Wanting to Work in Publishing

The Big 5 publishing houses

Why publishing and not actual journalism? I mean, if I’m getting a degree in journalism and have been training in the field, why not work in that field?

If you saw my previous post, I mentioned that being a journalist was never the end goal for me. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, specifically of fiction, and being a journalist has always been kind of a stepping stone for me. When I decided on journalism as a major, I wanted to use it as a stepping stone to becoming a full-time writer. After a year, I reconsidered that plan. A more realistic plan was to work in publishing as an editor or someone in the editorial department.

Making it as an author isn’t easy. It requires a ton of time, patience, revisions, work, and rejections. Looking at where I am now, I know that I’m not ready to query for an agent, which is one of the first steps to getting published. My work hasn’t been revised and it’s not ready to see an agent. And while I love writing as a journalist, I think I’d be much happier working in publishing, where I can get a better look at the inner workings of the industry.

The dream is to work at one of the “Big 5” houses pictured above, but realistically, I’d probably have an easier time getting hired at a smaller publishing house or a smaller imprint. I haven’t really put a whole lot of thought into what kind of publishing house I’d want to work at, mainstream or independent, but I know that I want to be in the industry. It doesn’t matter what genre the publishing house focuses on, as long as it’s fiction.

Why the editorial side? Because I’m not really equipped to work in other departments. I don’t have all the marketing training to be in that department, nor do I have any of the training to be on the business side of things. My math skills disqualify me for the accounting department. I could probably work on the acquisition side of things – finding people who are interested in writing. But the editorial department gives me a completely different look at the publishing world

Editorial deals with the middle portion of publication – working with/as an editor to make sure that the writer’s book is the best that it can be, figuring out what the book will be formatted into, and getting it ready before it goes to the printing press. The focus on refining a book into the best that it can be, that’s the part I want to be involved in. Maybe it’s because that what I’m familiar with as an editor of The Swinging Bridge or maybe it’s because refining is the part of writing that I struggle the most with. Something about working in this department appeals to me more than being in other departments.

Being part of the industry also gives me insight that will hopefully help in my own pursuit of publication. It makes sense that knowing the industry would help me in the process, though it might also make things harder because I’ll have seen all sides of publication. In my mind, being part of the industry means that I can get my foot in the door as someone who wants to be published, but there is a part of me that worries about being in the industry and how it might lessen my chances of getting published if I’m trying to help other people get published.

The more that I think about this plan, the more I understand the pros and cons of trying to do something like this. I know how hard it is to even break into the publishing industry as an editor or anyone in publishing, but it’s something I really want to try. The skills that I’ll learn by being part of the industry will definitely help me along the way as a writer, though reading other people’s work all day could also give me a greater sense of Imposter Syndrome or make me not want to work on my own writing. I could easily build connections in this world, but I could also get accused of getting published because I “know all the right people.” So there’s a lot that I have to consider when it comes to trying to enter the industry, but I do think it’ll be worth it in the end.

Being completely honest, there aren’t many industries that will allow me to continue in my love of writing while giving me a steady paycheck AND providing me with a visa to stay in America. Anything that I can find that will pay me and keep me in the U.S., I’m open to. Seeing as publishing balances all three of these things well, it’s the route that I most want to pursue before I’m able to get a green card and hopefully make it as a full-time author. Working in a world that deals so heavily with books will continuously inspire me in a way that working in other writing industries might not. Journalism has been great and it’s been excellent training for me, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t get me to where I want to be.

So, where am I actually going to end up after college? I don’t really know, but I’m hoping that it’ll be as close to the publishing industry as I can possibly get.

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