UPDATE: Because It’s Been Weeks

First off, I’m sorry I’ve been gone. I wasn’t entirely certain I’d keep this up since it was originally started to log my time at NYU. I don’t think I’ll keep up with it completely, but I had made myself a compromised in that I’d come back and update when I felt like things in my move to New York solidified. Well, now I’m back (if momentarily) to update because…


I’m going to back up a bit and go over the process.

First: I applied for literally everything I was even remotely interested in and qualified for within book publishing. I checked multiple sites, multiple times, every single day for postings. LinkedIn, bookjobs.com, mediabistro.com, publishersweekly.com, publishersmarketplace.com, the corporate sites for the the big five and career pages for the smaller/mid-size houses, etc. The sooner you apply, the higher your chances of getting contacted.

Those roles included: editorial assistant positions, internships, marketing assistant positions, publicity assistant positions, literary agency assistant positions, administrative positions, managing editorial assistant positions, production assistant, ad/promo assistant, etc.

The companies varied in type: start-up/small indie book publishers, academic publishers, all of the big 5 (Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster), mid-sized houses, university presses, lit agencies (both large and boutique), Disney (for both Marvel and Hyperion Books), etc.

Second: I waited. I waited a LOT. Most places will not get back to you unless they’re interested. I heard back about two of the 30+ positions I applied for, and I was lucky. The first was for an editorial assistant position with Macmillan Learning (Macmillan’s academic textbook publishing entity) and the second was for a production assistant position with Skyhorse Publishing (small indie trade publishing house based in New York).

I heard from Macmillan Learning on Tuesday, July 19th and then interviewed on Wednesday, July 20th with the editor I’d be working with most in the position – I also met with two other staff members in the department. I was given a test, to return to them by Friday, July 222nd. I did. And then was told they’d liked to have a decision by early the following week. I waited. I was contacted back on Tuesday, July 26th that they were making their final decision within the next day or so. I waited again. And waited some more. I followed up via email to check in about the process on Monday August 1st, to discover that the editor I’d be working with most (and the gentleman who interviewed me) was out of the office for the rest of the week. I waited some more. I got an email from HR on the morning of Friday, August 5th asking for some time for a phone call that afternoon. Half an hour until the end of the business day on that Friday, I got a phone call with the office.

The other interview process: I was contacted via email Wednesday, July 20th by their HR department (no name, just “HR”). Went in to interview on Thursday, July 21st. Was asked to do a short write-up follow up by the following morning (Friday, July 22nd), and was told their aim for a decision was the end of day that Friday (the 22nd). I waited. I waited over the weekend. I emailed a follow-up/check-in with the interviewer on Tuesday, July 26th, again with an assistant on Wednesday the 27th, and yet again with HR on Friday the 29th. On August 1st, I emailed my only other contact from that company (who wasn’t involved in my interview process and actually works in a completely different department) to see if she had any insight. She did not respond. Instead, on Tuesday, August 2nd. I received a non-descript rejection email from an HR rep (who I had not met during my time at their offices). Nothing more.

Currently, I am still waiting on the official offer/employment letter and contract/other paperwork from the Macmillan Learning Offices. I very sincerely hope to get it tomorrow, because I need it to get an apartment.

Words of advice for those who want it: Apply for everything you think you qualify for. Ask everyone who you think would know about job openings. Ask them to send your info along if you think it’s worthwhile. If you’ve started the interview process – FOLLOW UP REGULARLY AND POLITELY. It keeps your name fresh in their minds, and keeps you from going completely insane with the waiting.

What am I doing now? I’m packing, and I’m hoping to get an apartment soon. I, and three other girls who went through the program, put down a deposit on an apartment today – I’m hoping to approval is quick. I need to get the last of my paperwork in (basically just waiting on official proof of employment letters from my employers) so it can move forward – so that’s quite literally the last little hoop on this end. I also need to know what my official first start date is, because I’d like to go home and get the rest of my belongings.

I’ll be back again once I’m all settled into my new place and job. But, as a heads up, I think that’ll be it for this blog. Until then though, I hope you’re all doing well.


Reflections on NYU’s SPI & Publishing

New York University is one of a few colleges that offer intensive publishing courses. Their Summer Publishing Institute (which has now finished its 38th year) is a six-week long course that covers magazine and book publishing essentials. Columbia University has a similar program (as well as an additional, all-book focus program at Oxford), and Denver has a program as well (though their program is shorter and less hands-on from what I understand). I can’t speak to the other programs much, but here’s the skinny on NYU’s SPI course.

