Anybody work in publishing?

<p>To those who do: book publishing, newspapers/news industry, writing, editing, layout, or anything having to do with publishing, especially in international media or in international corporations. How have you gone about getting your foot in the door? What did you major in? What kind of skills do you recommend to develop in college? How about networking? What was your first job out of college like? How are the salaries and do you like your career? What would you have changed about your education or work experiences in hindsight? How does one get his foot in the door, so to speak?</p>

<p>A lot of questions, I know :). I'm very interested in this field and would love to talk to someone who is in the know.</p>

<p>I was a book publisher, and founded a very successful publishing house that still exists. I had no training in it whatsoever, but am a curious sort of person, and a writer, and spent years honing my writing and editing skills, though not at a publishing house. I happen to have a good head for business.</p>

<p>Salaries are terrible - they figure they can get away with it because people who go into publishing "love books"or "journalism".. Most of the work at the entry level is boring, repetitive, and mind numbing - much like entry level work in many professions. The folks without connections who tend to do better in the earlier years are the cost accountants and business types - there are always columns of numbers to add up. Business structures are extremely hierarchical, and somewhat unsettling, as there is usually more money to be made in mergers and acquisitions than in actually publishing books - in fact, 85% of books that are published lose money. So management is always changing. In big publishing houses, it is rare to see young staff stay in any one place more than 2-3 years (which is okay, as long as you aren't raising a family), and more and more of the work is farmed out on contract.</p>

<p>Shmooze skills are extremely important, as well as a sharp eye for business. Most of the money in publishing is in tie-ins - tv, film, web, etc. The best work (in my opinion) in publishing is in niche publishing, whether books, newsletters, editorial services, etc. For that, you have to know SOMETHING really, really well, and know who will buy it, how to to get to them, and how to sell it. </p>

<p>Learn some languages. Go abroad and broaden yourself. Find something you love.</p>

<p>Where to begin...</p>

<p>My husband and I are both J-grads of long ago (late 60s, early 70s). I worked part time during college, picking up odd editorial type clipper, researcher, editorial asst...anything to get my foot in the door. Then I set out to out work and out position the people around me. Not in a bad way, but I worked very hard to show off my speed and versatility. I figured that at least early on in my career, it would be better to be a generalist, because I could then fit into a number of different slots and move up. I was very lucky because many people mentored me and I was fiercely loyal to them and always gave many times more effort than a typical person would devote. That got me noticed and recruited. I started out with a major national weekly magazine, then shifted to a trade group for a few years working in their PR arm. Since I always preferred technical work, I used my writing and communication skills to switch to technical and proposal writing. Then, I finally decided that I could use my skills as a computer scientist and project manager, so my skills evolved as my interests did. As a manager, I was able to use my skills to establish project and documentation standards used for software development efforts. I believe communications can take you where ever you want to go.</p>

<p>My husband is a J-grad specializing in broadcast. He worked in the media for a while, transitioned the weekly magazine (where we met and married), then left for a weekly newspaper, and finally, like me transitioned into technical writing. His interests, however, continue more with writing than with purely technical work, so he continues in that field.</p>

<p>How do you get your foot in the door? At first, be humble...take anything to get yourself known and hone those skills. Drink in everything like a sponge. Develop a tough skin and learn to accept criticism (constructive or not) well. Push yourself to aim higher. Over the years I've known and hired lots of young people who expect to join a business and run the show at a very nice salary. Unfortunately, they are too possessed with themselves and their work doesn't measure up. They're eager to get ahead, but are unwilling to put in the grunt work to get there.</p>

<p>Also, advice one of my mentors gave to me...take your job (even if it's a dinky little one) and learn to perform it so well an so quickly that you have time to take on more work or take the initiative to create a project that will benefit your company. That will get you noticed. Remember, no manager will give a worker important work, if they can't perform the simple work well and without complaint.</p>

<p>Always radiate positive feelings and optimism. Dig in to help other people in your group, because bosses will notice people who are good team players and have an interest in the common good. Promote your boss and his/her goals. If you do a good job at that, he/she might be promoted and either carry you along or promote you into the slot they're vacating.</p>

