After selecting my interests on my Sarah Lawrence College Career Link profile, I received an email inviting me to a site visit at the publishing company Simon & Schuster. As publishing has always been a career that sounded interesting to me, a behind-the-scenes sneak peak seemed like the perfect way to learn more.
Walking into the large lobby of Simon & Schuster’s headquarters, just off of Fifth Avenue, made it easy to envision and get excited about the possibility of a career there. After being escorted upstairs, we all sat down around a large table in one of their conference rooms and were introduced to two employees, and SLC alums, Sophia Jimenez BA (‘12) and Tatiana Ruiz-Cornejo MFA (‘13).
My dreams of working in publishing as an excuse to read books all day long were quickly shattered by Jimenez. She works in the editorial department, and explained that it’s not all chai teas and good reads. “You don’t get a lot of time to read at work,” she said. “I spend a lot of my day answering emails and dealing with various other parts of the books process and the time for editing comes after work. I actually get a lot of it done during my commute.”
As I heard more about the industry, I began to build a more three-dimensional image of what working in publishing is really like. Ruiz-Cornejo, who works in the publicity department, explained, “Publicity reaches out to reviewers and critics to get your New York Times or your Boston Globe to review the book, and then also works on setting up events for the book.”
While authors may seem a difficult breed to work with, Ruiz-Cornejo deals directly with authors whose attitudes break that stereotype. She was especially surprised by “how nice the authors are. They are always in contact with me asking me who their readers are and how they can get more readers.”
An obvious deciding factor to see whether a career is right for you is whether or not you have the skills necessary to be successful and enjoy that field. The advice for top skills to have in publishing from the pro: “Time management and being detail oriented, while being able to look at the big picture,” said Jimenez. “You have to be diplomatic as well because you do a lot of interacting with authors.”
Jeffrey Salane, who works in Little Simon, Simon & Schuster's children’s department, talked about the exciting and rewarding aspects of his job which include: “taking a manuscript, finding an illustrator that will lift the book to the next level and getting to work with a lot of strong creative people. Its kind of the bees knees.”
I left feeling inspired by the enthusiasm of those who spoke to us but also unsure if a career in publishing is right for me. It just didn’t feel right. No matter, at least I’m one feeling closer to finding a career that I love.
by Mary Katherine Michiels-Kibler ’17