As previously stated, the course is 6 weeks long. Generally, the course begins at the beginning of June and ends halfway through July. The first three weeks are dedicated to Magazine Media Publishing, while the last three weeks are dedicated to Book Publishing. The days are rather long – more so in the first three weeks than in the second. I began most days, in the class building (the Woolworth Building in Lower Manhattan), by 8:30 or 9 AM and ended the class day anywhere from 4:30 to 6 PM. There are a number of different sessions throughout each day, and your attendance is mostly required for all of them (I’ll touch on this again later). Most of the sessions fall into one of the following “categories”

  • Speakers: they don’t necessarily give lectures, but they’re not exactly very interactive either. most will have powerpoint presentations. some will tell stories the entire time
  • Panels: there will be anything from 3-6 people on these panels. there are a lot of leading questions asked and expected answers given. Truthfully, I found these sessions to be the least informative/helpful, but they did offer a large variety of viewpoints on singular topics/themes, which was nice.
  • Interactive Sessions: few and far between, but very much the most exciting and memorable (some were game type settings, others were relied heavily on question/answer engagement)

There wasn’t any one of these types of sessions that was completely useless. I learned from all of them. But the practical knowledge/applicable skills were generally difficult to uncover in panels most, then speakers, then interactive sessions.

Overall, I’ll say that the Magazine Session was more stressful as opposed to the Book Session. I think there are a number of factors that made it that way in my opinion:

  • the work flow and pace of the magazine industry is incredibly fast, even in the real world. where some publications are quarterly, monthly, or even weekly for magazines, books take years to get published
  • there was a larger volume of work to be done for the magazine session overall.
  • there were less check-in opportunities in the magazine session. we would get feedback and then change things, but not have any solid ideas of whether our changes were for the better or not
    • additionally, the check-ins were a little more loose in terms of what was to be “finished” and/or “turned in” for evaluation/review – meaning that we didn’t have concrete ideas of how those concepts were to appear in the final project.
    • alternatively, the book session’s check-ins were gradual and each assignment showed up in the final project where
  • we went into the book session with the magazine session already under our belt. for the magazine session, we went in blind.

There were difficulties in the book session regarding group members doing their assigned tasks and actually doing their fair share… but that was largely due to the fact that in the book session, the last three weeks of the program, students are exponentially more stressed about finding jobs and/or places to live after the program ends and thus, are dipping out of class more frequently. hence, the attendance issue. the program directors and administrators understand that we’re all stressed about this stuff, but they do ask that we check in with them prior to disappearing and/or not showing up. Heads up, attendance does count toward your grade for the course.

Things I wish I had known (about the program, about publishing, about New York) prior to the start of the program:

  • There are three sets of assignments in the program. I knew about the first two, but not the last.
    • pre-program homework assignments
      • assignments for the magazine session
      • assignments for the book session
    • the group projects:
      • creating a magazine media brand (complete with mock-up and business strategy) in your assigned category
      • creating an imprint and producing a three-title list (complete with catalogue and marketing campaigns) in your assigned category
    • and two editorial assignments
      • an edit test during the magazine session
      • a reader’s report during the book session
  • There are a lot of departments and roles within publishing. LOTS of different avenues you can take to get involved. “Editorial” and “being an editor” is what you hear of most, but I promise,it’s not what you think it is. There’s so much more to it, and it’s changing still.
  • New York City is enticing. It’s also expensive. I know, that’s a given. But really, it’s really expensive. And it’s a “who you know” kind of world here, more than you’d think.
  • LinkedIn is a thing. Get familiar with it. Use it well.

Words of advice for anyone looking to break into publishing and/or go to this program:

  • Read up on industry news. magazine.org and publishersweekly.com are going to be your best friends. knowing what’s going on is a really good, really easy way to connect with people and have something to discuss.
  • Edit rests and reader’s reports are generally part of the application/hiring process for editorial publishing jobs and sometimes for other department too. Get familiar with them.
  • As I said before, editorial is the most commonly known aspect of publishing. But there’s a lot more. Sales, Advertising/Marketing, Subsidiary Rights (Books), Consumer Marketing (Magazines), Publicity (Books), Social/Digital. Are you interested in finances? Do you like research? Do you have retail experience? Bring it all to the table and figure out your strengths and weaknesses. I guarantee that they’ll play into multiple departments, and that’ll give you a much better projection for how to break into the publishing industry. As the most well-known part of publishing, editorial is also the most competitive. Give yourself an angle. Give yourself something unique.
  • Bring more money than you think you’ll need. Budgets go out the window. You’re going to want to explore and have fun too. Time is a little limited (especially with the weekend computer workshops – if you choose to attend them), but you’ll find yourself awake early on the weekends and late during the week, wishing you had an extra ten bucks for insomnia cookies or something. Trust me. Also, don’t forget that your MetroCard costs money. Walking’s great, but not for the distance from the dorm NYU reserves for SPI to the Woolworth Building where they have us come for “classes”.
  • If you’re serious about publishing and New York, and you can swing it, make a trip to the city prior to the summer you attend the program. At the very least, look into the different boroughs before the program starts. Each of the boroughs has their pros and cons, and each have a multitude of neighborhoods with different feels to them. NYC has a 30-housing market, so there’s really no point in looking for a place early when you won’t be able to move in for another two months or however long. But, you can, at the very least, get a sense of prices and comfort level.

