theleavetaking asked: What advice do you have for a college student who wants to get into the publishing industry? Particularly, editing?
Well, the very first thing I’d do is point you to my compatriots at http://theleagueofassistanteditors.tumblr.com/ - they can answer this question far more effectively than I can.
That being said, here’s my five-step plan on what to do if you’re a college student interested in editorial:
1) Stop it. You’re never going to get a job in editorial because it’s too competitive and editorial’s nothing close to what you think it is. Give up and go for something more grounded, like Inventory. Or Production. Anything but editorial.
2)…okay, did step 1 clear all the flakes and dilettantes out of the room? Great. Step 2 is to immerse yourself in as much of the reality of editorial work as possible. Connect with editors and editorial assistants over Twitter. Find the editor’s name in the acknowledgment section of your favorite book and check if they have a public email address and invite them out for a cup of coffee so you can pick their brain. Tirelessly foster connections to the point that you’re worried you’re being obsequious.
3) Internship, internship, internship; because it’s still 2013, you still need one and there’s still plenty out there. I’m ambivalent about internship. On one hand they clearly cater to the economically advantaged, which is kind of bullshit; only those with the funds to do so can afford to work unpaid for a period of months, for the whisper-thin promise of work at the same company, and likely just a kind reference and a simulacrum of relevant experience.
On the other hand, the ludicrousness (ludicrity?) of internships weeds out the less-than-die-hard-publishing-aspirants, i.e. if you’re not willing to punish and debase yourself financially then you shouldn’t be entering publishing anyway, which no matter how many times people remind you “it’s a business” is still a business that demands relentless dedication and faith in exchange for low wages and unclear outcomes. Yes, the internship-as-precondition-for-employment is unfair. So, as it turns out, is the job search and what happens after you finish the search. Everything is shitty and unfair to a degree, and internships are a great education in this.
The point is, get an internship, and make your interests and career goals very clear. If you’re a grumpy introvert, then tamp that shit down; act as if you were extroverted and friendly until you are. Be relevant and memorable.
4) Once you meet a wide variety of editors/editorial assistants, either in person or via the Internet, decide if there are common personality traits that they share, and decide if those are ones you want/already have. Remember, publishing work is never just about what you can do; it’s about who you are. Not all editors are alike, but they’re a hell of a lot more alike than an editor is to a publicist.
5) Learn to hold your liquor if you can’t already.
There, that’s it! And because I’m a gif blog:
This is all really good advice. Listen and learn kids.
Wish I’d read this in college. Taken a few classes outside the English building. Maybe if I had done any of these things, I wouldn’t be here: