Publishing Careers in a Nutshell


I recently picked up “The Insider’s Guide to a Career in Book Publishing” by Carin Siegfried. Not necessarily because that’s where I’m hoping to branch into, but more so, because (quite simply) I love books. I like the way they feel in my hand. The way they smell (and yes, I totally stick my nose in a new book to smell it. They should make a scented candle, folks). And also, I work at a public library. I stock books and do reader’s advisory. It’s important to keep up-to-date on the trends. So why not understand how the book goes from the author to the stage where it lands on our bookshelves?

Published by Chickadee Books, 2014. Click on the cover to buy!

That’s where it started, sure. Which folks work together and separately to create a book? Who is involved and for which processes? How long does the process take? That’s where it started, sure. But it quickly became me typing furiously into my notepad so I could remember everything I was learning.

It really was an inside look at every opportunity in publishing. In fact, by the time I was finished reading it, I had my eye on three separate careers to look into. Besides the usual editor, she also points you in the direction of a proofreader (either freelancing or on retainer for a publishing house or company),  a production manager, a sales representative, even the legal assistant dealing with any copyright issues that crop up.

It’s a booming industry that is hard to break into, but with so many parts to explore, why not? Some jobs are geared to those extroverts, such as sales or marketing. If you want to work more one-on-one in behalf of the author you can look into becoming a literary agent. Like a tough, driven atmosphere? How about an editor? (Although she does warn it looks remarkably similar as Sandra Bullock’s character in “The Proposal.” Though those scenes are short, I’ve seen the movie, and I can imagine it would have those types of moments. Plus, I’ll rec it simply because I love the movie.)

Then there are jobs for those who might be shyer, more introverted. Perhaps working behind the scenes in production, making sure the book goes to the correct people for editing and proofreading. They also keep the book’s release and production on schedule. Or perhaps you can be the interior designer of the book, and decide the inner layout of the book.

One aspect that I particularly found useful was how Siegfried broke down a few employment ads in the industry. In the instances she shows, companies might list experience that they wish or would prefer, however,  a lot of that can be learned on the job. Instead, focus on key words that you can relate back to your previous experience.

The examples she gave us seem to imply a certain need for organizational skills as well as customer service skills. Think of any job you’ve had in the past and how you handled any customer service issues. A particular day or project you worked on that required those skills.

Notice those key words. In fact, throughout Siegfried’s book, I found her own key word.


If you’re interested in a career in publishing, it’s imperative that you network. Even if you’re not living in a publishing hub like New York, you can always network online or with smaller publishers scattered throughout the United States.

That also consists of putting your name in the hat – either through job applications or informational interviews ( a great way to get an insider’s look of a position or the company in general). Either of these ways gives you an opportunity to brush up on your interviewing/interviewer skills. And bonus! By doing the latter informational interview, you introduce yourself as someone that would be interested in a job in the future. You now have a future contact. The beginning of your network, if you will.

Siegfried also scatters links and resources throughout the book. Where to look for jobs. The importance of updating your resume and tailoring to each position you are applying for. And also, if you don’t have the preferred experience, Siegfried goes into what should be in your cover letter and how to expound on your past jobs.

It’s a great book filled to the brink with helpful hints and facts as well as great resources to look into. And, for me, it helped bring to the forefront just how expansive the book industry is.

So, you know those rumors that ebooks are hurting the publishing industry? Yeah, Siegfried has me convinced that isn’t going to happen. Because the industry will always need authors to write the books, literary agents to find the authors, manuscripts to be sent to editors, the finalizing of the book sent to the production manager and the artist and other designers, and then we someone to market the product.

It’s a fascinating industry that shows no sign of stopping. I urge you to pick up the book. Get insider information. Look into all those helpful resources.

Publish on, folks!


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