And lastly: Job hunting.

This one’s a pain. I hate job hunting. But here’s the reality. The people who go into publishing and stay in publishing don’t do it for the money. Chances are, you’ll make sightly more on the magazine side of things than you will on the book side, but that’s honestly just my guess based on how people have acted/carried themselves and talked about it. Here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind about job hunting (both in publishing and in NYC in general):

  • Start networking EARLY. The more people you know in the business, the better. Tap your internship supervisors and your fellow interns. Don’t forget though that your connections outside the industry help too – there’s no telling how you might be connected. You know more people than you think you know.
  • Most hiring managers want their positions filled asap. In fact, most want them filled before they even know they’re going to be open. So keep that in mind because you don’t want to apply and have them ask you to start when you actually have four weeks of the program left… Alternatively, when you start applying, be ready to jump on something if they offer it. If you have plans for after the program, it might be best to wait til after those are done to apply for jobs.
  • Don’t forget about temp agencies and internships. Retail jobs are awesome too – don’t knock working at B&N or the local Indie.
  • Follow up with every single person you connect with. Thank them for taking the time to talk to you. Thank your interviewers. Send a quick email thanks to let them know you’ve grateful within the first 24 hours, and then send (handwritten) thank you notes/cards asap. It goes a long way.

Where am I in all of this? I’m applying for a lot of jobs. Trying to make the best of my connections and expand them as possible. And just… I’m crossing my fingers and hoping it all works out.

Adulting is hard

Remember that stuff I wasn’t supposed to think about…? Well, I’m thinking about it.

A couple weeks ago, early in the program, I made a post about all the stuff I probably shouldn’t be worrying about yet. And a few posts ago, I started tentatively planning for the future. Well, apparently… I should have been worrying (or at least actively thinking) about all those things and vigorously planning for the future.

We didn’t jump right into the book stuff yesterday, as I’d thought we would (which was frustrating given the assignments we have now, but I’ll get into that later). Instead, it was “Career Day.” There were a couple panels: one of four HR managers and Talent Acquisition -ists (Simon & Schuster, Hearst Magazine, Twitter, Hachette), and the other was of SPI Alumni (seven who’d taken the course last year, who talked about the program, the job hunt, the apartment search, and what they do now.

The entire day was pretty helpful, except for the fact that now I’m really seriously torn about what to do. I started to realize a few weeks ago (about the time I started worrying about this sort of stuff) that trying to find a place to live and a job wasn’t exactly the easiest thing to do from 1800 miles away in Montana, where I would also be working and have other responsibilities. It’s not impossible, but it’s definitely a lot more stressful. House (Apartment) hunting is something I absolutely despise, and I prefer, heavily, to do it in person. To get a sense of the place, the neighborhood, etc. Job hunting also is much easier while in the city you’re looking for jobs. Employers have questions when it comes to things like “why is your address in _____, this job is in ______”. I get it. But in terms of the job search, I’m absolutely terrified that if I’m not actually here in New York (where most of the publishing jobs/roles are available), I won’t actually get a job doing what I want to do?

So, I thought a lot about it since yesterday afternoon, and I’ve talked to a few people, and I plan to keep thinking about things, but here’s what the situation is at the moment and what the options are as I see them.

  • I have flights back to Montana for the 16th – I may or may not take them, depending on 1) whether or not I find a place to live and 2) if I get a job or not.
  • There are dozens of job postings going up, several of which I’ve looked into and intend to apply to (after my resume review on Wednesday).
  • Until then, I’m looking into different imprints and companies and finding specifics about them that appeal to me so I have a better sense of direction.
  • Several of us from the program are going tentative apartment hunting next weekend. I’ll keep looking online during the week too though.
  • I’m also going to have some really serious conversations with people about rooming together, as well as with my parents and the other adults in my life about the actual feasibility of my making the jump to New York entirely in… 4 weeks. Why is that thought so terrifying????
  • I may or may not extend my NYU housing through the end of July. I think this will depend on how initial rounds of apartment hunting go in addition to the job hunt. I will decide on whether I’m extending housing or not by the last week of the program, and apply on July 5th.
  • If that does not work out, I will look into Airbnb options, and/or crashing on friends’ couches until I find something – maybe?

Other options:

  • Return home via my original tickets on July 16th. 
  • Return to work at YTI for an undefined period of time. 
  • Apply for jobs when I feel I’m ready to move to wherever it is I’m applying to go, if and only if I actually get th job, whilst being 1800+ miles away.

I will have lots of conversations to be had with people. Namely my parents, my boss and co-workers back home, my friends, and several of the people here in New York that I know and feel comfortable potentially living with in the near/distance future. I also have a lot of legwork to do regarding job and apartment hunting. Research to be done, resume and cover letters to revamp (ughhhhh), and a lot of hard decisions to make.
The good news? I have a good support system. The bad news? I have terrible anxiety that I need to work through before I actually get anything done. Ugh, being an adult is hard 😦