial here at Trendsetter and promised our reader that at least one article would be addressed to her question.



This particular question came from a woman who’s been in production for 4 years at a Big 6 house. Just as with me and my first job, this woman stretched beyond her most immediate choice–editorial–and took a job in production. Very much unlike me, though, this reader is an able and talented production worker…but really isn’t happy with the kind of work she’s doing.

How do you navigate, she asks, when you know you’re not where your deepest passion lies (for her it’s in editorial), but the years are passing, and you’re at a good house and advancing well? What happens if you’re not bad at something, so nobody makes you leave, but you just really want to? What will employers in editorial think of the four successful years spent in production on your resume? When does taking a position outside of your dream department just become a life sentence?

These are pressing questions—time stands still for no Production Associate—and they’re not easy questions either.  There is no shortage of unpleasant ruts and idiotic detours on this-here career roadtrip. Every industry has its specialty frustrations, and publishing is definitely not excepted.

To my mind, it seemed like there must be some time-tested protocol or system to such a thing, right? Something this important just has to have been taken care of already. (You know: like war and hunger have been). I just assumed I was too young and inexperienced to know what the exact steps were.

When an industry veteran told me this is a common dilemma, and one with no easy answers at that, I was unpleasantly surprised. One of the consultants at Market Partners International (Publishing Trendsetter’s parent company) says that sadly, this departmental problem is one that the industry can’t seem to shake. She spoke of an acquaitence who’s had a very successful career as Head of Production at several large houses, yet occasionally feels like he doesn’t work in “publishing” at all and ended up so far from where he meant to be.

Before you slam your laptop shut on this dismal story, my expert of choice did have some solid pieces of advice:

  • You have to move sooner than later—and not just because you’re not living the dream. The longer you go, the more over-priced you are for whatever opening in a new department might come up.
  • Managers should appreciate that four years in a different department can have great value. Many won’t, but that doesn’t  mean you’re doing something misguided or dumb.
  • One of the blessings of a small house is that duties often mingle and overlap, which might supply the perfect place to make a cross-over that doesn’t feel like a jump off a cliff. Depending on where you are, though, the possible cuts in salary and benefits consequent to leaving Big 6 might be too much of a sacrifice. This is something each person has to suss out for herself.
  • Networking! Make as many interdepartmental connections as you can both in and out of house.

But, Elisabeth, one reader asked, What if people in my career bracket are just cliquey and uninterested in making new connections–let alone in talking business–at work get-togethers?

Well, that is a problem. But fortunately I have a lot more ideas on that subject, and that’ll be the second half of this career tune-up.

One Trackback

  1. […] The less “official” publishing experience you have, the more creative you have to be with what you write down. It’s your job to find your book-biz relevant skills and experience where others might not see it, because no one’s going to go digging for it, kid. (This is as much true if you’re trying to reshape your career after a few years, like one of our readers). […]

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