How do you set yourself apart form the rest of the crowd in the publishing industry?
Freelance editors Britanie Wilson and Jeremy Lucyk have a new blog and eBook series addressing just that question and all other things related to getting your foot through the door and into this industry.
I sat down with them to talk about marketing oneself, networking, and building up a killer resumé.
Marketing yourself is integral to success in today’s economy. What does that entail for the publishing industry?
Jeremy: It depends on how you go about doing it. It’s not easy to just raise your flag and say, “Here I am!” The work isn’t just going to come to you. The big thing is to meet people. Publishing is a very social industry, so go to industry events. Go to parties. Go to launches. Go to places where you think publishing people are going to be.
The really surprising and delightful thing I’ve found is that everybody is open, warm and inviting. Everyone wants to have a conversation. Networking is not always hierarchical. You don’t have to be on bended knee just because someone has 10 years more experience than you. I’ve never had anybody turn me away because I was too low on the pole. They’ll actually give you good coaching advice.
That’s step 1. Then you’ve got to make sure that they remember you. Follow up. If you’re taking the more social route, just consistently see the same people at social events. If a Production Editor is looking at a list of freelancers and can put a face to your name, can remember a conversation or two and have some idea of who you are…you’ve got a major advantage even if the next person down the list has a much stronger resume. That’s really what makes the most difference.
Britanie: Now I’m a bit different because I’m extremely shy and I don’t go out a lot. There are different ways of networking. The great thing about internships is that they put you in a position where you’re instantly around people who work in the industry. My way of networking was forming very good relationships with the people around me, especially the person I was working under.
If there was extra work, I took it. If I had to stay late, I did it. If there was stuff on the weekend, I did it. Make yourself available to things that may seem a little scary. The company will teach you how to do it so you might as well take advantage of it while you’re there. If you make enough of an impression to the people who matter, it can be just as successful of a networking strategy as introducing yourself to a bunch of people. There are different ways to go about it.
Jeremy: Another advantage of going through a professional program is that your classmates become your peers and colleagues and potentially even bosses. One of our classmates became a Production Editor very quickly and started throwing work our way. It’s just as important to maintain connections with people who you are stuck in the classroom with. Every little bit of contact helps.
Where do you go about finding industry events to attend?
Britanie: Quill and Quire is a good one. It’s for trade publication workers in Canada. Get an online subscription. They also have a job board that’s very up to date and they immediately post any jobs that pop up in the industry.
Jeremy: Social media is huge. Follow publishers on Twitter and find their publicists too because their entire social media presence is dedicated to finding people interested in coming out to events.
Have you used social media to market yourself?
Jeremy: It can be helpful, but it’s not a silver bullet. It’s useful in that it allows you to build relationships with people you wouldn’t necessarily be able to otherwise. And if you’re up for a job, employers may check you out. They’ll do the Google search and if they find your Twitter and see that you’re actively engaged with the publishing community, they’ll look at you twice because it demonstrates a degree of attention and involvement that not everyone else will have.
What should aspiring editors include in their resume or portfolio?
Britanie: You want to show diversity in the projects you’ve worked on. But it’s not so much what you worked on, but rather your approach to working on it. You should demonstrate skills like your attention to detail…even if it’s not directly related to publishing. It’s more about selling your ability to do the job than what you’ve worked on.
There are very general concepts in editing that can be crossed over to different jobs. That goes both ways. If you come out of the publishing house, there are plenty of platforms for you to explore, like web writing. I worked for a web-based marketing company like Groupon for six months, just based on what I’ve done in publishing and what I graduated with. I was able to crossover those skills and come back to the publishing industry just as easily.
Jeremy: Exactly. The same sort of skills and personality traits needed to succeed in the publishing industry can be applied from any industry. I end up telling old kitchen war stories from the service industry because that’s the easiest way for me to demonstrate that I can work well under pressure and insane circumstances and not just survive, but do a good job. When you’re starting out, it’s more about you and what you’re capable of than what you’ve done.
The first two titles in Britanie and Jeremy’s eBook mini-series, A Very Brief History of the Book Publishing Industry and The Editorial Department are now available on Amazon.com. For even more tips, tricks and advice about book publishing from industry professionals, visit www.workinginpublishing.com.
Photo credit: Chasity Larios