Twenty Tips on How to Break Into Publishing

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  1. Educate yourself about the business. Read everything you can find about book publishing. Read the important trade publications in this field. A year's back issues of Publishers Weekly contain a plethora of information about every phase of publishing.

  2. Attend a summer publishing program. Some combine book and magazine publishing. These programs are expensive, but may prove to be worthy investments.

  3. Target your prospects. Decide for yourself whom you want to work for and in what publishing specialization. Examine the latest Literary Marketplace (LMP) in your library for names and addresses of the target companies.

  4. Prepare for your interview. If you are in a school that has a good placement department, find out if they can set up some role-playing situations with specific advice on handling an interview. Just getting an interview is a foot in the door. Once you've secured an interview, prepare for it carefully. Organize your thinking and review the information you have on the company. Be articulate, self-confident, and enthusiastic. Talk about yourself-what you've learned, what you offer, and what you can do for Publisher X. Don't try to recite everything you know. Selectivity shows you are thinking. Come to the interview with some knowledge about the publisher's business.

  5. Meet with recruiters when they visit your campus. Ask questions and try to learn their hiring practices, standards, and so forth. Attend job fairs.

  6. Take any entry-level job you can get. Even if you are deter-mined to become an editor, start in a non-editorial job if it's available. You may be able to switch later or apply for an editorial job with another publisher.

  7. Ask about a company's training program. Many publishers don't have this important feature. It's clearly a bonus if they do have a program.

  8. Use personal contacts. They are your best sources for job leads. Personal referrals are most advantageous. Contact your college's alumni association, which may enable you to track people from your school who have gone to work at a company that interests you.

  9. Don't fret about rejection. It is no cause to suppose that you will not qualify elsewhere. Consider your job hunt as a learning experience. Perseverance will win you the opportunity to begin your publishing career.

  10. Internships give you a step ahead. A large percentage of in-terns are hired for full-time jobs. Many large companies are identifying potential interns as early as their college freshman year, so apply early. If possible, choose an internship at a company that has an intern supervision program. If you do the internship between your junior and senior years, you can keep in touch with your mentor all through your senior year.

  11. Read any current books you can find about the publishing business. They may contain information about getting started.

  12. Attend job fairs. If publishers participate, ask specific questions about hiring procedures and company policies.

  13. Take extension courses. Even if you are working at a publishing or other job in New York, take one of the fine extension courses at New York University or the School of Visual Arts.

  14. Learn the techniques of cold-calling. You'll probably get your first job by cold-calling, letter writing, or networking. Make sure you are adept at each.

  15. Focus on the large publishers discussed in another article. These companies often have training programs and provide educational benefits.

  16. Get a graduate degree in business. It's important if you wish to reach for the gold, but it may be a good idea to work in the field for a couple of years and then, with your company's permission, take a leave of absence. Many companies encourage this practice.

  17. Go the recruiter route. Few professional recruiters specialize in publishing. Here is a list of some that do:

  18. Read the industry's trade publications. Publishers Weekly is a must read (see chapter 29 for other publications). Most good libraries have them on file.

  19. Create a good resume. A good resume should sell you. It should exude a sense of energy. Highlight your relevant skills. Reflect your talents, interests, and the benefits you will bring to your prospective employer. Keep it neat, clear, and precise. Tailor your resume to each position you apply for. Don't waste space on clubs you belonged to in high school. Since it's a book publishing job you're applying for, your punctuation, spelling, and production of the resume must be perfect. If you have won any awards for educational excellence or leadership, detail them. Also, list your computer skills, even though most graduates know how to use a personal computer. Dozens of books have been written about how to write a resume. Many will serve you well in crafting an effective resume. My own favorite is Arco's Resumes That Get Jobs, the all-time best-selling resume book. See the following example of an entry-level resume.

  20. Take pains with each cover letter. Don't blow the impact of a good resume with a bad cover letter. Together they create a first impression of you. Stay clear of the form letter. Let them know why you're interested and why you think you're right for them. Pay special attention to spelling, typos, and grammar. Cover letters should be short. Say just what you want: an interview.

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