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jay kateel

So You Want To Get Into the Publishing Industry?

I get a lot of asks about this, and I told someone I’d do this, so here it is: my advice on how to get into the publishing industry as an editor. If I was in the position to hire someone, these are the attributes I’d look for.

Disclaimer: I am a magazine/website editor, so this is going to differ if you’re going into, say, book publishing. But from what I’ve seen in job listings, they kind of all want the same thing.

The publishing industry has changed A LOT since I started 5-plus years ago, and it’s a highly competitive field. You’re going to be competing with editors who have 20-plus years experience. However, you have an advantage over them, in the fact that you’re young and have a good understanding of how the internet works.

Here’s a basic rundown, under the cut.

  • You can no longer stay an introvert in this industry. I’m a natural introvert, and I’ve had to teach myself to be an extrovert. Bascially: Fake it ‘til you make it.
  • Have a good sense of humor. Your patience is going to be tested, trust me. Let that shine in your writing. Snark is your friend too, but don’t be mean.
  • Know your voice, or start developing it. A good voice makes you recognizable. Makes you likeable. If someone has a good voice, you can pick them out of a crowd. I guarantee you, if I blocked out the name of a good author with a great voice, you would be able to tell who they are by their writing alone. A great example of this is Flutiebear or Nekosmuse. If samples of their blogs were plopped on my desk without a name, I’d know who they were in a heartbeat. They’re that recognizable. Read more about author’s voice here.
  • Rethink your resume, and showcase your voice and creativity into it. You’re going to be competing with people like this. And this. (Though you should probably do this.)
  • Have social media accounts (FB, Twitter, etc) that you use regularly, and know how they work. Pimp it on your resume.
  • Have some sort of blog that you update regularly (not your fandom blog) and/or website that highlights a particular interest. Be it photography or social justice issues or cooking, whatever (as long as it isn’t porn or fangirling), show that you know what you’re doing on the internet. Pimp it on your resume.
  • Have web experience and know how to use those skills: HTML, CMS, Wordpress, SEO (the big one) digital books, etc.
  • Have some form of multimedia experience that you yourself created, e.g., videos, infographics, podcasts. (Gifs too. I’d count gifs. Can you draw decently? Show off your illustrations.)
  • Be prepared to be on video. (See introvert part.) My boss has talked about only accepting future resumes that have a video component, which showcases the applicant’s creativity and video-editing skills. That’s the stuff people are looking for now.
  • Be prepared to edit complete utter crap and turn it into a masterpiece. If you’re going into journalism, learn your AP style.
  • Get some freelance writing in for your resume. The pay is crap, but the experience is worth it. A good place to start is Textbroker.com. (ProBlogger.net is another.)
  • Practice writing everyday. Trust me, it’s so easy to lose this skill on top of everything else you’re going to have to do. :D; A regularly updated blog comes in handy for keeping you in tiptop writing shape.
  • Follow blogs that are in your publishing field of interest. Some of my favorite journalism blogs are The Atlantic, Entertainment Weekly, Doctor Who (not really a journalism blog, but damn do they know what they’re doing), Mother Jones, FJP Tumblr, Huffington Post.
  • Networking is friggin’ everything, man. It truly is about who you know.
  • Mediabistro.com is your friend
  • No
  • Seriously
  • Sign up for their newsletters yesterday
  • In fact
  • Sign up for every newsletter that is relevant to your subject and read them.
  • And you’re going to be asked to do newsletters anyway, so have your favorites lined up to use as examples. Understand why you like them too. I mean, at our core, we’re all pretty simple. We all like pretty pictures, mostly of cats. But you’re going to have to explain that to someone one day, and they aren’t going to believe you, so you’re going to have to make a point.
  • Office politics suck. So be ready for that.
  • Know your craft. Love your craft. If you love magazines, be that weirdo that collects random, beautiful magazines (like my random New Zealand surfing magazine that is sex on paper. UNF.) Same with websites and/or books. There’s a reason you love them, so learn how they were put together. What makes them so awesome?
  • Copy Editing For Dummies is your friend.
  • Burn out is a very real thing in this industry—you think college is bad? Work is worse. (Especially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck.) Have an outlet for your stress, and take breaks. As my dad says, “Your job is never worth the heart attack it wants to give you.”

Ummm, that’s all I can think of off the top of my head. I’ll update this post if more comes to mind.

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