CCE held its Publishing Industry Showcase on April 2, 2019 and hosted 70 undergraduate and graduate students for learning and networking. Our amazing lineup of panelists and other participating employers included:
- Judy Clain, Editor-in-Chief — Little, Brown Company (Hachette Book Group)
- Sandy Pierre, Marketing Associate — Hearst Magazines
- Alex Finkel, Editorial Operations Director — Bustle Digital Group
- Kelsey Odorczyk, Senior Publicist — Basic Books (Hachette Book Group)
- Nicole Philips, Associate Managing Editor — Business Insider Intelligence
- Stephanie Taglianetti, Senior Editor — Business Insider Intelligence
Every Day is Different
The panelists shared that one of their favorite parts of their jobs is that every day is different.
Clain works on 10-12 high profile books per year while also managing her staff of editors. She shared that her favorite part of her day is author meetings. Pierre works with clients and agencies to help identify marketing and advertising opportunities. Her work includes collaborating on proposals and presentations.
Odorczyk shared that she starts working on publicity for a book 4-5 months before it’s published. Her day might include conducting research on media outlets and new journalists, speaking with authors, putting together talking points, or securing coverage for an author or new book.
Finkel shared that if you like fixing problems, working in editorial operations can be a great fit. She’s working on a range of things in any given week including hiring and working between different groups to make sure the editorial side of the business is running well.
The Best Way to Prepare
The panelists agreed that one of the best preparations for working in publishing is to be a voracious reader. They all said that reading for pleasure is a hard thing to find time to do when you’re in college or working in the industry, but that it’s essential.
“If you love to read it will get you far.”
–Judy Clain, Little, Brown
“If you love to read it will get you far,” Clain shared. She said that a love of reading books and stories is essential for working in books. Finkel shared that if you want to be a writer, you should spend your time in school writing as much as you can, through freelancing or student publications.
Odorczyk recommended that if you’re interested in publicity, to follow the news, research media outlets and podcasts, look at who is writing on different topics, and to follow new journalists.
Other essential skills and qualities to build that will be essential for the job include:
- Organization and administrative skills — a part of all jobs at every level from entry to executive roles
- Intellectual curiosity and an appetite for learning
- Interpersonal Skills — as publishing is a business of connecting with people
- Passion and enthusiasm for the space and the company
Panelists encouraged students to reach out to people in the industry for informational interviews, both as a way to learn more and connect with people at companies in which they want to ultimately work.
“Informational interviews are your friend.”
–Alex Finkel, Bustle Digital Group
Finkel said, “Informational interviews are your friend.” She suggested that you can also follow younger staff on social media and message them there, or use LinkedIn message for more experienced Columbia alumni. She also suggested that students go to events related to the field, as you never know who you will meet.
Your Cover Letter & Resume Are Being Read
Panelists agreed on the importance of cover letters in the application process. “I read all the cover letters I receive…and I want to know what makes you a good fit,” Finkel noted. She said that the cover letter is an example of your writing and that she reads every single cover letter.
Clain shared that she remembers good cover letters and that they’re an important place for you to demonstrate who you are and how you get your voice onto the page, “It’s something you should really labor over”.
“Make sure the resume matches the job you’re applying for.”
–Sandy Pierre, hearst Magazine
Also, “make sure the resume matches the job you’re applying for,” Pierre said. She shared that your resume should include experiences that match the role you’re applying for, even if it’s drawing from experience outside of internships or jobs.
How to Shine on the Interview
Tips on the interview process for internships and full-time jobs included the following:
- Research the company, know what they’re working on right now
- Know their titles/authors/publications and don’t mix them up with competitors
- Come to the interview with thoughtful questions you can’t find the answers to online
- Be authentic, genuine, and engaging
- Follow current events
- Express how your experience matches the job description
- Send a follow-up thank you note after the interview, something many candidates forget to do and which will help you stand out
A Changing Landscape
There are many changes in the industry that are impacting the publishing industry. The industry requires constant innovation and keeping up with trends. To work in the field, panelists said you must love and embrace this challenge.
- Digital has arrived: The business side of selling books and magazines has made it more difficult for employers but this is not the end. 80% of Hearst Magazine revenue still comes from their print magazines, but digital has become a huge avenue that many organizations are becoming more engaged in.
- Adaptation is key: Finkel states, “Media can’t be the same way forever.” Many publishing companies are coming up with innovative ways to produce media and to reach their audiences as the quantity and type of content has skyrocketed. Pierre shared that her company recently adapted by starting the Airbnb magazine in response to the company’s popularity. Finkel shared that Bustle was one of the first in the publishing sector to reach followers with Instagram stories.
- Some things never change: Clain shared that despite the challenges the industry is facing, she absolutely loves the field and thinks it’s incredible that a group of people come together and decide there’s something important to invest in — that an author writes something — and that it goes on to transform lives (including that of the authors) and change culture.