So, You Want to Work in Publishing: Advice from a Chronicle Books Editor
By Ariel Richardson
When I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to work in children’s literature but I had no idea how to go about doing so. What does this thing called editing actually involve? How does one get started in the industry? Where should I look for job postings? Feeling pretty lost, I spent every spare moment over the course of several months researching the answers to those questions.
Since I love chatting with people just getting started in the industry, but don’t always have the time to do so in my day-to-day, I wanted to share some resources I find valuable—and resources I regularly pass along in informational interviews.
This is a competitive industry; landing your first internship or your first job can be tough! I’m hoping these tips will help you out on your path.
What kinds of jobs?
There are SO many cool jobs within publishing. Here are just a few of the many departments: Editorial, Managing Editorial, Design, Production, Digital, Marketing, Publicity, Subrights, Sales, Web/IT, Contracts, Finance, and Operations. Do you love international travel? Perhaps Subrights is the right fit for you. Do you lust after foil covers and painted edges in the book store? Perhaps Production is where you’re meant to be.
Although this post is about working at a publishing company, I want to point out that there are so many other jobs within the book pipeline that may also be of interest: artist (writer/illustrator), agent, reviewer, blogger, bookseller/book buyer, librarian, reading specialist/teacher, and professor. Publishing wouldn’t exist without these smart and passionate partners.
So often I’m asked whether you need a publishing or copyediting certificate or a masters degree to get a job in publishing. Definitely not! Publishing is a mentorship industry—the only place you can really learn the job is on the job.
But extra credentials can help your resume stand out from the pack by showing your commitment and knowledge; the other perk is that your time in a relevant educational program can be incredible for networking! When you graduate, you may suddenly have friends at major publishing houses, and when you need help, they’re only a phone call away. Only pursue if you’re interested, but if you are, you have a wide variety of options to choose from.
You can consider a publishing course—usually a time commitment of one to several months—like the publishing courses at Columbia, Denver, and NYU. You could consider a copyediting certificate (usually made up of several courses, often offered online) from places like Editcetera or UC Berkeley Extension. And finally, you could consider an advanced degree, like a masters in publishing at NYU or Emerson, or a Children’s Literature masters at Simmons College, and many more.