One of the greatest perks of being a student in the M.S. in Publishing: Digital and Print Media program at NYU-SCPS is the industry events we are frequently invited to attend. I was delighted to be able to go to a brown-bag lunch with speakers Chandra Turner, Executive Editor of Parents magazine and founder and president of Ed2010, and Sara Sargent, Assistant Editor, Balzer+Bray (an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books) and the chair of the Young to Publishing Group (YPG) Planning Committee. [YPG is part of The Association of American Publishers (AAP), which has more than 300 publishing organizations as its members.] Both speakers offered valuable insights on how to break into the industry, as well as all the opportunities for entry-level publishing professionals to connect with each other. The lunch was informative, interesting, and a great opportunity to listen to the wisdom of people who have gone through exactly what we are going through now as we attempt to get a foot in the door of publishing. And they have come out on top!
The hour began with a presentation by Sara Sargent, who explained that YPG’s goal is to provide industry networking opportunities to junior-level professionals with 0-7 years of book publishing experience. Some of the networking events YPG hosts include: happy hours, brown-bag lunches, panels featuring human resources experts, the Book-to-Film Club, (where attendees watch and discuss a movie that has been adapted from a book) and the YPGEd Conference for individuals new to academic or educational publishing looking to get a leg up in the industry. YPG also sponsors a community service program, which gives junior employees a chance to network with people from other publishing houses while supporting literacy-related initiatives within New York City’s volunteer action community. Most YPG events are free and there is no fee to be a member. YPG’s next big event is the National Book Awards House Party. The awards will be streamed live as participants party the night away on November 14th. Behind all these events is a strong message: as Sargent pointed out, it’s important to get to know your peers and hear about their experiences in order to find the right niche for you in the publishing industry.
Next we got to hear from Chandra Turner about Ed2010, a similar networking group for the magazine industry. Ed2010’s goal is to help people new to the industry make the connections that will jump-start their careers. The organization’s aim is to teach young professionals and interns how the industry works, and show them how to get in on the ground level. Ed2010’s programs include speed-networking events, happy hours, and “60-Minute Mentors,” in which members are matched with senior-level magazine executives for hour-long career-advising meetings. Their website features a message board, a forum where thousands of young magazine professionals can discuss industry news, jobs, and career advancement. The organization also offers a $1200 scholarship to unpaid magazine interns. In addition, Ed2010 provides members with information about “whisper jobs,” those much sought-after positions that are sometimes not even posted to the public.
After the presentations, we had a very informative Q&A. Sargent and Turner advised us that in order to compete in this industry, doing 3-4 internships is a must. While there are differing opinions on this subject, both speakers agreed that it is better to be highly focused as you progress in the industry, meaning don’t take a book internship if you are sure you want a career in magazines. Turner recommended really concentrating on one unique role in the industry early on, which she explained will make you stand out as you progress and help you to eventually become a leader in your field—whether that means being a great beauty editor or an innovative shaper of the digital book industry.
The speakers also advised us not to be presumptuous when making connections, but that a little chutzpah is essential—and it is okay to ask contacts to pass along your information to colleagues. They suggested that when reaching out to contacts, it is best to ask for 10-15 minutes of their time in an informational interview, stressing that being polite is critical. The speakers also told us that it is wise to keep abreast of industry news and bestseller lists, so that we can show we know what we are talking about in interviews and cover letters.
All in all, it was a great event, and I think we all learned a lot. For more information on YPG, check out their website at www.youngtopublishing.com, and follow them on Twitter at @YoungToPub. Ed2010’s website is www.ed2010.com and their Twitter handle is @Ed2010News.
by Randi Abel