experience, attitude, enthusiasm, and boundless optimism

Daphne Unveiled! And talking about getting in.

With a little help from a Free Monkey, insideadog Writer-in-Residence Maureen Johnson has revealed the face behind Daphne Unfeasible. But let’s just ignore that, shall we? Let’s get to the next question! Aspiring Children’s Publishing Peon asks:

I’m a new reader of your blog, and I have to say, you give great advice! I have a question for you: I’ve been working for a small production vendor (of primarily textbooks) as an assistant editor for the past year, and I’m really hoping to move my career towards the young adult/children’s lit industry. Do you have any advice for recent college grads wanting to break into the publishing industry?

Dear Aspiring Peon —

First of all, thanks! I try! And yes, I *do* have advice to share on this subject. Way back in the world before email and the internets (or so it seems), I returned from several months abroad in London with a commitment to get a job in publishing. Over the next few months, I polished my resume and sent it off to every entry level publishing position posted in the New York Times Classified. I didn’t know WHAT I wanted to do in publishing, but I knew that was where I wanted to be. I interviewed for jobs as a publicity assistant, a marketing assistant, an editorial assistant, and many more, before finally landing what turned out to be an ideal position as a rights assistant.

Now, the world has changed, but there’s still job listings out there. Check the Times, of course, but also scour MediaBistro and Publishers Marketplace, both of which routinely list job openings.

You’re ahead of the game, really, with some editorial experience already, but you should also be willing to start at the very bottom of the totem pole. You may think your textbook experience might bump you up to Editorial Associate, but don’t count on that. Your experience should put your resume on the top of a pile of other hopefuls, and then you still have to wow them in an interview.

And remember to be flexible. I had no idea what subsidiary rights were before I interviewed for a job in a rights department, but I found it to be a fantastic opportunity to work with every aspect of a publishing company. If you’re willing, try branching out — editorial assistant jobs are the most sought after, but if you have skills that can be brought to bear to work in sales, marketing, or production, go for it! At most big publishing houses, once you’re in, you’ll have access to interior job postings before they get listed externally, so you may have a better shot at that editorial assistant position that opens up a year after you’ve been there.

One last thing — don’t expect to be rich. MJ talks about eating cereal for dinner many nights, and that’s the honest truth. But we’re not in publishing for the money, right? We love books!

So be prepared to be frugal, then get out there and wow them. Good luck!


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