How To Break into the Publishing Industry (Psst… It is not just for English majors)

NY Creative Interns Careers in Publishing

                                                       Image Courtesy of Thinkstock

Once upon a time, publishing was synonymous with books.  But in today’s world, publishing incorporates so much more.

According to Wikipedia, publishing is the production and dissemination of literature, music, or information. The industry has evolved to include newspapers, magazines, and the entire world of digital publishing (did you know that Amazon’s Kindle came out only 4 years ago? Technology is changing quickly and impacting all areas of the publishing industry.)

Yet, when you think of working in publishing, what comes to mind? I bet most of you think of the tired editor, sitting behind a wooden desk pouring over hundreds of loose manuscript pages, but there are many roles besides editing. The reality is that all different types of talented individuals are needed in publishing.  Almost any major can fit into existing areas like marketing, finance, information technology, art and design, publicity and promotion, sales, audio, and more.

Here’s what you’ll need in order to land that internship or job in the publishing industry:

1) Excellent Verbal and Written Communication Skills
True, this is an important skill to have for any job, but it’s especially important in publishing. If you’re going to be creating, promoting, or selling content, you’ll need to make sure there’s no errors.

2) Computer and Social Networking Skills
From creating book trailers, to developing e-books, and tweeting to promote a new author, the publishing industry needs talented professionals who are comfortable and experienced with technology.  You can help develop new and innovative ideas to engage readers.

3) Relevant Experience
There are many ways to gain experience.  Having an internship or previous job will make you a more competitive candidate.  You can also develop transferable skills from your part-time job working on campus or your involvement with a club/organization.

4) Research
Finding the right career can be similar to finding your place in a huge stadium – first you need to find your section, then your row, and finally, the right seat.  If you are interested in publishing, you might want to explore multiple areas – book publishing, magazine publishing, or online media?  And then, what type of role – art and design, editorial, sales, web, or others?

Any good job seeker knows that the best way to start your search is by doing research.  Below are a few suggested websites to help you get started.
The career website for the Association of American Publishers, this is the first place to start if you are looking for traditional book publishing internships and jobs.
Want to break into the magazine industry?  Start here.  Be sure to check out the WhisperJobs section.

An online community and career resources for media professionals which includes publishing.

Publishers Weekly
“The bible of the book business”

Center for Communication
An independent media forum with a mission to bridge the gap between the communications industry and the schools.  CENCOM hosts “On Location” events for undergraduate students in the NYC area to visit companies and learn about opportunities.  They also host seminars with professionals throughout the year.

5) Networking
Once you have done your homework online, time to meet some living and breathing publishing professionals.  Take some proactive steps and attend a panel program or networking event.  After meeting individuals in the field, follow up with a request for an informational interview.  The more you learn, the better prepared you will be to make the best career choice for you.

What kind of industry are you looking to break into? Let us know in the comments and we may write an article for your industry.

About the Author

Jenna Campolieta facilitates an Internship Seminar for Eugene Lang students at the New School in New York City. You can follow her on twitter at @jennacamp.

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