I finished my M.A. in Publishing at Emerson College this past August. While the program was not exactly what I had expected, I gained some wonderful industry contacts and supporters in the form of my professors, while also acquiring terrific job experience working as an admin assistant at a financial firm. Word of advice: office jobs are always worthwhile to have on a resume, whether you enjoy the job or not.
The combination of my M.A. and two years’ worth of office experience definitely gave me a leg up when applying for jobs, and I quickly found a place at HarperCollins. As the assistant to the publisher of It Books, I’m providing editorial support to the publisher and editors of the imprint. Much of what I do is administrative—taking minutes at editorial meetings, compiling material to be submitted to production, ensuring that contracts are routing through the company quickly and payments are being processed when due. Editors often ask for me to read book proposals that have come in and give them my opinion on the project’s potential. Although I felt a bid badly the first time an editor asked me to write a rejection letter—based solely on my reading, mind you—it was also a tad thrilling.
The best part of my job is definitely working with the authors themselves. My boss relies on me to be in constant communication with them, asking for any materials that are outstanding, explaining to them the editing process, and reaching out to them on behalf of Production’s questions or concerns. Since our publisher is so busy, I’m his authors’ point of contact, enabling most of their inquiries to be handled relatively quickly without ever needing to bother him.
The biggest surprise when I started working was the amount of autonomy I’ve been given. We had an editor leave right before I came in, and I was named editor for a large chunk of her backlist titles. I have found myself having to give approval for eBook conversions and copy written for new editions, as well as reaching out to authors for new promotions. Just this week I emailed a certain famous metal musician to let him know about a holiday eBook promotion, and was so surprised and pleased by the enthusiasm and response from him and his team. It can be intimidating to be in touch with celebrities, but it’s also so exciting to have the opportunity to regularly speak with artists whose work you admire.
In just a three month span, I’ve discovered so many new authors and become a devoted fan of each. Side plug: check out Jess Walter. I absolutely love my job. It’s such a delight to know that you’ve found a career in which you’ll be happy for years to come.
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