Life In Publishing Projects & Invoices

Now keeping IT in line

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unnphotogenic asked: I'm looking to go into publishing soon! Any tips from your experience?


Move to New York. Find a place to live. Find a job. Work at that job and come home to your place. Bookmark Mediabistro, Publisher’s Lunch,, and the Careers pages on every publisher/agency you can find. Check these tabs every morning and every evening. Submit your resume and cover letter; rewrite both after you realize you misspelled “acumen” twice. Continue applying. Get a few interviews. Blow one of them; you are flop-sweat and dry mouth personified. Every time you pronounce “editorial” it sounds like a bag of mayonnaise. Do okay at the next one; the manager liked you, but kind of in the way you like a three-legged corgi. Absolutely ace the one after that; your tie is perfectly straight, your hair is gorgeously conditioned, your responses are all funny, smart, and to the point. Get rejections from every interview except for the one you aced; they don’t even send a rejection. Be sad. Drink well drinks. Get sadder. Drink more well drinks. Black out. Wake up. Field a bunch of worried texts and missed calls. Search for your wallet; you can’t find it. Go to your job; get fired for showing up late and hungover. Lose your apartment because you can’t afford the rent. Move to a SRO in Staten Island. Eventually, take the offer from a friend from high school to come help run a gas station in Michigan. From now on, every time you see a colophon your jaw starts to throb.

Move to New York. Couchsurf with a friend. Form an unhealthy attachment to the couch. Realize all too late that you only feel secure when at least 70% of you is on the couch. This inspires you to find a new place, a sublet in Bay Ridge. Your sublessor is a Ukrainian septuagenarian who somehow has an endless supply of Djarum Blacks that she refuses to share. Attend readings; feel the curdling of enthusiasm and jealousy as you watch the Warby-Parker’d publicist and her assistant in a powwow with the author and agent. Listen to the author read. It’s not groundbreaking work but she really gives it a shot of electricity; it’s like listening to your sister reveal family secrets you never knew existed. Buy a copy of the book; get it signed. On your way home, begin reading. Miss your stop (not a problem; there’s only one more stop in Bay Ridge past yours). Walk into the night with the woozy lipsmacking scent of spring in your nose and your sweaty hand clamped around your new favorite book. Your stomach is quiet. Your mouth doesn’t taste like used floss. The lights of Bayonne glitter like prayer candles. The next day you apply for an unpaid but promising looking internship. Then a few more. One of them calls you back.

Move to New Jersey (affordable and not too far from the city on the PATH, as everybody says to you, like they’re reading off a telemarketer’s script). Find a place to live. Find a job. Being a sales associate at Best Buy wasn’t exactly what you had in mind but it’s not the worst gig ever; you could be driving an asphalt spreader in July or be a public defender who suffers from panic attacks. Then holy shit, you get a temp job at Random House! Work until you get permanently hired. Work at Random  House until you die.

Move to New York. Find a good deal on a prewar one-bedroom in the West Village with a kitchen shower. Daddy knows a former lion of the industry, an old-school publishing beast of a man who spends the first twenty minutes of lunch explaining how he and Gerry Howard literally once had to talk an author down from a literal ledge in 1983. He picks up the check and leaves you with a vague promise to talk to his “contacts” about “any current openings”. You never hear from him again but 20 years later you see his obituary in the NY Times; three inches, below the fold. Gather business cards from every agent, author, publicist, marketing contact, hell even the fucking interns. Staple them in a Mead notebook with handwritten notes. Decide to turn it into an Excel grid. Decide to do that tomorrow. Wonder if you have to kill something to get hired at Amazon. Get invited to a drink with a friend who got a publishing job right out of college. When she says she loves her job, you wonder what that weird almost-unnoticeable inflection in her voice means. Go home. Call Daddy. Get his voicemail. Listen to David Bowie’s  “Station to Station” until you fall asleep.

Move to Colorado. Get a job at Paladin Press. Weed is legal. Shit gets weird and a little dark. But the mountain views, man. Worth it.

Move to London. You’re on your own now. Good luck.

Sounds about right…the mountains part anyway.