Yep, that’s right. I now work in a publishing house!
Back in mid-May I was surfing the job boards online, hoping to find another part time job to go along with my part-time job at the bookstore – but I ended up stumbling across a posting for a full-time job at a local publishing house. Funnily enough, this was the same publishing house I’d looked at last summer right after I’d graduated. I had seen then how awesome it looked with its team of friendly looking people and the laid back but professional nuance of their website. I desperately wished they had some sort of job opening – but alas, they did not, and so I moved on to other things.
So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I saw this posting in May. Not only that, but it totally and completely sounded like something I could actually do – unlike the publishing job I interviewed for at a difference publishing house back in April. At that time, the position I was applying for felt like something I could potentially do with some more experience, but I knew it was a bit of a stretch. Nevertheless I was happy enough to have even gotten that interview, but as it turns out, things worked out for the better, because I couldn’t imagine working at any other publishing house than the one I’m at now.
It’s a completely perfect fit for me. Everyone there is extremely friendly, always happy to answer my (many) questions – and I was surprised at the amount of people there who are in their 20s! Not only that, but one of the managers brings her dog to work almost everyday – how cool is that?! There’s hope for me yet for bringing my dog (featured right) to work – which would honestly just make my life.
The job posting itself described the position of Publishing Specialist – basically an Author Account Manager. Essentially it entails working with an author practically from start to finish whilst publishing their book (which can take about 5-7 months) – guiding them through all of the steps of the process, making sure they have everything completed that they need to have done, advising them, answering questions, consulting with them, providing tech support, and relaying their wishes to the editor and designer. I’m basically the main point of contact for the author when interacting with our company – well, me and about 11 other Publishing Specialists.
The whole application process happened so fast. I read the job posting and knew without a doubt that I could do everything that was listed in the job responsibilities section. The only thing that was required was customer experience. I felt I’d had ample customer experience from working at the bookstore, dealing with all kinds of people and situations there. The last thing that caught my eye and sealed the deal for me was the bonus requirements of loving trivia games, playing an instrument (as they like to be entertained at staff parties of course), and must love dogs and food – well, I was completely sold. This sounded like my kind of office.
I applied and got a phone call two days later from one of the managers. We did a mini phone interview, and then she asked to see me in person the following week for the actual interview. I was interviewed by her and another lady, the Director of Operations. First, let me just describe this amazing office space. It’s got this open concept feel to it with a high ceilinged entrance way, and a second floor for more office space, a kitchen, and a wrap around deck outside where there’s a BBQ for the employees to use during lunch if they want. The first one to greet me when I arrived was this tiny little French bulldog named Lucy. And then I was asked into the board room for the interview, but it felt more like a chat. We laughed, we talked, we shared stories, I answered the usual questions – I was there for over an hour. Everything seemed to be going well, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
A few hours later, I got a call from one of the people who I put as one of my references. “Hey!” she said. “I just had a half hour call with this publishing house.” Well, that was quick – I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t even had a chance to let my references know that they might expect a call from them. My other reference said the same thing, that she’d had a chat with them too. All of this seemed like a good sign, but it wasn’t until that evening when I received an email from the interviewer, saying she wanted to talk to me on the phone the next morning, that I knew she was going to offer me the job – well either that or she had some follow up questions.
But I was right; she offered me the job saying I’d pretty much sold it in the interview, and that my references just confirmed it. It was surreal, I couldn’t believe I was actually going to be working at a publishing house – something that I didn’t think would happen for ages due to the fact I didn’t study publishing or English or marketing or writing or anything to give me actual publishing credentials, nor did I have any publishing experience, not professionally at least. I really thought it’d be a good few years before I found myself in a position like this – but less than a year after graduation and here I am.
I gave my 2 week notice at the bookstore and started at the publishing house almost immediately, working around my final bookstore shifts until I could switch to full time. It was a surreal but exciting transition. I was of course nervous and awkward at first, wanting to be the best I could be and not mess up. While I was making the transition to this new job and the papers were getting signed and things were getting set up, I had this awful feeling that at any minute they would turn around and say, “Nah, never mind. We found someone better actually.” It was a strange limbo stage where it seemed anything could happen, nothing was set in stone. Even though I knew they seemed excited to have me and it’d be highly unprofessional and irrational of them to suddenly change their mind, I still couldn’t help but feel very insecure, and became very conscious of what I was doing and what I said and how I acted, hoping I wouldn’t turn them off. I’m sure we all have that feeling in situations like these, where we don’t quite believe it’s legit until it’s a few weeks in and you’re still there, and you’re finally one of the team.
I’ve only been there a month and a half, but it feels much longer than that because already the job feels second nature. There’s a lot of training involved in the process as there’s a lot of information you need to know, and you have to become familiar with the CRM system they use to track everything. At first it was overwhelming and I marveled at how the other employees were so efficient and knowledgeable about so many things. I was told that a Publishing Specialist can have anywhere from 50-70 authors on their plate at any one time – after they’re trained and more experienced of course.
I started off slow with a few authors trickling into my queue, then some more and some more over the weeks. Currently I now have 48 authors I’m managing – which sounds crazy I know, but it’s actually not too bad. I’ve become more confident now in dealing with authors over the phone and in email with numerous questions, and I’ve set up so many new authors now that the beginning pre-production phase of the process is ingrained in my head.
So, I’m pretty stoked with this new turn of events and still can’t believe my luck. I certainly got more than I bargained for when looking for that part-time job; the pay is much better, this is full-time, and I even have benefits! It feels like a real, adult job. You might be wondering though, if I don’t have any publishing experience or related credentials, then how did I get this job? That is actually something I will be discussing in another post as there’s lots to explain. I have plans for other related posts too, about how to interview for a publishing job (or any job really) and what the day in the life of a Publishing Specialist looks like.
There’s more to come and lots to talk about with this new job – I can’t even tell you how much I’ve already learned about the publishing industry, not to mention how many great experiences I’ve already had with authors. It’s been rewarding, humbling, and terribly exciting.