We talked to two former students of The Chang School’s Publishing certificate program about the industry, how they broke into it, what they’re working on, and how to get your foot in the door.
There are a variety of roles in the Publishing field: Kiara Kent is the Associate Editor at Doubleday Canada and Bond Street Books at Penguin Random House Canada. After what she calls “many false starts,” she found publishing, and she’s quickly gained success in her new career. [Read her full interview here].
As you can see in her interview, the number of people involved in taking a manuscript and turning it into a book is staggering.
“There are always exceptions to the process, but a standard process begins with an agent submitting a manuscript to an editor… if that editor is passionate about the work and sees the potential in the draft, and if their publisher agrees, they’ll take the project to the acquisition board in order to garner support from all of [the] other departments, including finance, marketing and sales.”
Making the most of an internship: Kent cites her internship at what was then Random House of Canada as her door into the industry. In fact immediately following her internship, Kent was hired to work full time.
But she says landing an internship doesn’t necessarily guarantee landing a job.
“There are a lot of interns who come and go—so make valuable contributions to your department (and if possible get to know other departments as well), so that your name stays top of mind. That way, even if there are no jobs available during your internship, when one comes up in the future it will help your chances.”
Jason Tomassini’s career started in much the same way.
Tomassini completed a three-month internship at Oxford University Press (OUP) as part of his experience at The Chang School. His internship led to a six-month contract job after which he was hired full time. He now works as a Product and Business Development Manager with OUP. [Read his full interview here].
Like Kent, Tomassini recognizes the importance of making the most of an internship.
“You have to consider it to be almost like a three-month interview. Do everything you can to get all the work done but also ask good questions and show an interest in learning about the whole publishing industry.”
The industry is changing, but publishing isn’t dying! For people looking to start their careers in publishing but worried about their prospects, there is hope. The media industry is frequently cutting jobs, and publishing is at the centre of it all, but this industry “is generous…in that we want to find and nurture new talent,” says Kent. And readership is as strong as ever. Tomassini says,
“I think the [business] model may change, but I think that people are going to continue to need good content… People are reading more now than ever before. They just may not be reading in book form all the time. But I think if the industry is smart and adapts with it, it’ll be able to handle those changes.”
Success = hard work + passion: Kent and Tomassini agree that hard work is the only way to really guarantee success in the publishing industry. But there are other things that make a candidate stand out. If you’re looking to make a good impression, you must be passionate about words, books, and culture. You must be detail-oriented and timely. And you must be discerning, yet open-minded.
* This article was first published on Chang School Alumni Network‘s blog and has been republished with permission.