How to Break Into the Publishing Field

by Thomas Metcalf
Publishing careers are rewarding but challenging to obtain.

Publishing careers are rewarding but challenging to obtain.

The publishing world has changed. The established traditional publishing houses must now compete with a plethora of smaller houses, all vying to succeed in an evolving marketplace. The selling power of Amazon and the advent of e-books have changed the way people buy and read books. If you wish to enter this world, there are risks but there are also great opportunities.

Take the Traditional Approach

Finding a job in the publishing world can be the same as getting a job in any field. You work as an intern, demonstrate your knowledge and enthusiasm for the job and make lots of contacts. Then you send reams of resumes, take any position you can to get in the door and work your way up the ladder as positions open. This should be just your starting point. To enhance your knowledge and beef up your resume, consider enrolling in a publishing certificate program. These concentrated courses, typically offered during the summer, provide a wealth of information about all aspects of the publishing process. You will also have the opportunity to build your network with other aspiring publishers.

Build Your Profile

The Internet has opened new opportunities for you to break into publishing. Whether you are still in school or a recent graduate, you can attract attention to your literary aspirations by using social media. Write a blog, posting topics relating to the publishing industry. You can also post book reviews and join discussion groups with others interested in writing and publishing. And, of course, you should highlight your knowledge on a personal website. When you join LinkedIn, which is a business-oriented network similar to Facebook, you can connect with professionals in the publishing industry. Ask some if they would be willing to mentor you -- not necessarily for their house, but for the industry in general. You may be able to build productive and lasting relationships.

The Changing Landscape of Publishing

The Internet has opened the publishing world in other ways. While the publishing world was once concentrated in New York and a handful of other major cities, it has now become more diffused, with publishers hiring talent from remote locations. Freelancing from off-site locations is now commonplace. And as senior editors break off to form their own publishing houses, they may move to less congested and more affordable places to live. If you can attract the attention of an editor, you can work from wherever you live. Consult The Literary Marketplace, the industry bible, for additional information about publishers.

Do It Yourself

If you have an entrepreneurial mindset, you can open your own publishing company -- not a vanity press to publish works that no traditional publisher would consider, but a serious enterprise dedicated to producing quality work. You do not need to print long runs of books that will languish in your mini-warehouse either. Using high-quality laser printing with traditional binding you can produce a book that is virtually indistinguishable from one done with offset printing. There are printing companies that specialize in books of this type, printing runs of all sizes. Be sure you have the resources you need -- editors, designers and marketing staff, and use contractors to complete overflow tasks. If you identify a niche market where you can become recognized, you can build a successful business.

About the Author

Thomas Metcalf has worked as an economist, stockbroker and technology salesman. A writer since 1997, he has written a monthly column for "Life Association News," authored several books and contributed to national publications such as the History Channel's "HISTORY Magazine." Metcalf holds a master's degree in economics from Tufts University.

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