Because I live in California, I don’t have the same publishing experience as someone who works at, say, Random House or one of the other big trade companies in New York. It probably wasn’t my brightest idea to pursue a career in publishing and avoid moving to the east coast, but hey—I’m here! And it’s worth it. I’m really blessed to be doing something I love. And I think there are some experiences in publishing that are probably universal, and those are my favorites!
After sending countless emails, taking harried phone calls, stressing together about permissions, and brainstorming bright ideas, I get to know some of my authors well. I was surprised to find that I am privy to a lot of personal information. I know about deaths and illnesses and births and moves and bad weather. So when we finally meet, it’s like we’re old friends. Maybe I’m flattering myself, but I feel a bit protective about “my” authors.
Getting a box of books on my desk
It really is exciting. I’ve been part of the decision-making process for every part of those books: the cover, the interior design, the content, the endorsements, every figure and graph and chart. In some ways, it’s a sigh of relief—phew, it’s done! I can pass the book along to the marketing and sales department to let them work their magic. I’ve always been motivated by tangible results. Look, I wrote this paper and it’s ten pages long! Look, I have this blog and you can see it here! Look, here’s this book that I helped to make! This is, honestly, one of the reasons I wanted to get into publishing in the first place. My other choice was being a teacher—a job that seems so incredibly difficult to me because the results are hard to see. Teachers don’t always know the effect they have on their students. I greatly admire my friends who took the risk of becoming teachers. Anyway, that box of books symbolizes all of the hard work and collaboration that makes any job worth it.
Seeing my name in books
Now, this is an experience that I’m not sure is common to publishing. I’ve tried looking in some of my trade books to see if the editorial team is mentioned. I can’t find them. So I do feel pretty special seeing my name on the copyright page! Maybe someday my name will be on the cover of a book…
Working with my team
It’s not just me and the author. There are so many more people involved in this process. My acquisitions editor, my associate editor, the production editor, the marketing manager, the typesetters, the copy editor, the cover designer, and I’m probably leaving out a few. We have a pretty good atmosphere of collaboration, helping each other out, and learning from each other. There are always moments, of course—you can’t help that when humans are involved. But everyone is so skilled in their area of expertise, and at the same time we’re all called to wear a lot of hats. It makes for an interesting, diverse, and talented group.
Learning new skills
Because I work with so many people, I’m learning something new all the time. As an editorial assistant, I actually sit right in the middle of everything. It’s my job to coordinate a lot of the details with other teams and I’m usually the middleman between the author and the rest of the company. I’m always being asked questions and learning something new as I find the answer. It’s why this job is the entry point to publishing: I get to know all aspects of the business, and from here I can choose where I’d like to focus later on.
If you work in publishing or editorial, what do you love about it?
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