This is a guest post by Marian Schembari, who just got her first publishing job, working at Jane Wesman Public Relations as an associate publicist. She graduated from Davidson College this year with a degree in Sociology of Gender. She has started a blog for other recent grads who want to get into publishing–check it out here, and follow her on Twitter here.
I really wanted to get into publishing. Like, a lot. Never mind that the industry is slowly dying, the economy sucks, I had zero experience and the pay is (and always will be) crap. No, I’m a book lover, and in my naïve—but enthusiastic—mindset, I thought that was all I needed.
So I spent the three months after my May graduation carefully editing my resume, crafting the perfect cover letter, and applying for every single job at every single publisher in New York. I stalked mediabistro and bookjobs, made a ton of contacts and . . . well, that was pretty much it. I had one interview in 3 months.
I got bored of that real fast. Even though I was working all day every day, I just felt like I was waiting . . . So I took out a ton of books (of course) from the local library on finding a job, marketing yourself, and personal branding. I designed a website with my resume, references, and writing samples. Then, with Facebook‘s enormously helpful ad targeting options, I was able to post an ad on the profiles of people at companies like HarperCollins, Random House, Penguin, Rodale, Macmillan, etc.And I got responses! At least one person from every publisher I focused on e-mailed to say that he or she had passed on my resume, or wanted to meet, or just liked my idea. The encouragement was fantastic, and within a week I had four interviews and a freelance gig.
Of course, advertising yourself to get a job is a little weird, I have to admit. It’s one of those stories you hear about people wearing their resume on a T-shirt or taking cookies to an interview. No one wants to be that person.
Except I was that person. And Debbie Stier‘s post about my search on the HarperStudio blog resulted in a lot of lovely and encouraging comments (many of which said they weren’t hiring. Figures). Only two people were cynical, not much liking my use of wording, but the ad generated much more positive feedback than negative, so I’m over it.
After the novelty of the ads wore off, though, I knew I needed something different to get people’s attention. So I started a blog, chronicling my search and talking a little about publishing and where it’s headed. Then I (reluctantly) signed up for Twitter, which landed me a sweet interview at Penguin within a week.
One month later and I’m employed. Long story short, a woman at Rodale saw my ad, e-mailed me and thought I should consider book publicity. She passed my resume on to an old employer who ran a book PR firm. One thing led to another and I’m now in my third week as an associate publicist at Jane Wesman Public Relations.
I couldn’t be happier now that I’m officially “in” publishing. I also know I’m enormously lucky. The thing is, I don’t actually know one person who’s gotten a job the old fashioned way. Sorry, HR, but it’s true. Plus, it makes for an interesting story. My campaign made me consider a career I had never thought about before, and now I’m loving it. All in all, a pretty successful endeavor.