Tips on Breaking into Book Publishing

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A recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a bleak outlook for all college graduates hitting the job market. Their findings include these hard facts:

  • The average weekly wage for all twenty- to twenty-four-year- olds regardless of educational level dropped 7.4 percent during the past ten years when adjusted for inflation.

  • Of college graduates below the age of twenty-four, 91.3 percent were employed. However, one-fifth were employed in jobs beneath their educational level.

If there is difficulty finding any job after graduation, the competition is even fiercer for getting a job in book publishing. The candidate for a first job needs to employ all the skills and tricks he or she can muster and, because publishing is a high-profile field, the job approach must be more strategic than in other industries.

At an annual meeting of the book industry's Association of American Publishers, people at different levels in book publishing were asked how they got their first jobs in this field. Here are some of the responses:
  • I volunteered.

  • Help wanted ad.

  • By knocking on lots of doors.

  • By accident.

  • I'm a member of the family.

  • Through and as a student at NYU.

  • Eleven rejections and an acceptance.

  • Through my college placement service.

  • I was asked.

  • Off the street.

  • Through an endless chain of tenuous connections.

  • I bought the company.
How to Handle Interviews
  1. Dress appropriately and conservatively. Don't be afraid to smile. Show a genuine interest in the employer's operations, and ask questions about the company.

  2. If you are applying for a specific job, be prepared to ask hard questions about the job and all its duties.

  3. Expect your interviewer to ask questions about your education, background, and previous jobs.

  4. Ask about perks, benefits, and tuition reimbursement-but don't ask about the retirement plan.

  5. Within twenty-four hours after an interview, send your interviewer a follow-up letter. This is an excellent chance to reiterate your interest in the position and express your appreciation for his or her time. Good luck.

  6. Sell yourself in the interview. Once you get your foot in the door, it's up to you.

  7. Create a feeling of self-confidence the moment you enter the interviewer's office. A well-known employment specialist states that the first five minutes of the interview usually determine whether you are hired.

  8. Know what you've got to sell and be able to convince the interviewer that you've got the necessary assets and abilities for the job.

  9. Be prepared for any questions the interviewer might ask you about his or her company.

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