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A Survival Guide For Working In Book Publishing

"Seeking: Entry-level assistant with 10 years experience editing Self-Help YA Romance For Horses." Oh dear.

Posted on May 31, 2013, at 9:22 a.m. ET

Living in a major city on a junior publisher's salary can feel like this:

Every job posting seems to say this:

(Dalkey Archive's job posting was only outrageous because it spoke the worst of what's on the industry's mind.)

What can get you 'fired' from this unpaid internship: leaving the office early, being unavailable on nights and weekends, going to weddings, giving a boss unsolicited advice, 'gossiping.'

But hey, at least you get summer Fridays?


Goodbye, losers in other industries*. I'm off to the beach.

(*does not apply to small presses.)

You might've aced your Barthelme thesis as an undergrad, but sometimes the only job available is in editing gardening textbooks.

Or maybe the finance people tell you to scout for 'the next 50 Shades or Twilight.'

And the slush pile just teems with these:


Cover letter: "(self-)nominated for a Pushcart Prize."


And even your mom's friend's dog is trying to give you his manuscript.

And every query letter is made of a billion fedoras:

Head over to Query Hell to read more book proposal cover letters.

And you just want the freedom to choose your own leisure reading, for once.

Antidote: free book galleys. Build yourself a galley castle. Hide in the castle. Drink wine.

And invite your smart book-geek coworkers. At least you're surrounded by other biblio-nerds, right?

You get to work with people who read as much as you do! How cool is that?

Even though you have to cobble together sales sheets from brutal book reviews...

...and go to sales conferences for the winter publishing season...

...where you'll realize how undiverse the publishing industry is...

At least you get to read your favorite authors in advance. Maybe even share booze with them at the London or Frankfurt Book Fair.

Though it's a lot to 'touch base' with a dozen other departments before a book launch...

...and handle all marketing on Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook because your boss hates all those things...

...and deal with bookstores/venues canceling in the middle of a book tour...

...or authors trying to micromanage you via email over the weekends...

When this stresses you out, think of all the boozy book parties you get to go to...

...where hopefully you won't hear anything about Amazon. Or ebooks price fixing. Or yet another publishing house shuttering...

... or strangers asking you if publishing is dying.

Remember: you work at a place that makes all the books you love.

And your job is to share moments like these:

Working in publishing: it's kind of a love-hate thing.