<p>J-salaries aren't always the best at first, because some people believe that anyone can write. Absurd! But, hold your head up, build your skills and keep your eyes open for ways to use those skills in ways that are appealing to you (for me it was technical work). I loved the years I spend in straight journalism...met many people on Capitol Hill, attended dinners and receptions with celebrities, was very exciting for someone so young. Remember, money isn't everything. The highest paying job isn't always the most satisfying or the most rewarding. Just take what you love and work with it. My idol is age mate Bob Woodward. Read about him and you'll understand how someone with good talent and great enthusiasm and drive made it happen. Good luck!</p>

<p>Thanks for your replies. They have been very interesting perspectives. Have any of you had experience working with several languages? </p>

<p>You both mention having 'business' skills as important factors. What would you suggest to someone who has no inclination for business whatsoever but loves writing, design, different languages? Is it worthwile to "develop" these skills somehow (perhaps with coursework or more professionally-oriented internships) or does it make sense at this point to focus on the strengths one already has in order to get into this field? I speak three languages fluently, love writing, reading, design; despite being exposed to a variety of multiculturalism, however, I am quite introverted and have no talent for math, business, or economics at all. </p>

<p>What about the web aspect? A lot of people think 'publishing' is almost a dying art, so to speak, since everything is so digitized nowadays. Would you agree?</p>

<p>I've been a book editor for 30 years, and definitely agree with Mini that you need to do it for love rather than for money. I posted briefly about finding an entry-level job in the internship forum: <a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;.&lt;/p>

<p>I can't speak to the perils and rewards of starting your own business, but if you're going to work for someone else, it probably isn't necessary to have an extensive business background. Yes, there are jobs for accountants and other bean-counters, but only a few of them rise very far in the company;and I sometimes wonder why, if they're so good at business, they're working in a relatively low-budget industry like publishing. Many publishing CEO's do seem to start out in Sales and have a genuine interest in business, but one can also have a satisfying, if not fabulously lucrative, career as an editor: finding and working with talented authors. Thus far, I haven't seen any huge changes in publishing because of the internet--at least not for trade, or general-interest, books. While I suspect that changes are coming, I think they will be seen more in sales and marketing than in editorial work.</p>

<p>Do I like my work? Yes, but not the way I once loved it; publishing is certainly more corporate now, with an increasing emphasis on Big Books, which can sell previously unimaginable numbers of copies, and increasing difficulty in getting bookstore space and review coverage for everything else. </p>

<p>Assuming you're still in college, the best way to find out more about publishing is probably to do an internship or two, particularly if there are publishers who seem to specialize in the kind of material that interests you. (You might want to do some research into companies that could use your language skills.) Such an internship might or might not give you the contacts for a later job, but if you pay close attention to how publishing decisions are made--what books or articles are acquired, how they're edited, how they're marketed and distributed, etc.--you can get a pretty good sense of what the work is like.</p>

<p>I'm a journalist. No business skills whatsoever. I picked my major in college based on what interested me (everything) and had the fewest requirements (political science). Languages would have been great. I wish I had more of them. I wrote a few things for college publications, went to journalism school, then took a typical entry level job for print journalism at the time, a small newspaper. It was great -- I covered government and politics and got to write about things I would never have gotten the chance to write about some place larger. I was a 23-year-old with the power of the pen who got to trail candidates for governor or president. The pay, of course, was lousy. I eventually made my way to a daily paper, then into magazine writing, taught journalism, now have a book contract. I managed to remain one of the last generalists, though I have drifted towards science/health/policy issues over the years. I've had some great gigs but the greatest career move I ever made was to fall in love with and marry someone who was not a writer and had the potential to make a real living. :)</p>

<p>Most people who come out of journalism schools these days find internships. It's still a rough go, though. I don't think the field has ever been in more flux.</p>

<p>I'd say the requirements for a journalist are curiosity, being able to think on your feet, a writing style that is at least clear if not graceful, energy, the ability to approach people and ask questions, and a certain something that used to be called "a nose for news." I am mostly driven by the desire to find out how the world really works, and the deep suspicion someone is hiding the answer from me. :) I've loved my career (or calling), but I hear from people who are still working on newspapers that they are depressing places to be these days. I have no idea how much of a living people make from supplying "content" for internet publications, but there is much debate about what constitutes journalism.</p>

<p>I'd say that if you have writing skills, there is no downside to honing them by reading, by taking writing courses, by submitting your work to editors. The same with language skills. The world will always need writers, though the format and medium might change.</p>