Through our Pub Life posts, Writer’s Block Party will be hosting guests and contributors who talk about their jobs within the publishing industry. There are many more career paths in publishing than a lot of people realize, and we’re so excited to spotlight a few of them for you guys!
Publishing is probably one of the most misrepresented industries in movies and TV shows. The one that immediately comes to mind is YOUNGER, a show I love, but one that takes editorial, marketing, and publicity (the only three jobs in publishing that a majority of people know about) and rolls them into one. THE PROPOSAL actually does an okay job, but, again, it only shows the editorial side of publishing. Don’t even get me started on ELF.
The truth is that editor and agent are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the publishing industry. There’s sales, contracts, production, publicity and managing editorial. Within marketing, there’s school and library marketing and marketing design. There are freelance jobs, like copyediting, and jobs I still don’t entirely understand, like scouting.
And then there’s my job: digital production assistant. Essentially, I help make eBooks. I read new eBooks to ensure that there aren’t any mistakes before they are published; I liaise the insertion of excerpts and marketing materials into existing eBooks; I do a lot of other little things that aren’t very sexy but are important. My team is only six people deep, seven some days, and we are responsible for all the eBooks across all the imprints at Macmillan.
My job is very much a nine-to-five, leave the work at the office type of job. That was important to me, since I am a writer working towards publication. Editors and agents—and especially their assistants—often do a large portion of their work at home. Not only that, but I didn’t want to spend all my creative energy on other people’s books. (There are tons of people who are able to do this—Christine, for example!—but I am not one of them.)
For me, work is work and writing is writing. Maybe one day, they’ll be the same thing. But that separation has been vital for me. Writing with a full-time job is hard in general (as you’ll soon here in one of our upcoming roundtables), but at least this way, I’m not exhausting my creativity by using it 24/7.
Do I love my job every minute of every day? No. Do I think I might someday want to move into a different department? Yes. But I’m so glad I took this job, because I’ve learned way more about eBooks and the intricacies of publishing in seven months than I learned from years and years of movies, TV shows, and even Google searches.
Luckily for you, we at Writer’s Block Party have started this Pub Life series so that you can have a deeper look at the publishing industry. I was able to attend the Columbia Publishing Course this past summer (which, if you’re interested, Christine and I will have a post about in the near future), and I have a group of friends working in publishing, all with jobs as unique as they are.
One works in publicity and got to meet the late, wonderful Carrie Fisher as part of her job. Another works in marketing design and gets to create the cool swag that people get for pre-orders, and someone else works in marketing and is part of team EpicReads. Yet another works in the art department and helps create the stunning YA covers that we all lust after. And you’ll be hearing from all of them, and more, over the next several months!
Most likely you read this blog because you, like all of us, are a writer. But maybe you just love books and stories, and you do everything you can to be around them. Maybe, like me and plenty of others, you fall into the middle of that Venn diagram. Whichever is true, knowing what the whole publishing iceberg looks like will definitely work in your favor. So keep an eye out for future Pub Life posts!
Sadly, a majority of the men who work in publishing do not look like Ryan Reynolds (though that’s probably true of just about every industry), but we do have lots of free books—that part, the media got right.
If you have any questions about my job or the publishing industry in general, please ask in the comments below!