How to Survive Your First Year In A Publishing Job
You studied your ass off in college, paid your dues at that unpaid summer internship, and now you've landed a paying job at a publishing company. All of your dreams are coming true, but nothing is ever that easy, is it? Now that you've gotten your foot in the door of the publishing world, you want to make sure it stays there — and that the rest of your body follows suit. You've got the gig, but just how can you make sure you keep it, and more importantly, keep moving up?
Fear not, I have all the advice you'll need... or rather, the advice I wish someone had given me my first year working at a publishing house. Book publishing is a great field to pursue a career in for a number of reasons. It is a profession that celebrates art, ideas, hopes, and dreams — but don't let all the arts and humanities hoopla fool you. Book publishing is a fast-paced, competitive industry (after all, there's some truth behind the cliched portrayal of a book editor with a bottle of scotch hidden in the bottom desk drawer) and this is especially true your first year on the job.
You will spend a lot of quality time with the copy machine. It is highly possible you will end up with carpal tunnel from taking so many meeting notes. Chances are you will be broke because you had to move to New York, the most expensive city in the United States, but you are still earning an assistant-level salary. Your battle scars will come in the form of paper cuts, you'll dream in acronyms, and you will feel like you are starting to lose your mind when people ask you what the date is, because you spend most of your day thinking in publishing spans not real time.
Your first year in publishing will challenge you and, like most first jobs, it will beg the question "Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life?" If you think your answer is yes, then here are 10 tips to helping you not only survive but get the most out of your first year in publishing:
When you're new to any industry, the amount of information you don't know can be overwhelming. Make sure you know who is who and what is what by subscribing to daily industry newsletters such as Mediabistro, Shelf Awareness, and Publishers Weekly Daily. It will help you keep up on the big books on the market, job moves, acquisition news, and general book selling updates. Not to mention you will have plenty of material to help you break the ice in the lunchroom.
Networking is the key to a successful career anywhere, and in publishing, that is especially true. Get involved in publishing groups such as the Young to Publishing Group or the Early Career Committee of the Children's Book Council, or join your corporate softball or basketball league. You will meet other publishing professionals, aka your new peers, and get involved with the community you work in.
Volunteer To Attend Conferences
From BookExpo America to ComicCons to the Brooklyn Book Festival, there are dozens of conferences, expos, and festivals every year. There, you can interact with every aspect of the book publishing world: teachers, librarians, booksellers, readers, authors, agents, the media, and more. Plus, you'll hopefully impress your boss with your go-getter attitude.
Find A Work Wife, Seriously
If you are lucky, this will happen on its own. You will find someone that you connect with in the office that can commiserate with you, sympathize with you, and (hopefully) drink with you. They will be the person to help you with your work anxieties and your inevitable celebrations.
Ask A Coworker Out To Lunch
Find someone in your office whom you admire, and whose job you aspire to have, and ask them out for a bite to eat or a cup of coffee. You will simultaneously be making another connection within your company while learning about the steps towards a successful career first-hand. You might even even find a mentor.
Invest In A Good Corkscrew
No seriously, your first year in publishing requires you to open a lot of wine and champagne, so do yourself a favor and get a corkscrew with a comfortable grip.
Don't Pigeonhole Yourself In One Department
Everyone comes into publishing thinking that they want to be an editor, but don't let what you think you want to do limit your opportunities. There are countless roles in the business for you to explore from publicity to sales to design to digital, meaning there is something for everyone's skills and interests.
Visit Bookstores And Libraries Wherever You Go
What better way to stay informed of what is happening in the publishing world than looking at the trends in the places where books are interacting with the public. Check out the employee picks to see what titles are popular, or look at the event calendar to see what authors are out touring.
Find The Closest Coffee Shop
You will need to get out of the office every once in a while, so find your sanctuary. Oh, and make sure it has a pastry case, because trust me, you WILL need chocolate.
Read Everything You Can
The best perk of working in publishing is the free books! Take advantage and read as many ARCs (advanced readers copy) as you can get your hands on.
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