What steps did you take to get into publishing, when it comes to marketing and publicity?
So I know folks who want to work in publishing know that getting in will be a long road ahead. This is true as getting into publishing (and almost every other industry) is about who you know before it's about what you know. But then, you hear about those whose transition into publishing wasn't nearly as slow and arduous as others. My journey is a lot like this.
But I'm going to be frank. My journey into publishing was seamless because of timing and well... luck. Hate to say it, but it's true.
At the end of 2015, I made the decision to move to publishing after working in apparel and home furnishings for four years. The reason I wanted to make the change was because I no longer wanted to work in production (my area of expertise in apparel) and I was passionate about writing. Now, I knew I wouldn't be able to support myself as a writer, so I tried to think of other avenues into publishing aside from authorship.
First, I thought about editorial, but the reason I ultimately decided not to pursue editorial is because I didn't want to be burnt out too quickly. Unfortunately, there's more editors have to do behind the scenes besides edit manuscripts (and most of the time the actual editing happens on the weekends which was not how I wanted to spend my free time). Second, I thought about agenting. Unless I worked as an agency assistant, I may not have a salary until I start selling books, so I wasn't sure if this was the right avenue for me. But I still wanted to learn anyway, so I applied for internships at literary agencies. After a few weeks I landed one.
Because I only had to be in the office once a week for this internship, I had room for another. I continued to search for other internships, this time my eye on marketing or publicity. Funny how I didn't think of marketing or publicity as an option until I started searching for internships. This happens a lot to folks who are looking to work in publishing. Usually their eye is on becoming an author or editor, but there are so many other departments to consider! Anyway, I applied for a marketing/publicity internship as well and a few weeks later, I landed one.
Now here's where the timing and luck really come in:
While I was working as a marketing/publicity intern, a full time Marketing Assistant position opened up. And well, you can guess where this is going.
While it was definitely helpful to have prior business experience, to have graduated as a Marketing major with a B.S. in Management, and to possess sharp interviewing and networking skills that were ingrained in me from business school, I also lucked out because of timing.
This all happened in a span of a few months. I still work at the same place I held my marketing/publicity internship (Lee & Low Books) and I'm now a Marketing Associate. My three-year anniversary just passed a couple months ago.
If you're looking for different ways to break into marketing and/or publicity, I'd highly recommend going on as many informational interviews as possible. If you aren't local to NYC, I'd reach out and ask marketing/publicity professionals for 20-minute phone calls or video interviews to answer any questions you might have. This will show initiative and will help folks keep you in mind when positions open up.
Author | Reader | Publishing Professional | Afro Enthusiast
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