Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How To Get A Job In Publishing

When I got out of college and decided I wanted to do that publishing stuff, I liked some weird fiction. Fiction that, however artistically valuable it's now been decided to be (cough...30 years post-publication), would never ever be mistaken for "commercially viable."

That's why I have some empathy for people like the ones detailed in this NYT article. They're young, more than likely brilliant, and they love writing. Maybe their own, definitely others'. And they can't get a job in publishing.

These job seekers, not to mention the NYT, sort of likes to talk a lot about the "publishing establishment" as this big bad elitist enclave of insular haters. And that's why these brilliant, writing-loving people are having trouble getting publishing jobs.

But you know what? That is a big fat load of stuff-that-also-fills-crocks. 

And I know, because I would have made prime member of one of those classics-and-poetry reading clubs where people complain about The Publishing Establishment. But I was lucky. I got a job in publishing (a luck-filled story for another time), and I learned real, real quick that publishing is about loving the classics--but about knowing today's market and today's publishing landscape. And did I mention I was lucky?

This is a business. As much as every single person I've ever met that works in publishing LOVES writing and LOVES authors and loves art, they are also people who do relentless market research and read two or three published books every week (almost).

Now, the people in this particular article might not even want to be a part of the publishing industry...shoot. They might not want to be a part of any establishment. They seem happy, which is great. But, for people that do want to be in publishing, the industry (which is also full of art, if not exclusively):

Put down the Sartre and read some Suzanne Collins. Read Malcolm Gladwell and the new political nonfiction. Find out what categories you love and read what's coming out now.

Honestly, you'll be leaps and bounds ahead of your peers when you walk into an internship interview.


  1. I'd like to hear the luck-filled story...

  2. The people in the article are described as caricatures of entitled graduates. They should've taken more business classes and not had the option of their parents' basement.

  3. Susan,

    Yes, I have definitely met my fair share of the sort of trust fund babies you're talking about. They suck.

    But I honestly feel like the kids in this article are...happy not being a part of the establishment. They talk about feeling liberated that they don't have to "climb any ladders."

    I am a part of the generation that is Occupying Wall Street, generally, nebulously frustrated and lost as to what the heck is going on with all the jobs we thought were out there.

    I think that their "It's cool, I'm an artiste" mentality is sort of a reaction to the fact that they think/know that they're not going to get a job even if they do stress about it. Which I get.

    The problem is that, in the process, they're making themselves look like they don't know how to conduct themselves outside of a college philosophy class. And if they don't display those skills by age 25, 26, 27, they'll be waaaay behind.